The Gluten Free Babe
Jose Tejas: A Weekly Meal
I'm not ashamed to say this is one of my favorite restaurants.
There's a reason Dave and I have such a successful relationship: as much as we like to go out and try new things, we just as much enjoy being creatures of habit.
One habit for us: Wednesday lunch at Jose Tejas in Fairfield, NJ.
For me, working in Fairfield is great. It's a central location to a bunch of fantastic restaurants like Zest Eats, Cucina Calandra's Taqueria Los Guerros and more. But to me, the gem of the area will ALWAYS be Jose Tejas.
I've been a long time customer of JT (as Dave and I like to call it), celebrating birthdays and accomplishments and just the occasional lunch dating back to middle school. Jose Tejas is undeniably a community staple. It constantly smells incredible and their signature all wood, multi-color lights Christmas Lights indoors and uniformed staffed in white coats makes it a stand out as far as aesthetics goes.
Jose Tejas features a variety of dishes, ranging from pastellitos (not gluten free but DAMN ARE THEY GOOD), burros, fajitas and southern classics like gumbo.
But like I said, we're creatures of habit who eat the same 3 things every time we go.
Our order is simple: we both start with a water or unsweetened iced tea (these are the biggest drinks I've ever seen), then order guacamole to go with our fresh baked corn chips and house made salsa (that they bring out the second your butt hits the chair. Can you say free refills??). For our lunch, we both get the Route 66 salad (with no cheese or avocado with the dressing on the side) and a side of mixed veggies.
Lemme break this down.
The guac always arrives cold and never brown. It's more of a smooth guac, which we prefer. There are tomatoes and such chopped up in it, but it's never overwhelming. Scoop that up on an overly salty chip (aka the little gold mines of the basket) and you're in heaven.
The Route 66 Salad is by far the most versatile on the menu. It's a shredded iceberg lettuce salad, with mesquite grilled chicken, crisp red bell peppers, corn and bean "salsa" (it's literally corn, beans and red onion), topped with crunchy corn tortilla strips and a chipotle lime dressing. This salad is also served in a chilled bowl, which to me, sends this salad right over the edge (petition to make all salads served in a chilled bowl please). The lettuce is always fresh and crispy, as is the peppers. But the star of the salad? That chipotle lime dressing. From my attempts of making it at home, I have an idea of what's in it (since they will not tell you). It seems to be chipotle peppers in adobo (you can get a great can from Goya for less than $2), a ton of lime juice, fresh garlic, white sugar, salt, shallots, vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, cilantro and a splash of water. I don't know what kind of sorcery they do to this dressing but I would like to spend the rest of my life eating it on everything.
And finally the mixed vegetables. I'll be honest with ya, these are the most hit or miss about the meal. Most of the time they're cooked to perfection with a little bit of crisp left in the veggies. Other times the cook must be very angry because they come out charred and mushy. The veggies themselves are a mix of bell peppers, red onion, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, mushrooms and zucchini in what I believe is vegetable oil, seasoned with "Tejas Seasoning" which clearly contains poppy seeds. Veggies on veggies on veggies. That's my motto.
Something else they do great (which is not part of my weekly lunch because I am a professional) is margaritas. Frozen or on the rocks, I've never had a bad marg there (and I have consumed many margs there in my college days). If you have the chance to, indulge in a marg or two when you go (but remember to drink responsibly AKA take an Uber because these will knock you on your butt).
If you're in driving distance of a Jose Tejas, I highly recommend it. Definitely be aware that their service can be shotty - there's days where we have the best service, and there's days where our waiter literally forgets our guac in the pick up window. I can say that management is very kind there and will always help out if you happen to get a not so great server. Just look for the kind person in the button up shirt.
We love you, JT.