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Taste of the Month: Lupita’s Serves Authentic Mexican Food with a Unique Twist

by on April 08, 2020 5:00 AM

Inconspicuously tucked away inside the Uni-Mart at Whitehall Road and West College Avenue is Lupita’s Authentic Mexican Food. Opened in June 2019, Lupita’s serves the State College community an array of Oaxaca delights including sopes, gorditas, tostadas, tamales, and tacos.

Located in the southern part of Mexico, Oaxaca’s unique twist on Mexican staple ingredients such as corn, beans, and chili peppers highlights the distinct flavors of the region’s diverse indigenous cultures.

Owners Maria Guadalupe Rojas Orozco (nicknamed Lupita) and her husband, Emilio Lopez Ramirez, run the restaurant together. Originally from San Dionisio del Mar, a small town in Oaxaca, Ramirez and Orozco both came to the area in search of work and ended up falling in love in central Pennsylvania in 2001.

“Her brother and I came here to work on a farm, and later, Lupita also joined us,” says Ramirez. “Lupita started calling her mother in Mexico to get recipes to recreate some of the traditional Oaxacan-Mexican food that we couldn’t find here.”

Soon, Lupita began cooking and selling her authentic Oaxacan food to friends in the Hispanic community as a means to make some extra money to support her growing family. It quickly grew in popularity, and the couple decided to start a food-truck business. In the beginning, they had to find commercial kitchen space to do their cooking, and luckily, they were blessed to have the support of the owners of Brazilian Munchies to share and use their space.

In search of their own commercial kitchen space, Ramirez happened to stop at the Uni-Mart and noticed the “For Lease” sign. The space had been vacant for many years, and the couple couldn’t pass up the opportunity of opening their own restaurant.

Cooking everything from scratch, Lupita makes the corn tortillas fresh every day. The carnitas (pulled pork) is slow-cooked for more than four hours, and the barbacoa (beef) is marinated overnight before being slow-roasted for several hours until the meat is fork-tender. The condiment bar is stocked daily with a variety of homemade salsas, pico de gallo, spicy habanero sauce, guacamole sauce, sliced radishes, and lime wedges.

“We sometimes have to make fresh batches throughout the day of our salsas and sauces because we encourage customers to top their tacos and other menu items with the different flavors,” says Ramirez.

Reasonably priced, Lupita’s is currently open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., for takeout only in compliance with precautions and restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Popular must-try items include tacos served on handmade corn tortillas with a choice of beef, pork, or chicken; sope, a fried corn tortilla topped with refried beans, a choice of chicken or beef, served with lettuce, cheese, and cream; and gorditas, a pocket corn tortilla filled with refried beans, a choice of chicken or beef, and topped with lettuce, cheese, and cream.

For more information and to check out their daily specials such as the chiles rellenos and pork ribs in adobo, visit Lupita’s Authentic Mexican Food Facebook page.

 

Vilma Shu is an editorial consultant for Town&Gown.

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