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Café Mayapan feeds the community

Joel Molina
Ana Gomez of La Mujer Obrera believes in the importance of cultural inspiration.

Located in Central El Paso and being revered for serving as a center for celebrating Mexican heritage, Café Mayapan prides itself in being as authentic as possible. From the authenticity of the food, to the culture, to the acts of service, Café Mayapan is a staple in the community known to many in the borderland.  

After being established in 2001 and shutting down for a period during the pandemic, the restaurant still stands strong with the support of its workers and volunteers to carry on its initiatives they are known for. The restaurant serves as not only a job for some, but a way to feed the community in a healthier and cleaner way by substituting unhealthier options known to the Mexican community with tastier options that are more nutritious.  

When walking into the building, the smell of fresh tortillas, soups, calabacitas and quesadillas flood one’s senses. Aside from the enticing smells, the cultural depth is what keeps the community fed and keeps fellow El Pasoans coming back.   

According to their website, Ana Gomez of La Mujer Obrera; said; 

“When preparing menu items, we ask ourselves: what are the foods of our ancestors? What ingredients do those contain? Can any of those ingredients be sourced locally?”  

La Mujer Obrera, who started Café Mayapan label it as a social enterprise, using these questions as a foundation of what Café Mayapan is about. Serving authentic Mexican food with cultural depth and heart.  

Programs are also run in which people can come together to help enhance the community. Proyecto Verde is closely related to the mission of Café Mayapan, as it recognizes that Mexican people need to express themselves through their cultural traditions, which include “…connecting to land, growing and preparing fresh food, learning songs, poems, and visual arts.”  

Another program is Familias Unidas, which encourages low-income women to become advocates for both them and their border communities. The efforts of this program have brought more attention to development issues, education, and environmental racism.  

Gomez emphasized the importance of keeping that cultural inspiration. 

She says Café Mayapan  hosts multiple cultural events and festivals for the community, one of them being for the Day of the Dead, Dia de los Muertos. Gomez says volunteers and members of the community are encouraged to help support these events by attending them. 

Gomez also says it is helpful for volunteers to attend protests and community development projects to improve the conditions in the barrio, and the areas surrounding Café Mayapan. 

While the projects of Café Mayapan do not stop there, the Tierra es Vida Community Farm is a one-acre plot of land where ancestral food-growing practices live on. The produce from Tierra es Vida provides the El Paso community with locally grown food, while the farm itself serves to teach people about traditional foods and relationships within their communities. 

Café Mayapan keeps the beautiful tapestry of Mexican cultures and traditions alive through its programs and rich flavors. Events like the upcoming Dia de Muertos celebration aid in keeping people closely connected to their heritage while supporting the mission that Café Mayapan hopes to keep alive for years to come. 

Nicholas Maes is a staff reporter and may be reached at [email protected] 

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About the Contributors
Nicholas Maes, Contributor/Reporter
Nicholas Maes is a contributor at The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in history with a minor in commercial music. He plans to continue his academic career in history after earning his bachelor's degree.
Joel Molina, Photographer
Joel is a graduate creative writing student at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is a staff photographer who began his career at The Prospector in 2022. He hopes to continue providing the world and its people with different forms of storytelling that will hopefully make their day to day lives better.
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