Elizabeth Marcano-Kennedy painted the facade of the former Big Ten Burrito on Packard the rich, red shade of a robust South American wine. Marcano-Kennedy’s a soccer fan, and since wine red is the official color of the Venezuelan national soccer team, it struck her as a good color for Ann Arbor’s first Venezuelan eatery. Marcano’s Takeout opened at 1906 Packard in early November.
Marcano-Kennedy, forty-seven, was an architect in her native Venezuela, but when she moved to the U.S. in 2003 to be near her sister, she found that she’d have to jump through so many hoops of study, training, and testing to get certified to practice here, it would be like starting over. She decided pretty quickly that that wasn’t an option. “I loved being an architect, but I’d already done that—I had fights with clients and contractors, I know how that works,” Marcano-Kennedy says. “It was time for a change.”
Like all smart career-changers, she looked to what she loved, and she found her new vocation in the kitchen. She took cooking classes at Washtenaw Community College to round out what she already knew from years of cooking for her family. Then, a year ago, her sister took a batch of her povorosas, cookies made with sugar, flour, shortening, and a crucial splash of salt, to Morgan & York, where they quickly sold out. Sales were equally encouraging at the Westside Farmers’ Market last summer. Soon, Marcano-Kennedy had rented the kitchen at Jefferson Market and Cakery and begun expanding her offerings. Things worked out well enough to justify taking a flier on her own space this fall.
The heart of Marcano’s takeout menu is its group of traditional Venezuelan dishes, like flat cornbread sandwiches called arepas filled with chicken, mayo, avocado, and Venezuelan cheese; fried yucca with homemade ketchup; batidos—South American–style fruit smoothies; fried green plantains; and carne mechada, a Venezuelan take on pulled beef spiked with salt, pepper, and raw cane sugar.
She’ll be rounding out the menu with salads and soups from other South American countries like Argentina and Peru, such as Argentinean-style wheat flour empanadas and Peru’s traditional chupe, a soup made with game hen (instead of chicken), white cheese, corn, and milk. Marcano’s also sells Venezuelan cheese—a fresh, white cheese that Marcano-Kennedy says is more flavorful and saltier than other un-aged cheeses—and, of course, cookies.
Marcano’s Takeout, 1906 Packard, 913–2071. Mon.–Sat. 7 a.m.–6 p.m. Closed Sun.