By Carlee Frank
Mexican culture spans far before the days of conquistador Hernan Cortes. Indigenous people have called Mexico home for thousands of years, establishing immense civilizations and cultivating a rich history. It is these indigenous roots where Mexican food originated, and was further influenced by Spanish culture. Since the last half of the 20th century, Mexican food has become mainstream in the United States. Chains such as Taco Bell have become ubiquitous. How, then, can we find traditional Mexican food?
Those of us in Springville can drive right to Fiesta Bamba at 60 South Cascade Drive. Opened in the summer of 2013 by the Fuentes family, Fiesta Bamba is a hit in the Southtowns. Paulino Fuentes operates the Springville location, and his brother, Elioenai Fuentes, operates the newly opened location in Chaffee.
Fiesta Bamba, however, is not the brothers’ first restaurant –they have over 20 years of experience in the business. When they immigrated to the U.S., they lived in a small suburb outside of Raleigh, NC, and cooked at a friend’s restaurant. They enjoyed it so much that they opened a restaurant of their own, and when they moved up north, the business came with them.
Paulino is the head chef at Fiesta Bamba, and he said he truly enjoys working.
“My favorite part is to serve the people and grow here, and contribute to the economy of this country and support my family,” Paulino said.
It really is a family business, as both his wife and his daughter, Jearim Fuentes, are waitresses at the restaurant. Jearim said the community’s support of Fiesta Bamba has been great. She noted that they have many regular customers, some so regular that they never miss a week. If they go on vacation, they’ll even tell her and the other waitresses so they don’t worry something happened.
“I really enjoy it because you get to connect with the people here and get to know them better, and that’s really nice,” Jearim said.
One of the trickiest dishes to serve are the fajitas, traditionally served with roasted peppers, rice and beans on a plate heated to roughly 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The sizzling entree is a crowd pleaser, but Jearim joked about the permanent burn mark in the kitchen from a dropped hot plate. So, when they tell you, “Be careful, it’s hot,” pay attention!
Fiesta Bamba regularly donates to local fundraising basket raffles and to school functions. Jearim said they especially help at prom where they donate chips and salsa. They like to help local charities, so if you are in need of sponsors for a fundraiser, stop by and ask.
Paulino said he wants the American people, especially those of us in small towns, to understand Mexico through his restaurant. He said he wants to demonstrate the food typical of Mexico and along with it, a bit of their culture.
He learned to cook from watching his grandparents. He said he would pay close attention when they made food and knew he wanted to be a chef when he grew up.
Fiesta Bamba serves burritos, flautas, tamales and much more. Paulino said his favorite menu item are the enchiladas, and added with laughter that they must be the spicy kind.
The restaurant also has a bar with colorful seasonal margaritas and other drinks. In one Facebook review, the grande margarita was called “swimming pool sized and yummy.”
If you want delicious traditional Mexican food, stop by Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. or Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.
For more information, check out their Facebook page.