By SCOTT MIMS / Employees Author
CALERA — Los Angeles native Jessica Bargas couldn’t be happier to be in downtown Calera, Alabama. Because the supervisor of latest Mexican restaurant Mama Coco Cantina, she has come to like small-town life.
Bargas, who labored for proprietor Julio Peralta at one among his different eating places, jumped on the likelihood to return to Mama Coco when she heard in regards to the alternative.
“We needed Calera simply because we’re a little bit bit extra centered than simply Birmingham. It offers individuals a selection whether or not they wish to drive farther,” Bargas mentioned. “We love the nation, although. We like it.”
Mama Coco Cantina opened on Dec. 4, 2020, and made it official with a ribbon slicing on Dec. 10. It’s positioned on U.S. 31 within the Household Greenback procuring middle close to historic downtown Calera.
Whereas the eye-catching wall artwork attracts some inspiration from the Disney film “Coco,” the identify Mama Coco has nothing to do with the movie. It comes from a standard nickname for Hispanic grandmothers.
“They at all times name grandmothers ‘Mama,’ in order that’s the place the identify got here from. Within the Hispanic tradition, the grandmothers stay within the kitchen. The whole lot is handmade, just like the tortillas or handmade tamales or bread,” Bargas mentioned. “We really feel as Hispanics, most of our household time occurs within the eating room and within the kitchen. That was our bonding. We actually tried getting this picture the place it’s our tradition, the cooking within the kitchen and the household. Meals is essential.”
And guests to Mama Coco will discover an in depth menu, together with the signature Burrito Grande—an extra-large burrito full of grilled rooster, grilled steak, shrimp, grilled bell peppers, grilled tomatoes, grilled onions, rice and beans, lettuce and bitter cream topped with inexperienced sauce, purple sauce and cheese sauce. Trace: Don’t strive consuming one by your self—it’s finest to share.
Different highlights embody Durango’s steak—a ribeye with shrimp and steamed veggies—Mama’s Dip, which mixes steak, chorizo, onions, entire beans and cheese dip; and Julio’s favourite, Mexican Spaghetti.
For seafood lovers, there’s the Mama Coco Fajita Ceviche, which consists of crab meat, fish, shrimp and pico de gallo.
“Mama’s Dip is one I’ve lots of regulars are available and (ask for),” Bargas mentioned. “Our margaritas as nicely; we’ve got loads of flavors.”
Regardless of opening in the course of a pandemic, Bargas added that enterprise is booming on the restaurant, which is already constructing a clientele of regulars and provides to the potential of Calera’s downtown evolving into an leisure district.
“We’ve been nonstop. It has been a blessing for all of us, for the kitchen, for Julio, the servers, for everyone,” she mentioned. “We’ve had large optimistic response on Fb. They’ve had so many phenomenal followers and responses about how good the meals is.”
Proprietor Julio Peralta first got here to america from Mexico when he was 18. He and his uncle, Miguel, have operated a number of eating places in North Alabama and the Birmingham space.
“We heard from mates that it was an excellent space to do enterprise, plus Calera wanted one thing like this,” Peralta mentioned.
Based mostly on the success of Mama Coco up to now, he already has plans to develop the eating space and probably add karaoke or a mariachi band for particular days corresponding to Cinco de Mayo. He mentioned Mama Coco tries to supply a special expertise from different Mexican eating places by its decorations and genuine flavors.
Peralta mentioned his favourite time on the restaurant is on Friday nights.
“I like when it’s full, when all of the individuals are speaking, when all people’s ingesting, when all people’s having time,” he mentioned.
Calera Predominant Road Government Director Jackie Batson mentioned she tried the Mexican spaghetti and that it was scrumptious.
“I’m thrilled to have Mama Coco in our downtown district. They’ve been so per their high quality and their service since day one, that it’s simple to go to typically. I stay up for much more eating places and actions for all of us to get pleasure from downtown as we proceed to revitalize historic Calera,” she mentioned.
Mama Coco Cantina is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday by Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday by Saturday. It’s positioned at 8176 U.S. 31 and could also be reached through Fb or at 205-690-8994.