On the way back from Monterey we planned our late lunch stop for Watsonville & Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo. After reading some very favorable reviews I was a bit leary about getting too excited and being disappointed but I'm glad to say that it certainly didn't happen. It's one end of a unassuming mini mall near the old downtown district.....when you walk in there are all kinds of colorful tchochkes (sp?) everywhere - covering the walls & windows. Tables have large fake flower arrangements...miscellaneous bits of decor - none of it matching.
It's not fancy at all - this is the epitomy of a family run restaurant - the very precocious 13? year old daughter took our order and is very helpful in answering any/all questions - she's very engaging.
Basically, anything you want is OK.... I just told her what I wanted to try and she offered some combinations and saw that we didn't duplicate flavors/textures/etc.... I really enjoyed the mole -which we got with chicken & shrimp. the chicken was a bit charred, as were the shrimp - I liked this extra nuance - the mole was flavorful but not dominant -. I've had some moles that were so assertive that they took over and the main ingredient got lost. the chef has a balanced palette ..... flavor but without excess heat ... layers of spices. We ordered three stuffed crepes with three different sauces...a red ( guajillo ), a green (tomatillo) and a pink: rose petal sauce was delicate and a bit floral but didn't produce any effects similar to the book/movie. We tried the huitlacoche & squash blossoms in a quesadilla - it was savory - looking more intimidating than it tasted - I've had it on a taco - pretty much unadorned where it was pretty strong flavored but this squash blossom / huitlacoche combo was more user friendly. Some might find it a bit meek. Housemade corn & flour tortillas were good. The best deal here are the agua frescas - for $2.50 they bring you an entire small/medium pitcher - I must have gotten 4-5 glasses of pina (pineapple) agua fresca from my funky ceramic vessel - my s.o. ordered the horchata with strawberry and also got her own pitcher. A very fun place - with some unusual items.
15 First St. Watsonville 831. 724-3492 9am - 9pm daily
It's maybe 5 minutes off of Highway 1. Take highway 129 East - aka Riverside Dr.