Midland Burger Company <span class='image-credits'>Ben Tierney</span>

Local and global: Three new restaurants offer Midland more fresh and local options

With a bustling downtown, the historical Midland Area Farmers’ Market and a citywide commitment to spurring innovation, the Midland area has become an attractive place for small businesses and restaurants are no exception. We recently caught up with a few of the colorful new local spots that residents can look forward to enjoying in the coming months. From Indian to Mexican to a locally-sourced burger joint, there is a diverse spread of different cuisines moving into town and here are the chefs and owners behind each one.

Cinnamon Indian Cuisine

Newest to Midland, locals will find authentic Indian fare in the plaza on the corner of Wackerly and Jefferson at Cinnamon Indian Cuisine.

“My earliest memories of cooking are watching my grandmother in the kitchen,” says Rimpy Kaur, head chef and owner at Cinnamon Indian Cuisine. “She stayed with us in my childhood; I would watch her and my mom and try to mimic what they were doing.”

Cinnamon opened in September 2017, bringing the first Indian restaurant of its kind to Midland. Kaur and her husband pride themselves on delivering fresh, authentic food that has a homemade touch to it.

“We make everything from scratch. Nothing is frozen. Everyday, I’ll come in and think through what new things can be added to the lunch menu.”

A sharable appetizer at Cinnamon Indian Cuisine

Before Cinnamon, Kaur and her husband used to run Bombay Grille in Mount Pleasant. She has been pleasantly surprised by the community’s response.

“Cooking is my passion. Whatever I make, I always put a little extra effort in,” says Kaur. “I like to think of it as if I’m cooking for my own family.”

Rimpy Kaur head chef and owner of Cinnamon Indian Cuisine

Kaur grew up in Jalandar, Punjab, a region in the northwest of India. She and husband had been in and out of the United States since 1996, finally settling here permanently in 2001. She remembers watching cooking shows with her siblings every Sunday and attempting the recipes as a child.

“I’m always learning. If I see someone cooking or talking about food, I’ll absorb it and see if something clicks. And then, I’ll try to incorporate it into my own cooking,” says Kaur. “But, I still say that my grandmother makes the best aloo parathas (flatbread stuffed with potatoes). No matter what I try, I can never get them to taste quite like hers.”

Cinnamon Indian Cuisine

Located at 225 W Wackerly Street, Cinnamon is open on Monday through Saturday from11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. Check out their Facebook page for more information and details on the day’s lunch thaali special.

Los Jalapeños Taqueria

Authentic Mexican tacos have taken Midland by storm in the form of Los Jalapeños Taqueria which locals will recognize from their initial start as a food truck.

“I really wanted to bring the concept of a taqueria to this area,” says Alex Hernandez, head chef and owner. While the restaurant is his first location of his own, Hernandez isn’t new to the industry.

“My first job was as a dish washer in Mexico City, but I’ve been cooking since I was eight years old. That is where I discovered my passion for food,” Hernandez explains. “Opening this restaurant is one of my dreams come true.”

A few of the numerous taco options at Los Jalapeños Taqueria

In 2015, Hernandez initially brought the concept of a taqueria to life as a food truck that began in Mount Pleasant. Visitors to the restaurant will see the the truck still parked out in front.

“Life with the food truck was nothing like I had ever experienced before,” says Hernandez. “You could drive it anywhere and meet so many people.”

He still plans to roll out the truck during summers, but after a few years of delivering tacos on the go, Hernandez realized he wanted to invest in a place of his own.

Alex Hernandez of Los Jalapeños Taqueria

“We are able to offer more types of dishes and experiment with new ways of cooking,” says Hernandez. “We marinate all of our meat and make everything on our menu fresh each day.”

After moving to the States, Hernandez tried his hand at many different roles in the food industry, working at Middle Eastern, Asian and Mexican restaurants. He hopes to eventually bring a fusion of flavors, drawing from these experiences, to the taqueria.

“One of my signature dishes is the tequila lemon chicken,” adds Hernandez. “I don’t follow a recipe book, I just try to imagine which flavors will work together and add and remove as I go. The results are beautiful.”

Unlike what people are used to in a Mexican restaurant, Hernandez describes a taqueria as being slightly more traditional and having a street food vibe, with a special focus on tacos.

“I like to think we are a little more authentic — it’s not Mexican American or Tex Mex,” reiterates Hernandez. “Where I grew up in Mexico City, there are thousands of taquerias. You can find one on every corner. I wanted to bring this piece of home here to Midland.”

Los Jalapeños is located at 1900 S Saginaw Road. They are open on Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m, and on Sundays from 12 to 7 p.m. Check out Taco Tuesday, a weekly special, where they offer twelve different types of tacos all day long like cactus, shrimp, beef, chorizo, marinated steak, and marinated pork among other flavors.

Midland Burger Company

Another food truck turned restaurant is the very popular Midland Burger Company, run by husband and wife duo Jim and Ashley Welch.

“My husband had primarily done fine dining before,” says Ashley Welch co-owner of Midland Burger Company. “The idea for burgers came from the fact that we just could not find a good burger in Midland. That had been my complaint for years.”

Ashley Welch previously worked in real estate, but her husband Jim was a chef, and a little over a year ago they started a food truck together.

Co-owner Ashley Welch of Midland Burger Company

“We have experimented with over fifty different burgers,” adds Welch. “He does the cooking, and I do the eating. It’s fun. We really have fun together.”

After seeing the success of the burger truck, the Welches started looking for a place they could store supplies and prepare their stock every week. They weren’t looking for a storefront, but circumstances aligned and they soon found an opportunity at the Midland Mall.

“We tried to do a soft opening on February 10, 2018. But of course, it’s hard to do that when you are out in the open,” says Welch. “It took our regulars about three days to find us, and business has been crazy ever since.”

The Welches are also planning to open a downtown location at 139 Ashman Street, which residents can look forward to enjoying in the spring.

“We really try hard to stick to local when we can,” adds Welch. “It is difficult to do in Michigan in February, because so little grows here now. So in the winter, our burgers have a lot more sauces and cheeses on them than they do in the summer when the farmers market is open.”

Midland Burger Company purchases grass fed beef from JNelson Farms, just eight miles north of town. Their potatoes come from a farmer out in Munger, and the duo’s bread is baked at Scratched Bread, located right in downtown Midland.

A burger getting ready to be served at Midland Burger Company

“During the summer we’ll go to the market and pick ingredients which look exciting. Then we’ll come back and see what we can make of it,” says co-owner and founder, Ashley Welch. “We strive for quality all the time, and if that means we have to take a hit and pull something from the menu, we will. I would rather do that than give somebody something that might not be as great as we would like it to be.”

The Midland Burger Company’s Midland Mall location is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and from 12 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The Ashman Street location is set to open in the spring.
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