a unique mexican-meets-southern menu inspired by the owners’ heritage
by the Offline team
What: A Mexican-meets-Southern restaurant that’s great any time of day.
When: Tues-Thurs: 11:30a-2:30p, 5-10p; Fri: 11:30a-2:30p, 5-11p; Sat: 12-3p, 5-11p; Sun: 11a-3p
Why we love ‘em:
- It’s got a unique menu inspired by the founders’ first-generation heritage that combines the flavors and styles of Mexican and Southern classics.
- Dinner is totally shareable and great for a crowd.
- Their sit-down lunch service is perfect even if you’re in a bit of a hurry.
- Brunch portions are no joke, plus they’ve got massive drinks to match for the ultimate AM party.
- Craft cocktails are made with uber-fresh citrus and juices that go beyond your average Mexican restaurant.
Jose and Sons 101
Let’s just start by getting something straight. Jose and Sons isn’t a Mexican restaurant. It’s not a Southern joint, either. Instead, it’s a spot that celebrates the many layers of what makes the South the South by bringing together your favorite flavors from each cuisine into unbelievably delish dishes.
But they’re not going for a gimmicky fusion vibe, either. Instead, the marriage of the two cuisines is an authentic representation of the owners’ own unique identities. Co-owners Charlie Ibarra and chef Oscar Diaz (who also own award-winning Cortez) are both first-generation Americans, coming from Mexican heritage yet finding home in Raleigh. The result? A menu that playfully represents both Mexico and the American south, one that brings together their individual elements, cultures and even eating styles for a dining experience both familiar and entirely unique, all at once.
What does that look like in practice? There’s the fan-favorite Mac “n” Queso that brings the smoky flavors of Mexican cuisine to the ultimate Southern comfort food. (Top it with some of their barbacoa marinated in beer from neighboring Crank Arm for the ultimate meal.) There’s the pork and pineapple Al Pastor Skewer that’s served on a kebab to mirror how the dish is traditionally made with spit-grilled meat in Mexico. There’s the oft-Instagrammed Chicharron and Waffle, a take on chicken and waffles made with corn masa waffle (that’s naturally gluten free, we might add) and piled high with crispy pork belly “cracklins.” Of course, you’ll also find classic dishes on the menu, but it’s these innovative chef-crafted options that really shine.
Tucked into the old train depot in the Warehouse district with lofted, exposed beam ceilings and a funky, rustic vibe, this is a sure-to-please spot for lunch, dinner, or brunch. They’ve got a huge bar, plenty of dining space for groups of any size, and a nice patio when the weather’s good. They’re upscale enough for a celebration, yet homey enough for a quick ‘n casual bite.
All in all, we can’t think of a time we wouldn’t say yes to a visit to Jose and Sons. Now let’s talk about how to tackle each meal…
What to order
Dinner for the Whole Crew
The name of the game at dinner is grazing. With so many good options on the menu, it’s hard to choose just one as your meal. Pros know to bring a big group, order a bunch of different stuff for the table, and eat family style. So you might combine a few small plates—chips and guac, legendary charred brussels, mayo and cheese-covered corn on the cob—along with an entree or two—like braised collard green tamales or beer-battered fish tacos—and get a little taste of everything.
Jose and Sons supports this kind of shared dining through and through, even developing a special menu item specifically tailored to it. The Chef’s Picnic features a literal slab of wood block piled high with grilled meats, seasonal veggies, market greens, salsas, and corn tortillas to eat it all in. Add it to your order for a true feast.
Lunch for Any Hunger Level
Whether you prefer a lighter lunch or need heftier fare to get you through the rest of the day, Jose and Sons has got something for you. If you’re just a bit peckish, opt for tacos or enchiladas—they’re super satisfying orders that’ll fill you up without weighing you down.
For something heartier, go with the J&S Favorites, many of which are lighter takes on dinner faves. The Jibarrito is especially close to the chef’s heart. This steak sandwich made with flattened, crispy plantain in place of the bread was a specialty in the Chicago neighborhood where he grew up, and he missed it so much that when he moved down here, he just had to add it to the menu.
And while it is a sit-down service spot, they make lunch super quick and easy so you can get in, out, and (sigh) back to work before your boss even notices. There’s even wifi if you’ve got to make the most of your lunch hour.
Party Brunch That Doesn’t Skimp on the Portions
Sunday brunch at J&S is a guaranteed good time that’ll leave you satisfied and probably a little buzzed, too. Their portions are hefty enough to get you back on your feet after a late Saturday night—just toss in one of their famous mimosa and you’re golden.
Notable options include: the Shrimp and Grits, which are made extra creamy by the addition of masa to the grits; the Choco-Masa Waffle, a dish designed for folks who like to eat dessert for brunch that includes a Videri Chocolate waffle, sliced bananas, and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream; and the Chilaquiles, which we reckon mighty just be the city’s best.
And the drink portions keep up. The “Masmosa” is just what it sounds like—a larger-than-average mimosa (available in a variety of fresh-fruit flavors) so that you’re not constantly looking for your waiter to fill up your glass. Ask them to add a shot of the liquor of your choice if you’re really not messing around.
Don’t Forget the Drinks
Anytime of day you can get a variety of craft cocktails made with fresh citrus and juices that go way beyond your average marg, paloma, or michelada (though they’ve got a stellar versions of those, too).
You can also enjoy sipping on a variety of Spanish, Argentinian, or Chilean wines, sangria made with seasonal fruits, and all your fave Mexican cervezas. Salud!
- Don’t get us wrong. The Chicharron and Waffle is damn good, butif it’s the only thing you order you’re missing out on a lot of other flavors. We like to order it as an app to share instead of an entree, so we can get a taste of the rest of the menu too.
- It’s a big space so it’s not usually too hard to get a table during the week, but if you’ve got a big group or you’re coming on the weekend, reservations on OpenTable are a good call.
- They have public wifi—just ask your server!
- Can’t get enough heat? Make sure to ask for their salsa diabla (made with Carolina reapers) if you think you can handle it.
- Alternatively, if you can’t handle the heat, chat with your server about spice levels and they’ll help adjust accordingly.
- Speaking of accommodating, they’re great at working with your dietary restrictions. The menu is well marked with plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options, but if you don’t see something that meets your needs, talk to the staff and they’ll whip something up just for you.
- Ask the bartenders to add a shot of liquor (your choice!) to your Masmosa for an extra boozy brunch drink.
- They host salsa nights on the second and last Saturdays of every month, with the kitchen closing down at 10:30 and the party starting at 11. Expect all the tables to be cleared out to turn the restaurant into a massive dance floor, a DJ or live music, and plenty of salsa, merengue, and more to help you dance off all the food you just ate.
- They have a free photo booth next to the front door if you want to hop in and capture the good times.