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Los Loosers

Los Loosers

Mariana Blanco is the chef-owner of the restaurant Los Loosers in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City. We first met Mariana when looking for international cycling snack recipes for our Volume 11 Food Feature. Fast-forward a few months and landing in Mexico City, we knew just where we wanted to eat. We sat down with Mariana over a table full of amazing dishes to chat about food, bikes and following your own tastes.

Mariana Blanco is the chef-owner of the restaurant Los Loosers in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City. We first met Mariana when looking for international cycling snack recipes for our Volume 11 Food Feature. Fast-forward a few months and landing in Mexico City, we knew just where we wanted to eat. We sat down with Mariana over a table full of amazing dishes to chat about food, bikes and following your own tastes.

FR: So how did this all start? 
M: I started Los Loosers as a delivery food service by bike. It started in my apartment. I’ve cooked since I was eight, and I was really tired of following rules and having a boss. It didn’t make sense for me. I also wanted to start this because there wasn’t any food for me. Before 2011, there weren’t any vegan options in the city. Because I’m a cyclist, I decided to deliver the food on my bike. It was really easy in the beginning. I’d make a sandwich, a dessert, I’d take a picture and post it on Instagram, take some orders and deliver them by bike. But in the first month, I cracked my tailbone. A car hit me. It was crazy because then I couldn’t do anything, but I’d already decided that this is what I want to do. 


FR: How many customers did you have in the beginning? 
M: The first day, one, then ten. Eventually, it was delivering 250 sandwiches all over the city by bike. It was crazy. I used to work with bike messengers for the deliveries. It was really hard…It was really hard for them to take orders from a girl. Even something stupid like, “you need to wash your jersey.” Here in Mexico, we have this macho culture. It was crazy. It was like this for four years, delivering food prepared in my home. And then I found this place. 

FR: So how did this all start? 
M: I started Los Loosers as a delivery food service by bike. It started in my apartment. I’ve cooked since I was eight, and I was really tired of following rules and having a boss. It didn’t make sense for me. I also wanted to start this because there wasn’t any food for me. Before 2011, there weren’t any vegan options in the city. Because I’m a cyclist, I decided to deliver the food on my bike. It was really easy in the beginning. I’d make a sandwich, a dessert, I’d take a picture and post it on Instagram, take some orders and deliver them by bike. But in the first month, I cracked my tailbone. A car hit me. It was crazy because then I couldn’t do anything, but I’d already decided that this is what I want to do. 

FR: How many customers did you have in the beginning? 
M: The first day, one, then ten. Eventually, it was delivering 250 sandwiches all over the city by bike. It was crazy. I used to work with bike messengers for the deliveries. It was really hard…It was really hard for them to take orders from a girl. Even something stupid like, “you need to wash your jersey.” Here in Mexico, we have this macho culture. It was crazy. It was like this for four years, delivering food prepared in my home. And then I found this place.  

 

Losloosers-12
Losloosers-6

FR: And then things started to change?  
M: Yes. One day, I was cooking here the normal menu, sandwiches and desserts. And I was making a kimchi sundubu (soft tofu) ramen for myself. One customer tried to order my soup, and I was like, “no, that’s my lunch.” But he said, “I want that soup. I can pay.” So, I said ok. The next day, he was back with ten people asking for that soup. From that, everything changed. I realized that people love my food. 

In the beginning, I didn’t plan to have a food business, but I couldn’t go eat anywhere. There were vegetarian places, but not vegan. I was one hundred percent sure my parents would buy my food, and some of my friends, but I was really nervous because I’d always only cooked for myself, never strangers. When I started cooking and selling food from my house, I was still hiding myself. I was running an illegal business. I was packing a beautiful sandwich, but I still had to hide myself. When I moved here, I was like, “This is me. I’m going to cook my food and if you like it or don’t, that’s fine.” 


FR: Where did the name Los Loosers come from? 
M: I’ve been a cyclist forever. So, Los Loosers, it has the double “o” like the wheels on my bike. Many years ago, I had this group of friends. We used to go to clubs or parties, and I was the only cyclist. My friends wanted me to go by car and I’d always say no. I wanted to ride my bicycle. Afterwards, we’d go out for food, like tacos, and I’d just order some tortillas or food without animal products. 

One night, we were at a huge party with all of my friends. One of them got really drunk and said, “I don’t know why you want to prove that you are better than us and different. You don’t even have a normal job. You are a loser.” And I said, “Yeah, I’m a loser if that means I’m not like you.” So when I wanted a name for my restaurant, it seemed perfect.

FR: And then things started to change?  
M: Yes. One day, I was cooking here the normal menu, sandwiches and desserts. And I was making a kimchi sundubu (soft tofu) ramen for myself. One customer tried to order my soup, and I was like, “no, that’s my lunch.” But he said, “I want that soup. I can pay.” So, I said ok. The next day, he was back with ten people asking for that soup. From that, everything changed. I realized that people love my food. 

In the beginning, I didn’t plan to have a food business, but I couldn’t go eat anywhere. There were vegetarian places, but not vegan. I was one hundred percent sure my parents would buy my food, and some of my friends, but I was really nervous because I’d always only cooked for myself, never strangers. When I started cooking and selling food from my house, I was still hiding myself. I was running an illegal business. I was packing a beautiful sandwich, but I still had to hide myself. When I moved here, I was like, “This is me. I’m going to cook my food and if you like it or don’t, that’s fine.” 


FR: Where did the name Los Loosers come from? 
M: I’ve been a cyclist forever. So, Los Loosers, it has the double “o” like the wheels on my bike. Many years ago, I had this group of friends. We used to go to clubs or parties, and I was the only cyclist. My friends wanted me to go by car and I’d always say no. I wanted to ride my bicycle. Afterwards, we’d go out for food, like tacos, and I’d just order some tortillas or food without animal products. 

One night, we were at a huge party with all of my friends. One of them got really drunk and said, “I don’t know why you want to prove that you are better than us and different. You don’t even have a normal job. You are a loser.” And I said, “Yeah, I’m a loser if that means I’m not like you.” So when I wanted a name for my restaurant, it seemed perfect.

Losloosers-1
Losloosers-2

FR: What have been some recent challenges? 
M: Right now, I have twenty employees, and they have families and they depend on me. It’s a continuing fight with myself to be an adult. I don’t want to be an adult, to worry about taxes and salaries and insurance. 

Also, now I’m planning to start delivering again by bicycle from a new location. So I’m trying to figure out how to do it. Mexico City isn’t always ready for cyclists. But I don’t want to use Uber Eats or Postmates or whatever. You can do the same but in an independent way. My friend Pancho from the bike shop Bombardiers is helping me. 

 

FR: What have been some recent challenges? 
M: Right now, I have twenty employees, and they have families and they depend on me. It’s a continuing fight with myself to be an adult. I don’t want to be an adult, to worry about taxes and salaries and insurance. 

Also, now I’m planning to start delivering again by bicycle from a new location. So I’m trying to figure out how to do it. Mexico City isn’t always ready for cyclists. But I don’t want to use Uber Eats or Postmates or whatever. You can do the same but in an independent way. My friend Pancho from the bike shop Bombardiers is helping me. 


Losloosers-8

FR: What does it mean to have a vegan restaurant in Mexico City? 
M: I really hate the words vegan or veggie or plant-based. Right now, you are eating mole, tortillas, broth that’s made with plants and legumes and seeds. When I cook ramen, it has crazy ingredients—even like popcorn. It’s crazy and it’s really tasty. I have a lot of friends who say, I can’t imagine having ___ without meat, but then they try it. We have a lot of customers now who fly from London or New York or LA just to come here. 

But I want to introduce my food to all kinds of people. What’s the point of cooking only for vegans? To make them more vegan? Ninety percent of the people who come here now aren’t even vegetarian. 

FR: What does it mean to have a vegan restaurant in Mexico City? 
M: I really hate the words vegan or veggie or plant-based. Right now, you are eating mole, tortillas, broth that’s made with plants and legumes and seeds. When I cook ramen, it has crazy ingredients—even like popcorn. It’s crazy and it’s really tasty. I have a lot of friends who say, I can’t imagine having ___ without meat, but then they try it. We have a lot of customers now who fly from London or New York or LA just to come here. 

But I want to introduce my food to all kinds of people. What’s the point of cooking only for vegans? To make them more vegan? Ninety percent of the people who come here now aren’t even vegetarian. 

Losloosers-5

FR: How did Asian cuisine come into your cooking? 
M: When I was seven or eight, there was a program that would come on tv—a Japanese tv show. There were puppets, and the story was always the same. Kids who were really poor, who didn’t belong, who didn’t have friends. I really related with that type of life. Now, I really love visiting Japan and Korea. Every year, I go to Asia at least three times. I make dinners as a guest chef. I go to Japan because people want me to teach them how to make ramen. It’s crazy. When I first went to Japan, to a large festival and taught people how to make Mexican ramen, it was like living in a dream. 


FR: If you had to pick one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
M: Kimchi sundubu with something really Mexican, like cilantro. I’m a soup person. 


You can try Mariana’s creations daily at Los Loosers or try your hand at one of her recipes featured in Volume 11, out soon. 

FR: How did Asian cuisine come into your cooking? 
M: When I was seven or eight, there was a program that would come on tv—a Japanese tv show. There were puppets, and the story was always the same. Kids who were really poor, who didn’t belong, who didn’t have friends. I really related with that type of life. Now, I really love visiting Japan and Korea. Every year, I go to Asia at least three times. I make dinners as a guest chef. I go to Japan because people want me to teach them how to make ramen. It’s crazy. When I first went to Japan, to a large festival and taught people how to make Mexican ramen, it was like living in a dream. 


FR: If you had to pick one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
M: Kimchi sundubu with something really Mexican, like cilantro. I’m a soup person. 


You can try Mariana’s creations daily at Los Loosers or try your hand at one of her recipes featured in Volume 11, out soon. 

Interview by Brad Hammonds / Answers by Mariana Blanco / Photography by Sogon Yoon and Brad Hammonds

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