Let’s face it folks, when it comes to eating something different in Watsonville there aren’t too many options in town other than that on it or an Asian cuisine dish that can put a heavy dent in my wallet.
But then I came across on First Street. Yes, I know it sounds like another taqueria. However, 42-year-old Fred and 28-year-old Adrian Muñoz have made sure that that’s not the case for their fresh and innovative restaurant.
The Muñoz brothers, who grew up in Watsonville, opened up the food joint three weeks ago and gave the inside decor a hip look with vivid lime green walls, flat screen TVs, music with lyrics in English and an important feature for most places these days: a free Wi-Fi connection.
I decided to give Nacho Mama’s a shot since one of my last conversations ended with, “The nachos were off the hook” and I must to say that my latest food voyage was beyond satisfaction.
The menu is made up of an assortment of quirky, yet, flavorful dishes, appetizers, and styles of plates such as The Mean Green, Mama’s Spicy Pepper, Not’cho Fries ($6.99), The O.G. Quesadilla (plain $2.99, chicken $3.99) from the kids menu, and something that caught my eye real quick, an unusual side dish called jalapeño coleslaw.
Adrian created this custom condiment in the kitchen when he mixed together crunchy shredded cabbage, spicy jalapeños, creamy ripe avocados and a slab of sour cream that’ll complement any plate on the menu.
“Me and my kid brother just wanted to be original and do something different,” said Fred about making up the menu. “There’s all these places like the wing stops and we said ‘Man, the nachos are getting neglected’ so we wanted to represent the nachos.”
Both of the guys are naturals when it comes to whipping up a hot plate to eat and Fred claims that he and his brother spend a lot of the time in the kitchen. So it was only natural that Fred quit his old gig as a salesman for Coca-Cola and Budweiser and joined the rest of the culinary world.
As most people know, Watsonville is notorious for opening up new taquerias in just about every vacant spot available. Just go ask local musician about it. Yet, Fred and Adrian vow to be different and want Nacho Mama’s to be separate from the norm, but in a good way.
“Every so often if we see something on our menu that’s not moving then we’re going to change it up and do something different,” said Fred. “I think there’s too many taquerias in town and I didn’t want to compete with them, I just want to create some excitement for people.”
And with Fred’s latest idea of perhaps adding a spicy or big size dish food challenge like the ones on the infamous Man VS Food show, without a doubt this place will come alive when folks try to beat whatever obstacles the Muñoz brothers have in store, perhaps a solo mission to take on the mighty Wild Thing?
The Wild Thing ($18.99) is a huge 14-by-21 inch dish of nacho heaven that could feed up to four people, or two hungry giants. This jumbo size order of nachos can be topped with an entire flavor style or a combination of up to four. This is perfect for any party occasion or better yet, the upcoming football season.
But at the time I focused on lunch and noticed there was steps involved to order at Nacho Mama’s—nothing too confusing though.
The first step was deciding whether to pick signature nachos (regular $6.99, large $8.99), crunchy/soft tacos (1 taco $1.99, 3 tacos $5.50), salad/taco salad (regular $5.99, taco shell $6.99), or a trio of sliders ($6.99). It didn’t take long for me to solve that question, a regular size order of nachos of course.
Now it was time to pick my style of flavor and this part was a little tricky since it was my first time here. The Mean Green sounded good with tender pork simmered in a spicy home made chili verde sauce topped with a three cheese blend and a choice of sour cream and green onions or jalapeño slaw.
But I went with The Mayan and that bad boy had chunks of chorizo, Oaxaca cheese, sour cream, fresh chopped green onions and zesty chipotle sauce. The chipotle sauce was a perfect complement with the spicy chorizo and Oaxaca cheese—two thumbs up.
And it wouldn’t be lunch without the presence of good company around me, so my friends Aaron and Nick joined in on the mid-afternoon feast.
Aaron ordered a large size of the Not’cho Average Asada nachos and they were hands down some of the most scrumptious and savory set of nachos my taste buds have encountered.
The crunchy tortilla chips were covered with a gooey 3-cheese mix and mouth- watering “specially seasoned” carne asada topped with black beans, minced jalapeños, sour cream, green onions, and the creamy jalapeño coleslaw.
Nick wasn’t in the mood for nachos and went for an order of three soft tacos, El Cochino style. Pieces of juicy BBQ pork were laid inside a warm corn tortilla and topped with cheddar cheese along with sour cream and onions. I had a bite of a taco and although it had a unique taste, it was still delicious in my book.
And creating a unique array of flavors along with a modern look inside the restaurant is exactly what Fred and Adrian have tried to achieve at Nacho Mama’s.
“What we’re trying to do is create a fun atmosphere for families to come hang out,” said Fred. “We want to do something where people can come hang out, have fun, and hopefully it’s a cool spot for them.”
Nacho Mama's is at 15 First St., Watsonville, CA 95076. (831) 722-8820. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 12-8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays.