There’s No Question that Jose Tejas is the Place to “EAT”!

April 8, 2011 | By | COMMENTS

So you are driving along New Jersey’s infamous Route 1 in Iselin and are starving. Sure you have gone to the lobster shack, the Irish pub spinoff and the rib joint but you want something different, something fresh. Your taste buds are dying for some flavor and some life. You happen upon this huge sign, standing erect at 40 feet tall and wider than the largest SUV saying “EAT” with an arrow pointing at this seemingly sketchy shack. This “shack” is known as “Jose Tejas”: a Tex-Mex/Cajun restaurant serving up authentic “Good Eats”.
Once you get past the rustic building and actually enter the restaurant, there is a warm and vibrant buzz that never ceases. No cleanly pressed table linens here; the family-friendly atmosphere of hanging Christmas lights, propane-powered lamps and matching wooden tables and chairs are reminiscent of simpler times when the hustle and bustle of life was reduced to a minimum.

Once seated by capable hosts and hostesses, you are immediately greeted by a member of the wait staff. Upon a fair amount of time grazing over the menu, I inquired about a Mojito (fresh mint and lime muddled together with a sugar syrup and served topped with rum [or tequila] and club soda) as my drink of choice. Sadly, they do not make Mojito’s, as the bartender does not have fresh mint handy. I joked around and said, “next time I will bring the mint!” The waiter so kindly directed my attention to their ample selection of margaritas and after a moments glance, I selected their premium Padron margarita, made with Padron Silver tequila and Cointreau. Normally I am not a margarita guy, but I must say that this particular drink was perhaps the best I have had in years. Along with the drinks, a basket of piping-hot corn chips and roasted tomato-chipotle salsa graced our table.
As I sat and grazed over the menu, which had such simple fare as hand-made tacos, nachos and quesadillas and more complex items such as pulled pork, mesquite grilled beef and chicken as well as empanadas for all – I noticed the vast number of guests in the restaurant. As this was my second visit to “EAT” (my own playful title for the establishment), I must admit that I never noticed the large number of clientele. People were lined out to the parking lot and it was only 4:00pm! My dinner guest alerted me to the fact that if you go to Jose Tejas after 5pm, you better be prepared to wait up to 45 minutes; this will continue until 10pm. Thankfully, I like to eat dinner early.

While making my decision choice as to my entree, I noticed other guests thoroughly enjoying all different types of margaritas: both frozen and “on the rocks”. It was at this point that the enjoyment of my drink was reaffirmed.
I finally decided to order the “Chicken Bandera”(see above photo) which includes a boneless, skinless chicken breast grilled to perfection over a fire made with mesquite wood, a freshly made mango-jalepeno salsa with a lime-cilantro vinegarette and freshly smashed and fried plantains. The entire dish was served with a honey-lime-cilantro dipping sauce and a fresh lime wedge for squeezing. The chicken was perfect and although had the appearance of charring, possessed a heavenly flavor which by itself was more than enough but when dipped in the honey sauce was nothing short of extraordinary. The mango salsa was very hot and surely added a good dose of heat to the entire dish without suffocating, rather supporting the other subtle flavors on the plate. Lastly the fried plantains were not at all greasy and were smashed at the peak of freshness; these too went great with the honey sauce. My dinner guest ordered their selection of chicken and beef tacos with all the usual accompaniments. We thoroughly enjoyed this particular dish as well. There is not a dessert menu however the exquisite meal spoke for itself and did not need a postlude.
Overall, both my visits to Jose Tejas has caused me to thoroughly praise this authentic restaurant. We are not talking about fine dining here, but a great and affordable (all entrees are in the area of $10 each) place to enjoy a meal worth remembering. After asking my waiter, John for his take on the business, he explained: “there is never a ‘dead time’ here; people are always coming in groups for lunch and dinner and they couldn’t be more appreciative.” I know I was very much appreciative for the delightful meal.
I strongly encourage you to seek out Jose Tejas in either Iselin or Fairfield, NJ for a truly authentic and inspiring meal. You will be glad you did.
My overall rating of Jose Tejas: 5 stars
Lunch/Dinner is served: Sunday – Thursday: 11am – 11:30pm
Friday and Saturday: 11am – 12:30am

Categories: Restaurant Reviews

Leave a Comment