Local eatery alive with history, flavor
on November 9, 2009
Pepito’s Deli is no flash in the pan.
It’s been serving authentic Mexican cuisine on 23rd Street since Gerald Ford was president.
But its history goes back much farther than the 33 years of official business.
“We come from a family that looooves to cook,” said Laura Corona, laughing.
Corona, who now co-manages the popular restaurant with her brother, took over day-to-day operations for her retiring parents a few years ago.
But older generations still influence the cuisine.
“My grandmother was the best cook,” Corona said. “I remember when I was little, in Mexico. She was all day in the kitchen. She would make breakfast, and then right after breakfast she would start making dinner. It was the best.”
“My grandfather had a candy store in Mexico,” she continued, smiling. “He made the best candy, at his house, so people would always want his recipes. He was such a happy person making all that candy.”
“People from the other small towns would go there and buy candy by the kilo. When he passed away, my uncle stayed and made the candy, but it wasn’t the same.”
At the restaurant these days, customers are treated to a dining hall graced with Mexican paintings and an outdoor patio livened with a fountain. Mariachi music hums low from surrounding speakers. The specialties include chicken mole enchiladas, carnitas, menudo and costillas a la Mexicana, a dish which has special significance to Corona.
“It’s pork ribs with chile verde,” Corona said. “My mother invented it and she named it, it is always hers.”
“She is 79 years old, and she still loves to work.”
Pepito’s still draws new customers, but it has plenty of lifers.
Leland Johnson has been a customer since 1984, his senior year in high school.
“I like Pepito’s for a lot of reasons,” Johnson said while sitting in the outdoor patio, where trickling fountains and colorful flowers create a peaceful ambiance. “First of all, it’s the food. The quality of the food, the amount of the food, that’s always important to me. “
“And the service is good,” Johnson added. “Everyone there is always smiling.”
View Authentic Mexican at Pepito’s Deli in a larger map|Pepito’s Deli|23rd Street eatery.
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I think i will stop by next time I am in Richmond.