“I love to cook here. It’s my hobby — I’m kind of addicted to it,” explains Maria Weaver, the owner of Angel’s Restaurant. In the eight years since she opened Angel’s, Maria isn’t the only one who has become addicted. The flavors and personalities behind Angel’s have kept customers coming back time and again. And the customers, in turn, have helped transform Maria’s once-struggling business into a thriving San Pablo Avenue establishment.
The magic of Angel’s starts with Maria and flows out to the rest of the restaurant. She’s there seven days a week, running between customers in the front, to the kitchen in the back, and everywhere in between. “I love my customers,” Maria explains. “They’re just fun — I love talking with them and seeing them come back. And they always come back.” Maria has a glow about her — that special something that makes her stand out. She is immediately approachable.
Part of that welcoming, charismatic energy might be due in part to the fact that Maria really wants to be running her restaurant. “I choose to be here. I could have been a nurse — I went to Contra Costa College for nursing, and I was a nurse for a little. Then I put that away and opened the restaurant.”
But it wasn’t always easy. Maria struggled to garner a customer base in the beginning. Slowly, though, customers began to come in. Then they just kept coming. “We are so busy now!” Maria explains. “People really love it here.”
Among Angel’s super fans are several Richmond Police Department beat officers who frequent the restaurant for breakfast. In addition, every morning a delivery of Angel’s goodies — including breakfast burritos, croissants, and their infamous “crack muffins” — makes its way across the street to the staff at Catahoula Coffee. There is no doubt that the food keeps drawing back customers, but the feel of the restaurant plays a part, too.
Maria named the restaurant after her youngest daughter, and she has made the food and decor a beacon of her love of Angel. The soft yellow walls and hanging oil paintings of flowers and Mexican landscapes give Angel’s a homey vibe. It’s comfortable, and the food continues the homestyle feel.
There is a simplicity to the meals at Angel’s that makes them so appealing. As with most Mexican restaurants, it’s not the ingredients at Angel’s that makes the food stand out, it’s how they’re prepared.
Angel’s specializes in breakfast dishes like crispy chilaquiles, enormous omelets, and bigger-than-your-stomach breakfast burritos. The breakfast burrito is an objectively simple meal — just five ingredients: eggs, cheese, beans, meat, and tortilla. What makes Angel’s take on the dish so good is the lightness with which the eggs are scrambled and the melty, gooey quality of the cheese and beans. Drenched in the homemade salsa — which starts off sweet and gains heat as it progresses — the breakfast burrito is savory yet spicy, and filling yet light.
Be warned when you ask Maria about her food, though. When I dared to ask her about her favorite dish, she became markedly quiet and unusually still. “All of them,” she answered in a heavy voice. “There are no favorites here.” And with that she returned to her light and friendly self. But in that answer Maria’s inner chef came out. She is passionate, serious, and loves what she’s doing.
Like the heart that goes into Angel’s restaurant, the food is dynamic and bountiful. It’s the combination of Maria’s energy and her skills in the kitchen that make Angel’s a favorite among Mexican food connoisseurs in the city. As much about food as it is personality, a meal at Angel’s is enjoyable from the first hello to the last bite.
12469 San Pablo Avenue, Richmond
Tel. (510) 234-9939
Monday - Sunday: 7 am to 3 pm
View their Yelp page here.