Lo­cal Fla­vor

Jose's Mex­i­can Grill and Cantina

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - In This Issue - By Brad Hud­gens, pho­tog­ra­phy by Mara Kuhn

5:45 p.m. … School is back in ses­sion; just think­ing of my two not-so-lit­tle ones away at col­lege.

Afew years ago, I wrote about Jose's Mex­i­can Grill and Cantina on High­way 7 south. It is al­ways a nice ex­pe­ri­ence, but I don't seem to get there of­ten enough. Jose and his wife, Veron­ica, saw a need for their style of Mex­i­can food on Malvern Av­enue, and now I'm all in.

Jose's at­mos­phere is fun and fes­tive with lots of color and a nice bar. I'm lov­ing more restau­rants in my `hood. If you're a Ram fan, you will want to horn-in on the Malvern Av­enue lo­ca­tion. This is the per­fect spot for af­ter prac­tice, af­ter game, or af­ter-school din­ners and hang­outs. Jose's Mex­i­can Grill and Cantina is also per­fect for af­ter golf and ten­nis soirees at the coun­try club. You'll see lots of friends here, and the food is al­ways great.

I could eat Mex­i­can food a dozen meals per week and keep want­ing more. Luck­ily, there are nu­mer­ous styles of Mex­i­can food in Hot Springs which spice things up — lit­er­ally. Jose's cer­tainly has its own style that is dif­fer­ent from any other Mex­i­can res­tau­rant in the area. When you are seated here, you will be promptly served a red salsa and a green salsa. The red salsa has a dis­tinct fla­vor, and is one of the more fla­vor­ful sal­sas in town, al­beit with­out much heat. Also com­pli­men­tary is their fa­mous green salsa which has cu­cum­bers blended in, and is fan­tas­tic! I bet oth­ers are green with envy over this salsa. If you like ex­tra heat, just ask and they will de­liver. Their chips are al­ways warm and fresh.

Con­sider one of Jose's spe­cialty drinks from the bar. Adrian Oseguera is the bar-master and has a pas­sion for awe­some fla­vors and pre­sen­ta­tions. My top three choices are the Cu­cum­ber Rita, the Piña Co­lada with Straw­ber­ries and their Three Berry Rita. The Cu­cum­ber Rita is def­i­nitely ap­peal­ing. When I heard about this, I wasn't sure how it would taste, but it's yummy and gor­geous while very re­fresh­ing. The Piña Co­lada

is made with a home­made co­conut cream base and has fresh straw­berry puree around the edges. It's as de­li­cious as it is beau­ti­ful. And the Three Berry Rita, made with fresh juices of straw­berry, rasp­berry and cran­berry is just as stun­ning. Adrian loves show­ing off his stuff, and you will love the re­sults.

An ob­vi­ous starter is the Queso Dip. Jose's is as good as you'll find in Hot Springs, but also con­sider ask­ing for the Gua­camole Mex­i­cano. This is not on their menu, but al­ways avail­able. The Mex­i­cano ver­sion is chunkier, and very fresh. This dif­fers a lot from or­di­nary gua­camole. With fresh toma­toes, onion, pep­pers, cilantro and lime juice, this is as good as it gets any­where. Add ex­tra lime juice and salt to pref­er­ence, and your ta­ble will love this choice. A fab­u­lous pos­si­bil­ity, for ei­ther a shared ap­pe­tizer or en­tree is the Mu­cho Que­sadilla. This que­sadilla is made on a gar­lic and herb tor­tilla and grilled with chicken or beef, mush­rooms, grilled onions and pep­pers. I or­der mine with ex­tra mush­rooms.

The com­bi­na­tion plates are very pop­u­lar. My fa­vorite is the C-2, which in­cludes a beef taco, a cheese en­chi­lada and a tamale. I or­der the beef taco with shred­ded beef, and pour the taco's fill­ing (that in­cludes let­tuce and cheese) on top of the cheese en­chi­lada. Jose's cheese en­chi­ladas are su­perb; a sa­vory blend­ing of cheese in a corn tor­tilla, and cov­ered with an out­stand­ing cheese sauce. I add lots of the sal­sas, and I'm in heaven. Some­times I or­der a side of jalapeños if I want ex­tra zip. You will taco `bout this with your friends and Jose's will rice to the oc­ca­sion. … this dish is al­ways served with rice and beans.

The spe­cials on the menu are just that — spe­cial. My fa­vorite three are Jose's Fa­vorite Shrimp, Carne Asada and Dos Ami­gos. Jose's Fa­vorite Shrimp are plump shrimp, grilled with ba­con and then Monterey Jack cheese on top. These shrimp are very tasty, and will melt in your mouth — a great se­lec­tion.

The Carne Asada is ex­tremely good. Jose's ver­sion is sliced and grilled beef with a tasty salsa. This is a bit spicy and you'll or­der it again.

The Dos Ami­gos is another pop­u­lar en­tree. Grilled chicken and shrimp are cooked with onions and mush­rooms then topped with Monterey Jack cheese. Dos Ami­gos is served with charro beans, gua­camole and sour cream. Opt for sub­sti­tut­ing salsa for the cheese if you want a re­ally healthy op­tion.

Jose's Mex­i­can Grill and Cantina has two top-notch desserts: the Cho­co­late Lava Cake and a home­made flan. The cake is served warm with ice cream, and the flan is one of the bet­ter tex­tured flans that I've tasted.

Go­ing to Jose's on 2215 Malvern Ave. is a com­fort­able, yet de­light­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. It's open Mon­day through Satur­day for lunch and din­ner. They have a pleas­ant out­door pa­tio if the weather's nice, but I re­ally like the in­door at­mos­phere. If you eat Mex­i­can of­ten, like me, you need to have Jose's on the front of your list. I'll see you there!

7:50 p.m. … My thoughts and prayers are with all chil­dren for a safe school year.

Above, a pop­u­lar dish from Jose's Mex­i­can Grill and Cantina: Jose's Fa­vorite Shrimp.

Start your meal right with the Gua­camole Mex­i­cano, shown above, and one of Jose's spe­cialty drinks, at left, the Three Berry Rita or the Cu­cum­ber Mar­gar­tia.

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