Chef Elpidia Cabrera used to make fresh corn tacos filled with carne asada, pork, and other ingredients in her own Marathon kitchen. But when the neighbors started eating her out of house and home, she decided to open a new restaurant — El Molcajete.

Molcajete is the Spanish word for a stone mortar and pestle tool used to grind herbs and spices. It’s the tool Cabrera swears by for some of her special sauces.

Cabrera’s son Alvaro Fregoso, a recent graduate of Marathon High School, is working at the restaurant over the summer before he leaves for Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall. His little brother Raul is entering his freshman year at MHS and learning the ropes at the restaurant in the evenings with his brother.

“My mom’s favorite to make are the tacos, because that’s how it all started when she was serving them out of the house,” Alvaro said, translating for his mom. “The carne lengua and cabeza are very popular with the Latino population and are really good.”

Lengua and cabeza are Spanish for tongue and head.

Cabrera was born and raised in Mexico before moving to the States when her oldest son was born. She has been in Marathon for 17 years raising her family. Her husband helps her out in the kitchen.

“She opened the restaurant because she wants a better life for her family,” Alvaro said. His favorite thing on the menu is the steak burrito served with rice and beans.

Each table is given fresh chips and salsa when they arrive. The homemade sweet salsa is pureed with a nice spicy kick to it.

In addition to the several beef and pork dishes offered, other dishes include chile relleno de queso (stuffed cheese peppers), vegetable soup, and seafood dishes like fried fish, sautéed shrimp in a spicy sauce or garlic bell pepper sauce, and fish ceviche.

For after dinner, the flan and arroz con leche, a milk pudding, are homemade. Beer, like Coronas and Dos Equis, Modelo, wine, and Mexican sodas, like tamarind Jarritos, are offered.

El Molcajete offers Sunday specials of menudo (a traditional Mexican soup made with tripe and corn), birria de res (a stewed spicy beef dish), and carnitas de puerco (pork chops).

El Molcajete is located in the building that formerly housed the Lencho’s restaurant at 1622 Overseas Highway on the west end of Marathon. Its open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. They also accept takeout orders at 305-780-7988.

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