Fiesta Tepa Report - Watsonville
The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about my lunch there yesterday has to be the frequent *bing* of the microwave and the slamming of its door.
I had pretty high hopes for the restaurant after reading the posts which were many years old - but they were pretty much dashed after this tell-tale sign (See: Bourdain)/
My favorite part of the meal had to been the roasted tomato and dried chile salsa with its verdent cilantro leafs that came with the chips. Also, the horchata was the wonderfully artificial tasting kind - so please pass on this.
I had the chiles en nogada which contained a filling that had no nuts or dried fruit and was pretty much tasteless - especially since I think they used the smaller blistering hot chiles de agua rather than the poblano. The nogada sauce just tasted sweet and looked carboard brown rather than off-white - nothing else was recognizable. My favorite thing on the plate was the cheese crepe with the rose petal sauce - I would only come back for this - but again the sauce was nuked dry into the 'crepa.' I have to give cred for the fresh pomgranate seed though. The yellow rice tasted too much of bouillon to be edible and the beans were gloopy. :(
Fellow diner had the trio of pipians - which was also pretty miserable - mainly due to the dubious age of the 'assorted' meats on the plate. The brown - poblano was ok.
I do not think this place is worth an excursion anymore.
Ill load up some pictures tommorow.
Oh, I'm sorry to hear of your palpable disappoint, kare raisu. Somehow your report does not surprise me though. FTS was at its peak for me when I first moved to the area in 2004 and we had the chowdown (must have been early 2005). I don't know if it's gone downhill or if my palate has become more demanding, but I stop in a couple times a year if I'm in the area. There are still some dishes and sauces that I like though, as well as the nostalgia factor. I do think the food could be extraordinary if they used fresher ingredients and put more care into preparation.
Thanks for sharing your perspective, and I look forward to the photos. Do you know if Jorge, the chef-owner, was around?
re: Carb Lover
re: Carb Lover
Carb lover - I think you hit the nail on the head when you said: " I do think the food could be extraordinary if they used fresher ingredients and put more care into preparation."
I think their two faults were:
- Ingredient quality ('aged' tasting meats - shocked when offered all meats shrimp etc.)
- Execution ( everything just frozen or premade and nuked)
I thought it was appropriate that the oversized dishes we were eating on were the pyrex rotating clear plates that come in your microwave.
The mish-mash of tables and chairs did remind me of a scene from "Y tu mama tambien" when they were sitting down at the Oaxacan cenaduria.
The were just women working - all very nice. It was funny because the waitress was speaking in Spanish to my dad knowing well he didnt speak a lick while I was across the room and I had to practically yell the translation so he could pay the bill.
I think the award for hugest corn tortillas I have seen in my life goes here - they were like mini clayudas!
I was there in July 2007, and we had a fantastic meal. We have spoken many times about how tragic it it we may never pass through Watsonville again. We had the pipianes (all chicken), which were great, and a dish that we saw a gentleman at the next table eating. The man was obviously a friend of the owners. We asked what he was eating, and the waitress told him it was a special dish, not on the menu, but that they could make it for us. Yum, yum, yum. It involved beautifully cooked (not overcooked, which is the norm in Mexican cuisine) shrimp with a couple sauces on top of a slightly sweet corn crepe.
Too bad that most dinners there are not so grand. It's nice to know now not to bother taking a trip out of the way if we are relatively nearby.
I guess it pays to be in the know! I recently asked for an update - which Carblover responded to but you may have missed. I guess I will order this if I am ever in the area.
Btw - I think Cocina de Maria and Fiesta Oaxaquena are light years ahead of this place once you get past the novelty of the specialty dishes Tepa offers.
Thanks for posting your pics. I see what you mean about those microwave-style glass plates! Yeah, the food doesn't look very appetizing or fresh. I don't recall my pipian ever looking like that. The quesadilla that came w/ the pipian plate even looks kind of pale and different. I wonder what is going on...
I have to also concur with kare raisu...while not recent
I had dinner there about 3 months ago and had the paella
at the recommendation of the owner.
The rice was overcooked, dried out, chewy and hard.
The so-called meat and seafood must have come from
'Jacks Links' cuz not even sasquatch would be messin
with this dish.
The owner was not as friendly either, he was busy cajoling
only the tables of 6 or more rather than bother with our
meager table of only two.
I definitely won't be revisiting this place anytime soon.
Unless one of you changes my mind with a REAL compelling