October 12, 2005
If you thought you saw a new Mexican restaurant up in the Heights, think again.
El Fiesta Botanero, which opened its doors in August, actually marks a return to the neighborhood for owner and chef Salvador Badillo.
Badillo owned and operated Fiesta Mexican Restaurant at the same location from 1996 to 2001, but was hit hard by the recession.
“I had to close down after 9/11,” he said. Badillo decided to reopen this August at the same address because it seemed a good place to do business. “It was pretty successful before,” he said.
El Fiesta Botanero (which, roughly translated, means “Happy Hour,”) is located at 1310 13th Street.
The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Serving everything from tacos to carne asada to seafood, Badillo said the focus of the menu is homemade Mexican food. He said shrimp fajitas are the most popular dish.
The restaurant competes with three other Mexican food establishments in the neighborhood — Hood River Taqueria Mexican Restaurant, El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant and Juanita’s Marketa — but Badillo said the business are supportive of each other.
What sets El Fiesta Botanero apart from the competition, he said, is his experience and knowing what his customers like.
“I love to be involved in the food (industry). I’ve been working in food since I moved to Hood River.” A native of Mexico, Badillo has lived in Hood River for 23 years.
Badillo said the first two months of business have been good.
“It is the time of the year when everyone slows down, but I’ve had really good comments from my customers about the food,” he said.
El Fiesta Botanero employs three people — Badillo, his brother and his daughter. His brother cooks during the day while Badillo works at Down Manor Retirement Center.