The moment you enter El Burrito Mercado, you know that you are somewhere unique, your senses are triggered with the delicious aromas from our onsite kitchen, and as you proceed to enter the Mercado, you are indulged in the smells, the vibrant décor, the huge selections, the Spanish music background, and the Spanish speaking employees and customers, El Burrito Mercado is La Experencia Mexicana.
Tomas and Maria Silva are the original owners, from humble beginnings in Aguascalientes, Mexico, in 1979, with minimal education, mostly street smarts, and plenty of vision and faith, they took over a small 800sq ft market and converted it to El Burrito Market, dba El Burrito Mercado. Offering only dry Mexican groceries and tortillas, one cash register, and a van in which Tomas would use on weekends to go to Chicago to load up on merchandise. Tomas and Maria struggled to get their first loan, with support from community Latino professionals, they were able to obtain their first $10,000 to begin their mercado (market). Both Tomas and Maria held other jobs during the beginning years of the business taking turns covering at the market and taking the kids with them on the weekends.
What started as a tiny mercado to meet basic Mexican grocery needs for the latino community in the Westside of St. Paul MN, has become a destination in the heart of WestSide St. Paul.
With much sacrifice and hard work, after several years in that tiny store, Tomas and Maria outgrew the market and expanded to include a small kitchen which provided a small Mexican bakery and som
e cold deli foods to-go like individually wrapped burritos and carnitas.
The Latino demographics continued to grow in Minnesota and with Tomas and Maria’s hard work ethics, the business blossomed. In 1995 Tomas and Maria ventured to move into a 13,000 sq ft building just across the street, which is the current location at 175 Cesar Chavez St., and they acquired the larger loan, received assistance from local programs for minority owned business, and city loan programs.
The space they moved into was the old Henly’s Furniture building, the remodel was major, it included adding on-site kitchen and walk-in coolers & freezer, a specialty Mexican meat & dairy shop, dry & frozen specialty grocery, Mexican bakery, cold & hot deli foods, and a specialty cafeteria style restaurant. As the Silva children grew and after college education and exploring other career opportunities, they all returned to work the family business in management positions. With their entrepreneurial spirits, they continued growing by expanding the deli options, specialty pastry, adding catering, expanding the restaurant and adding a bar. El Burrito Mercado is truly a unique business because it offers so many experiences under one roof in a beautifully decorated location, it’s a marketplace adorned with the items they annually handpick from vendors in Mexico and sell in the market. The quality selection of grocery, fresh produce, and meats distinguishes it from other local markets, the foodservice industry of the business is the fastest and most consistent growing area of the business. The deli features authentic grab n go mexican dinners, full service deli with salads, heat and eat foods, and more than a dozen salsas. The restaurant effective 2016 features now four unique dining experiences: cafeteria style, dine-in full service, buffet/brunch, and in the sumer a patio with an outdoor taco stand, in addition the expansion allows for semi-private small events. They also have a vendor booth at the MN StateFair selling imported gifts and regularly participate as a food vendor in many of Minnesota’s festivals and fairs. The growth and expansion of the business over the past several years has been led and managed by the Silva children.
In 2015, when the family realized it was time for addressing the growth in the restaurant/catering and investing more money and expanding, Tomas and Maria Silva decided to retire, and in December 2015 they passed the business onto the next generations.
The business is now proudly owned and operated by all women, Milissa Silva-Diaz is their oldest daughter and is CEO, Director of General Operations and owner partner, Suzanne Silva, the youngest daughter, is Director of Administration and owner partner, the oldest granddaughter, Analita Silva, Director of Catering & Special Events is also owner partner.
As soon as the ladies took over in 2016, full of vision and energy, they started their first year of ownership venturing into another expansion project. The expansion includes a remodel in the kitchen adding a walk-in cooler & freezer, a connection corridor between the kitchen and restaurant, expansion of the restaurant yet again to include a small private meeting room, servers station, and restrooms, they have also remodeled La Placita Patio offering outdoor seasonal restaurant seating and family cultural entertainment. Milissa, Suzanne, and Analita work as a team overseeing day to day operations, they are hands on, and they strive to keep things authentic and real, they never compromise quality, service, nor authenticity, aiming for offering their customers la experiencia Mexicana.
For the Latino who seeks home away from home, and for the non-Latino that chooses to venture or who has fallen in love with the Mexican culture, they'll find the experience at El Burrito Mercado. If you've ever been to Mexico and fell in love with the food, the people, the culture, then you'll find nostalgia when visiting us. For those who have never been to Mexico, well, come enjoy a taste of La Experencia Mexicana at El Burrito Mercado.