The verdict is in – Jose’s Courtroom in the heart of La Jolla has a warm, rustic Baja vibe offering authentic Mexican comfort food with a fresh twist that will please palates of all kinds.
The bustling cantina, deeply rooted in San Diego’s culinary history, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in November. Running from Herschel Avenue to Prospect Street, the restaurant has become a coastal hotspot since owner Tigg Mitchell took over the reins in the summer of 2007. Globetrotter who rides the biggest waves in the world every year , from Fiji to Costa Rica, Mitchell, a coastal connoisseur, refined the original menu by incorporating fresh and fun ingredients and concepts, as well as sassy spirits and sips. Ole!
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The rich, smoky aromas draw you in, along with the warm and inviting wooden furnishings, cozy cabins, colorful sombrero light fixtures, and lively bar. In anticipation of the golden stage, chef Jose Rodriguez – who is not the restaurant’s namesake but who, nonetheless, has been cooking up traditional delicacies in the kitchen for 35 years – has now brightened up the menu with a prawn ceviche and of avocado tossed in a bright lime. Marinade; the Baja Bowl with black beans and Spanish rice; and the “meaty” and savory mushroom tacos with a mother lode of grilled portobellos and onions drizzled with cilantro aioli, a vegan lollapaloza that will satisfy even the most discerning carnivore.
Other traditional menu items to get the fiesta started include nachos topped with pollo asado, carne asada or carnitas and dressed with roasted corn, pickled jalapenos, salsa fresca, refried beans, mixed Mexican cheeses and homemade potato chips; a range of burrito and taco plates; sizzling fajitas and Jose’s Burger, featured on the Travel Channel, mixing homemade chorizo with aged beef, dressed with cotija cheese, jalapeno corn relish and a side of beans and rice or fries.
Sweet tooths can feast on traditional desserts such as caramel flan, fried ice cream and a la mode churro.
Then it’s time for lips and gums with margaritas and craft cocktails, Mexican beers, local craft beers, and boutique tequilas and mezcals.
There is more. Check out Taco Tuesdays with $3 street tacos and $5 homemade margaritas, Late Night 5’s offering $5 shots, margaritas and drafts from 9 p.m. to closing, and happy hour specials in Week. This fall, Jose’s Courtroom will add quiet weekend brunches, two-for-one kids meals and a 50th birthday party in November to the program.
Seasonal tourists, locals and San Diego locals up and down the coast flock to Jose’s as much for the cooling ocean breezes, breathtaking views of the blue Pacific and people watching on the patio family coveted only for the fresh, authentic dishes, all homemade, with local ingredients.
The court is in session for lunch every day from 11 a.m.
A social media post shouting congratulations – “Good food! Great drinks! Great place!” – doesn’t do justice to Jose’s courtroom.
Where: 1037 Prospect Street, La Jolla
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Sunday; happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday; Taco Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Information: jose.com(858) 454-7655
• 4 ounces of carne asada (pre-seasoned and cooked)
• 2 ounces of grilled corn
• 4 ounces of black beans
• 4 ounces of Spanish rice (seasoned and cooked)
• 2 ounces of salsa fresca
• 4 ounces romaine lettuce leaves, chopped
• 3 avocados, sliced
• A handful of fresh coriander
In a large mixing bowl, combine cooled ingredients and mix well. Serve in a deep, decorative bowl. Garnish with cilantro.
— Courtesy of Chef Jose Rodriguez ◆