When two sisters, Fatuma and Faiza Hersi opened Mexica Restaurant Burrito Bar two and a half years ago, Mexican cuisine was rare in Nairobi.
“Love of cooking fuelled us to open our restaurant. I was first introduced to Mexican food while studying in the UK,” Fatuma says.
The sisters settled on burritos because every item in the fast food snack can be pre-made.
“Rice, beans, meat and toppings are all the ingredients that make up a burrito and our concept was pegged on fast service with short turnaround time where people could get their food in three to five minutes, so burritos were perfect,” says Faiza.
Their menu includes other Mexican foods like fajitas, quesadillas, nachos, loaded fries (roast chicken, pulled chicken, tofu, roast beef, pulled beef), salads among others. “We source the ingredients locally except the wraps,” Fatuma adds.
Previously located in Nairobi’s Aden Valley, Fatuma says the new location at the Alchemist in Nairobi’s Westlands receives more footfall.
“Deliveries are still a big part of our business. About 60 percent of our food is delivered through available platforms,” she says.
They say they also chose to open a Mexican restaurant in Nairobi after realising that many Kenyans had come back from studying abroad and the number of young expatriates living in Nairobi was high.
“The influx of the different cultures in Nairobi and the uptake of social media gave Kenyans familiarity with other cultures and their food,’’ they says.
Also, ingredients used in Mexican food are common in Kenyan cuisine so it was not an all-new taste that they were introducing.
When they first opened, the staff at the restaurant had to explain the contents of the burritos to customers so they could understand what the items included.
“Once the customers understood the contents were rice, avocado, beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, they warmed up to trying the dishes. Younger people, however, were more willing to try and were more curious to see what Mexican food has to offer,” says Fatuma.
The best-selling burrito is the pulled chicken one, where the chicken is cooked in a pressure cooker mixed with chicken broth, spices including paprika, cumin, and cayenne pepper.
It is then cooked with about one pack of canned tomatoes. It slow cooks for about an hour.
Fatuma’s love for cooking saw her develop all the recipes for the restaurant where she substituted Mexican ingredients with Kenyan ingredients and cooking methods.
Her background in international business and finance has seen her work with various organisations and at Burrito Bar, she handles the operations of the business and finance.
Faiza, a law graduate handles public relations and marketing for the restaurant.
I ate the pulled chicken burrito which was a filling wrap with chicken, Mexican rice, pinto beans, mango sauce, sour cream, salsa and lettuce. The mango sauce brought a sweet flavour that married perfectly with the mildly spicy chicken.