The Hard Work Behind El Huarache; One of the Best Authentic Mexican Restaurants in Holland

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Lizzie Beyrle

Kaylin Hoezee was enjoying a blazing hot West Michigan summer day, but all she wanted was some kind of cold refreshing drink or a cold treat. The problem was that she had been to Captain Sundae more times than she wanted to admit, and the line wasn’t worth the wait for only basic ice cream and sundaes that she was used to. She wanted something unusual and more importantly, delicious.

Most Holland residents are familiar with the many restaurants scattered around town, both downtown and on the north side. One of those small restaurants is El Huarache (pronounced wah-ra-che) and is owned by a West Ottawa family. The restaurant has what anyone would want on a Michigan summer day.  El Huarache is the red building located across from the Walgreens that is on the corner of James Street and Butternut Drive. It may look small, but it really packs a punch.

The family business run by the Jarquins sells authentic Mexican dishes as well as fresh popsicles. If you have ever been there, chances are high you had a good experience and even better food.

  The reviews online really do not lie. There are 223 reviews on Google, leaving an average of 4.4 stars. The raves in the review section are all about the flavorful food, lemonade, and popsicles.

  I had the chance to stop by and buy one of the strawberry popsicles, which was absolutely delicious. The woman working was sweet and very friendly! There definitely is a reason why there are so many good reviews.

Hoezee’s only words were, “I loved it!”. There wasn’t much more for her to say about her trip to El Huarache.

Sr. Tania Jarquin shares intriguing information about the restaurant her family owns. The amount of hard work and time they put in is something to admire. Jarquin told me about how their good friends were going to move back to Mexico and offered them the business seven years ago. She explained that her parents saw this as a big opportunity to make money doing something they enjoy, and get away from physically demanding and repetitive factory work. Also, Jarquin’s older brother always had a dream to work as a chef in high school, so having an opportunity to run a restaurant just seemed like it was meant to be.

“My dad incorporated some of his traditional foods from where he is from, which is Oaxaca, Mexico.” They kept the name but updated the menu, shifting some recipes and adding some of their own. The restaurant was not very popular when they first acquired it, but with the talent Tania’s father has in cooking, the menu slowly started getting more popular once they had customers trying out new items. The feedback that they got from people really pushed them to make everything perfect on the menu. This resulted in the menu items Huarache and the Tlayuda, Jarquin’s favorites, being updated to perfection. They also updated the patio, changed the sign, and added flowers and other small details to make the outside more inviting to customers. All of these changes gave El Huarache a small push to become active again.

Starting El Huarache up again was not the only struggle. Most owners of family businesses are there almost every day that it’s open. Keep in mind, they are open 11 or 12 hours a day, only being closed on Monday.

“It’s not easy… There are a lot of hours that go into it… My parents are there almost every hour of every day, and not a lot of people get to see that.”

There are few people in the world that work hard like that, and it is absolutely amazing how much they care about the business and want to see success. They have run El Huarache for years without complaint and without boast. Down-to-earth people like the Jarquin family should be recognized for their work ethic, but more importantly for the great food and service they provide.

Next time you’re around town looking for an amazing place to eat, or looking for a place other than Captain Sundae for once, try out El Huarache. You will be treated to authentic, fresh food and great service from the sweetest and hardest working family in Holland.