Dining With Denise Neil

A new business selling vegan Mexican food has popped up in Wichita

When Frankie Cordero first became a vegan, she was 15 years old and worried about the diabetes and high cholesterol that ran in her family.

But she had trouble figuring out what to eat.

“At first it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m only eating broccoli and beans,’” she said.

But slowly, she learned how to transform the Mexican recipes she grew up eating into delicious vegan versions.

Now, Cordero, 22, and her girlfriend, Yvette Tovar, 25, are young entrepreneurs trying to launch a vegan Mexican food business they hope to eventually turn into a food truck. They’re among the new vendors at the Mercadito Hispano Nomar, which happens from 3 to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays at the NoMar International Market, 21st and Broadway.

They’re calling it La Semilla Mexican Grill, and they’re selling al pastor tacos made with a soy-based meat, homemade gorditas and elote on a stick. They make their own tortillas and gordita shells, and they sell fresh Mexican waters, too.

Cordero left her job as a barber to start the business, and so far, it’s going well, she said. On their first outing, they sold out two hours before the market closed.

Cordero’s parents brought her to the United States from Mexico when she was 7 years old, she said, and she’s a part of the DACA program. Starting her own business feels like a dream.

“I came here super young, and we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into,”” she said. “Man, I’m really lucky that we made it all the way up here to work and to do what I do.”

The duo hopes to eventually turn the business into a food truck but they’ll be at the market for the rest of the season, Cordero said. Owning a food truck is one of her longtime dreams.

And she loves watching people discover something she’s already learned — that vegan food actually tastes good.

“You don’t have to eat boring food to eat vegan,” she said. “You can still eat the same things you grew up eating, and it tastes just the same or maybe a little better.”

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Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.