(First published in the February 13, 2020 issue of City Pages)
Ebenezer might be a grocery store, but its low-priced, delicious Mexican cuisine is also drawing customers
Wendy Monzon owner of Ebenezer Grocery, which is already catching attention for its homemade Mexican/ Central American food.
Ebenezer Grocery has been open for just a few weeks now and hopes to become a fully functional eatery by the end of February. But word on the street has been quickly spreading that the place on Grand Avenue in Schofield already is serving up some pretty-mouth watering dishes like tacos, tamales and pupusas.
The owner and mastermind in the kitchen, Wendy Monzon, from Guatemala, came to the Wausau area about two years ago to work and this new venture is “a dream” for her. Her husband, Carlos Maldonado, also from Guatemala, encouraged her, knowing that she makes magic in the kitchen and that customers would love her food.
Ebenezer is a hybrid small grocery store and restaurant. The store side carries products such as corn husks and banana leaves (used in tamale making) and other items generally found in grocery stores in Mexico and other Central and South American countries, but are harder to come by here in Central Wisconsin. You’ll find items such as fresh cactus paddles, chayote squash, Boing!, and Mexican Jarritos flavored sodas.
Carnitas and chicken tacos at Ebenezer.
They will be serving tacos, burritos, tortas (a Mexican style sandwich served on a soft bun), two different types of tamales, chiles rellenos, and pupusas, a Central American specialty made from fried pork belly, corn flour dough, and typically filled with cheese and beans, and then fried to a golden brown.
Customers will find steaming bowls of menudo, a heady Mexican soup made of cow stomach in a base of red pepper broth (available Fri.–Sun.), as well as chilaquiles, a popular hangover remedy meal made of corn chips covered and cooked in salsa and topped with cream, shredded cheese, onions and an egg.
The taco options include tacos al pastor, a flavorful pork in red achiote seasoning; carnitas, which is a braised, tender pork; steak; chorizo, a spicy sausage; as well as chicken, tripe, liver and shrimp. The tacos come garnished with sliced avocado, red onions, cilantro, a lime wedge, grilled Spanish onion and serrano chile pepper on the side, though they can be plain upon request.
Monzon learned to cook many of these dishes while living in California with a friend from Mexico. She has no formal culinary training, but those who’ve eaten her food say she has a natural ability to get the seasoning just right.
Maldonado helps Monzon with much of the prep and says you won’t find pupusas quite like theirs anywhere in the area. He makes the pork belly himself, an endeavor that alone can take up to five hours to prepare. “We get it from a local butcher and it’s a lot of work. It’s not easy.”
Monzon is also quite proud of her tamales, offering both chicken and pork-filled dough steamed in corn husks or banana leaves. Meals can be topped with three different kinds of homemade salsas. Monzon makes everything from scratch.
Monzon named her store Ebenezer, after a biblical reference. “It’s significant,” she says, “because it means God will help me here.”
Ebenezer Grocery, located at 900 Grand Ave. in Schofield, is open Mon.–Sat. 8:00 am–8:00 pm and Sun. 10:00 am–5:00 pm. Contact them at 715-298-3339, or on their Facebook Page.