Marin Eats: Mexican Ceviche, Margaritas, & Pork Belly Tacos
New seasonal eating menus for traditional and approachable Mexican cuisine that adheres to the Bay Area's “eat local” mantra have popped up in Marin—making ample room at the table for a tequila bar for those so inclined or a more humble street vendor for that Sunday morning produce procuring outing.
For those who pine for vacation time in Western, coastal Mexico but can’t quite make the trip happen, the chef at a popular Mexican restaurant has some regional treats for the month of February via a special Jalisco, Nayarit, and Sinaloa regional menu. There’s also the added bonus of sipping some special tequilas while you’re supping in Sausalito.
At Copita Tequileria y Comida, chef Gonzalo Rivera has created seafood and pork-centric dishes that scream a-u-t-h-e-n-t-i-c: there’s diver scallop and shrimp aguachile negro (ceviche) with avocado and the intriguing chile ash, as well as chilorio, the hearty Sinaloan pork favorite that is slow roasted then fried in peanut and chile de arbol sauce. Chilorio is a rich cowboy dish and is so popular that it's served in the canned goods section of many U.S. and Mexican grocery stores—believe us, Gonzalo’s version tops those canned dealios.
From our local seas, he goes with the succulent pescado Zarandeado, which is spicy guajillo adobo marinated dorado fish fillet that gets hot licks from the grill and is served with rainbow quinoa salad (yes!), cucumber, charred butternut squash (double yes!), golden raisins, tortilla crisps, and an orange & habanero vinaigrette—a little sauce will do ya.
Keep an eye out for celeb chef Joanne Weir, author of Tequila, A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails, and Bites. Together with restaurateur Larry Mindel (Guayamas, Poggio Trattoria, MacArthur Park, Prego) the popular chef and TV personality Weir has a hand in this restaurant. Note the house margaritas are a light and fun way to sunny things up and there’s ample tequila on offer should you crave something stronger. 739 Bridgeway, Sausalito; (415) 331-7400.
Nearby in San Rafael, there are other ways to get a to-go culinary fix with traditional Mexican roots at the Sunday Marin Civic Center Farmers' Market, where last year Chef Carlos Rosas set up digs in the form of a street food vendor booth for his Barrio Contemporary Mexican Cocina. Rosas hails from San Luis Potosi, Mexico and serves tacos, huaraches, bombas (filled soft corn tortillas), quesadillas, and tortas (sandwiches on soft bolillo rolls). In warmer summer months, Rosas was able to also sell at the Fairfax farmers' market, and his bigger goal is to open an actual restaurant in the area or further north. For his menu, look for a breakfast taco that is different for its inclusion of guinea fowl and micro cilantro; traditional types with bigger appetites may fall for the signature Milo version with pork belly and chipotle aioli – step up and order quickly as this item is very popular.
Rosas uses GMO-free corn masa for his handmade tortillas, and goes with local and mostly organic produce, as well as organic and grass fed meats from Marin Sun Farms. For this family affair, both his mother and wife are usually on hand to help at the stall; many of the recipes are from his mom. Before opening Barrio, he worked kitchen and management jobs locally at Cavallo Point, Kokkari, Boulevard, Zuni, Lark Creek Inn, Slanted Door and Jardinière. Marin Civic Center Farmers' Market, 3501 Civic Center Dr., San Rafael.