Fork in the Road: Lago Vista in Ozawkie fuses Mexican and American food with a view

OZAWKIE, Kan. (WIBW) -- Managing Partner of Lago Vista Miguel Cadena is no stranger to the restaurant scene.

"I was born into the business,” Cadena said. “You know when you go to restaurants and you see little kids running around? I was one of those little kids."

Now he Americanizes Mexican food and Mexicanizes American food at Lago Vista in Ozawkie.

"I’m not a traditional Mexican restaurant,” Cadena said. “There is a hamburger scene in Mexico and I’m just trying to show some of the Mexican-style hamburgers out here."

But it isn't just burgers and hot dogs. Cadena creates other dishes including shark tacos, crispy chicken Cuban sandwiches and other Latin influenced food.

Lago Vista means lake view in Spanish and if you sit on the patio, you get a view of Perry Lake to enjoy with your food.

Cadena draws inspiration from his Latin background for his food, but he isn't afraid to stray away from age old recipes.

"What I learned from my Latin culture was what you put in the food is the love and the effort and the quality ingredients and that what matters,” Cadena said. “Not so much that I’m cooking it exactly like my grandmother made it, but I’ve launched off of what she taught me and I’m taking her values and putting it into my food."

Cadena said people have embraced his unique take on traditional dishes.

"Some people have an expectation of what a Mexican restaurant should be,” Cadena said. “But those of them that have discovered that we are unique, they come religiously."

He also said a restaurant like Lago Vista is needed in a community like Ozawkie and not just for lake-goers, but for residents as well.

"A lot of the food in these rural areas is very same; bar and grill food and pizza,” Cadena said. “There's plenty of people surrounding and they're willing to drive to Topeka which is 30-45 minutes away from them, so I’m sure they'd be willing to meet us here."

Lago vista is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.