On the outskirts of Downtown Lodi sits Mazatlan Cafe, the Mexican restaurant that has been at the same location for 24 years.
Owners Antonio and Malena Morales keep customers coming back with hearty, homecooked meals, including favorites like chili Colorado quesadilla and the machacas breakfast.
Malena Morales' favorite is the taco - ground beef in a hard taco shell.
Not a lot of people use ground beef in their Mexican dishes, but she assures, "It's not Taco Bell."
One thing customers like about Mazatlan Cafe is that the entire menu is available all day. For breakfast or lunch you can choose from burritos, tacos, steak rancheros, flautas (fried beef or chicken taquito with guacamole and sour cream), chimichangas or chorizo.
From the three varieties of salsas that come with chips, to gravy and each signature dish, everything at Mazatlan Cafe is homemade. Antonio Morales does most of the cooking while Malena Morales takes the orders. A family restaurant, she says her own family spends a lot of time at the restaurant. While her two children were in school they worked at Mazatlan Cafe. She hopes one day she can leave Mazatlan Cafe to one of her children.
The Mazatlan Cafe was handed down to Malena Morales by her mother. Each of the recipes also came from her.
The portions are surprisingly large. A chili Colorado quesadilla fills the entire plate. A flour tortilla with melted cheese is topped with chunks of beef and cheesy gravy similar to enchilada sauce. Salad, refried beans and rice are also included.
The machaca - scrambled eggs, shredded beef, tomatoes, jalapenos and onions - were full of flavor and served with corn and flour tortillas, refried beans and rice.
What: The Mazatlan Cafe
Where: 125 N. Sacramento St.
Specialties: tacos, chili Colorado quesadilla, machaca
Hours: 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays.
While the dishes are seasoned and flavorful, they are not spicy. Unless a menu item says "ranchera," Malena Morales says it's not spicy.
Beside domestic and imported beers and soda, Mazatlan Cafe offers a variety of other refreshments, including pina colada, Orange Bang, tamarindo, horchata and jamaica.
Open every day, you can also call in and get food made to go.
Malena Morales doesn't know exactly what it is that keeps customers returning, but when she seen an empty plate she knows she must be doing something right.