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Jose’s celebrates 40 years with a fiesta fare

By Michelle Lee Photos By Leah Friel
November 4, 2013

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On the special day many will be flocking to Jose’s Mexican Café & Cantina to celebrate the beloved, family-owned Mexican restaurant’s 40th anniversary.

“It means a lot to us that we are still here and have become so close with the community,” says general manager Brian Martinez. “This anniversary is really about us showing appreciation for our customers who have supported us over the years.”

To kick off the festivities, Jose’s will be offering daily specials from its menu.

“To be honest, we have not changed our menu very much

since our restaurant first debuted,” says Martinez. “The key is keeping our ingredients as fresh as possible and treating every dish with integrity.”

Perhaps the most anticipated anniversary special is the can-tina’s homemade Mole ($13.95), an intricately composed sauce served over your choice of either two chicken enchiladas or a chicken burrito. “Our Mole sauce is not part of our regular menu simply because it is such a laborious process,” explains Martinez. “To do it the right way, you have to use over 20 ingredients and every component must be made from scratch.”

A fine balance between savory and sweet, one batch of the Mole sauce takes more than three hours to make and requires numerous steps. “From roasting the garlic to perfection, grinding the peanuts to an exact consistency and incorporating the right amount of Mexican chocolate, everything has to come together seamlessly or else it throws off the entire dish,” says Martinez.

Other menu favorites sure to be a hit include Mexican Pizza ($13.95), a crispy-fried flour tortilla topped with New Mexican “red” sauce, seasoned ground beef, diced tomatoes, green bell peppers, olives and melted cheese; Enchiladas Rancheras ($13.95) with special holiday “XMAS” sauce blended from fresh tomatoes and tomatillos; and Jose’s Firehouse Chili ($5.95), a house-made chili with fresh onions, bell peppers, garlic and Cajun spicy blend.

Committed to freshness, Jose’s goes the extra distance to minimize the use of anything pre-made. “Even with our chili, instead of using chili powder like a lot of places, we hand-mix our own spices and herbs,” says Martinez. “It definitely takes longer to prepare, but it’s a la-bor of love and you can taste and see the difference.”

In celebrating the restaurant’s 40th anniversary, the Jose’s family is nostalgic. “Even before we opened the restaurant, it was as if we had one anyway because everyone in the neighborhood would come over to the house to eat,” says Martinez. “Cooking has always been part of our family heritage.”

Jose’s Mexican Cafe & Cantina

1134 Koko Head Ave., Honolulu
732-1833
Monday-Saturday, 11am-10pm; Sunday, 11am-9pm