Navarro’s Mexican: A Legacy of Flavor

From Tradition to Innovation

by Cliff Duvernois

Navarro's Mexican Takeout with Mari Sierra

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Ready for some great Mexican cuisine? Mari Sierra, the third-generation owner of Navarro’s, shares the story of this family-owned Mexican takeout restaurant in Muskegon Heights.

Starting in the 1970s as a grocery store by Mari’s grandparents, who were immigrants with a passion for community and culture, Navarro’s has evolved into a local culinary landmark. Mari shares the heartwarming story of her family’s journey, highlighting the challenges and triumphs, including her own transition from corporate America back to her roots after her mother’s passing due to leukemia.

With a focus on community, legacy, and authentic Mexicana cuisine, Mari discusses the importance of collaboration over competition in Muskegon’s vibrant food scene, efforts to support Latino empowerment, and Navarro’s commitment to traditional and innovative dishes alike. This episode is a celebration of family, determination, cultural heritage, and the power of community support in keeping local businesses thriving.


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Crafting Community Through Cuisine: The Story of Navarro Mexican Takeout

In Muskegon Heights, a narrative unfolds at Navarro’s Mexican Takeout, a testament to family, resilience, and the magic of Mexican cuisine. Here, Mari Sierra, third-generation custodian of this culinary heritage, weaves a tale not just of food, but of identity and community.

A Legacy Born From Necessity

The journey of Navarro’s began in the 1970s with Mari’s grandparents—a mix of Puerto Rican vigor and Mexican tradition. Initially a grocery, it evolved to serve staples of a Mexican kitchen in a town where such were scarce. Love for music filled its aisles with the melodies of vinyl records, echoing the family’s diverse roots.

Mari’s narrative encapsulates a profound respect for her lineage. Her mother, at eighteen, traded college aspirations for entrepreneurship, transforming Navarro’s Mexican to a takeout sanctuary, imbuing it with the aroma of resilience and care.

Tragedy and decision came hand in hand when Mari faced the imminent closure of Navarro’s following her mother’s death. Yet, it was the spirit of her predecessors—their dedication and their love for the community—that guided her back. Now, three years into her stewardship, she’s navigating the blend of tradition and innovation.

Unity Through Gastronomy

The essence of Navarro’s hinges on more than its menu. It’s the embodiment of a community’s chronicle, tethered to notions of identity and belonging.

The Panchita: A Muskegon Marvel

Named after Mari’s mother, the Panchita is a unique concoction that marries chips, cheese, meat, and gravy in an embrace of flavors. This dish, emblematic of Muskegon’s culinary landscape, draws in the curious and leaves them captivated.

Tamales with a Twist

Navarro’s Mexican prides itself on its stoneground corn tamales, a rare find that binds tradition with the essence of Muskegon. Beyond the traditional, Mari infuses creativity with flavors like jalapeno popper tamales, blending the old with the new, much like her journey with Navarro’s.

Brewed Unity: Mi Gente

In collaboration with Pigeon Hill Brewery and inspired by the spirit of community, Navarro’s Mexican Takeout introduces the Mi Gente brew. This specialty beer not only showcases the collaborative spirit of Muskegon but also supports local Latino students and entrepreneurs, echoing the community-centric ethos of Mari’s grandparents.

An Invitation

Navarro’s stands as a beacon in Muskegon Heights, inviting all to partake in its story. A visit to Navarro’s promises more than a meal—it’s an immersion into a narrative rich with the flavors of dedication, resilience, and communal love.

As Mari beautifully articulates, this is not just a tale of Navarro’s, but a chronicle of Muskegon Heights, of Michigan, and, intrinsically, of America. Through dishes steeped in history, every bite offers communion with the past, celebration of the present, and a toast to the future.

In the end, Navarro’s Mexican Takeout is not merely a restaurant; it’s a narrative vessel, steering the community towards a united future, one plate at a time.

Visit Us

For those looking to experience this story firsthand, Navarro’s awaits, not quite on the corner of Eighth and Sherman. For stories, for food, for community—Navarro’s is where hearts are fed. Join us, become part of our narrative, and let’s continue to craft extraordinary tales together.

At Navarro’s Mexican Takeout, we’re reminded that some stories are best savored in bites, rich with the flavors of heart, heritage, and home.