- Beside UPS Store
- Near Blind Tasting Beer and Wine Bar
- Beside Faith & Spirits
Mama Coco Cocina Mexicana, a family-owned Mexican restaurant, offers a casual dining experience, blending authentic Mexican Cuisine and brightly colored Decor.
Co-owners Omar Pina and Monica Pilotzi, who have two kids, ages 8 and 14, have lived in Menlo Park for 18 years. This is the first time they’ve run a restaurant, but Mr. Pina is familiar with the business. He has worked at restaurants in Menlo Park and Palo Alto.
I wanted to open my own restaurants for two two to three years, he said when I ate at Cafe Barone a few months ago, I looked at Mex to go across the street and thought it was a great location. I called the owner and she was willing to sell the space.
Under new ownership, the restaurant has undergone a huge transformation: freshly painted walls — blue, red, and yellow, influence by the colors of restaurants in Mexico, according to Mr. Pina — new floors, and a redesigned patio.
Ms. Pilotzi grandmother, Sotoro Tarano, is it inspiration for the restaurant’s name. Known as Mama Coco to residents of Mexico City, Ms. Tarano established the name (derived from her first name) when she fed home cooked Mexican Cuisine to people in her community.
“She raised 12 kids by herself,” said Ms Pilotzi. “She started to cook at home, invited a few workers from the street, and sooner house was full. She fed the whole Community, sometimes for free. She was everyone’s mama.” The restaurants menus uses Mama Coco’s recipes. Among them are Mama Coco’s empanadas, homemade turnovers filled with vegetables, cheese, and corn; and Mama Coco ensalada poblano, salad with peppers, avocado, lime juice, and salmon or shrimp.
It serves basic dishes like tacos and burritos, as well as more unusual entrees like salmon vs Cruz, pan-roasted salmon with Vera Cruz salsa semicolon and Coke Anita to Bill, suckling pig. The restaurant also serves wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages.
Mr. Pina and Ms. Pilotzi said they design their restaurant for a family feel, adding to the patio and area for kids to draw and play. We want to bring families to the restaurant so they can start making memories, noted Mr. Pina. Customers like it because there aren’t many family restaurants around. Parents can bring their kids and still enjoy their food.
Ms. Tarano died in May, a couple of months before the opening. “She didn’t know about the name. We wanted to surprise her,” said Mr Pina. But the restaurant is lined with reminders every lessons, according to Ms. Pilotzi. “On the walls are picture frames with paper cutouts of Spanish words, including amor (love), tradicion (tradition), and Sabor (flavor). they’re things she taught us growing up.”