At La Morada, Carolina Saavedra and her family are redefining what it means to run a restaurant.
A longtime sanctuary space for activists, La Morada hosts a lending library, has turned its space into a mutual aid soup kitchen during the pandemic, and might be one of the few (only?) restaurants with a Poet in Residence.
Carolina is sous chef to her mother, Natalia Mendez — the family serves up Mixtec Indigenous food, specializing in Oaxacan cuisine. They have a small plot in a nearby community garden, where they source some of the fresh produce for their restaurant.
An educator at the renowned Stone Barns Center, Carolina left a fledgling career in medicine to pursue her true passion: learning, preserving, and sharing the food traditions of her family.
“I graduated with honors from the International Culinary Arts Center, but I learned how to cook our Indigenous cuisine from my mom and grandma.”
Carolina in the Mariposa Top.
Carolina and her family kickstarted their restaurant career as street vendors, selling tacos at the Sunday soccer matches at Ferry Point Park. After pooling all of their savings, they were able to open La Morada — right in the middle of the 2009 economic recession.
Faced with another moment of upheaval, Carolina and the rest of the team find the motivation to navigate the pandemic in the people around them.
“We choose to serve our community over profits.”