ON THE MENU — Taqueria Cotijas renovates, maintains family feeling

Published 12:12 am Saturday, November 19, 2022

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NEDERLAND — Nothing beats a mother’s homemade cooking. That is how Jose Cardenas runs his family operated business in Nederland.

For several years, his father ran Taqueria Cotijas. Cardenas took over the business this year with the idea to modernize the restaurant but keep the family friendly vibe.

His mother, Maricela Figueroa, is the top chef in the kitchen, while his wife and sister-in-law also work the establishment.

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“It helps a lot,” Cardenas said. “No one is going to work with you like family will. My mom is the cook. My aunt makes the salsa. My wife works here, and my sister-in-law is a waitress, as well. It is a lot of family. It brings a different feeling to the place. That is important. We want to treat people like family. We are not owned by a company somewhere in New York or Florida. We are right here.”

Cardenas, who used to work at a refinery, took over after his dad became ill. He strives to make the Mexican restaurant standout at a time when the area has become saturated.

The Cardenas family cuts the ribbon for Taqueria Cotijas. (Chris Moore/The News)

“I think the most pride I have is knowing that it is my family’s and I want to keep up what they built,” he said. “When my dad opened it, there weren’t many Mexican restaurants here. Now there are so many, but I want to keep up what they brought when they came in ’98, which was homemade Mexican food. Of course, we have Tex-Mex, because of where we are and that is what sells, but we are still unique.”

Cardenas said the food is made fresh daily. He added the birria is the most popular dish.

“It is a quesadilla that we cook with the birria and stuff it with the meat and cheese,” he said. “It is my favorite right now, and my mom is good at making it. It is really good.”

Since taking over the location, he has added a bar to accommodate the young adult crowd.

“I think one of the problems this place had was not keeping up with times,” Cardenas said. “You have to do that. You have to keep rolling. It needed a touch of modern for the younger crowd, but is also has to be appealing for the older crowd that wants a quiet place and doesn’t want the music too loud. You have to have a little of both worlds.”

Taqueria Cotija’s Mexican Restaurant is located at 3720 Avenue E in Nederland. Call 409-729-4700 for more information.