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Salem Eats: La Margarita’s Enduring Charm in Salem

Written by Wyatt Jones on May. 22nd, 2024
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Salem, OR – La Margarita Company Restaurant, a family-owned establishment, has been an enduring staple of the local dining scene since its inception in 1948. Owned and operated by Javier and Xochitl Muñoz, the restaurant has won over local customers for decades with its unique, flavorful dishes, particularly their signature Enchilada Suiza.

The story of this beloved dish traces back to the restaurant’s roots with Pedro Rosales, Xochitl’s father, who initially crafted the distinctive sauce that elevates the Enchilada Suiza to iconic status. Javier Muñoz, the restaurant’s chef and co-owner, explains, “Pedro created the sauce we use for the dish called ‘Enchilada Suiza.’ He wanted something that was unique, and that nobody else was serving.” This creamy, flavorful sauce combines heavy whipping cream, crushed tomatillos, shredded lettuce, green bell peppers, salt, and pepper, creating a one-of-a-kind flavor profile that pairs perfectly with their mesquite-grilled chicken breast.

What makes this dish special is the distinct flavor imparted by the mesquite grilling process, which sets it apart from other similar offerings in town. “It gives our food a unique flavor,” Javier notes. The sauce is difficult to replicate, and many have tried to imitate its magic over the years. Despite the competition, the Enchilada Suiza remains La Margarita’s best-selling dish, drawing loyal customers who return again and again for its singular taste.

La Margarita was founded by Pedro Rosales in 1948, and its history and traditions have been maintained ever since. Xochitl started working for her father in 1989, and it was in the restaurant that she met Javier, who would later become her husband. After Pedro retired in 2012, the couple took over the restaurant, determined to continue its legacy. “We didn’t start the business, but to keep it going we just continued to serve the same great food with the same amazing staff while adding new décor ideas,” says Xochitl.

One of the key reasons for La Margarita’s enduring success is its unwavering commitment to quality and service. “Our way to stay different is to have consistent and fresh food. Give the best service we can and add unique dishes that others don’t have,” Xochitl emphasizes. This approach, combined with a dedicated team, has kept the restaurant thriving. Many of the staff members have been with La Margarita for over 25 years, demonstrating the loyalty and consistency that defines the establishment.

Despite the challenges that come with maintaining a restaurant in a competitive industry, Javier and Xochitl remain positive about the future. They are determined to continue providing high-quality food at reasonable prices while constantly evolving with new menu items and drinks to meet changing customer preferences. “Both short-term and long-term, keep our prices reasonable, our service and food consistent and good, and continue to evolve with new ideas,” Javier explains.

By staying true to its traditions while adapting to modern tastes, La Margarita Company Restaurant has ensured it will remain a beloved fixture in Salem for years to come. The combination of loyal staff, iconic dishes like the Enchilada Suiza, and a passion for providing excellent customer service makes this family-owned eatery an enduring treasure in the local culinary scene.

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