The first time I heard of Tia Maria’s Taqueria, Andrew and I were at Interstellar Rodeo in 2017. We had tickets to see Beck. But first, we had to eat. We wandered by all of the food trucks, and ultimately decided to get tacos from Tia Maria’s Taqueria. Plus it’s just fun to say! The tacos were delicious.
A few months later, I heard that a new restaurant was going into the vacant space by the clocktower, here in downtown Steinbach.
THEN I learned that it’s Tia Maria’s Taqueria!
The atmosphere inside the restaurant is fun, vibrant, bright, colourful, the music makes you feel like you’re in Central America, and the aroma is mouthwatering.
Intrigued, I asked Marie a few questions…
I began with, “Wait, you’re Marie? But the restaurant is Tia Maria’s…”
She explained, “Maria is my grandmother, my aunt, my great-grandmother, my great-great-grandmother…” Ah, I see what’s happening here.
On the wall in the restaurant, you’ll see a family tree of sorts, depicting family photos of Maria’s — and they’re all Reimers.
She told me that her father’s family are Reimers from Canada, and her mother’s family is Spanish.
Her family had been living in Manitoba until 1958, which is when they moved to Central America. Many of her family settled in Mexico, she has a lot of family in Chihuahua, and her particular branch of family from there moved on to Belize, which is where she grew up.
Marie attended the University of Manitoba, and worked at Stella’s in Winnipeg. She always wanted to open a restaurant in Steinbach, cooking the food she grew up with: perogies and tacos.
She was well aware that MJ’s Kafe was already doing the Mennonite perogy thing very well… and so she decided to focus on creating and serving truly excellent tacos.
Marie began her business with the food truck, and when the time was right, opened her restaurant by the clocktower.
I love the food she creates. Marie has added a Tortilla Soup to her menu, I had it today, and it’s so tasty and warming on a cold October day, so fresh and filling (and FYI it’s vegan). Andrew always gets tacos, they’re his favourite. And Marie has also added enchiladas to her menu, my friend Eliza had them when we were there last night and she loved them and is eager to return. The elote — corn on the cob, done in the most delicious way, tonnes of toppings — is remarkable. And they always bring you complimentary tortilla chips and fresh-made pico de gallo when you sit down and wait for your order to arrive.
But it’s not the food that captures me. It’s her story. So, you see I’ve mentioned that she is a Reimer. Well. She’s descended from the Reimers who were the first villagers of Steinbach… the Reimers who had a home right here in the middle of Steinbach… the Reimers for whom Reimer Ave is named… the Reimers who are honoured with a plaque on a bench just outside the front door of Marie’s business. That connection is the kind that sends a shiver up my spine.
And Marie respects and honours this connection. Hence her photos of her grandmothers on the wall, with strings depicting the connection. She’s told me that people have come into the restaurant and said, “Why is there a photo of my grandmother on your wall?” What a great way to connect with family!
Furthermore… take note of the feature photo (logo?) for Tia Maria’s Taqueria: a beautiful young woman, wearing a traditional Mexican dress, the skirt of which is pinned to the wall behind her. This photo has arrested my attention for a long time. I asked Marie if this was her, and she told me that it’s not her, it’s her grandmother, Maria, at her Quinceanera (elaborate 15th birthday celebration in Mexico).
I love how Marie is honouring the women of her past, warmly connecting with her roots, and feeding us all delicious food.
Tia Maria’s Taqueria, downtown Steinbach by the clocktower. You’re going to love it!