I've long been disappointed in the Mexican restaurant selection in San Jose. Lots of decent taquerias, but few good sit down restaurants and fewer still with any unique specialties. We'd travel to SF or pick up food from Primavera at the SF farmers market or, at least in the last few years, visit the mid-peninsula Oaxacan Kitchen at a market or their restaurant when we wanted a better Mexican meal (though I consider them just OK).
But today we found a gem of a restaurant, very close to us: Juquilita Restaurant Oaxaqueno at 577 Alma, San Jose. We tried a bunch of small dishes: molotes, a memelita, tostada de tinga, tamal de mole (de platano), empanada de amarillo and one of the hot beverages: champurrado.
Every dish was fantastic.
The molotes (stuffed with potatoes and chorizo) were garnished with mole negro and queso fresco. Fried perfectly, with the chorizo just an accent.
The memelita was on a handmade corn patty topped with black bean paste, cheese and salsa. Similar to (but smaller than, as the name implies) the memela at Oaxacan Kitchen.
The tostada de tinga was on a very crisp and perfectly fried tostada with slightly spicy chicken, cabbage and queso -- a really nice dish. When they have it, Primavera Cafe at the SF farmers market does this one a bit better (they add fresh avacodo and pickled carrots and jalepeno), but Juquilita does a very decent rendition.
The tamal de mole (we got the one in banana leaf: en hoja de platano) was wonderfully moist, the masa had a great texture with a more coarser grind that gave a nuttiness to the dish, and the balance between the mole negro and masa was perfect -- the masa layer was thin, not overpowering the tamal.
The Empanada de amarillo was fantastic. The hand made tortilla was fried (much like a crispy taco, but better) and the filling was a mix of amarrillo mole (which was thick and very flavorful), chicken and fresh cilantro.
The champurrado was a variation on hot chocolate, less sweet, and thickened.
The selection of specialty mexican drinks (various atole, the champurrado, tejate) is large, both cold and hot.
And because we ordered little dishes, two of us filled up for under $22. We'll be back to try the dinner plates and more of the specialty drinks (esp the tejate).
A photo album is here: http://picasaweb.google.com/artemis/J...
577 W Alma Ave, San Jose, CA 95125
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