TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — One Tucson treasure is on the rebound.
La Chaiteria is a family-owned restaurant that hopes its food creates family by serving up Latin American food with a twist.
The flavors of Latin America are present as soon as you walk in the door of the vegan restaurant.
“It’s about family. I just wanted to recreate those plates that I made when I was growing up, but make them vegan,” said Wendy Garcia.
Using jack fruit, Garcia is able to bring a taste of home to Tucsonans from all around the world.
“We make our own jackfruit carnitas from scratch. We use that instead of meat. We do that for all the dishes. We recreate, let's say the carne asada tacos, we use the jack fruit carnitas for it,” she explained.
From the kitchen to the table, those carnitas seem to be a favorite.
“We have the carnitas all the time because if we don’t, they get really upset,” said Garcia.
Garcia opened the doors in 2016 and she said every year she's seen more and more customers.
“I get a lot of regulars. It’s more like a community restaurant. I love that about the restaurant. That’s why I keep cooking and making new recipes because I love my customers, they’re family,” she explained.
She said it was her family of customers who kept her restaurant going during the pandemic.
“It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. It wasn’t really busy. We struggled, but we survived thanks to the community,” said Garcia.
Garcia said she has seen an influx of customers gradually come in since pandemic restrictions have been lifted.
While La Chaiteria is located on the west side, the family also owns Tumerico near the University of Arizona.