Don Jose’s

Don Jose's Mexican Restaurant

Don Jose's logo

Don Jose’s Mexican Restaurant (1950 – 1996)

Don Jose’s was a landmark Mexican restaurant on The Boulevard for over four decades. Owners José Aldecoa Ross and Edith Ross operated their well-loved eatery with the help of daughters Wilma and Lupe. It was the favorite go-to for Mexican food, for many families (including mine).

Born in Nacozari de García, Sonora, Mexico, José brought with him savory family recipes that became favorite dishes. Known as “Joe,” he started out in San Diego in the Army as a dental hygenist, where he met divorced nurse Edith Wilma (née Elza) Chandler. He became a naturalized citizen in 1943, and after the end of World War II, they married and raised her daughter Wilma. In 1950 the family opened their own restaurant in the Teralta neighborhood on El Cajon Boulevard, and Joe Ross became “Don Jose.” They moved to a larger building in 1965 just up the street a few blocks, across from Hoover High School. Don Jose passed away in 1974, and Edith in 1977. The family ran the restaurant until 1996 when it sold.

Don Jose greeting his guests

Jose and Edith Ross

Jose and Edith Ross

Family recipes included their guacamole tacos, wet burritos, sour cream enchiladas, and homemade salsa. What was your favorite?

Teralta West
4247 El Cajon Blvd (1950-1965)
San Diego, CA

Teralta East
4551 El Cajon Blvd (1965-1996)
San Diego, CA

Ruth’s Salsa Recipe

Longtime Don Jose waitress Ruth (last name?) shared her salsa recipe with Hoover high alumni and regulars. It is made with mild banana peppers (wax chilis), which register at 0–500 Scoville units.

2 banana peppers
onions (minced fine)
scallions (minced fine)
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon oil
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of oregano

Recipe, Jacqueline Reed Boehmke,

28 thoughts on “Don Jose’s

  1. I love that you took such time to pull all this lovely memorabelia together. I spent my childhood in chula vista, moving away in 1978, but my family always loved this place. it was where we took relatives visting from far and wide. geat memory. i’m sorry to learn that the restaurant closed. it was a gem!

  2. Would love to know Don Jose’s wet burrito Sauce recipe, been trying to replicate since they closed, my family’s favorite restaurant‼️

    • Try starting with a bean broth base. We make our own refried beans and I use the broth to make a burrito sauce.


  4. First time I went to Don Jose restaurant it was on 4200 bulk El Cajon bl. I went to Hoover high two years before Loupe. I would love to have the recipe for sour cream enchiladas, Guacamole tacos, and the Burrito sauce. I have never had Mexican food as good. I’ve been trying for the last 50

  5. The chile relleno here was DIFFERENT than all other rellenos, and in my opinion better by far!! What is the SECRET for making a “fluffY” chile relleno???

  6. to make a chile relleno fluffy, just blend the whites at high speed, then blend (dont fold) the yolks just until blended well. the air in the blending makes them fluffy

  7. Don Joses was our family favorite since before my sister was born and she’s almost 65 now. We loved that place. Ruth once told me the refried beans were so good because they were actually little pink beans — not Pintos – cooked fresh every day with butter. She also told me she used banana peppers in the salsa. Another secret was their big lettuce shredder and vegetable mincer. The texture of the salsa and the lettuce on the top of everything was so good.

    I am sure I have eaten literally A Ton of Mexican food and nothing has ever measured up to Don Jose’s.

  8. We lived on 46th between ECB and orange and would walk up in the evenings for dinner. Always loved Ruth. She was so sweet and funny. I found this page looking for the wet sauce because there was nothing like it. The beans were great too. Heck, it was all great. We moved in 2004 and by then don Jose’s was a dental office. Broke my heart when they closed.

  9. My family did not splurge on dining out so the 3 CHILDREN waited once a year for a joint may birthday/mother’s day dinner takeout—my mother would have the oven at home preheated so we could quickly unwrap the brown paper And reheat the cheese ENCHILADAS, GUACAMOLE tacos, Beef tacos, and my father’s all-meat BURRITO. We celebrated My parent’s 25th wedding anniversary with a takeout and introducEd my brother’s mid-west wife to her first GUACAMOLE taco and instructed her on how to hold it and carefully eat it without making a mess.

    To this day (Since the early 1950’s) we compare every MEXICAN food restaurant to don jose’s—the standard in meXican cuisine for our family.

    I Once met ruth out of uniform at fashion valley shopping with her grown daughter on her day off from worK—ruth was dressed PROFESSIONALLY and With style—a beautiful and kind wOman who worked very very hard every day of her life. ruth would often toss plastic bags of broken tortilla Chips and shredded cheese on top Of the restaurant’s roof for the birds without the owner’s knowledge.

    I still can picture ruth in her IMPECCABLY pressed Long white mexican dress, Her short hair And large dangling earrings, ready with pencil and tablet to take Our order once i started going to the restaurant as an adult with my mother on a near weekly basis to make up for all the times we had to wait a full year between visits.

  10. I compare every chile relleno i eat to those at don jose’s. I HAVE YET to find one as good. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  11. Ate Don Joses regularly…it was and still is the best mexican food i have ever eaten. Nothing compares to their refried beans, cheese enchiladas and tacos. I wish someone could get the recipes…we had four generations of taco eaters going there.

  12. I grew up eating at Don Jose’s and compare all mexican food to theirs. does ANYONE know what the hamburger taco meat was seasoned with?

  13. Hello. I am Wilma, the daughter of Joe and Edith. Reading all if the comments really warms my heart. Thank you. My family sold the restaurant around 1973 to a new owner. Unfortunately, due to my dad’s failing health and death soon after the sale, then my mother SUFFEring a stroke, all of the recipes were lost with my dad. We had no affiliation with the restaurant after the sale. To correct the record, my dad was in the army. Additionally, the very first restaurant opened around 1948 and was called El Burrito #2. Less than a year later, it became don Jose’s. Thank you again so much for remembering mY parents.

    • Hello ms. Wilma. Don jose’s made the best food ive ever eaten. I BECAME CLOSE FRIENDs with Maria Ross in 1979 UNTIL her passing. I can not remember how she was related to Jose, can you remind me please? Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for the update. I, like everyone else here, loved your dad, the staff and the food! There is nothing to this day that compares! Fond memories were made there! Much love!

  14. What i Wouldn’t give to eaT At don jose’s again! Three geNERATIONs of my family enjoyed this iconic restaurant that set the standard for all others. So many memories watching Don José Prepare such delicious Food, salsas, and sauces! Also Ruth with her great service snd heavy Silver earrings dangling! I loved everything about this wonderful family restaurant. I wish i had the recipe for the guacamole, at least knew of the secret ingredient!

  15. Hi Wilma,
    I grew up eating at Don Jose’s weekly with my family and my best friend and her parents. The cheese enchiladas were my favorite, along with the salsa and chips. I miss your parents food, loved everything about the RESTAURANT .
    ( I was born and raised in San Diego).

  16. My husband and I, AND my best friend, and her husband, had our celebration dinner at Don Jose’s, when we graduated high school…JUNE 1960…Eileen and I, were both 16 when we got married, WE wouLd have CONTINUED the tradition of eating, at Don Jose’s, every June for 60 YEARS… unfortunately they closed, before that happened…

  17. I would love to have the wet burito sauce recipe and their refried bean recipe. I have tried to find beans and sauce that tasted as good as theirs! Cant do it. If anybody can help me, I would be DELIRIOUS!!

  18. Loved the trip down memory lane reading all the comments. For my San Diego family it was the same, going to Don Jose’s was a special rare trip and we absolutely loved the food. Surprised no one mentioned the fried flour tortillas sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, the favorite dessert of our childhood. When someone mentioned the finely sliced lettuce and veggies, I suddenly remembered not only them, but also the cheese topping on most of the dishes. Does anyone know what kind of cheese was used? It was very flavorful and yet light in texture, nothing like a typical American cheese. Thank you to all info with this post, as well as to the family of this SD treasure.

  19. The Machaca con Huevos, succulent, just right spiciness. Flavors of bell peppers, onions, and cilantro, plus the shredded Carne Asada. Have been trying to replicate it ever since.

  20. Just reading this my mouth is watering. Like many who have posted here, i too remember Don Jose’s as the best food in San Diego. My parents had thier first date at the restaurant.
    The guacamole tacos were my all time favorite and i have spent decades describing to other restaurants flavors, textures, ingredients, but they never come close.
    Wilma your family blessed so many in san diego and my family is one of the lucky that can still taste the food your father created. I wonder if the folks the bought the restaurant would have any of the old recipes. Since it closed in 1996 i wonder if there are any of that family still around.
    I inow this is a pretty old article but it seems like there are many in san diego who would like to continute your family’s legacy.

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