by Taylor Gautreaux, co-features editor
Homemade dresses and sombreros line the walls. An alligator head rests on top of a drink cooler.
While these items might not seem to go together naturally, they do at the Bypass Fiesta Grill, a Mexican restaurant whose owners bring their Central Mexican heritage with their adopted Cajun culture — a blended culture that focuses on family.
Chon Medrano, a native of San Miguel, Zacatecas, Mexico, along with his wife Maryanna and their children own and operate the 2-year-old restaurant at 1818 LA Hwy 3185 in Thibodaux.
“All four of our kids work here. I love it,” says Chon. “At first, none of them wanted a restaurant. I kept pushing because I always dreamed of having a business with my family. Now I’ve got it.”
The restaurant helps introduce Mexican cuisine to the Bayou Region, while also embracing local foods such as poboys and beignets. The blending of cultures creates a dining experience that is unique to the area.
“It’s a bit out of the way for me, but I make the extra effort to come here,” says Rita Chatsko, a customer of Bypass Fiesta Grill. “I like the options. I like that I can get a platter of fried catfish and enchiladas in the same place.”
The Mexican food that Bypass Fiesta Grill offers in its four-page menu, though, focus on their family recipes — recipes from their region. The dishes range from pechuga a la plancha, grilled chicken breast topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions, to fajita tampiquena, Mexican steak served with cheese enchiladas.
One of the most popular items is molcajete mariscos — sautéed pico de gallo, various seafood and cheese — served in a stone bowl.
“It’s my favorite dish, and it’s a favorite of many regulars,” says Chon. “It’s items like molcajete that keep people coming back because they can’t get it from anywhere else around here.”
Maryanna says that she is most proud of providing guests with fresh food.
“If you want fast Mexican food, go to Taco Bell,” she says with a laugh. “We take our time here.”
The family isn’t just particular about their food. After moving from Mexico to Las Vegas almost 20 years ago, Chon says he new it wasn’t home and began searching for just the right place.
“I told my wife there had to be a better place to raise our kids,” says Chon. “I went to state after state searching for it. And on my way to Florida, I found it.”
He says that he chose to settle in Louisiana because he was attracted to the friendly people and slow-paced environment.
“Life is beautiful here,” says Chon. “Louisiana is full of happy, hard working people. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before.”
And while Chon worked as a painter for many years, his real passion and goal was the restaurant industry. He says that Louisiana’s food culture was another factor that drew him to the state.
“I could visualize myself and my family with a restaurant,” says Chon. “So I kept picturing it and eventually it came to life.”
His daughter Alondra says that the business has brought the family closer together.
“It was a challenging experience because we had to adjust our lifestyles,” she adds. “It can be very time consuming, and it’s a lot of responsibility. But Bypass Fiesta Grill has become a second home.”
With no experience in the food industry, the family had to learn the ropes.
“You have to know what you’re doing, and I think we’ve really caught on with Bypass over the last two years,” says Chon.
The Medranos are expanding their business with another restaurant on Canal Boulevard that will open in the next few months. It will have a drive-thru and outdoor seating, two features that Bypass Fiesta Grill doesn’t have.
“We’re taking it slow,” explains Chon. “The new restaurant won’t be anything major, but it’ll be another stepping stone to bigger and better things.”
The family says they are excited to continue serving the community and offer Thibodaux a new option for Mexican food in the upcoming months.