Each customer at Perrysburg’s Cocina de Carlos is ushered in by the clang of dishes in the kitchen, the hum of customers over their hot plates of fresh tacos and a warm welcome from those who work at this Mexican restaurant. Owner Carlos Mendez speaks of food and his restaurants with great love, seeing them as a way to connect to others.
From the beginning, José Carlos Mendez found fellowship with others through food. Since he was fourteen years old, he worked in his father’s restaurant and butcher shop in Jalisco, Mexico, learning recipes and trade secrets. In 2000, Carlos immigrated to the United States to help a friend in Mississippi run a restaurant. Bringing all his knowledge from home with him, he worked in restaurants across America, moving from Mississippi to Illinois and then to Indiana before finally settling in Toledo, Ohio. Although he has lived in many places, he has found a home here in Toledo.
“I’m Mexican, yes. I’m an immigrant, yes. But I live here. I raise my daughter here in Toledo,” he said. “I am a human being. I’m nothing strange. I mean, it’s a place we choose…or the place chooses me to grow here. And I’m part of the community.” Read more below and scroll to listen to a special recipe!