For Isabel and Julian Gonzalez being friendly to customers and serving good, homemade food have always been a priority. Twenty-nine years ago the Gonzalezes opened Costa Azul Mariscos in Egger Highlands in the Bay City Plaza and have stayed in the same location through the years.
Julian Gonzalez first gained his restaurant experience working in Tijuana and then on this side of the border at Julio’s Restaurant in San Diego. He then decided to open his own eatery called Costa Azul Moriscos on Broadway in Chula Vista 40 years ago. When the Gonzalezes later opened the eatery in Bay City Plaza, the couple remembered their restaurant was the only one serving Mexican seafood.
“We liked the area, it was nice and calm,” said Isabel Gonzalez.
Although specializing in seafood, the couple added some non-seafood dishes to appeal to a variety of customers. The couple works hard every day taking turns cooking, tending the cash register and serving the tables. Their children, ages 20 and 16, grew up in the restaurant and enjoy helping out on a part-time basis.
Some of the more popular dishes at Costa Azul are the Shrimp Ceviche; Compechana, a ceviche cocktail made with shrimp and octopus; Aquachile, a spicy version of ceviche; and Surf and Turf burrito. For those who prefer non seafood dishes, there are choices like Chicken Enchilada, and burritos like California and Carne Asada.
The pandemic has been difficult on the Gonzalezes, but they feel they are coming out of hard times now. “Many clients have supported us during the pandemic. For more than a year we were closed for dine in and did take out only,” said Isabel Gonzalez.
At the beginning of the pandemic, there was one day when the couple made only a $3 sale the entire day. The restaurant did not get financial help from the government because it had no outside employees, only family members, but the business survived.
“Things are better since March. On June 15 we opened the indoor dining room,” said Julian Gonzalez. The couple is happy to see returning customers at their restaurant.
“It’s thanks to them that we’re surviving…in 29 years it had never been this difficult as during the pandemic,” said Isabel Gonzalez about the business.
Julian Gonzalez, who is originally from the Mexican state of Nayarit, named the restaurant Costa Azul after the hotel where he and his wife stayed on their honeymoon.
The couple prides themselves on cooking in a homemade fashion and every dish is made to order. The style of seafood is unique and different than other restaurants and based on Gonzalez’s Nayarit background. For example, he personally makes the the spicy sauce for the restaurant and has used the same recipe for 40 years. His refried beans are also loved by everyone, said his wife.
The Gonzalezes’ children would love to open their own restaurant someday, but on a smaller scale. The restaurant holds nice memories for the Gonzalezes’ children. Julian Gonzalez still remembers when his daughter sang and danced in the dining room when she was small.
Costa Azul has an old fashioned jukebox that was in Gonzalez’s previous restaurant that customers still enjoy listening to. Costa Azul seats 20 and for those planning a party or gathering, the Gonzalezes offer catering.
The couple also makes their own specialty drinks like Orchata, Michelada and a Juava drink.
Costa Azul has a large menu and offers breakfast dishes that include Huevos Rancheros, Vegetarian Omelette and more.
Whether you head to Costa Azul for breakfast, lunch or dinner be prepared - all portions are large, delicious and come with a big smile.
Costa Azul Mariscos, 1555 Palm Avenue, Suite D. Call 619-575-7735. Hours: Sunday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.