WIMAUMA — Maria Pimentel works 16 hours every day, and she hasn’t taken a vacation in 20 years. That dedication is part of the reason Taqueria El Sol has been a staple in Wimauma for 26 years.
“You get accustomed to it after a while,” Pimentel said of her work ethic during an interview conducted in Spanish. “Coming here every day is just what I do.”
Pimentel is a native of Guatemala who lives in Riverview. She arrived in Florida 28 years ago.
“This place [the United States] gives you a lot of opportunities if you’re willing to work hard,” she said. “It doesn’t always mean you’re going to get rich, but you get a really good chance to live comfortably.”
Taqueria El Sol started out as a successful taco stand at the southeast corner of State Road 674 and Railroad Street. Three years later, Pimentel acquired the property where the stand was located and began constructing the building that currently houses the restaurant.
Although the out-of-the-way restaurant sits near the southeastern boundary of Hillsborough County, Pimentel says she gets hungry customers from all over the Tampa Bay area and beyond.
“I have people come in from St. Pete, Clearwater, Sarasota, Lakeland, Brandon, everywhere,” she said.
Pimentel says everything on the Taqueria El Sol menu — which is highlighted by the restaurant’s tacos, tamales and carne asada — is made by hand and utilizes natural ingredients.
Though she spends the majority of her time at the restaurant, Pimentel — who has been married for 20 years, and has three kids — is constantly surrounded by family and friends. Among the employees at the restaurant are her brother, a nephew and even some in-laws.
Pimentel is proud to be part of the Wimauma community.
“It’s not just a bunch of ‘taquerias’ out here,” said Pimentel, pointing out diverse businesses like the nearby Ambassador Racing School. “There’s a lot more to Wimauma.”
Taqueria El Sol, 702 Railroad Street, is open every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, call (813) 270-4872