A New Boyle Heights Restaurant Honors Mesoamerican Inventions

A new restaurant coming to Boyle Heights, Milpa Grille, is named after the Mesoamerican farming system that included growing multiple products on one field (most generally, squash, beans and corn); it also can refer to a stalk of corn or a corn crop.

The owners, Dan Morales and Dan Torres, "knew they wanted to serve food that was familiar, but they also wanted to set themselves apart from the plethora of Mexican restaurants in the area," their rep Sarai Jaramillo told L.A. Weekly in an email.

Morales has managed and owned restaurants in the Boyle Heights area off and on since the 1980s, including three chicken franchises, a cafe, a bakery and two raspados stores. Torres, an architect, has designed a number of restaurants, including Milpa Grille.

The restaurant's concept springs from Torres' interest in the history of corn and the milpa farming system. However, "The food we serve is not strictly pre-Columbian," Jaramillo says. "Unfortunately, many of the details of quotidian life in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica are unknown, including traditional meals. Our food is therefore a creative interpretation of what we imagine the pre-Columbian diet to be. While there are several familiar dishes on our menu, including elote and esquite, we do not classify Milpa Grille as a Mexican restaurant because the agricultural practice we strive to honor is much, much older than Mexico itself."

A bit of history in a forward-looking neighborhood.

2633 Cesar Chavez Ave., Boyle Heights; (323) 803-8667, milpagrille.com.

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