A taste of Jalisco in downtown Bremerton

Sandra Diaz stands in the dining area of her restaurant, El Coral, in downtown Bremerton. - Photo by Steve DeDual
Sandra Diaz stands in the dining area of her restaurant, El Coral, in downtown Bremerton.
— image credit: Photo by Steve DeDual

The newest restaurant addition to the downtown area, which opened Oct. 1, has big plans for the future of their establishment.

Sandra Diaz, owner of the El Coral Mexican restaurant, said it was a long, hard road to get to opening day.

“I worked seven days a week for the last several years to save for my business,” Diaz said.

Diaz, who has had help from her boyfriend, Alex Agraz, as well as her 22-year-old daughter, said they spent three months cleaning up the 536 4th St. location which was once a Thai restaurant.

“There was a lot of work to do,” Diaz said. “Painting, general cleaning and decorating was very hard work, but it was worth it.”

Diaz, who has five children, four of whom still live in Jalisco, Mexico with her parents, said all of her work is for her children.

“Everything is for them,” Diaz said. “Our plan is to bring them up as soon as possible. That is why we are working so hard.”

Diaz learned everything she knows about food and customer service by working as a “nanny” for a large family in Mexico. From cleaning up, taking care of the children and preparing and cooking meals, she was basically in charge of everything. Diaz prides herself on the hard work she has put in to achieve her dream as well as the fact that the food served at the El Coral is really authentic, there are no added spices which are not traditionally Mexican.

“We basically only use garlic and salt,” Agraz said. “Some places use things like paprika, but it isn’t authentic.”

Diaz moved to Poulsbo about 17 years ago and has been working and saving for her own restaurant since. Currently she is waiting for the approval of her liquor license so she can open the upstairs cantina. The cantina will offer a bit of a twist on the traditional bar scene with what she called “rucos” night, which is roughly translated as “guys night out.”

“We will have a ladies night, but we want to offer something to everyone,” Diaz said of the rucos night. “We even want to see older people get out for a night of fun instead of sitting home watching TV.”

Once the liquor license is received, the cantina will begin serving mixed drinks and beer, including margaritas and Diaz’ own specialty, sangria, a type of wine punch. The restaurant will also have its grand opening around that time and are planning to offer a free buffet and they will have a mariachi band playing for guests.

“We are thinking we will have a plasma TV in the cantina as well as a pool table,” Diaz said. “It is going to be a lot of fun.”

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