Soon Columbia, Missouri, will have another outlet to satisfy its insatiable appetite for Mexican food.
Paleteria El Tajín is set to open by the end of July on Broadway in downtown Columbia. The family-owned eatery will serve Mexican street food, and will be the city’s first outlet offering paletas, the delicious Mexican ice pop.
Each member of the Herrera family – siblings Diego, Yesica and Yoselin and their father, Francisco – is equally passionate about the authentic menu and the opportunity to introduce Columbia diners to something new. Yet the sibling trio agrees that opening the paleteria started with Yesica, the cook and baker with a passion for traditional Mexican flavors.
Yesica developed her love for cooking at home under her mother’s instruction. Eventually, she took that passion into the restaurant industry, where she worked for several years before returning to Columbia to start her own business.
“Sometimes when we go out to eat Mexican food, we feel like something is missing,” Yoselin says. “We wanted to bring the unique flavors we grew up with to Columbia.”
Husband-and-wife team José Luis Valdez and Lucia Fonseca sell 48 flavors of Mexican paletas, from chocolate to pistachio to tamarind.
To the Herreras, a paleteria doesn’t just offer paletas; it sells a little bit of everything. Sweet and savory meet on an expansive menu covering everything from ice cream to tortas. A labor of love, the offerings highlight both what the Herreras love to eat and what's missing in Columbia’s food scene.
The snack side of the menu features items like esquite (steamed corn with lime juice, mayo and cotija cheese) and papas locas (housemade potato chips with pork rinds, tomatoes, peanuts and chamoy, a savory sauce, topped with shredded jicama and carrots).
To satisfy a larger appetite, choose from items like burritos, tamales, tacos and tortas, such as the Jamon Torta with ham, queso fresco, mayo and fresh garnishes.
The sweet side of the menu offers treats like taji aguas – fruity drinks made with chunks of fresh fruit, chamoy and tajin, a chile-lime seasoning – and, of course, ice cream in a variety of fruit and chocolate flavors. In the future, the family also hopes to offer churros.
Paleteria El Tajín’s paletas will be sourced from Kansas City favorite Paleterias Tropicana. Order them plain or “preparadas,” topped with the flavor of your choice, fresh fruit, chamoy and tajin.
Yoselin says customers are excited for Paleteria El Tajín to open. She has received numerous messages from well-traveled Columbians anticipating the traditional flavors the paleteria will offer. For those who aren’t familiar with Mexican street food, Yoselin hopes the smell of handmade tortillas, the colorful fresh fruit and the family's enthusiasm for customers to try something new will draw them in.
Once open, the paleteria plans to keep the lights on late, serving Sundaythrough Wednesday until 10pm and Thursday through Saturday until 3am.
Paleteria El Tajín, 903 E. Broadway, Columbia, Missouri, facebook.com/pages/category/Restaurant/Paleteria-El-Taj%C3%ADn-298075421085699