The greasy spoon diner vibes on the east side’s Michigan Avenue corridor came to an end in 2018 with the demolition of Theio’s, closure of Fish & Chips and brief run of Lee Lee’s Coney Island. Filling the vacuum is Amanecer Mexicano, a refined breakfast digs with east-side roots dating back 13 years.
Amanecer Mexicano is a new south-of-the-border brunch house opening Thursday on the corner of east Michigan Avenue and south Francis avenues. The location sits directly across from the El Oasis food truck, which was a plus for owner Marcos Torrez when property hunting.
“There is no place here in Lansing that offers Mexican breakfast with fresh tortillas, molcajete salsa and different types of egg styles,” Torrez said.
Torrez is the former manager of the El Oasis food truck. As the name suggests, the restaurant will open at dawn every day, serving exclusively Mexican cuisine. The menu will feature popular dishes such as menudo, chilaquiles, gorditas and various styles of eggs. Freshly squeezed orange juice, carrot juice and handmade molcajete will also be daily fixtures.
Molcajete isn’t just any average salsa. Roasted serrano peppers, garlic and tomatoes are ground by hand with a mortar and pestle.
“We looked at many buildings, but picked this one because it already had a kitchen,” said Torrez. “I told everybody that we are going to make this the Mexican corner.”
The family was deliberate in designing Amanecer, from the menu to the interior, to reflect “another perspective” of Mexico.
For example, Torrez said local Mexican restaurants often have “over the top” bright colors, which is not a characteristic shared across all of Mexico. Calming earth tones of aloe plants, traditional vases and pop art adorn the walls.
The logo is an image of la pita, an agave plant, which was considered a sacred plant personified by the Aztec goddess of fertility and nourishment, Mayahuel.
The quintessential dish of the restaurant is the motul, Torrez said. Motul features two tostadas topped with over easy eggs, black refried beans, tomato sauce, ham and peas. Plantains, beans, rice and tortillas included.
All menu items are below $11.
When asked about how he feels about the success of the food truck, he recalled a specific moment walking downtown with an senior relative. They came across a “restaurant” issue of Lansing’s City Pulse and found an article calling El Oasis the “crown jewel of Lansing,” bringing the relative to tears.
Torrez also said while dining at a restaurant in Chicago, the owner, a fan of the family-owned food truck, recognized him and waived his bill.
“We are really surprised by the acceptance and following that we have here,” he added.
For its grand opening, mariachi band Mariachi Alma de Mexico will perform.
Opens Thursday, Sept. 12
6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily
2318 E. Michigan Ave.