Behind the scenes at Maria Maria


Maria Maria serves its customers homemade authentic food. Photo by Sha’Tara Simmons

After 10 months of planning, Edgar Gamez, turned his vision into a reality. He wanted to bring an authentic Mexican restaurant to Tallahassee’s Tex-Mex heavy scene — and he did.

Maria Maria, located in Midtown, features homemade cuisine and a bakery.  Maria Maria’s menu is based off Gamez’s Mexican heritage and is committed to serving its customers their homemade, authentic food.

The restaurant’s food comes from home recipes of Gamez’s mother and grandmother. Since both were named Maria, he said it was easy to come up with the name for his restaurant.

The process for opening the restaurant took 10 months, but with persistence and dedication, Gamez made it happen. He finally opened Maria Maria on July 5.  Before Gamez began his business, he had been in the restaurant industry for more than 11 years. He started working on his craft as soon as he graduated high school.

“I always had a passion for food, but I have a stronger passion for people,” he said. “I have a passion for helping people out and surrounding myself with good people. I believe that this was the way for me to get there.”

Gamez started his business with his brother and his family helps him run it. His two sisters help with the bakery, keeping up with the dining area, and executing family recipes.

“If you go to most Mexican restaurants in South Florida, you're gonna notice a trend, and that is Americanized Mexican food. We’re going for as authentic as can be,” Gamez said.

He explained that his responsibilities are making sure that they survive as a restaurant He makes sure his employees are getting a stable income, his inventory is correct, recipes are executed, and servers are being polite and meeting the customers’ expectations.

“Tasting food from Maria Maria takes me back to this Mexican restaurant from home,” Destyni Govan, a third year psychology student at Florida A&M from Miami, said. “Chipotle and Moe’s have nothing on this place.”

Govan visited this restaurant with her friend Gabriele Sevrin, who’s also a third year psychology student from Miami.

Sevrin said, “This was my first time eating from Maria Maria, and so far, the food is delicious.”

Gamez also talks about how he wants Maria Maria to grow as a restaurant. He is trying to structure his business to become a franchise.

“Opening a restaurant is one of the toughest things someone can do,” Gamez said. “It’s not easy because you have no clientele, no one knows you, no one trusts your food, so getting a clientele for a restaurant is really tough but overall we’ve done pretty well and it’s all been word of mouth so we’ve done better than I expected us to.”

If interested in Gamez’s restaurant, Maria Maria is located at 1304 North Monroe St., at the northwest corner of Sixth Avenue.