For those of you who are in search of some delicious, authentic Mexican food in Humboldt County, look no further than Cocina Mariposa. Awarded best Mexican restaurant, best hidden gem and best tacos, by the North Coast Journal, this place is bound to cure anybody’s fix for some Latinx food.
The owner Marisela Carrillo runs the restaurant with her mother Graciela Salas. Originally from the Bay Area, Carrillo moved to Humboldt County with her family when she was nine years old. Ever since she was young, Carrillo had always wanted to open up a restaurant.
“I just love it, since I’ve been three. I love cooking,” Carrillo said. “I would always, when people would ask me, ‘What did you want to be?’ I would say a cook like a chef.” As she got older, she gained experience in the restaurant industry as a server and chef.
In June 2017, Carrillo worked at the Mckinleyville golf course every Friday, preparing and serving tacos for customers. Carrillo mentioned that, “within the period of two hours, I was making 250 tacos.”
In August 2019, Cocina Mariposa opened and Carrillo’s dream of owning a restaurant finally came true.
Since then, Carrillo has been running the restaurant alongside her mom, which has meant a lot to her, serving delicious foods derived from their Michoacan heritage; which is a state in west-central Mexico. Many of the items on the menu are inspired by her mother’s cooking.
“We just pretty much do our home recipes here,” Carrillo said. “You know, so people can enjoy them too… Everything we cook, we cook up with lots of love.”
One of Carrillo’s favorite meals that she serves in the fall is morisqueta. The exact ingredients of the dish may vary, but typically it is either pork or beef with cheese and a tomato based sauce served on white rice.
Another item on the menu that is greatly inspired by Michoacan cuisine are carnitas, which are made “extremely traditional,” Carrillo said.
Some more meals on the menu are chile rellenos served on plate and burrito form, surf and turf burrito and shrimp tacos. Additionally, once fall and winter come around, Carrillo adds pozole and birria to the menu.
Heidi Rutschow, a frequent customer, professor at Cal Poly Humboldt and friend of Carrillo, said Cocina Mariposa is the, “only Mexican food I eat in the county and it is hands down the best Mexican restaurant.”
Cocina Mariposa is located at 4750 Fairway Dr Eureka, CA 95503. It is open Tues. – Sat. 9 a.m – 6 p.m., they take their last orders at 5:45 p.m. Breakfast is served from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Lunch is served from 11 a.m. – 5:45 p.m. It is also open Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., with breakfast served at the same time as listed and lunch served from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
To stay most up to date on what’s new at Cocina Mariposa, give them a follow @cocinamariposa on Instagram.
Editor’s note: This story was edited to add that the awards for food were received by the North Coast Journal.