Don Jose is tucked into a heavily-landscaped corner, making this restaurant very easy to miss. Because trees and bushes slightly obscure it from view while driving on Newport Boulevard, I honestly had no idea what kind of Mexican food to expect; whether Don Jose would serve authentic Mexican food on par with Taco Rosa or serve American-Mexican food in the styles of Acapulco, El Torito, and the like.
Arriving on a Saturday night, I was acutely aware of the nearly empty parking lot surrounding Don Jose, which made me worry that the restaurant was closed (even though it was only about 7 PM). The exterior style of the building made me imagine red and green decor, sombreros, and loud mariachi music playing. Upon entering, I was instead reminded of Coco’s gone Mexican, with the large floral upholstered booths and crystal lamps hanging over each table.
Upon being seated, we were immediately served fresh, warm tortilla chips with a chunky salsa. I really love chips and salsa, as simple as they come, and I was delighted with the lightly salted and thin tortilla chips we were presented. The mild salsa was full of chopped vegetables and quite thick, just the way I like it!
This was my Rosie O’Rita Margarita made with tequila, sweet and sour, Triple Sec, and cranberry juice to give it that nice pink glow. This margarita on the rocks was served in a pint glass and was quite sweet.
My Seafood Enchiladas came with refried beans and Spanish rice. Large, tender chunks of grilled fish and shrimp were rolled in corn tortillas and smothered in a flavorful tomatillo sauce. The mild tomatillo sauce allowed the flavor of the fish and shrimp to be the stars of this dish. There were more fish than shrimp in the enchiladas and I was very pleased with this light dish of moist seafood. Some parts of the corn tortilla were stale and dried out, which was easily remedied by spreading on the tomatillo sauce. The rice and beans were pretty standard fare.
Devin requested his Chunky Chicken Chimichanga without red sauce or roasted green chilis on top. The crispy, deep-fried burrito contained chicken, refried beans, jack cheese, cheddar cheese, and a red chili sauce and came accompanied with sour cream.
While the exterior of the restaurant had me expecting one thing and then the interior gave me some doubts, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavorful and properly cooked dishes that we ordered.
14882 Holt Ave.
Tustin, CA 92780