Restaurants in Sausalito tend to cater to tourists with their Golden Gate Bridge views, high prices, and mediocre food. But for those of us who have seen the bridge hundreds, or more like thousands of times, and just want some real, affordable food in a lively atmosphere, recently opened Copita is the place to go. It’s the product of two food-world veterans, Larry Mindel of nearby Poggio and also Il Fornaio, and Joanne Weir, a teacher, cookbook author, and television personality. They obviously knew what they were doing, because Copita is just what sleepy Sausalito needed. The tequileria y comida needs no sign, although it does have nice one, because it’s the brightest, most bustling place on Bridgeway. The french blue facade and lipstick red door, awning, and planters are very eye-catching, as is the impressive bar and tiled wall that houses their famed rotisserie oven. Although the space opens onto the sidewalk and has a pretty high ceiling, the noise level can still get pretty loud, but that’s just a sign that people are having a good time.
The menu seems to be going the way of more and more casual eateries these days: smaller plates and lower prices. Although the chips and salsas aren’t free, the inexpensive main dishes make up for it, as does the taste. The perfectly crisp chips come with two salsas that will go just as quickly as they came out: tomatillo, and mango pineapple . Copita also caters to the more health-conscious with their refreshing jicama and cucumber spears as alternatives to the chips. The luscious made to order guacamole is a must to also go along with the chips and veggies.
You can’t go wrong with the menu here, everything looks delicious, and everything I’ve had has been. The chopped salad ($9) is super fresh with jicama, carrot, radish, escarole, pumpkin seeds, and a light tequila orange dressing to balance out the crumbled cotija cheese. There’s a section of the menu for ceviches, which consist of seafood cooked by the acid of lime juice, not by heat. There are also a few variations of tacos, of which the mushroom ones are delicious ($9). The succulent vegetable comes on homemade tortillas, slightly thicker than the store-bought ones which give your teeth a little something extra to sink into, and are topped with pickled onions, epazote, queso fresco, and sour cream. Also great are the tamalitos ($9), a trio of the cornhusk-wapped delicacies, one with cheese and veggies, one with chicken verde, and the other with pork adobo.
Go for the great atmosphere and food, and keep coming back to see the menu change, as Copita uses local and seasonal ingredients to bring another edge to the already evolving, expanding, and improving Mexican food scene in California.
(photo from dailycandy.com)