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Club Life

Blue Maiz
16965 Monterey Rd., Morgan Hill; 408.779.9091

By Jim Harrington

Hours: 4pm-midnight Wed-Sat. All ages. No dress code. No cover.
Amenities: Pool table, tapas menu, bar, live jazz and blues, DJs, outside seating

HIDDEN AWAY in a strip mall on Monterey Road in sleepy Morgan Hill, Blue Maiz seems to be an odd location to become South County's new hip spot for jazz, blues and tapas, but that's exactly what owner Anecita Agustinez is hoping for this relatively exotic restaurant and bar that opened next to an Albertson's in early May.

One of the things that she has going for her is that it's also right next to the new Dollar Store, which is reportedly "the hottest place in Morgan Hill." Apparently, South County folks like their bargains. But the question is whether they like live music. There certainly hasn't been much of it offered in the peculiar downtown area over the years. Agustinez is banking that locals are ready for a change, and this place is certainly a big change for Morgan Hill. It starts with the name: Blue Maiz, which reflects a different culture than many are familiar with in the area. Maiz, Agustinez explains, is Aztecan for corn. "I am a Navajo," she says. "I wanted to have something representative of my culture."

Representative of just about any culture, Blue Maiz offers a large selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks. Of special note are the after-dinner drinks like fine port sherries and the specialty mixes like champagne with mango purée. They also have some unusual nonalcoholic drinks, like the yerba mate, a South American green tea loaded with caffeine and served hot or cold.

An older crowd turns out to the upscale spot, which is decorated in blue and yellow colors, ambient lighting and a variety of curiosities like iron masks and huge gourds, to enjoy live blues and jazz on Fridays and similar music played by DJs on Saturdays. They munch on marinated olives, pork skewers, small salads and other tapas at one of the sidewalk tables or play 'Trane on the jukebox while kicking it at the long bar that runs the length of the 150-person-capacity building.

There are also a pool table and a dance floor to help break up the time spent with tapas and taps. Agustinez lives in San Jose, but she believes Morgan Hill is ready for something like Blue Maiz. "I grew up in a small town," says the native of Lamont, Calif. "In fact, Morgan Hill is huge compared to my little town." Well, as they say, if you can make it in Morgan Hill, you can make it anywhere.

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From the July 14-20, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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