Eat This: José on Lovers
Dallas doesn’t exactly have a shortage of Mexican restaurants. And while nothing says Texan comfort food quite like spicy queso and Grand Marnier-topped frozen margaritas, sometimes a break from the standard Tex-Mex offerings is needed. José not only offers a breath of fresh air in a sea of standard Mexican fare but also brings the party with a bright, lively ambiance.
With well-placed decor and thoughtful design by Droese Raney Architecture, the restaurant on Lovers Lane looks like a spot that you’d bookmark for an upcoming vacation. In fact, the restaurant’s namesake, José Noé Suro, founder of Cerámica Suro — fashioned all of the hand-painted tiles, plates, furniture, and lighting, including an 85-foot mural. The restaurant is gorgeous.
While you wait at the turquoise horseshoe bar for your table and your dinner date is working the filter for their Instagram story, you can get acquainted with the cocktail menu. Mezcal enthusiasts will love El Molcajete, with Yellow Chartreuse, elote syrup, and cilantro, while the cucumber/serrano pairing of La Malinche is a must-try for anyone looking to stray from the traditional margarita. By the time you’re feeling slightly rosy-faced and giggly, your table will be ready.
A walk through the (predictably packed) restaurant showcases rich yellow upholstered circular booths, intricate ceramic pendant lights, and rich floral and serape details. And if you opt for a seat in the outdoor courtyard, be sure pull up an Equipale barrel chair near the golden pineapple fountain. Again, chronic Instagrammers, prepare for your camera roll count to climb.
The appetizer offerings are all shareable, including your standard guacamole and queso variations, ceviche, tamales, and other seafood dishes. If you’re unsure of what to order, the crispy Calamari Chicharron and sweet, smoky Street-Style Elote are a perfect match.
By now, you’ve probably been watching the bright blue painted plates whisk by, with everything from salmon-stuffed avocado and Baja-style fish tacos to slow-cooked pork carnitas and short rib relleno. The Guadalajaran-inspired menu includes traditional plates, fresh seafood and vegetable-packed entrees, so there’s truly something for everyone.
And if you’re looking to try something that contains a little bit of everything, the Seafood Enchiladas are a must. It’s a fact that blue corn enchiladas just taste better. Unlike traditional enchiladas that can leave you feeling really heavy, sautéed shrimp and buttery bay scallops lighten this plate up a bit without sacrificing depth of flavor. The chewy queso asadero, fresh avocado, and creamy cilantro tomatillo sauce certainly don’t hurt, either.
Once entree plates are cleared and the dessert interrogation begins, the Blue Corn Cookies with chocolate ice cream or the Guadalajaran-style custard Jericalla will not disappoint. And as you’ve probably picked up on the #OutOfOffice vibes emanating from the building, there’s also a souvenir shop corner in the store for you to take home a memento or two. They’re truly thought of everything.
José hasn’t been open for very long, but there’s definitely a thoughtful, nostalgic quality that reminds you of a fabulous meal that you enjoyed on a much-needed vacation. Yes, the restaurant is always packed; yes, the restaurant is loud, but it’s easy to adopt a mañana mindset upon entering. Perusing the cocktail menu after the entrees have arrived and ordering two desserts isn’t a big deal — you’re on vacation, after all.