Martha Garcia

Mexican food expert
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Martha GarciaMartha Garcia, whose family runs Los Altos, a Mexican restaurant in Marshalltown. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Mrs. Garcia, her husband, Moses, and her three children moved to California in 1989. She worked in a bank, and her husband worked in a Mexican restaurant. When she and her family heard that Iowa was a good place for families, they moved to Marshalltown in 1996 to open their own business. Like many immigrants, Martha uses her traditional foods and festivals to re-establish her culture in a new land.

Like many immigrants, Martha and her husband have found that it is difficult to keep the traditions as their children become increasingly Americanized. Her children refuse to eat tongue or brains, for instance. Still, she has found that her children are interested in learning to cook Mexican food and in playing the traditional games that Martha learned from her own mother. The family also takes part in the Christmas posada pageant in Marshalltown, and both daughters have had their quinceañeras (traditional fifteenth birthday coming of age celebrations for Mexican girls).

A registered dietician with a degree from Iowa State University, Martha now works for Extension Services. Her family continues to run Los Altos, where they provide personalized service, letting customers know exactly what is in each dish, explaining the spices, and reassuring native Iowans that they, too, can experience traditional Mexican food. During the week, Los Altos serves homemade green and red salsas, ceviche, and carnitas to their mostly Anglo clientele. On the weekends and for holidays, they serve more traditional dishes such as posole (hominy and pork soup) and tamales.

Contact: Martha Garcia, 515.752.2518,