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Creative Flavors and Family Feel Lead to Success for Madrez Café in Flagstaff

Flagstaff residents and visitors searching for new flavors to their breakfast or lunch may want to consider trying one of the city’s highest rated-breakfast and brunch options.

Now located on East Route 66, Madrez Café originally opened in September 2021 on North West Street in Sunnyside before shifting to its current location in July. Family-owned and operated by Manuel Saucedo, Miguel Saucedo, Bianca Saucedo and Jose Saucedo, the Flagstaff cafe is one of two locations, with the other thousands of miles south in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, also family run by Juan Saucedo.

With the family originating from northern Mexico, in Durango specifically, the journey to opening up a cafe in Flagstaff started in 2011. The family launched a small operation of just corn gorditas and burritos in Playa del Carmen, which is located a little more than 40 miles south of Cancun.

“Playa del Carmen is known for international tourism, and we got all the Europeans, Americans, Argentinians, you name it,” Manuel said. “It became pretty popular.”

Two separate disruptions to their location left Manuel without a home for the cafe in Playa del Carmen before a spot opened up next to the beach.

“From there, we just kept moving up and it was amazing. Playa for us, that’s home now,” said Manuel, who met his wife Katy in Playa as well.

The success in Mexico led to the decision to open the cafe in Flagstaff, where much of the family had attended either Coconino or Flagstaff high school. That familial aspect is a crucial focus for Madrez Café and its homemade cooking, as its walls are adorned with art created by one brother, tables constructed from another and pictures of the family and the two cafes locations over the years.

Opening Madrez Café completed something of a full-circle moment for Manuel, whose name landed in the Arizona Daily Sun for his culinary prowess as a student back in the early 2000s. As a teenager, Manuel had proclaimed his goal was to open a business here in Flagstaff. As for achieving the dream with brothers Miguel and Juan, sister Bianca, and father Jose all doing so together?

“It doesn’t get much better than that,” Manuel said. “Having that family here, you’re golden. You don’t have to worry about much.”

The present day combination of brothers, sister and father running Madrez Café in Flagstaff is not the only family influence on the business. One of the most notable items on the menu, Madrez Café‘s gorditas come filled with either roasted poblanos or chorizo in addition to onion and cheese inside the pocket of a thicker tortilla, and are also the inspiration for the cafe’s name of Mother’s in Spanish.

While they have been slightly altered from their original versions, it’s now Manuel’s brother Miguel Saucedo behind the bar carefully piecing together the meals on the menu, all in clear view for anyone sitting along Madrez Café‘s bar. Adding to the family feel of the business is Miguel’s wife Maria, who now creates the cafe’s homemade gorditas and tortillas.

In addition to the gorditas and variety of burritos on the menu, Madrez Café also has a few other items they are proud to offer. The birria tacos include slow-braised brisket and cheese inside of crisped corn tortillas with a side of the broth the meat is cooked in and frijoles charros. Another creative breakfast option is Madrez’s waffles, which are yeast based and fermented for a tangy flavor that allows for both sweet and savory toppings to pair.

“You can find gorditas in two or three places, but it’s hard to find for breakfast,” Manuel said. “And obviously, our main focus is breakfast. I think our menu is pretty diverse with the couple of different foods that we bring. I think that’s what people are looking for, something new.”

“So when we were younger, humble beginnings, mother used to make these corn tortillas and they were the best thing we’ve ever had,” Manuel said of his mother Virginia’s cooking. “They were simple. It was lard, the settlement of the chicharrones, scraped a little masa and added more lard with the chicharrones. Then she crisped them up and added the spicy salsa, and that was it. It was that simple.”

With breakfast and brunch serving as a focus, Madrez Café also offers a variety of espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, mochas and tea in addition to freshly made limeade that can come mixed with seasonal fruit options such as raspberry, blackberry, mint and basil.

While that range of options already includes plenty of dishes that may offer new tastes for customers, the winter season could bring even more choices, as Miguel said they are considering adding some specials, such as menudo and pozole, as the temperatures drop and customers seek out some warmer meals.

Updates to the menu can be found throughout the upcoming months on Madrez Café‘s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Though the move from their location in Sunnyside was a result of the updates needed to the building’s accessibility compliance as opposed to seeking a more populous location, business has remained strong since moving to Route 66 — which is evidenced by the wide range of positive feedback the family has received.

“Our business has increased by folds,” Manuel said. “That’s a lot of thanks to Miguel, Bianca and my dad. They are here day in and day out. We’re so blessed to have the reviews that we have. We’re very fortunate to have the people that we have. Coming from such a small town in Mexico to what we have now, it’s truly a blessing.”

Madrez Café is open six days a week, Wednesday to Monday, at 1420 E. Route 66, #105. Each day’s hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the exception of Sunday’s closing time of 3 p.m.

Source: Arizona Daily Sun