Coronado Island, California
If you’ve ever been to Coronado Island, across the bay from downtown San Diego, then you’ll probably experience a tinge of envy when we tell you food blogger Maggie Unzueta lives there. As in, all day, every day.
We admit, as soon as we peeped the recipes on Maggie’s blog (InMamaMaggiesKitchen.com), we began to daydream about what it might be like to be her. Never mind that she gets to to eat that steak chimichurri quesadilla or those Mexican spiced chocolate cookies whenever she feels like making them. But the fact that she gets to eat them in Coronado, that loveliest of beachy island towns, causes us to sigh every now and again.
You’ll understand when you see the last photo in the post where she wrote, “So I biked over to the beach to eat my healthy Mediterranean quinoa salad. Not a bad view.”
Take a look for yourself. We’re warning you, though. If it’s snowing where you are now, the photo might actually make you cry.
No worries. If it gets bad enough, you can always book a ticket and swing by for a long weekend. Maggie was kind enough to suggest an itinerary.
Below, the cookbook author and food blogger explains her love for Coronado and how, for the past five-plus years, location has trumped space and renting has trumped owning. Now, as she makes room for a new love, she tells us her priorities are shifting.
Girls’ Guide to Real Estate: Let’s start by talking about your work and your blog. How did Mama Maggie’s Kitchen get started?
Maggie Unzueta: After my grandmother passed away, I gathered many of her recipes and wrote my first cookbook, Mama Maggie’s Mexican Cookbook. I was named after her, and the name “Mama Maggie” felt right. Three cookbooks later, I started the blog and added wine to the mix. My family owns a large ranch in Mexico, and I resonate with winemakers. As a result, I have developed a strong passion for wine.
GG: And is the blog a side gig or your main work?
MU: My main job is Mama Maggie’s Kitchen. However, I also write for two other wine blogs and write recipes for different brands.
GG: Tell us about your home.
MU: My place in Coronado is tiny. It’s a little less than 1000 square feet, but I love it. I live less than a block away from the water. On any given day, I see sailboats and the skyline of downtown San Diego.
GG: Let’s talk about your decision to rent rather than own at this time in your life.
MU: Renting was the only option for me when I first moved to Coronado. It’s hard to even find a place to rent on the island, let alone buy.
GG: When you were looking for a place to live, what were your priorities? And what was the final tipping point that sold you on your current home?
MU: Kitchen is my number one priority. It has to have good lighting for food pictures. My fiancé and I have been talking about buying a home, and I simply can’t imagine living away from the water. Yes, sand gets everywhere (even in my kitchen), but that doesn’t bother me. For him, he has other priorities. He is more the modern house guy. The final tipping point that sold me on my current home was the proximity to the water.
GG: Do you think you’ll buy a home in the near future?
MU: We are looking into buying a home within the next two years, but if we don’t find the right one, we’ll put it off. For me, it has to feel right.
GG: Ok. Coronado house envy. Do you have any drive-by favorites that you fantasize about?
MU: Believe it or not, the houses on Ocean Drive don’t impress me. I’m more of a smaller-with-character kind of gal. There’s a house on the corner of 2nd and F Streets that’s so cute. It’s a New England style house with a big flagpole and white picket fence. The owner takes such good care of the house. I also love a house on 1st with steps down to the bay and a view of the downtown. It’s not overly pretentious; it’s a simple one-story home next to a hidden park on I Avenue.
GG: How long have you been in Coronado now, and how long do you plan to stay?
MU: I have been in my place for five-and-a-half years. My fiancé and I recently moved in together, and we need more space. We both work from home, and I have a son who is seven-and-a-half years old. We NEED more space. We might end up moving away from Coronado.
GG: Oh, boy. That sounds like it’ll be hard. Let’s talk about something else then. Let’s say we have a three-day weekend trip to Coronado. Please give us your ideal itinerary.
MU: I would stay at the Del, of course. Friday, breakfast at Crown Bistro, lunch at Leroy’s, then dinner at 1500 at the Del, followed by wine (hidden because they don’t allow alcohol) on the beach for a sunset toast. Then on Saturday, I would rent a bike and ride around the Golf Course and under the bridge. I would take a nap at the Ferry Landing grassy area and listen to the jazz band that plays there. Lunch is a toughie…. I would either go to: Peohe’s with an awesome view of downtown, or Tartine’s on 1st Street, which is a short walk away from the Landing. Or sandwiches at the Central Liquor Market on Orange Avenue and 2nd Street – get the California, it rocks! Dinner at the Coronado Brewing Company. It’s loved by all the locals. On Sunday, I would hit up Orange Avenue. I would start at Claytons for brunch then bop around all the cute shops. There is so much to do in Coronado!
GG: Alright. You must have seen this coming. If we decide to stop by your home while we’re in town, what will you make for us?
MU: Something Mexican like picadillo or birria. I hope you can handle spicy food!
Photography | Chantal Pasag