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“Terrific food, great atmosphere, pickup available too”

Manuel's Mexican Restaurant
Ranked #4 of 70 Restaurants in Aptos
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Mexican
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Dining on a budget, Kids, Families with children
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Full Bar, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Aptos, California
Level Contributor
42 reviews
17 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Terrific food, great atmosphere, pickup available too”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 15, 2014

Manuel's is an institution in Aptos and especially in the Seacliff neighborhood. If you want to eat in the restaurant, go early and/or be prepared to wait for a table -- even if you make a reservation. The daily specials are often great and I've never ordered anything that wasn't good, from cile rellenos to chile verde, tacos, enchilladas, whatever. They also make an excellent Cadillac margarita. We call in with an oder and take it home at least a couple of times a month.

Visited April 2014
Thank ptrounstine
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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180 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Sonora, California
Level Contributor
468 reviews
328 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 175 helpful votes
“Best Mexican Ever!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 13, 2014 via mobile

Ok I need to qualify this a bit.

I have been coming to Manuel's since I was 15 so that's a total of 40 years. That should tell you something - I can't say that for any other restaurant of any type except mcdonalds which ain't the same!

They have NEVER changed the menu during this time, nor the recipes, nor the execution of these dishes. Prices rose modestly over the years and that's it.

They have always maintained a focus on local wines by the bottle and by the glass. You don't have to worry about getting the crappy, stale swill here the way you do most Mexican restaurants. Hearty Zinfandels accouny this cuisine nicely!

The salsa you get ahead of the meal (along with chips of course) is to die for. It is unlike anything I've ever been served anywhere else! The heat varies but generally acceptable to most palates. I for the life of me can't figure out how to reproduce it. They must strain it because there is no chunkiness to it.

Moving forward and here's where I will throw caution signs. I ALWAYS order the #3 combo - a chile relleno and a cheese enchilada. So if you stray away from this you may not feel the same about Manuel's as I do. The tacos and burritos you can do better elsewhere. The tamale is really good as is the chile verde and chile Colorado. Really good but not enough for me relative to the #3!

First the relleno. Hands down the best ever. A FLUFFY batter more like a soufflé, the ranchero sauce a broth like sauce with celery, onion, chiles that is the real deal in authentic Mexican cuisine. Cheese melting in the center and if you love the salsa, heap mounds of it on the relleno!

The cheese enchilada. Well you say, why not chicken or beef, etc? After all you are getting cheese in the relleno, right? Yes, but the enchilada sauce and that cheese together are sumptuous! There's little bits if onion buried in that enchilada that lift it to new heights. In short, do not try to create balance with this dish until you taste it the way they serve it! Again, add plenty of salsa should you care too!

The beans. Very wonderful, comforting dr fried beans that clearly have some Monterrey jack cooked in. My favorite of any place ever.

So some places you have to stick to certain things to get maximum enjoyment, Manuels being one. But this is heaven if you find the right choices!

Note: a lot of people love the Sunday night special of mole and also the Friday night special fish.

I wouldn't know.

Thank William F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
126 reviews
61 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
“A Bar with Food”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 9, 2014

This dingy little bar has enthralled it's reviewers with plenty of booze and flavorless food. Space is very tight, expect to sit back fat to back fat. Putting their best foot forward with a greasy bowl of chips and a 'salsa' that looks & tastes like a bowl of Siracha (bad breath flags go up immediately. The menu is lifeless & very limited, plus pricey for a combo. My tamale was so blah & machine made I gave up 1/4 of the way through. My partners 'chili relleno' was the old magazine recipe for baked scrambled eggs with a can of diced green chiles. The whole thing is reminiscent of 1970's fare typical of immigrants valiantly trying to support there families with no cooking talent. As long as you're knocking down booze, this might be good to you. Our 2 combos w/ water were $30+. Try Palapas

  • Visited March 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank jeans163
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
57 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Flavorful Mexican food”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 4, 2014

Small and seating is hard to get in and out of, can be loud at times as well. Can get really busy at night. Food is flavorful and some of the better mexican food in this area.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank microbug95
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sacramento, California
Level Contributor
159 reviews
107 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
“Authentic Mexican Food”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 29, 2014 via mobile

Our group of six was a little crowded but that is part of the fun. We found the food to be very authentic and tasty. The service was excellent.

Thank Jackrcpa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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