Coloma, California is a small foothill community in El Dorado County that everybody who has studied California history is familiar with, as it's the site where James Marshall discovered gold back on January 24, 1848, which sparked the great California Gold Rush of 1849. James Marshall may have discovered gold in Coloma, 169 years ago, but today, July 15, 2017, I discovered a great Mexican restaurant, Taqueria Aguas Blancas, in friendly Coloma.
As with all of reviews that I publish, I have no affiliation with the restaurant reviewed, and there is no monetary gain on my part, as I am simply a person who likes to eat, and I love to write-up, and publish my dining experiences.
Photo: Taqueria Aguas Blancas is located in a rather picturesque two-story building, just north of the small Sierra Nevada foothill of Coloma, elevation 750 feet. The name means "white waters taqueria," and it's a good name, as the restaurant stands on the banks of the South Fork of the American River, which is famous for some of the best whitewater rafting in the western United States.
As you will recall from your California history, Coloma is where gold was discovered, which sparked the gold rush of 1849, and ultimately led California into statehood. As the years passed and the "easy" gold dried up, Coloma drifted into nearly ghost-town status. Thanks to the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, and the whitewater rafting, Coloma is alive and well, and actually sports two fine restaurants, Taqueria Aguas Blancas being the only Mexican restaurant in the general area.
Photo: As you walk in the door, the restaurant, along with the order counter, is to your left. The restaurant is a combination Mexican restaurant/convenience store, and almost reminds me of an eastern Oregon roadhouse.
The restaurant opens at 10 every morning. Today, it's 10:05 in the morning, Saturday, June 15, 2017, and I just walked in the door, and have "opened" the restaurant for this hot Saturday morning in mid-July.
Photo: As you walk in the door, and look to the right, you'll see the convenience/grocery items the restaurant/store offers, and the spacious, clean indoor dining room. The grocery section even sports a decent selection of locally-produced El Dorado County wine. El Dorado and Placer County, just to the north, produce a moderate proportion of California wine, but the foothill vineyards aren't as well-known as the famous Napa Valley vineyards, to the west.
Photo: The counter of the restaurant, as seen from the general store/dining area. Grocery and convenience items are placed everywhere, and are easily viewed as you enjoy your meal. I suspect this is a merchandising trick, and it's not very subtitle. Since the restaurant is built on the banks of the South Fork of the American River, and is one of the most popular white water rafting rivers in the state, the store maintains a good selection of camping and rafting supplies.
Photo: There are no printed menus, only this menu posted on the wall next to the order counter. This menu is informal at best, and seems to be made up of separate sheets, pinned to the wall with push pins. Definitely "low tech" but it gets the job done. Note the breakfast selection of the menu, which features both Mexican selections, and familiar American "comfort food" items. The restaurant opens at 10 every morning.
Taqueria Aguas Blancas operates in typical taqueria style, in that you make your selection from the posted menu, pay for it, and when your order is ready, it will be brought to you. There is a tip cup located next to the cash register, and after I enjoyed my delicious breakfast, I put a few bucks in the cup, in appreciation of the great service I received.
While your order is being made, you seat yourself, and help yourself to the chips and salsa bar.
Photo: A peek into the semi-open kitchen, as I load up on chips and salsa, from the salsa bar. On this Saturday morning, there were three charming ladies at work.
Photo: The chips and salsa bar, which is complimentary with every meal eaten in-house. Unlike many similar salsa bars, the chips were very crispy and fresh, and the salsa was freshly-made. I asked my server, Yolanda about the salsa and she confirmed my thoughts that it is made in-house, before the restaurant opens for the day.
Photo: Today's special, as advertised on a chalk board, on the front porch, as you enter the restaurant.
Photo: Since today was a very lovely, warm - around 90 degree - July morning, I decided to take my beer, chips and salsa, and enjoy them on the shaded front porch, and watch the traffic go by on Highway 49. That's my 20-year-old Ford F-250 truck, which is still my daily driver.
Photo: My friendly server, Yolanda, was surprised, as she brought my meal, and I requested her photo. Today, I ordered the "Asada Breakfast Special," which is one of my favorite Mexican breakfasts.
To digress, as I entered the restaurant, Yolanda, who was doing customer service - while the other two ladies worked the kitchen - greeted me, and I ambled up to the menu to ponder my selection. I noted that menudo is offered on weekends, but today I was in the mood for a more "conventional" breakfast, with a Mexican twist, and the "Asada Breakfast Special" seemed like a perfect fit. I did have a few questions to ask, for example, I wanted my eggs over easy, rather than scrambled, so I needed to make my wishes know, as I placed my order. Dear Yolanda was a sweetheart, but I could barely understand her heavily-accented English, which I assume is her second language. So, being the trooper that I am, I switched over to Spanish, which I used for the duration of my enjoyable visit to this fine taqueria.
After completing my meal, I got a laugh out of using my high school Spanish, as I never would have thought that Spanish would come in handy in Coloma.
Photo: Thanks, Yolanda, for snapping my photo, as I'm ready to enjoy a delicious breakfast, on the shaded front porch.
Photo: I decided on the "Asada Breakfast Special," which includes eggs, beans, rice, potatoes, tortillas, and carne asada. Before I started using Spanish, I could tell that I was being led in the direction of a carne asada burrito, which is only a meal of last-resort to me, as I've never developed a taste for burritos. Have you ever tried to request "eggs over easy" - los huevos más fácil - when the person has English difficulties?
The meal was delicious, especially los huevos más fácil, and there was plenty of it. Rice, beans, potatoes, steak and four corn tortillas, not to mention the chips and salsa, made for a delicious, and filling breakfast. The food was perfectly cooked, there was plenty of it, and it was served with a smile. What more could you ask for?
Oddly enough, the menu does not offer refried beans or chorizo. I make the assumption since Aguas Blancas caters to the many whitewater rafters who ride the river, their menu tends to be a bit on the "yuppie" side, as many of the rafters come from the San Francisco Bay Area, and their tastes don't line-up with refried beans or chorizo. However the weekend menu features menudo, so how many of the "yuppie" rafters enjoy menudo on weekends? I should have asked, but these interesting points didn't occur to me until after my visit.
"Gold" is what you make of it, and I discovered "gold" in Taqueria Aguas Blancas. The breakfast is wonderful, including eggs cooked to order, the service is fast and friendly, and the atmosphere is quaint, and enjoying a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast on the front porch can't be beat. Delicious Mexican cuisine is to be found at Taqueria Aguas Blancas, in the heart of California's Gold Country.
Taqueria Aguas Blancas
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