Elote, Flautas, and Pupusas – Oh My! New Kirksville restaurant serves El Salvadorian cuisine

Server Jade Sanders takes an order over the phone. Lupita’s began as a food truck serving the Kirksville area. Photos by Megan Nesbitt

Family-owned restaurant Lupita’s, which serves Hispanic cuisine, opened December 2022 after beginning as a food truck during September 2021. Lupita’s is on the Downtown Kirksville Square in the Pickler’s Famous building, which Take Root Cafe previously occupied. 

Lupita’s is run by Cecilia Pacheco and her father, Edwin Pacheco. Cecilia’s mom, Clelia, is the head chef, and Cecilia’s sister, Angely, works as a server. Lupita’s is named after Cecilia and her mom’s middle name, Guadalupe, often nicknamed Lupita. Lupita’s serves Hispanic food with variations of Salvadoran and Mexican flavors. The family is El Salvadorian and prides themselves on their authentic menu. 

Cecilia, co-owner and CEO, said she and her family moved to Kirksville from Milan, Missouri, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The family wanted to start a restaurant back when they were in Milan, but Cecilia said businesses in Milan typically start up and don’t survive. Once the family moved to Kirksville, they realized they could make their dream come true. 

“My mom has always been a good cook, and [people] have always complimented that we should do something,” Cecilia said. “So the food truck is what we decided on.” 

While the food truck was great temporarily, the family decided to upgrade to a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Cecilia said. 

Since opening day, December 17, Lupita’s has faced some challenges. 

“We’re still struggling with our exhaust hood — it’s not as big as we hoped,” Cecilia said. “We’re basically working with a griddle and a fryer right now.”

Stephanie Kubin, a junior in high school and server at Lupita’s, said, “Getting into the flow of things has been tricky — there’s also some language barriers we have to work around.” 

Even with these challenges, the new restaurant’s business has been fairly steady, Cecilia said.

 “It hasn’t been a lot of people, but we’re all learning because we’ve never done something like this before,” said Cecilia. “For us, it feels like a lot, but in reality, it’s not.”

 Kubin said the community has been very welcoming and most people enjoy the food. She also said the restaurant has regulars already.

As Lupita’s becomes more established in the community, they are working on obtaining their liquor license and want to transform the upstairs into a study area for college students, Cecilia said. They have free WiFi and invite students to come and work while enjoying their food. 

Sam Wittich, a Truman State University alumnus, had the privilege of trying Lupita’s as a food truck and now as a stand-alone restaurant. 

“I was excited to see a small business grow in Kirksville,” Wittich said. “I went to the food truck multiple times and loved it, so I couldn’t wait to go to the restaurant.” 

Wittich said it was nice to see something in the Pickler’s building again. He also said Lupita’s wasn’t crowded when he went in, and he would love to see more people try it out. He said the food was great and seemed really authentic.

If you visit Lupita’s, Cecilia recommends trying the carne asada, and Kubin suggested the quesabirria tacos.