By BECKY GILLETTE
Jose’s Mexican Restaurant located at 136 South Pearson Road H in Pearl is not far away from a number of chain restaurants. You usually know what you are getting at a chain restaurant. But for people who want a unique dining experience with authentic Mexican food, Jose’s has become a big favorite.
“Our menu is different from any other Mexican restaurant,” said Tiffany Jimenez, the wife of owner Jose Jimenez. “My husband was a cook in Mexico City and he knows the secret spices to put in to change it up. We are about a quarter mile down from the interstate in a nice outlet mail. We are not a chain, so it is harder to get people to come in and try something. We had one customer visiting from out of town who was very skeptical. But he liked the food so much the first night that he came back the next two nights, as well.”
Jose’s started out as a tamale shop serving homemade vegetarian, beef and chicken tamales, and a special sweet tamale during the holiday season that is traditional in Mexico. In 2000 they tripled the size of their space to open a full-service restaurant and bar. Their tamales are still a big hit, but so are other menu items like the chicken tortilla soup. And some people drive quite a way just to eat Jose’s ceviche, a marinated fish and seafood dish that is served on Saturdays.
“Ceviche is very popular from Peru to Mexico,” Jose said. “I make mine with fish, crab meat and shrimp marinated in lemon juice for 24 hours. The lemon doesn’t cook it, but it is almost a pickle. We add tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, jalapeno, oregano and olive oil. We serve it as a cold cocktail dressed with sliced avocados and little catsup and Mexican hot sauce on the side. It is served with saltine crackers. It is pretty healthy. It is good.”
Tiffany said they’ve been at the same location for 18 years and wouldn’t have made it without their community in Pearl and the Pearl Chamber of Commerce.
“They are really amazing people,” she said. “And the City of Pearl works as a team to help every business here.”
Word of mouth has been their biggest advertising tool. And, they have been heavily involved in the community. They often provide free chips and salsa and other food at different events.
Recently the Pearl Chamber named Jose’s their Small Business of the Year. Chamber Director Kathy Deer said they are famous for their tamales and margaritas.
“Jose’s has been here a long time and is a good community partner,” Deer said. “Tiffany is an ambassador for the chamber and attends ribbon cuttings, open houses, business after hours, other chamber events and city events. She volunteers her time and resources for events. They contribute a meal each month to the Firefighter of the Month and his wife. They are involved in the school. They are members of Pearson Baptist Church and are involved there. They are one of those family-owned-and-operated business really involved with everything that goes on in the community. Not only is the food good, but their service is great. It is nice to have businesses like that in the city.”
“I love Pearl and the City of Pearl,” Tiffany said. “The people of Pearl are very supportive of the community and they are there if you need them, especially the chamber members.”
Some of the other favorite dishes with customers are fish tacos, honey chipotle shrimp tacos and Santé Fe tacos, which are rolled flour tortillas stuffed with chicken, corn, black beans and melted cheese, and served with creamy chipotle cheese sauce. They serve all kinds of enchiladas, and milanesa steak, which is similar to a chicken-fried steak, but breaded with cracker crumbs.
Jose is also known to make a special hot sauce for customers who like it really hot. And they have regular customers who say, “You just make me something special.”
“He does everything to make his customers happy,” his wife said.
They pay particular attention to having friendly and efficient wait staff. If there are three bad comments from a customer, the server is gone.
“I can understand a server having one bad day, but three is unacceptable,” Tiffany said. “We try to do extra for our customers. We had a customer coming through town with his mother who accidentally left her purse. We mailed the purse to them the next day. He said on Facebook we went way beyond what was necessary, but that is just what you should do. People say a lot of nice things about us on Facebook. We feel blessed by the Lord and thank him for everything we have.”
Jose says the secret to their success is dedication, discipline and love.
“My father had a restaurant in Mexico City and I used to help him when I was young,” he said. “Later on, I worked for someone else for seven years. I’ve been in the food business all my life. I love doing it.”
He said it is important to be consistent, so he is training his staff all the time. If something gets overcooked or isn’t perfect, they start over and do it again.
He also attributes their restaurant’s success to the support of customers, the city and his family. His wife doesn’t work there full-time, but helps out. Their son, Ricky, 27, helps on Fridays and Saturdays. Their daughter, Cheyenne, 18, works three or four days a week.
“They are really friendly to people,” Jose said. “They got that from me. I’m a very friendly person to everyone.”
Jose’s is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.
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