Central American cuisine makes waves in the Blue Water Area

Some may have fond memories of their favorite foods being prepared, and the feelings associated with the moment. It is those memories of family and homemade meals that inspired local entrepreneur Heather Fagan to bring the flavors of Central America to the Blue Water Area.

Heather Fagan (left) and her mother.Doña Marina’s opened in October and currently operates out of Thumb Coast Kitchens, formerly the Atrium Café & Ice Cream Parlour, on Military Street in downtown Port Huron. The location works with Fagan’s current availability, allowing her to have more flexible hours and convenience.

“There are currently no set business hours, but we are open at least twice a week,” she says. “Our menu and availability varies and can be found on our Facebook page. We will be moving into a space at Wrigley Hall in the spring when that opens so I’m really excited for that.”

Fagan grew up in Miami, Florida, and moved to Michigan around the age of 10. She attributes her love of cooking to her grandmother and credits her as the inspiration behind Doña Marina’s.

“My inspiration was, and has always been, my grandmother and loving the food she cooked,” Fagan says. “When I was 18 I moved out on my own and realized that if I ate one more dollar McDouble I was going to die.”

Fagan says she took it as an opportunity to take what she learned and pursue it as a career.
Doña Marina’s in downtown Port Huron offers unique dishes such as arroz con pollo and other Nicaraguan cuisine.
“I planned to move to Chicago for culinary school, but before that could take place I found out I was going to be a mother so my focus switched to my family,” Fagan says.

Nicaraguan cuisine consists of dishes that use sauces as a base, with a large portion of dishes using tomato-based sauces. Flavors can include citrus, such as limes and oranges which is a huge component of many dishes with the addition of peppers, onions, and as Fagan says, “Tons of garlic!”

Being of Nicaraguan descent, Fagan incorporates those cultural flavors into all of her dishes. One of her, and her family’s, favorite dishes is Ropa Vieja which consists of shredded flank steak cooked in a tomato-based sauce with olives, onions, capers, and peppers served with a side of rice. Another favorite dish of Fagan’s is Arroz con carne.

“Arroz con carne is a staple in my house because it’s a very filling and comforting dish and is easy to make,” she says. “It consists of ground beef, baby corn, carrots, onions, and special seasonings.”

To stay up to date with what’s on the menu at Doña Marina’s, visit facebook.com/donamarinasph.
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Read more articles by Harold Powell.

Harold Powell is the Community Correspondent for The Keel and owner of Phantom Pen Media offering multimedia services to individuals and organizations across the Blue Water Area. He is a current board member for the Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce and the most recent Chamber Choice recipient at the Eddy Awards. Harold is an avid volunteer for the YMCA of the Blue Water Area as well as Bridge Builders Counseling & Mentoring and in his spare time, enjoys spending time with his son, writing and listening to music, playing video games, and not folding laundry.