Flavorful Taqueria Opens on Riverside Drive

The family-run business opened in mid-October.

For years, friends have been telling Ruiz family members they should open a restaurant.

Their menudo has always been top-notch, and family patriarch Cesar Ruiz makes a chile toreado—a hot sauce—that beats any store bought brand.

So two weeks ago, the family opened Taqueria Mi Casita on Riverside Drive between Union and Main streets.

"We saw the opportunity and decided to take it," said daughter Olaya Ruiz. "It's always been a dream for my parents."

It's a labor of love for the Ruiz family. They saved up to open the business and are optimistic their food will find a following in Watsonville, even though there are two other taquerias on their block alone.

"We trust our flavors," Olaya said. "We know we have authentic food."

The family is trying to find its niche in the Watsonville restaurant landscape. They're planning a fixed-rate lunch service targeting field workers and truck drivers, and a meal program for residents in the apartments nearby.

A student lunch special appeals to teens at Watsonville High, which is just blocks away. For $5 or less—and with a student ID—kids can get a burrito, carne asada, quesadilla or two tacos and a drink.

And the modest restaurant already has a loyal, if small, group of patrons inherited from the earlier establishment that occupied the building. They love the new menu.

"Everything is authentic Mexico," said Olaya, who works at the taqueria with her mother, also named Olaya, and sister Karen, while her dad babysits his grandchildren.

She recommends her dad's sauce, a spicy blend they someday hope to bottle and sell.

"My dad says it's love at first bite," Olaya said.

Taqueria Mi Casita, at 51 E. Riverside Dr., will have a grand opening celebration on Nov. 10. It's open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. The hours will lengthen in the spring.

Cathy P. November 02, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Pretty sad Samantha, I agree. I think it all boils down to a lack of (city) leadership. The old saying "you can't fight City Hall" rings true around here. If you aren't part of the status quo, you have no voice (no one listens anyway) imo.
angielica woods November 02, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I knew the restaurant that was there before, I went in today to try out the food and let me be the first to say it was AMAZING service was great, and the food was in no way like the previous restaurant. Im glad its here now and I will be sure to go again. If you guys feel so strong as to having different food in watsonville set up shop or write a blog but dont take the focus of a New Restaurant just to complain about diversity I say new restaurant because it is new owners, new flavor, new people its like when you go to a store for the first time you can no longer get the first time buyer discount because there already was a customer before you. I tryed Mi Casita today and im sold! Keep up the good work
Watzon McWats November 02, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Just for reference, Bangkok West recently opened a location next to Target, and there's a new Pho place next to OSH, Tran Noodle (which I haven't tried yet). Still though, it would be nice to have more than one choice for Tai and Viet.
Watzon McWats November 02, 2012 at 07:57 PM
I DEFINITELY agree with you there. I'm not all that excited to hear that Olive Garden and Fresh Choice have their eye on Watsonville. I want diversity in food choices, but not by those means. Mom and pop all the way!
Watzon McWats November 02, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I wonder how well an Ethiopian joint would do in Watsonville. It's essentially another countries take on the taco. Typically a variety of spicy meat and vegitable stew-like dishes are eaten with injera (tortilla). Good stuff. Great way to eat with the family or close friends.


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