It's been a while since I promised in this thread to do some exploration of the area around Holliser:
We did have lunch at the Grove, outside of town, which for us at least was not a success:
But finally we were able to get into Hollister proper on the way back to Merced from a Monterey excursion, and tried La Villa De Jerez, mentioned in the first post above. I am happy to report that hubby and I enjoyed it very much and will be back. Well worth the three or so mile detour off 156 heading towards 152 and Pacheco Pass.
Apparently, there is the restaurant on East Street, which is where we ended up, and a taqueria near to downtown on San Benito. The restaurant, on the far edges of downtown in a semi-industrial area, is very non-assuming from the outside, but has a quite pleasant interior with a full bar.
Service was great: friendly, helpful and efficient; a big plus.
Menu is mostly fairly standard Mexican and Tex-Mex offerings, plus a few blackboard specials, including salmon fajitas, and a few others that didn't interest me.
The chips to start were good, salsa was thin and somewhat bland. However, the house made tortillas that were served with our meals more than made up for that less than auspicious start. I had the chile relleno, which is stuffed with cheese and made to order with a fresh poblano chile. Simple, high quality ingredients, very good. It was served with some of the best refried beans I've had in a long while (house made with lard) and good Mexican rice. Plus more of those lovely tortillas than I could eat. I got a small side order of guacamole, which was simple (avocado, tiny bit of lime, trace of chile) and good.
Hubby couldn't be persuaded away from chicken fajitas (sigh, especially since I really also wanted to try the birria, which the server said was a house favorite along with the chile relleno). The fajitas did have lots of fresh and not overcooked vegetables and again, more of those tortillas. He took half of it home for lunch, the portion was easily enough for two of us.
Total for our dinner with one bottomless ice tea (that tasted fresh brewed if a bit on the weak side); a Negro Modelo; order of guacamole, two dinners, and leftovers, was $35 with tax but before tip.
We left happy and will be back to do a bit more exploration of the menu. La Villa de Jerez is not a place for adventurous food, even though it is a bit off the beaten track, but still, for a classic sit down Mexican restaurant that knows how to get the basics right, with great service at reasonable prices, it is well worth the stop or detour if heading to or from Pinnacles (west side) or between the Central Valley and Central Coast. Recommended.