If you’re hungry for tacos, then La Familia Morales in Downtown Flint is the place to go. And it’s “standing room only” on Cinco de Mayo, when many locals stop in to enjoy some specials and celebrate the day. The parking lot is jam-packed, with hungry patrons scrambling to find a spot along the street or at the nearby funeral home. The family-owned-and-operated restaurant offers a wide variety of Tex-Mex favorites. Juanita Morales has owned it since 1998, following in the footsteps of her father who had owned other Mexican eateries in Flint. Her daughter, Rose Maldonado, is the manager, and the cooking is done by Rose’s husband Phillip and her sister, Anna Sharp. “Three generations of my family have served Mexican food to Flint,” says Rose, “and we are now in the fourth generation, as four of my nieces also work here.”
“We get many new customers, but there are many we call family who eat here every day.”
La Familia Morales is best known for tasty tacos and a special hot sauce homemade from a family recipe. All of the dishes are made from Juanita’s mother’s recipes. Diners have a choice of tacos made with chicken, chunky stew meat or turkey, served in a soft, medium or hard shell. “We hand-fry all our shells,” Rose reports, adding that turkey tacos are by far the most popular. Other Tex-Mex faves at La Familia Morales include cheesy beef enchiladas and crisp taco salads – tortilla chips piled high and topped with the meat of your choice, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Everything is made with fresh ingredients. “You won’t get anything from a can here,” smiles Rose. Also popular is a delightfully refreshing peach drink, which is served as a frozen slush in the summer months. “Some people won’t eat here if we aren’t serving our peach drink!” Rose laughs. The menu also offers Mexican specialties including tamales, burritos, a super-burrito, and fish tacos, to name a few. Entrées are served with beans and rice.
A 12-15-member staff provides super-efficient service at La Familia Morales. “Our food is served fast,” says Rose. And the many loyal and long-time customers appreciate the service, as well as the food. “We get many new customers, but there are many we call family who eat here every day.” With seating for 48 guests, the restaurant is busiest at lunch hour; sometimes they have to turn people away because all the tables are filled! La Familia Morales provides carry-out and catering for events – large and small – and private parties, as well.
Until Flint’s water issues are resolved, diners at La Familia Morales can be assured that the restaurant has taken every precaution to ensure the quality and safety of the food and beverages they serve. “They say our water is fine,” says Rose, “but until it is resolved, we will have bottled drinking water brought in every week.”
The La Familia Morales T-Shirts are printed with the slogan, “Flint’s Most Wanted Taco,” and many of their patrons agree with that. “We are so very grateful for all of our customers. We make them happy with our food. They walk out happy.”
Photography by Eric Dutro