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Sibling duo wows with Mexican fare at Ma’Coco

By Terry Hagerty – Contributing writer/photographer

Ma’Coco, one of Bastrop’s newest restaurants, is attracting foodophiles looking for a fresh approach to Mexican cuisine in a great Main Street setting. The brother-sister team of Javier Equihua and Judith Equihua emphasize scratch ingredients and tasty dishes combined with a savvy online presence. Ma’Coco opened its doors in September 2018 at 813 Main Street.

Fresh, Imaginative Ingredients
Javier said he and Judith wanted to provide fresh food with colorful ingredients. “We make all of our tortillas by hand. Nothing is canned,” Javier said. The menu’s starters are indicative of the dynamic approach of Ma’Coco: elote asado (grilled corn served with mayo, cotija cheese and hot sauce), ceviche and carne asada fries – one of the most popular dishes, according to Javier. In addition to inspired renderings of tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas and sopes, there are delectable dishes such as Ensenada fish tacos – beer-battered fish with the moniker of “From Baja to Bastrop.” The restaurant’s weekend brunch, served 9 a.m.-1 p.m., is also proving popular. Enjoy a tasty mimosa before choosing among chilaquiles, huevos ranchero, breakfast fries or a chorizo burrito.

Pictured are the restaurant’s owners: Javier Equihua and Judith Equihua. (Terry Hagerty photo).

Judith said she and Javier knew to include “the most popular dishes from Mexico. Every one of these things we could eat every day – and I think we have!” The restaurant also offers a rotating selection of colorful and tasty agua fresca (“cool/fresh” water), which are light non-alcoholic beverages made from one or more fruits, cereals, flowers, or seeds and typically blended with sugar and water. A cucumber lemonade with chia seeds is one of the many aguas frescas that Ma’Coco patrons adore. “That’s our most popular one,” Judith said, adding they offer different flavors every day. Additional drinks include sodas, Mexican and American beers and wine.

Online Pizzazz
The restaurant’s sharp closeup photos of food and drinks, taken by Judith on her cell phone and posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page, add effective sparkle to the mix. “We rely heavily on social media, so our food needs to look pretty. Guests are taking photos of their food, too. If there’s good presentation, then people do the marketing for us by posting pictures,” Judith said.

Why Bastrop?
“We wanted to be far enough away from the big city, but close enough to its resources,” Javier said of Austin. They also choose to live in Bastrop in order to be part of a thriving community. The San Diego, Calif., natives have previous experience in the food business. Judith owned and operated a Mexican restaurant with her aunt in Alpine, Texas. She was also a news producer for NBC in Oregon and for Telemundo (NBC Universal). Javier consulted for Yelp and Google in restaurant sales and home services. The restaurant’s catchy name – come on, it’s fun to say! – honors Judith and Javier’s grandmother, Grandma Socorro. Judith said that as children they couldn’t pronounce their grandmother’s name, so it got shortened to Ma’Coco. A photo of her adorns a mantle inside the restaurant. Customers can sit inside or outside on the tree-lined patio of Ma’Coco, for a total seating capacity of 130.

Service is paramount at Ma’ Coco, Judith and Javier emphasized. “We instill in our servers to treat customers just like family – almost,” Judith said. That includes servers returning to tables to check on customer satisfaction – a necessity sometimes overlooked at restaurants. Judith and Javier also maintain a constant presence at the restaurant. “One of us is always here. We are the managers and the servers and the cooks and dish washers,” Judith said.

Complimentary Reviews
The online reviews (both the restaurant’s and Yelp) have been flattering. A Brenham resident wrote, “The homemade corn tortillas were the bomb. The space was charming, but it was the home-style Mexican food that really left an impression.” An Austin reviewer added, “This place is an absolute gem. Will be driving down from north Austin frequently to eat here.”

Just the Facts
Ma’Coco is closed Monday; open Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m.- 8:30 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Reservations are available; call 512-985-6099 for more information.

Update: In August 2019, Ma'Coco moved to its new location in the Community Gardens, located at 1067 Highway 71 West in Bastrop.