The inspiration came two years ago when local restaurateur Ernesto Delgado was sitting with family members in a park in Tlaquepaque, an arts and crafts-oriented town near Guadalajara in Mexico.
“A gentleman came up and asked if we’d like some tacos,” Delgado said. When the Sacramentan said “yes,” the vendor went to a nearby cart, then returned with a fold-up table, tablecloth and menus.
“As a restaurateur, I was amazed,” Delgado said. “He had a little taco stand but he was smart enough to see that the whole plaza was his dining room.”
Now Delgado is taking the kernel of that idea to create a new Mexican eatery – and really, a Mexican plaza experience – in a downtown Sacramento park, just a few blocks from his popular Tequila Museo Mayahuel restaurant at 12th and K streets.
Called La Cosecha, it will operate in a city-owned building that formerly housed Cafe Soleil on the west side of Cesar Chavez Plaza but will spill out well beyond the confines of that structure.
Under plans approved by city officials earlier this week, Delgado intends to build more than 5,000 square feet of landscaped patio space around the building and install comfortable seating so guests can relax, have a meal and a margarita and enjoy the “hustle and bustle” of the plaza, whether that’s a Concert in the Park, the farmers market or other events.
“It will be like VIP seating,” he said of the four patio areas, that will include three fire pits and be open until late in the evening.
I really like the plazas of Mexico, with all the hustle and bustle. I want to bring that same kind of energy to Cesar Chavez Plaza.
Delgado’s plans call for a main restaurant building with 42 inside seats and design elements that play on the themes of “Sacramento, harvest and farm.” Two murals – both depicting la cosecha, Spanish for “harvest” – are being painted for the indoor and outdoor spaces by artist Gabriel Romo, who did several of the murals at Mayahuel.
A taco bar with 20 seats will operate on the west side of the business.
The overall goal: Turn the downtown park into a place that nourishes body and soul, Delgado said.
Like the plazas of Mexico.
“There’s so much going on,” he said of those town centers. “People selling balloons and corn on the cob, kids running around, business meetings going on, people on dates, the benches filled with young people in love. It’s great to (go there) and see that energy.”
Delgado said La Cosecha will open at 7:30, Monday through Friday, and offer breakfast tacos and burritos along with Pachamama coffee. Later in the day, guests can get fresh salads, soups, tortas, stews and tacos – all made with local ingredients, maybe including herbs and spices grown onsite.
One intriguing special on what Delgado is calling his “conceptual” menu: Two dinners and a pitcher of sangria for $20.
“The focus is street food,” he said of the business, which will also have limited Saturday hours. “More casual. Hand-held food.”
Also available will be grab ’n’ go items, including quesadillas, sandwiches and salads. And Delgado is planning to have local produce for sale every day as a complement to the weekly farmers market that runs at the park from early May to late October.
Delgado, who was born in Michoacán but grew up in Napa, has been working for months on the plaza project, which will cost $916,000, split between the restaurateur and the city.
At the same time, he’s been overseeing work on Mesa Mercado, a new eatery set to open in January at the upscale Milagro Centre development in Carmichael.
Has it been tough juggling two big expansions? Yes, but Delgado doesn’t seem to mind.
“I just love creating and building restaurants,” he said. “It’s a passion.”