The small elbow that makes up Bow-Edison can seem ethereal to the uninitiated. This rural community contains a bevy of artisanal businesses delivering incredible experiences: Have a whiskey or cider at Terramar, visit one of the galleries, catch a game at the Longhorn, or have an absolutely enlightening Mexican brunch at Mariposa Taqueria. 

At the far end of the elbow lies a small bungalow with a lawn dotted by picnic tables. If you arrive at the right time, the painted sign reads “abierto” with an oddly inviting skull. Don’t be fooled by Mariposa’s humble outside appearance—inside, patrons are greeted by Mexican fare made with love and authenticity.

Photo by Steven McCarragher

 It’s clear that the Mariposa lives and breathes community. As I arrive with a Texan friend (who has felt forlorn by PNW Mexican offerings), we’re immediately followed by an avid regular here. She’s a photographer and knows everybody’s name inside. Sara Jacobson, the front operation, knows her order and already has started her latte. This particular regular asks about what we’re doing and informs us we are in for a treat. That was clear from the start, but a little human reinforcement never hurts. 

Dried marigolds and Lady Guadulupe look over us as we sit to chat with Jacobson and another of the driving forces behind Mariposa, Hilda Rodriguez. Jacobson had described Rodriguez as a “quiet power,” though Rodriguez was perfectly open to talking at length about what brought her to Mariposa.

After coming to the U.S. in 1982, she was the founding owner of El Cazador, a local chain that reached from Oak Harbor to as far as Sequim. After many years running both restaurants, she took a step back to focus on her own health. Meanwhile, her sister Carmen Carillo was cooking for Tweets Cafe when Owner David Blakesly expressed his interest in opening a Mexican style cafe. Carillo reached out to Rodriguez and together they built (and still constantly innovate) the menu at Mariposa.

I lament that I wasn’t able to meet Carillo when her sister was so lovely. According to Jacobson, Carillo works the comal making hundreds of homemade tortillas, soups, stews, and salsas. Rodriguez is hard at work slicing veggies, making sauces, and cutting meats. Jacobson is face forward serving, handling cash, and working as a barista. 

(She tells me she never worked as a barista before this job. Reader, I worked as a barista for two years and never made a milk flower in a latte. I saw the one Jacobson sent out; maybe some people are just born with it.)

Photo by Krista Liana Carter

My friend and I order both a breakfast and a lunch plate. The Nopales con Huevos ($13) arrive with housemade tortillas and actual whole black beans. I’m taken aback by both the depth of flavor and obvious love in the dish. Our lunch order is a Burrito Colorado ($19) with slow cooked pulled pork smothered in a red sauce. We eat until we are far past full. My Texan friend is satisfied. Still, Lady Guadulupe looks on; she’s happy as well. 

These three women have become family through their tireless and beautiful work together. The menu is ever changing and evolving. As Jacobson says, “We don’t like to get bored, and there are so many delicious things to make. We love having the ability to change the menu at any time.” 

Due to this changing menu (and occasional odd hours), please don’t enter with any expectation—except to leave happy, full, and grateful. 14003 Gilmore Ave., Bow, 510.295.9904,

"We don’t like to get bored, and there are so many delicious things to make. We love having the ability to change the menu at any time. - Sara Jacobson"