There's so much to be said for trying a great new restaurant. The thrill of the surprise to all senses, the potential to make new friends, and the promise of a new favorite happen every time we eat at a new restaurant. But there's also something to be said for going back to a restaurant that's practically a household name in the area. In that second category is where you'll find Tio Pepe of Auburn. This Auburn restaurant has stood the test time for a very good reason-it's great! If you like Mexican food prepared in the ways of the old country and in an atmosphere that will take you back in time, eat at Tio Pepe.
The Joe Cordero Story
A popular restaurant is as much about the feeling as it is the food. The thing that makes a place like Tio Pepe so special is that you feel the heart and soul of the family who owns it in every detail of your dining experience. In this case, it all started out with a man named Joe Cordero. Originally from Mexico City, Cordero's passion for oil painting. By age 20, Cordero moved to San Francisco, hoping to start a life with nothing but endless opportunities. To learn the English language as quickly as possible, he got a job as a busboy in a Mexican food restaurant where he could communicate in his native language and pick up English quickly. Although he was promoted to chef within a year, Cordero yearned for a different life and took a job in a hospital while attending night school. After four years, he received his first degree and enrolled at U.C. Berkeley, where he majored in criminology.
After earning his degree in criminology, Cordero became a member of San Francisco’s Patrol of Special Police Officers. He worked in the field for 13 years, during which time he met and married his wife. But alas, the desire to try other opportunities struck again. This time, Cordero opened a series of restaurants in the San Francisco area, including one on the famous San Francisco wharf. After four years and building it into a huge success, Cordero sold it and moved on to other areas of the state. In 1982, Cordero opened Tio Pepe in Old Town Auburn. And the rest is history as Tio Pepe grew to be the Auburn favorite it is today.
Hot Food, Warm Hearts, Authentic Surroundings
Tio Pepe is such a treat. It's located a second off the freeway in Auburn's Old Town historic district. This charming restaurant offers excellent outdoor and indoor seating, both settings conducive to taking your time eating a great meal. The patio is spacious and reminiscent of those seen in the Spanish districts of larger cities. Indoor seating is equally ample, and with an old-world vibe from the second you enter the arched doorway. Tio Pepe is the real deal, complete with beautiful murals and whimsical artwork, gracious staff, and the smells of authentic Mexican cooking.
If I'm being honest, one way to impress me is to have fresh tortilla chips that are served hot. This is precisely what's served at Tio Pepe the minute you're seated at your table. We're talking about the kind of hot tortilla chips that still appear to be sizzling. And they're as delicious as they are hot. But that's only the start of hot. My husband ordered chicken fajitas, and I ordered my "this is what you're judged by" Mexican food dish-a fish taco. Everything was freshly prepared and just the right balance of sizzling and spicy; it was served on plates so hot that you're cautioned not to touch them. The vegetables served with the fajitas were still popping because they had just come off the grill. Both choices were excellent. Our servers were so attentive and friendly that we felt as if we were visiting friends rather than eating at a restaurant. It was lovely!
Reflects What’s Always On Trend
I'm always curious about what's trending in the culinary world. Of all the ethnic foods represented in America, I think it's safe to say that Mexican food has remained VERY popular for over a century. But just how popular is Mexican food in the United States, and what are the most popular dishes?
As far as the most popular item considered a staple when eating Mexican food it's all about the tortilla. It seems as if the most popular Mexican food dishes are built upon a tortilla. According to industry experts, quesadillas are leading in the contest of which Mexican food is most popular. Tio Pepe uses the traditional white flour tortilla and spinach tortillas for their quesadillas. There are several quesadillas and all with generous amounts of melted cheese that is still bubbling when served. In this category, my favorite is the crab and shrimp quesadilla. With its sauteed mushrooms and a medley of diced onions and celery, those ingredients add a fantastic layer to the melted goodness known as crab, shrimp, and lots of gooey bubbling cheese.
Second on the list of the most popular Mexican food items is tacos, of course. Most people admit that they were captured with their first taco. Tio Pepe has a variety of taco offerings in their Especialidades (classic dishes) section of the menu. The most popular Mexican food items list continues on with tamales, nachos, tamale, burrito, and fajitas. All of these items are well represented at Tio Pepe, along with many others that will have you coming back again and again.
Experts and analysts in the food industry agree that Americans' love of Mexican food has been around for decades. They project that its share of the national restaurant industry will continue to grow. Statistically speaking, 55,755 Mexican food restaurants currently make up about 8% of the national restaurant industry. If you want a great example of why Mexican food is so popular, treat yourself to a meal at Tio Pepe. You won't regret it.
Stanford Ranch Self Storage
One of the many terrific things about living in the Rocklin Community is it’s nestled among other equally great communities like Auburn. With just a short drive on I-80, you can be in Auburn to enjoy so many unique shops and restaurants. As your neighborhood self-storage facility, Stanford Ranch Self Storage prides itself on providing an excellent product that includes the best customer service. We believe that it's important to support other local businesses by learning about them and making sure we share what we learn with others. Please help us out in this mission by letting us know about your favorite places to eat, shop and recreate. We look forward to hearing from you.
216 Washington St.
Auburn, CA 95603
Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.