MERIDEN — A local man is bringing Dominican food to downtown with El Mandao Restaurant.
Owner Ricardo Martinez, 31, came to the United States from the Dominican Republic when he was 14-years-old. Before opening El Mandao, Martinez was a barber in Waterbury and had been cutting hair since he was 13. His inspiration to open a restaurant came when he noticed he had to travel out of town to get a Dominican meal. He always had a love for cooking and decided to pursue his dream.
“I did not have the money but I had faith and little by little things worked out,” he said. “…I feel good because I know I was able to do what I put my mind to, with dedication I was able to achieve what most wouldn’t have thought.”
El Mandao, which opened in December, is located at 82 W. Main St, in what was most recently Cassidies and then the Landmark Diner. It serves chimi, pollo frito, churrasco, and their most popular dish — Mangu con los Tres Golpes.
Maria Ramos, 52, said she is never disappointed.
“I come here everyday. It is so convenient because it opens early in the morning and closes later in the night. The food is fresh and the hospitality is great,” she said.
People can dine in, pick up, and use delivery services GrubHub and DoorDash.
William Medina, 58, said although he is from Colombia, he loves Dominican cuisine.
“We needed a restaurant that offered Dominican food. Other Latino restaurants prepare their food differently, so I am glad I have a local place to get Dominican food now,” he said.
El Mandao is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.