Don Jose’s is an age old Castro Valley delight. It’s been here since before I was, proudly heading up the ever-changing lineup at Castro Village shopping center on Castro Valley Boulevard in, yes, Castro Valley. I’ve been frequenting DJ’s since I was a kid on-and-off with my family. It’s a solid restaurant, and my most recent visit has left me intrigued and wanting more.
The shopping center where Don Jose’s is located houses dozens of shops and restaurants. And though I often overlook the rest of this area, relying only on DJ’s and Loard’s, there actually appears to be some other interesting restaurants sharing the space, and I hope to try the good-looking Indian place next time around.
Don Jose’s is really quite a large restaurant, though you can’t really tell from the front. Its high ceilings, open dining room, dedicated bar area, and two large banquet rooms make it a great hang out for all sorts of occasions. We were there for dinner last week on a Monday night, and I was pleasantly surprised to see a good number of customers present on this famously slow weeknight. It makes me happy to see good businesses doing well.
And our visit was no exception, the service was extremely attentive (as evidenced by the four baskets of chips we devoured), and the food was excellent. The menu is extensive, offering a huge variety of all the Mexican favorites, plus some less traditional fare for the people who are dragged to the burrito shop when they really only wanted a hamburger. Not feeling like something heavy, I ordered the mesquite salmon salad off the menu insert, which consisted of a grilled slab of herbed fish over a bed of lettuce and a side of creamy, Italian-ish dressing. Squeeze a tortilla between the salad and the plate and – voilà! – it’s south of the border-style.
My fish was very good and the whole salad completely hit the spot. Boyfriend ordered nachos that were pretty good, but were really nothing terribly special. The price was right though; they’re technically an appetizer (he filled up on chips and salsa anyway). Mom ordered the winning dish of the evening: a shrimp dish doused in a creamy barbeque sauce with rice and veggies. I don’t know what that sauce was made of (and, incidentally, the head chef was on a break when we asked the waiter to find out for us…) but it was fabulous. A little sweet, very creamy, potentially good on just about anything.
Mom’s boyfriend’s super burrito was a hit; he had a doozy of a time finishing the thing since it was so huge. Though something didn’t sit quite right because he was awake that night with some indigestion – but Mexican food can do that to a person from time to time.
Generally, it was a great night and great food and I’m excited to see that Don Jose’s is keeping with the times and continuing to be a quality restaurant in the area. And they even have some fun promos – happy hour from 3-6, margarita night on Tuesdays, and mojito specials on Wednesdays. It’s true that there are many Mexican restaurants in the area, but few are the calibur of Don Jose’s.