The Mejia family is woven together by bonds of love, tradition, and shared dreams. With cultural roots reflecting their vibrant Salvadorean heritage and lived experiences, the Mejias bring a unique blend of flavors and stories to our region. Nestled at the heart of their family is a deep passion for food, a love nurtured over generations and culminating in their culinary journey. We sat down with German Mejia, the owner of Los Tios Grill on 23rd Street, to learn more about his family's story.
Your family has been in the restaurant industry for decades. What influenced this journey?
It was the desire to achieve the American dream that influenced our journey. My first encounter working in the United States was in a kitchen in Texas. I was taught to infuse flavors. Little by little, I experienced working in all the restaurant departments.
Opening your first Restaurant was a significant step. How did your heritage and upbringing contribute to your courage and determination to pursue your dream in the culinary world?
I am a man who was born in the countryside [in El Salvador] and some of the most significant values that my parents taught me were to love work and to be a decisive and responsible person. All of that contributed to having the value of opening my first restaurant with the unconditional support of my wife and daughter.
Communities often rally around food. Can you elaborate on how your family’s tradition of gathering and celebrating through meals has shaped the role of Los Tios Grill in bringing people together?
Each time I share a meal, I discover how important it is to share that experience with family. At Los Tios Grill, we invite families to unite in happy celebrations and in moments of encouragement. We manage to create a family environment because many of the people who frequent our business today are men and women with their own families.
Opening your restaurants in different localities in the region speaks to your connection with various communities. How have you been able to create an inclusive dining experience that resonates with diverse backgrounds from all over Northern Virginia?
As we have grown our business, I realized that I want to create the same impression in each of our restaurant locations. Although they are in different areas, people will find a family atmosphere, the same food flavors, and the best service we can offer.
Opening a Los Tios Grill location in National Landing was a significant step. What aspects of the neighborhood made you choose it as a home for one of your restaurants, and how has the community here welcomed your establishment?
At the Del Ray location, I had many clients ask me to put a restaurant closer to them. The owner of the 23rd
Street location came to me and offered me the opportunity to bring Los Tios to National Landing. I was excited for this opportunity to expand into a rapidly growing neighborhood and the community has responded favorably. We are very grateful to them. Being so close to D.C. allows us to constantly meet new people and embrace the National Landing community.
Tex-Mex and Salvadoran dishes have distinct profiles. Could you shed light on a particular ingredient, spice, or cooking method from both cuisines that might surprise people and enhance their understanding of the depth in these culinary traditions?
Tex-Mex food (Mexico - Texan) is based on the grill; jalapenos, habanero, and cilantro are three of the key ingredients. Salvadoran food is cooked based on the fusion of all its ingredients, for example, our stewed meat and pupusas.
As Los Tios continues to flourish, is there something on the horizon that you can’t wait to bring to the National Landing?
We are always open to listening to the opinions of our customers, so our dishes and innovations will depend on what our National Landing community would like to see.