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Sep 17, 2009 01:35 PM

Current favorite Mexican spots in Watsonville?

Any tips for good Mexican spots in Watsonville these days? I'm heading that way this weekend and was hoping to try some stuff. I've searched some other posts but found mostly old or mixed reviews.

My MIL suggested I try a place called Esperanza for their Camarones a la Diabla. Anyone else tried that place?


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  1. Welcome back to the boards, Nick. Hadn't seen you, here in a while. Did you ever get to Esperanza?

    Unfortunately my reply comes a bit late, but I was in Watsonville last night, and decided to follow up on this lead. Esperanza is a bit off the beaten track, in a residential neighborhood, but not hard to find. The parking lot was more crowded than several other places I passed; a good sign.

    Entered to a large-ish place with two rooms lined with plastic booths. You order at the counter and they bring your order to you. The menu is fairly extensive, with numerous shrimp dishes, fish tacos, grilled and fried fish, oyster shooters, enchiladas de mariscos(per their sign outside, mariscos are a specialty), sopes, flautas, various meat tacos.

    I went for the camarones a la diabla, with corn tortillas, and a Negro Modelo. My dinner was $19 with tax (shrimp are, of course, one of the more expensive items on the menu).

    With my beer, the server brought a basket of fresh, warm chips and a small bowl of red salsa, that had a nice, high level of heat and was very good.

    Unfortunately, that salsa might have been my favorite part of the meal. The shrimp consisted of about five large prawns, served still in the shell. They had been grilled and then covered with the sauce, and were quite sweet and fresh tasting. That was the good news. The bad news is that they were overcooked (and probably cooked even more in the sauce, which was still quite hot temperature wise). Worse yet, while the sauce was truly spicy as a Diabla should be, it had an unpleasantly sour off-taste to me. Not enjoyable.

    My dinner came with six corn tortillas that tasted fresh though probably not house made, good refried beans, and some rather dried out rice.

    My sense was that they get the concept of the dish, but that execution was lacking. I'd probably to back to Esperanza, but would try other dishes if I did. Not sure though: it was definitely disappointing that what is apparently a signature dish was unappealing.

    On my way out of town I passed Real Colima, further down the same street (East Lake). Has anyone tried the mariscos there?

    Real Colima Restaurant
    1101 E Lake Ave, Watsonville, CA 95076

    La Esperanza Mariscos
    400 E Lake Ave, Watsonville, CA 95076

    4 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf

      Last month after finding Doña Rebeca's Grill, the successor to Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo, also out of business, Mom and I headed over to Real Colima #2 on East Lake. A first time for both of us. It was decorated for Christmas with holiday cloths on each table and was quite busy at lunch time on a weekday.

      Mom just wanted something small and ordered an enchilada ala carte, asking for pork. Delicious red mole and chopped pork wrapped inside a chewy corn tortilla with just enough cheese on top, $2.50.

      Para mi, the caldo de res, $7, after learning that the caldo de pollo was already gone for the day. Served with handmade tortillas (flour or corn), I can vouch for the corn ones. The beef shank was much too tough, I probably wouldn't get this again. But the soup did have a lot of veggies in it: corn on the cob, carrots, potato, chayote, and zucchini. And I liked the side of Mexican rice.

      I also had a hot chocolate, beaten to order, $1.50. Salsas seved with the basket of chips are excellent.

      Lots of mariscos and various antojitos on the menu. Good place.

      Real Colima Restaurant
      1101 E Lake Ave, Watsonville, CA 95076

      Doña Rebeca's Grill
      15 First St, Watsonville, CA

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Thanks for the update on Real Colima, Melanie. Since spending more time on the coast is on my list of New Year's resolutions, I hope to try it before long. Can't believe it has been 2 years since I last stopped in Watsonville. And since I am eating very little shrimp these days, the caldo de res would have have appealed to me; too bad about the shank. However, hubby would have loved that enchilada, your pic put it high on the list!

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Loved the holly tablecloth--what a nice touch.

        2. re: susancinsf

          Two of us went to Real Colima #2 on East Lake yesterday. Loved the jamaica beverage. And the hand made corn tortillas. But the experience was uneven. I think they are best at the basics.

          The shrimp taco was da bomb. Light flavor, but at the same time, complex. However, the chicken sope was nuthin' special. Pretty bland, indeed.

          The birria is a weekend special. The sauce was one of the best I've enjoyed, with deep earthy flavors. Nicely a tad picante. But the meat to my palette was a bit overcooked.

          An enjoyable ambiance. I might try the birria again for that sauce. Maybe it was an off day.