Mexican flavors and flare come to Penn Yan

Gwen Chamberlain
Hannah and Dan Zelanzny at their restaurant, La Cocina, located on Maiden Lane in Penn Yan.

What started as a hunch has become a success.

“We felt Penn Yan needed something different,” says Don Zelazny, owner of La Cocina, a Mexican Grill,the area’s newest restaurant.

La Cocina, has been open since Memorial Day weekend,and Zelazny says he’s pleased with the response he’s gotten from customers.

“People have been really pleased with the menu,” he says. The menu features genuine Mexian foods that would be found in Guadalahara. All the food is prepared fresh daily. They are working to keep all the dishes healthy, and are offering a vegetable of the day.

While tacos may sound familiar, the ones you’ll find aren’t the “Texas” style that you’ll find in many establishments. These are filled with shredded beef, pork or chicken rather than ground beef. But that’s just a familiar beginning.

How about Carnitas, seasoned pork, lightly grilled and served on soft corn tortillas, topped with pico de gallo salsa and sprinkled with fresh cilantro; or Chile Rellenos, mild poblano chiles, stuffed with shredded beef and chees and then lightly battered and fried; or Enchiladas Suiza, corn tortillas, stuffed with chicken or beef and topped with a special red sauce or shredded cheese.

If you just can’t decide, there’s always a sampler that includes a beef taaco, chicken enchilada and beef and bean burrito.

Of course, popular Mexican desserts, flan, fried ice cream and sopapillas are also available.

Zelazny has been in the heating, ventiliation and air conditioning business for many years and saw the restaurant as a way to plan a second career.

He and his wife, Mary, director of Finger Lakes Migrant Health, which is located in the offices on the other side of the building, have cooked with Mexican food for many years in their home.

They had been working on the renovation of the building for four years. The east side of the building contains offices. Work continues on the second floor, where he envisions space for functions and meetings within a year.

The work so far has created a colorful, fun atmosphere with loads of old charm from the wide plank floor to the details of the authentic tin ceiling.

Also within a year, he expects to have a full bar. For now, they’re awaiting their beer and wine license.

LaCocina, located at 16 Maiden Lane, is open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner beginning at 11:30 a.m. Call 315-536-6512.