Even if you can’t pronounce the Spanish, you can see the blue bird and join families in some good Mexican food.
Managers of El Pajaro Azul, David and Edemira, explaining how this is a family business and how coworkers and customers are made to feel like family.
Ginger, Mary and Gayle enjoying a bit of El Pajaro Azul Mexican Grill before going to the movies.
Mary-Justine and Edemira discussing breakfast menus at El Pajaro Azul Mexican Grill.
El Pajaro Azul – where everything is fresh and delicious
By Dr. Ginger Gabriel
Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
El Pajaro Azul Mexican Grill is a winner!
The first time I saw the sign for the new Blue Jay restaurant, I tried to pronounce it. The second time I saw the sign I noticed the blue bird. When I started hearing locals talking about eating at the “blue bird,” I knew where they were talking about. But, before I dined in the new restaurant in Blue Jay, I checked Yelp to see what people were saying about it.
Julian Linik said, “We were surprised to have found this little piece of authentic Mexican. It’s clearly a family-run business where everyone cares about your experience.”
I met with El Pajaro Azul’s manager, Edemira Pacaeco, at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning. This restaurant opens for breakfast at 8 a.m. They also do lunch and dinner, closing at 8 pm. David, Edemira’s husband, also joined us, as well as keeping an eye on the restaurant.
Mary-Justine Lanyon, editor of The Alpine Mountaineer, who is said to frequent this restaurant, walked in the door moments later. She joined us as I was asking this couple, “What is your vision for this restaurant? Who have you designed the menu for and the space to accommodate?” Without hesitation, David said, “Families! We are a place where families can be comfortable. Notice! We don’t have a bar. There is not the disrupting noise that often comes with a bar.”
I commented on the restaurants on the mountain that closed during the pandemic, at a time when this restaurant opened. Edemira told me that the restaurant has been open one year and two months. El Pajaro Azul opened its doors and has kept them open the whole time.
Edemira said, “It’s because we’re family.” I gave her a questioning look, so she went on: “A stranger comes in with a good application and, if we hire him or her, he or she becomes family. We open our arms; they don’t just become friends, they become family. We care about each other, we take care of each other, we cover for each other.”
She added, “We don’t focus on how hard it is to run a restaurant during a pandemic; we just do what we need to do. We cook the food. They are mostly my recipes. We make the fresh salsa. We make fresh chips every day. The refried beans are made fresh daily.”
I had already talked with other people who I knew came to El Pajaro Azul often. I had asked what they liked about it. Gayle Nollau, friend of the owner, Martin Montion, comes in often. I asked Gayle, “What is your favorite dish there?” Gayle replied, “Hands down, the lobster taco.”
Others are making a tradition of going there after a women’s Wednesday morning Bible study in Crestline. The group takes the 10-minute drive up to Blue Jay for what has become a regular lunch at “the blue bird.” At times some husbands join them for lunch. Here’s their report: Tim had the fajitas, “sizzling hot and would have been enough for two.” Cindy had the taco salad, which she said was “yummy and plentiful.”
Sandy had the albondigas soup, which was “hot and delicious.” (She took home a container big enough for dinner for two.) Doug had the chili verde burrito and said he was really looking forward to the other half for dinner. Sandy later told me that they had soup and burrito for dinner. Wendy had the taco-enchilada combo, while her husband ordered the shrimp fajitas, but it was “too much, too good.” Corrine, who was invited along, loved her burrito.
Wendy complimented the wait staff for bringing out all the food at the same time. She said that the service was excellent and friendly. She volunteered that they will be going back. “We love that it is a family business. Parents, children, brothers, sisters, wives and husbands all work together. They made us feel like family!”
I asked David if everyone who came in to eat spoke Spanish. He laughed, saying, “No, of course not – Spanish lessons are free!”
As for the favorite foods people order, David said, “Albondigas soup, chili verde, carne asada, the refried beans, the flan and menudo.”
“Surely, it’s the Spanish speakers who order menudo,” I said. “No, everybody loves our menudo,” David replied. “It’s fresh – we make it here. It’s great.” In fact, David emphasized that everything served in the restaurant is made fresh on site.
Each time I have been to this restaurant, as I left, I noticed that no tip was added to the bill, a tip wasn’t even mentioned. David said, “The tip is never automatically included. You’re family. If we do a good job and give you good service, tips will come to let us know we have done good. Even if you are a large group, it will not automatically be included. The tip is up to the customer.”
El Pajaro Azul has two large rooms to accommodate large groups. Large group or small, the restaurant is convenient, easy to get to for most of the mountain. No difference if you call it El Pajaro Azul or the blue bird, you will be treated as family