A loan of $10,000 helped purchase the key things I need to launch my Mexican cafe: small equipment, basic small wares and a large wooden communal table for my customers to feast on.


Dilsa's story

I grew up in Cuernavaca, Mexico where I learned to garden with my mother, tending squash, chiles, lemons, corn and the fruit trees that grew near their house My family cultivated their own food for two reasons: the love of seeing their food develop from seed to table and because it was economical.

When I migrated to the Bay Area in 2003 it was very exciting for her to discover the organic and farm to table food movement. I began shopping weekly at farmers markets to cook for my family. (To this day I am proud to say that although I can't afford it for the whole family, my kids always eat organic food and have never tried McDonald's!)

At the farmers markets, I was thrilled to find ingredients I loved in Mexico – dry habanero chiles, squash flowers for her hand-made requesón (cheese) filling, and more. Yet at the Mexican taquerias and restaurants I visited, I couldn't find these healthy alternatives for people and the environment.

This inspired me to bring my passion for local, organic ingredients to Mexican food in the Bay Area. I started taking English classes and cooking lessons at The Bread Project while while feeding friends and family informally.

At The Bread Project, I met the ED of La Cocina, a business incubator for food businesses. At La Cocina I formally launched my business, Los Cilantros and grew it through catering and events. The mission of Los Cilantros is never to lose authenticity, and to carefully prepare food with simple flavors using the best ingredients available.

In 2012 I had the opportunity to meet James Beard award winner Joanne Weir, who invited me the founding team of Copita as a sous chef. I developed a style of locally-sourced, organic cuisine featuring favorites like carnitas, tamales, ceviche, albondigas, and handmade corn tortillas.

After a year and half at Copita I feel now ready to focus on my dream of opening my own Mexican restaurant that celebrates authentic Mexican Flavors while using ingredients that are good for my family, my customers, and the planet.

I'll be launching my cafe within the Berkeley non profit Cafe La Pena - which gives me a chance to realize my dream and serve my own community.



Loan details


About Los Cilantros

Industry: Food
Years in operation: 3 years - 5 years
Website: loscilantros-sf.com

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Loan details