Birria and Siete Mares at Real Colima #1 in Pajaro
Earlier this week I was talking about last weekend's visit to Las Islitas at work and a coworker who lives in Watsonville recommended Real Colima in Pajaro as being about as representative of a typical Mexican restaurant in Mexico as one would find in the area. He also mentioned that they offered birria on weekends, so this afternoon I grabbed a couple of our daughters and headed over to Pajaro to check it out.
Located on Porter a few blocks over the border between Watsonville and Pajaro, Real Colima offers a fairly extensive menu of Mexican standards, including a pretty wide selection of mariscos: cocteles, soups, plates etc. (there were three or four different preparations of bacon-wrapped shrimp alone).
We were immediately brought a basket of chips and a bowl of salsa that reminded me a lot of Tepa's table salsa (that's a good thing). I had decided in advance that I wanted birria. It's available on Saturday and Sunday only and can be ordered in a small or large portion without rice or beans or a large portion with rice and beans ($9.00). I picked the latter. Much to my surprise (and that of the waitress), my 10 year old daughter decided that she wanted Siete Mares.
While waiting for our food, we watched a lot of good-looking plates go by on their way to other tables. The cocteles looked great and sopes and tostadas also looked good.
My daughter's Siete Mares arrived first. While it's not obvious from the photo, it was a really big bowl. Her exploration turned up a couple of big hunks of catfish (see photo), lots of shrimp, small shellfish (clams?), octopus and vegetables. I tasted her broth and it was delicious. Intensely flavorful with some definite heat. All of the seafood seemed cooked just about right. Since my daughter decided that she really wasn't up for the octopus, my other daughter and I alternated eating each piece as she discovered it. It was delightfully tender, without any of the rubberiness that so often besets octopus.
My birria was likewise tender and intensely flavorful. It was served with reasonably good beans and rice and a pile of chopped onion and cilantro. All of us had selected flour tortillas and we each got two enormous tortillas. Not quite at the level of Tepa's flour tortillas, but pretty darned good. (Their corn tortillas are apparently home made.)
Overall, Real Colima ranks high for good, solid, homey food. The quality of the ingredients is good and the prices are definitely right. While it offers little in the way of decor, service is attentive and the overall vibe is friendly and welcoming. Definitely worth a return trip or two to try other things on the menu.
A couple of photos here:
Real Colima #1
74 Porter Drive
(There is apparently another Real Colima on East Lake in Watsonville.)
I was visting the area this past week and the docent at Elkhorn Slough recommeded this place. I had a serious jones for Caldo de res and Real Colima delivered. My wife had the Caldo de pollo and was less enthusiastic. We had one taco al pastor that was actually big enough for an appetizer for two and two of best versions of horchata I've tasted. Less than $20 for a great meal.
I also agree that the place is friendly, clean and comfortable.