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Small restaurant Tacos Monarca brings big flavors to Gettysburg

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On the corner of West Railroad and Carlisle Streets in Gettysburg, where Subway once operated, there is now a small Mexican restaurant. The restaurant is named Tacos Monarcas after the monarch butterflies that migrate from Canada to the Oyamel forests in Michoacan, Mexico. Michoacan is the home state of owners Jimena and Louis Gonzalez.

From food to atmosphere, Tacos Monarca is deeply influenced by Mexico. “Our goal is to bring the same flavors from Mexico to here,” said Jimena, and that is why their restaurant is detailed with everything Mexico. The restaurant’s decor is based on tastes and designs commonly found within the owners’ hometown.

Gonzalez has commissioned a personal painting by her cousins on one of the restaurant’s walls. The painting depicts a man holding a mask of an old person’s face while carrying a basket of avocados. Gonzalez explained how this piece is actually about a traditional dance. “Traditionally the dancers would wear masks that look like old men and women while wearing wooden shoes that would create lots of noise when stepping,” she said. The dance is called “danza de los viejitos” (the dance of old men). It is a traditional folk dance found exclusively in Michoacan.

Their recipes are authentic Mexican food you can easily find all around Mexico. It is common in many Mexican restaurants in the U.S. to change traditional recipes to cater to the people who live here. In the process, the original recipe turns into an entirely different dish. So when people order something like a taco, they don’t get an authentic one.

Jimena and Louis take pride in their food and culture. They enjoy the idea of sharing their love for their culture and food with others. Their love for their traditional food pushes them to only serve authentic dishes that are not altered from their original recipes. Their home-made sauces make the recipes uniquely theirs, but they keep the recipes as close to the original as possible.

Jimena said she was worried about opening a restaurant during the pandemic, a time when many restaurants were closing. But Tacos Monarca has only seen consistent sales since opening. Jimena attributes her success to her customers’ dedication. While there are regulars from town who often either dine in or order take-out, some customers travel far lengths in order to eat their dishes. Jimena said they often have customers who travel from up to two hours away just to get a bite of their delicious authentic food.

The Gonzalez are long-time residents of Gettysburg, and have always had a deep desire to open a business here. “It was a surprise,” said Jimena. “We were thinking about it, but not really looking for a place to buy or rent yet. Then somebody told us about this place. I talked with the owner and they said yes, because I used to work here at Subway like eight years ago.” The coincidence almost seemed like fate to the couple. They decided that instead of waiting any longer they would take the chance.

“I told my husband I want to be in business, not only with a restaurant,” said Jimena. She is interested in expanding their business, not only to different cities, but to open other stores here in Gettysburg as well. The Gonzalez have big aspirations, but for now they are focused on cementing their restaurant here in Gettysburg.

Jimena’s sister, Edith Garcia, clearly believes in her sister’s dream and dedication, as she took a gap year off of school in order to help Tacos Monarca get started. Garcia is currently a college student, attending a school in Mexico. Though she does not go to a culinary arts school, it has always been an aspiration of hers to be part of a professional kitchen. She will most likely return to school soon, but Jimena said there will always be a spot waiting at Tacos Monarca if she chooses to return.

Tacos Monarca also offers pizzas and sandwiches. Eat-in, pick up, or get delivery.

You can find Tacos Monarca at 11 W. Railroad St. in Gettysburg.

thokat11@gmail.com | + posts

Hello! My name is Katrina Chase Thomas. I am from Nanticoke, NEPA. It is a small city, but a small city with lots of character and the lack of dull days.
I currently attend Gettysburg College. I am a senior and I am expecting to graduate this Spring, majoring in Japanese and English with a writing concentration.

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  • I am most impressed with your credentials and admire your ambition. I wish you nothing but success I will definitely try your food!

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