A taste of Mexico in Hill City

By Jeff Smith

First day in Hill City — Left to right, Gumecinda Hernandez, Eric Colon, Maria Lyndoe and Troy Lyndoe at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant in Hill City on March 1.

Maria Lyndoe started in the food industry in 2011. But she really started cooking at age 6 before most children are allowed to do a lot of things on their own. Early on she learned the traditional way to cook Mexican food.

The way that food is prepared there is not as easy in America where there are more steps with machines. Lyndoe said cars weren’t used by her family to get ingredients to make meals.

Fast forward to recent years where she has had a lot of success in Custer. Now she is in Hill City and officially runs her own restaurant.

Lyndoe thought she was good enough at selling food due to people tasting her food and saying it was good.

Her husband Troy said a few people didn’t think she would make it.

“It’s been a lot of work,” Maria said.

But she has also had help from other people. It’s been a good experience and no matter what she has done people have been there for her.

The first day the restaurant opened in Hill City was March 1.

People drove from Custer to support her. There were also locals who came in and tried it.

“It seems like Hill City has welcomed us,” Maria said. “I’m really happy Vic (Alexander) opened the door for me and worked with me.”

Lyndoe knows she can’t please everyone but said she will try her hardest. One of those ways is the level of spice in the foods. People might have assumptions bout how Mexican food is spicy but the food is prepared just as a person would like it.

Each dish has the true flavors of Mexican cuisine. Herbs and spices make each type of dish unique.

Her items on the menu include homemade tamales, enchiladas, mole, burritos, chimichangas, quesadillas and a variety of tacos. There are also salads and Mexican sodas made with real cane sugar.

Her food is authentic; it’s not something to take lightly. Most things are made from scratch and a lot of the food is gluten free.

She and her mother painted and decorated the store. There is Mexican music playing and it’s a bit more relaxed than her previous location.

She first started out in Custer with a food truck. It has been hard in Custer due to the different regulations about the concessions. Lyndoe said she faced adversity with being a transient concession. A Custer city ordinance didn’t allow the trailer to be where she wanted at first. She was in a bad location for business and then came to the front of the Custer VFW Post.

Both the VFW and her benefited with the food truck being there.

The food truck will continue to be there during the summer.

“It will be a little bit challenging. Hopefully we can find good help and get through it,” Lyndoe said.

The VFW Post in Custer was instrumental in her success. They allowed her to be outside with the truck and gain experience. Then she was in the basement and learned how to run a sit down restaurant.

There are a lot more options in the sit-down restaurant than what she had with the truck.

The path that she is on these days is a lot different from what she used to do. When she was young she would wake up at 5 a.m. and start making tamales. She would sell those and other stuff that her mom made, like bread,  in order to survive.

Her family was poor, even worse than today’s standards. She was raised in Chilcuautla, Mexico. At 15 she moved to the city to work. At 19 she moved to the U.S. with a work visa to work at a hotel in Custer.

Lyndoe became a U.S. citizen at a Naturalization Ceremony at Mt. Rushmore in 2015.

She came to the U.S. without knowing English. She learned it through the dictionary, the TV and conversation.

Troy said she had a desire to learn it and speak it. That is why she is not still speaking Spanish today.

The Lyndoes live in Pringle. To Hill City from Pringle it’s about a 30-minute drive.

She’s hoping to make it in Hill City and hopes the new change will be worth it.

“When you’re your own boss it’s not an easy thing,” Troy said.

They plan in staying in the Black Hills until they retire.

“It’s a beautiful place to live and raise a family,” Lyndoe said.

In the summer there will be hard ice cream and people will be able to sit outside at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant.

Menus are available to pick up currently at the Main St. location. People can also come sit down at the restaurant.

The restaurant is also looking for dependable people to work there in the summer.