The Boston Phoenix January 11-18,2001

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José's Mexican Food

A true border café

by Elisabeth Townsend

on the cheap
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  • The genuine cuisine of Mexico isn't easy to find unless you're a guest in a Mexican home where traditional cooking is prized. But friendly staff delivering humble, well-prepared dishes in a relaxed neighborhood cantina comes close. Perched by the railroad tracks in North Cambridge, José's Mexican Food announces its claim to fame with two framed awards that deflect your attention from the restaurant's décor of Mexican tchotchkes.

    Owner/chef Joe Capuzzo serves homemade Cal-Mex food and guarantees that tender taste buds need not fear the fiery sauces, because all dishes can be prepared at any level of spiciness, from mild to extra hot. To begin, try one of José's eight mini Mexican pizzas ($2.25 to $4.95) -- flour tortillas layered with mildly spicy tomato salsa, Monterey jack cheese, and fajita chicken. Or choose from the other appetizers of chili ($2.95), black-bean soup ($2.95), guacamole and chips ($5.95), and nachos ($3.95 to $7.95).

    José's offers all the usuals -- fajitas ($10.95) and enchiladas ($8.95), chimichangas ($8.95), and Mexican barbecue ($10.95 to $16.95). But the true test of a good Mexican restaurant is its chiles rellenos. José's offers two fresh, whole poblano peppers filled with chicken, beef, or cheese ($9.95). Although this dish is usually battered and fried, these tender peppers were flavorfully roasted. All entrées come with earthy refried red or black beans, rice, and salad. To finish, there is a selection of traditional Mexican desserts.

    The real deals here happen at lunch ($2.95 to $9.45), or look for unexpected evening specials with $1 off drinks or food. There's free parking, too.

    José's Mexican Food, located at 131 Sherman Street, North Cambridge, is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.; on Friday from 11 a.m. to 10:45 p.m.; on Saturday from noon to 10:45 p.m.; and on Sunday from 5 to 10 p.m. Call (617) 354-0335.

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