January 18, 2023 528 PM
MARFA — Mami Ninas, a local family-run Mexican restaurant, is now operating seven days a week out of their new food truck parked at El Cosmico.
The bright teal food trailer sits adjacent to the campground hotel’s outdoor seating area and continues to serve up the same menu items — breakfast and lunch burritos, chile verde and asado dinner plates, agua frescas and their ever popular menudo — that were offered at their previous location, a brick and mortar restaurant across the street from Dollar General.
The venture is a multi-generational family business, which started with its namesake Mami Nina, the mother of cook Celia Del Bosque, and involves Del Bosque’s daughter, Mayra Williams, and her husband, Shawn Williams. Mayra’s two sons even lent a hand as waiters at the old location.
Translating from Spanish for her mother, Mayra explains that Mami Ninas is the third restaurant Del Bosque has started in the state of Texas over the years; her first, called La Cabaña, was located in Kermit and later moved to Rankin.
Del Bosque, who lived in Marfa in the 2000s, said she was eager to move back and open the third iteration of her restaurant, regardless of the form it took.
“I always dreamed of coming back to Marfa. I wanted to put in a restaurant. I love this town,” said Del Bosque in Spanish, translated by her daughter. “To me, it didn’t really matter how, if it was a restaurant or a truck, I just wanted to continue to serve the community — that was important to me.”
“She loves to cook and take care of people,” Mayra added.
Del Bosque uses recipes passed down to her from her mother, Nina, who was originally from Mexico. “I try to honor her with the food and with the name,” said Del Bosque.
The food offered at each of Del Bosque’s restaurants hasn’t changed throughout the years, she said, because people like it and keep coming back. She cooks up primarily Mexican food, including tacos, enchiladas and chile rellenos as well as hamburgers.
Mami Ninas first opened in Marfa in April of 2022, then moved into their food truck this past December, citing a high rental price at their previous location. Mayra said the family wanted to get the new truck up and running quickly so they could continue to serve their customers, who were disappointed to see them on a hiatus while they located a new space.
She said the food truck seemed like a feasible, more flexible option that would allow them to continue to run their business in Marfa, where affordable rental spots are scarce.
“Real estate here is so expensive. That was our best bet, to get a food truck that we can travel with. And if we decided to take a week off, the overhead wouldn’t be so crazy,” said Mayra.
In the future, Mami Ninas may consider moving back into a traditional restaurant space, should the right place become available, or may expand with additional food trailers, said Shawn.
“If it keeps going like it’s going and we stay busy, then we were talking about eventually buying another one and putting it somewhere else,” said Shawn.
Mayra and Shawn said they were grateful Mami Ninas is able to operate independently out of El Cosmico’s grounds — some of the hotel’s employees were Mami Ninas regulars and extended the offer.
“It’s been such a pleasure hosting Mami Nina’s at El Cosmico,” said Mac Warren, general manager of El Cosmico. “We’re honored to be in the orbit of such a beloved local business — and we’re certainly not mad about our proximity to delicious nachos.”
While the location gives Mami Ninas ready access to the constant flow of El Cosmico guests, they said their new spot has coincided with more requests for vegan and vegetarian options, presenting a challenge for their small business, said Mayra, for their beans and homemade tortillas include lard — a typical ingredient in Mexican cuisine. But they’ve been working to accommodate those customers by adding vegetarian tacos to their menu, she said, and are continuing to brainstorm specials and more.
Downsizing her kitchen has been another obstacle for Del Bosque, who likes to cook in large quantities to ensure she doesn’t run out of anything and is adjusting to being in a more limiting 8-by-18-foot space. But the food truck is clean and well-organized, all of the ingredients in their place, and Del Bosque maneuvers the area with ease.
“She feels like she’s playing dolls,” said Mayra as Del Bosque laughs. “I think that’s been the most challenging part, is not being able to cook in the quantities that she was able to cook over there. But people have responded really well whenever we tell them, ‘Hey, we’re out of this, or we’re out of that.’”
In addition to Bee’s Hive, which opened around a year ago, and Angel’s, which recently took over the space across from Dollar General, Mami Ninas is helping provide affordable Mexican food for the local Marfa community, which has a tendency to get overlooked in favor of more options for tourists, said Shawn.
“There is a lack of Mexican food. A lot of the new restaurants that are here now are fancier style,” said Shawn, who was born in Alpine and grew up in Marfa.
Mayra agreed. “It’s just harder, I feel like they accommodate more of the tourists than they do our locals,” she said.
“We’re here for the community,” said Shawn.
“We’ll cater to both, but I think our forte would be our community and our locals,” said Mayra.
Mami Nina’s food truck will soon travel to provide food for this year’s annual Valentines in Valentine celebration, as well as the Marfa Lights Festival and other big community events.
The family said they were stepping into the unknown by making the move to open up a food truck, but so far things are working out and they are thankful to the local community for their support. “The community has been a big help supporting everybody,” said Shawn.
Mami Ninas is currently open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 7 p.m. and on the weekends on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 10 p.m.