Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo -Still Good as ever? Watsonville
Last time I ate at FTS was post-tomato picking w/ Nathan P. in late Sept. Jorge, the owner and sometimes chef, was working front of the house and recommended a couple of his specials that day. He teased us a bit by being mysterious about the actual ingredients in the dishes, but we decided to put our trust in him and go for it.
I have no idea what the exact names of the dishes were, but mine was shrimp presented in an oval cast iron pan. It was simmered w/ dried smoky chiles, and the thin, dark sauce was slightly sweet but still savory. Jorge revealed the secret ingredient to be Coca Cola. I thought it was fine, but wouldn't order it again.
IIRC, Nathan's dish was shrimp sauteed w/ walnuts and cilantro. The best part for me was the crusty bits on the bottom, and I really liked how the herbaciousness of the cilantro entangled w/ the other parts of the dish. The shrimp were encrusted w/ lots of good flavor. I liked this better than my dish, but probably not something I'd order again.
While I still like FTS, I really only go about 2-3 times a year. My favorite dishes are the empanadas (combo of huitlacoche, squash blossom, and shrimp), the recomendado, and the pipian. The two latter are on the specials menu. The housemade flour and corn tortillas, when made well, are wonderful. The fried quesadilla that accompanies some of the meals is also very tasty.
The lure of FTS is their sauces, salsas, and seasoning combinations that aren't found at your typical Mexican restaurant. In reading your posts, it seems like you are walking in w/ some foundation and knowledge of regional Mex. cuisine so try to dialogue w/ Jorge or his lovely wife before ordering. Maybe you'll unearth some "secret" menu items. I look forward to your report back!
PS. Bring a warm jacket since I find it can get very chilly in there, especially in the winter.
15 1st St, Watsonville, CA