South of the Border Down Jackson Way
By Antoinette May Herndon
Jose’s Mexican restaurant is my ace in the hole. Six nights a week it’s a place that I can count on. I know that the food will be good because it always is. I know the wait staff will be pleasant and accommodating because they always are. I know, too, that the price is right because the menu doesn’t change.
If I’d been as on the ball as they are at Jose’s I’d have written this column for Cinco de Mayo day. Instead I’m writing it now because I went there last night and feel inspired to say thanks again for another great dinner. Viva Mexico! Viva Jose’s!
Charles and I have been eating at Jose’s two or three times a month for the last eight years. It never fails us. The owner, Martha Perez, has her standards and adheres to them. She and her then husband, Jose, came to Jackson from Mexico nearly 30 years ago and fell in love with the town. In July Martha will be celebrating her 27th year of restaurant success.
She’s very proud of her wait staff who have been with her almost from the very beginning. “Once they start, it’s hard to get rid of them,” Martha jokes. “They must all enjoy their jobs because they never leave. And that includes my children, Raquel, Adriana and Jose Perez and granddaughter, Karina.”
Martha and her crew work very hard to maintain a warm, family attitude with a clear focus on fresh cuisine. “I and my staff cook the food the minute you order it strictly from scratch,” Martha says. “Our kitchen has never seen a microwave. We use the
freshest chicken and our sauces are made from the freshest green peppers and tomatoes available.
It shows! The meats and sauces are tasty, the lettuce crisp. Jose’s Restaurant is consistent—an eatery that you can count on because it’s always good.
The ambience at Jose’s is an unexpected plus too. The lighting is muted, rather romantic, the music soft. Personally, I like that. So many restaurants that don’t aspire to lah-di -dah elegance, who opt instead for casual “family” atmosphere, look like operating rooms. Despite the kind to the pocketbook prices, Jose’s still manages to achieve a “night out” feeling.
Here’s another winner feature that sets Jose’s apart. When I go to a Mexican restaurant, I don’t want no stinkin’ gringo margaritas. Having spent a lot of time south of the border, I know the real thing and crave it. Martha Perez is proud of her margaritas and justly so. Using Jose Cuervo tequila makes a difference, but then there’s something else, an ingredient that Martha’s not sharing. Try one of her margaritas and see if you can guess what it is.
Charles and I and Charles’s daughter, Marion, go out to dinner together every Tuesday night. It’s our thing. Most recently we unanimously decided on Jose’s as our dinner destination. It was a no brainer for us as Jose’s is an ongoing favorite.
With our “Martha” margaritas, ($6.50) we enjoyed a large complimentary quesadilla. Then I ordered my perennial favorite, the combination plate—chile relleno, a beef taco and a cheese enchilada ($12.95) with rice and beans. Que carumba! Es delicioso
as always. I always think I’ll try something else, something new, next time but never do. The combo plate is always a winner.
Marion went for the chimichanga ($12.50), a house specialty. It’s a big flour tortilla stuffed with chile Colorado topped with lettuce, tomato, guacamole and sour cream.
And Charles went all the way to jumbo ordering the taco grande—a specially made foot long flour beef tortilla topped with lettuce, tomato, guacamole and sour cream ($10,95).
All the entrees came with rice and beams. Mexican dishes at Jose’s are moderately spicy but can be made more zesty by adding from the variety of piquant hot sauce at the table.
For dessert, the three of us dipped our forks into a homemade flan, a sweet, creamy custard with caramel topping ($3). It provided a delightfully light touch to the meal’s closure.
When contemplating dinner at Jose’s there’s no need to wish yourself buena suerte—the Mexican version of “good luck.” Jose’s truly is that ace in the hole I mentioned earlier. You can count it. Martha’s casa es su Casa. It is true. Es veridad.
VITALS: Jose’s Mexican Restaurant is located at 609 State Highway 49. Phone: 223-3886. Tuesday through Saturday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with dinners from 5 to 9. Open Saturday from ll to 8. Closed Mondays. Credit cards accepted.
Lulu Casillas serves excellent food at Jose’s Mexician.
The exterior of Jose’s Mexican Restaurant sets the scene.
Marion Lauter enjoys a chimichanga at Jose’s Mexican Restaurant