London

Hungry? Latin Flavour Map can help you find local hidden gems

A new website is bringing Latino and non-Latino Londoners together, uniting them with a mutual love of food.

New map makes it easy for Londoners to discover Latino restaurants in their area

Maria Daniella Quinones and David Ayala created culturx.ca to support London's family-owned Latino businesses and bridge cultural gaps in the community. (Provided by David Ayala )

A new website is bringing Latino and non-Latino Londoners together, uniting them with a mutual love of food.

Last year, David Ayala and Maria Daniella Quinones first started culturx.ca to showcase what it means to be Latino in Canada. The website now features a local events calendar and a shopping section.  

Their biggest endeavour is a Latin Flavour Map, which tells Londoners where to get the freshest empanadas, patacon con carne, perros calientes and more.  

"We're trying to make Culturx a place where Latinos can actually go and find information relevant to what is happening in the Latino community here in London," said Ayala. "Of course, the food map is not only oriented for Latinos, it's actually oriented for everyone who is looking for a great place." 

Ayala and Quinones covered a lot of ground to create the map. The couple ordered food from 15 Latino-owned restaurants throughout the city, taste-testing the products to find and recommend their favourite dishes. 

Flavour Map draws attention to family-owned businesses 

"Most of the businesses are family-owned," Ayala said. "They have a close relationship with their customers. So for us, it's not just a monetary transaction between a business and a customer; it's actually becoming part of a community that is here, will make you feel at home and make a different, more deep connection."    

The Flavour Map shows where the restaurants are located, whether or not they deliver, if they have parking, and if they offer dine-in and takeout.  

Ayala and Quinones began to build their website last year, and hope to see it expand as more Londoners provide feedback and suggestions. (Provided by David Ayala)

It also includes background information on the restaurants, and the origin of the food. 

"I think what we admire the most from all these businesses is that they were able to come to Canada starting almost from scratch in a new country, with a new language, culture shock, all those things that come with immigration," said Quinones. 

"The fact that they're still open so many years later, that's a huge testament to immigrant determination and their ability to pivot and just the resiliency in the Latino community. I think that's something that's really important to highlight within Latinos, that we're very resilient people."

The website and Flavour Map are growing as Ayala and Quinones continue to expand their network in the Latino community, and discover more restaurants to put on the map.  

The end goal, they said, is to maintain a platform that connects more Londoners to Latino culture. 

"We love to hear what people have to say," said Quinones. "If people try out a restaurant, we would love to hear good feedback. It would be great to see if people give their stories that they've tried. It would be awesome."

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