Yolo Traders Bistro features fresh fusion, cultural coastal cuisine

Yolo Traders Bistro will celebrate its official opening and ribbon cutting will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 4 p.m. It is located at 30 Main Street and features crepes and Sinoloan small plates.

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There is nothing like fresh seafood, prepared with fresh ingredients, and beginning Oct. 17, Winters residents and visitors won’t have to travel to the coast to find it. Yolo Traders Bistro will open, offering a variety of crepes and fresh Mexican regional seafood dishes, many a fusion of family secrets from the city of Mazatlan, located in the state of Sinaloa.

Visitors to Winters newest restaurants will be treated to the family recipes of Alejandra Ibarra, wife of Gabriel Ibarra, who has owned the Pizza Factory for 12 years. Gabriel is not giving up Pizza Factory, but is adding in the second restaurant, located at 30 Main Street in the historic Yolo Traders building. He says his local relatives will be pitching in at Pizza Factory, while he and his wife focus on being the chefs at Yolo Traders Bistro.

The husband and wife team are focusing all their fare on fresh, local, sustainable ingredients. They are choosey about the quality of their food at home and are equally as choosey about it in their restaurant.

The dishes are unlike anything else in town, and Gabriel says this is their opportunity to introduce their culture and regional cuisine to Winters.

Beyond the typical fresh seafood recipes of Sinaloa, Alejandra says her family has a mix of cultures. Her grandfather was French, which is where crepes became a part of their family cuisine, and after her grandmother passed away, he married a Chinese woman who added her own culture’s recipes onto the dinner table. Blend in some family friends who are Japanese, and Alejandra says many of their meals were spreads of cultural fusion.

“It was this crazy mix, all at once, all in one house,” she says.

Crepes are a feature at Yolo Traders Bistro, and come with a variety of fillings, sweet or savory. Courtesy photo

The crepes are completely handmade at the restaurant, and range from sweet fillings like flan, to spicy offerings made with their own homemade chorizo, to vegetarian offerings like portabella mushroom, red bell pepper and pesto. The crepe is similar to a tortilla, but additionally has butter and milk, making it a very thin cousin to a large pancake, which is then filled with just about anything imaginable.

The seafood will be featured on “small plates” which, like tapas, are meant to be shared with a group, several at a time, rather than one large entree for a single person. A variety of seafood and fresh produce will be served up on flatbread or tostada, such as ceviche, seared tuna with mandarins and avocado tuna poke. Their “cocotel” features ceviche style seafood combined with coconut meat and served in an actual coconut shell. Much of their fruit will be new to customers, such as green papaya and dragon fruit, the latter of which Alejandra notes is “trendy” in the U.S. right now, but is a staple in her home region.

“Here, it’s a new thing,” she says.

“These dishes are widely and easily available in that region,” notes Gabe, but not so much in the U.S. — until now, in Winters, California. He himself was new to the Sinaloa cuisine, his family having come from the state of Jalisco, where red meat is a much more typical ingredient for local dishes, noting carnitas as a common example of the food from this region. For their new restaurant, however, it will definitely be the cuisine of Sinaloa on the menu.

Gabriel says all of their food features “simple, clean, elegant flavors.” Whenever possible, their ingredients are also organic and non-GMO, and their meat is raised without antibiotics..

“Nothing but the good stuff,” says Gabriel.

Sinoloan “small plates” are offered at Yolo Traders Bistro, featuring fresh seafood. Courtesy photo

He is particularly proud of the quality of their shrimp, which is imported from Argentina. He and Alejandra searched and searched until they found shrimp that tasted like the fresh shrimp she grew up with, and she notes that none of the usual Indonesian-farmed shrimp would do. To demonstrate the fresh, delicate taste, Gabriel offered a large, fresh shrimp to sample, and it was indeed sushi-quality delicious.

“At home, this is how we eat all the time,” says Gabriel, noting that Alejandra avoids premade and processed food for their twin daughters, Agnes and Alina, in favor of preparing fresh, simple, healthy foods herself.

“We are building something from the ground up to introduce Winters to our culture, and what better way than through food” he says, mentioning spices and sauces that may be new to local diners. “We are introducing the cuisine that she and I were brought up on.”

To incorporate their regional food with local fresh ingredients and agriculture, Gabriel notes that their new logo features a fresh, green tree springing up from a fork and spoon. Also, in an effort to retain local history, the Ibarras have retained much of the historic Yolo Traders building in their decor. The original stone walls are accented with lighting and much of the original wood from the building was repurposed into their counter top and trim. One large glass-covered table has an actual antique wooden door from the original building underneath, and the exposed raised-roof open beam ceilings harkens back to a more rough and rustic time.

Even their employees are “home grown”  — Gabriel says all are Winters residents, and as the restaurant grows, there may be more job openings in the future.

Besides food, Yolo Traders Bistro will offer beer, wine, iced teas and handmade lemonades. They will also offer food to go. Their official opening and ribbon cutting will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 4 p.m.

The hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4-8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. They are closed on Sunday and Monday. The phone number is 794-6262, and Yolo Traders Bistro can also be found on Facebook for more information.

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