More than a decade after its 2012 debut, chic Sausalito taqueria Copita has expanded with a second location in San Jose. The restaurant, which opened its doors on Monday, October 30 at 1098 Lincoln Avenue, comes from chef Joanne Weir and restaurateur Larry Mindel, who have tapped chef Azari Cuena-Maitret to head up the kitchen. The restaurant is known for its seasonal and entirely gluten-free menu of Mexican dishes including tacos, ceviches, and enchiladas.
Wier says Copita Willow Glen has been in the works for the past two years. It’s a massive second location sitting at 6,300 square feet and was an entirely new build. The space spans two floors, the bottom sticking close to the format of the Sausalito location with a full menu that includes larger plates, while the second floor houses a rooftop terrace that’s got a menu more focused on smaller plates and cocktails. The rooftop offers firepits and small tables for a more intimate experience, while downstairs there’s a full dining room with booths, banquettes, and a patio overlooking the street.
In terms of design, both spaces draw inspiration from the city of San Miguel de Allende with colorful tiles in blue, white, and tangerine. The idea was to create spaces that feel “fresh, clean, warm, [and] bold,” Weir says, as the team hopes the restaurant and bar will be a lively gathering place for the Willow Glen neighborhood.
Cuena-Maitret worked closely with Weir, whom Bay Area residents might know for her cookbooks and show on PBS, and the menu ports over many of the same dishes found in Sausalito plus some new additions. As always, tortillas will be made on-site by hand and, overall, dishes will take Mexican favorites and give them a seasonal, Northern California spin. Weir says she’s excited about options including breaded cauliflower tacos, huitlacoche-filled empanadas, and roasted Brussels sprouts in a citrus chipotle salsa. While the original location stars a tile-encased rotisserie, Willow Glen’s kitchen comes with a vertical trompo, so they’re also twirling al pastor to stuff inside tacos and quesadillas.
There are two bars, one on each floor, with a separate menu available at each. Both, however, star a selection of about 10 drinks. Unlike at the Sausalito restaurant, diners can choose from more than just agave base spirits here — though there are plenty of options including curated flights for fans of tequila and mezcal. The Loteria, for example, combines Tanqueray with lemon, orgeat, and passionfruit, while the Cinnamon Espresso Martini blends Ketel One, Mr. Black, cold brew, and cinnamon. Weir’s excited to have some Mexican wines on the list, plus a small selection of beers and a range of nonalcoholic options.
The Copita margarita, of course, remains at the center of the list and continues to use Herradura Silver. Weir shares that the restaurant has been using that specific tequila for years; it was chosen after the team blind-tested 40 different tequilas to try to find one that deserved the star spot in the restaurant’s house margarita. “We ended up with Herradura,” Weir says. “I really thought it made the best margarita.” They even repeated the blind test again ahead of this second opening and once again, Herradura took home the win.
The restaurant is open for dinner service with plans to offer lunch and weekend brunch in the coming weeks. For now, hours are Sunday through Monday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. and reservations are not being accepted.
Copita Willow Glen (1098 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose) opened on Monday, October 30.