Hot Mexican flavours over at San Julian

by Karisa

I really love Mexican food.  This is no lie.  If it’s hot, spicy & bad for your waistline, I’m totally there…  So when I kept hearing rumblings about this little place in Rose St called San Julian, I just knew I had to check it out.

Sadly, for various reasons, I took me a really long time to finally make my way over there, but when the rowdy group of ladies who I travelled to Thailand with recently said they felt like a Mexican dinner, I knew exactly which place I wanted to suggest.

Now when asked, many people in Cape Town will say that El Burro serves up the best Mexican in town, but to be honest, I’ve never really been that impressed by their food.  The venue is beautiful, the vibe is fun, but the food just ends up being a bit of a disappointment (well except for their ceviche – they really do make a kick ass ceviche).  I was therefore very excited to try something different, and from what I had heard, you really can’t get any more authentically Mexican than San Julian.

Looks wise, its a small, casual spot, but with lots of Mexican flavour.  Bright colours, tons of Mexican memorabilia and collectibles, and just generally a really fun vibe:

I really loved all the quirky details, like the many Lucha libre (or Mexican wrestling) posters, the colourful crockery and even that strange bicycle hanging above our table:

It all just seems to add to the cool atmosphere of the place…

According to their website, this is the only Mexican restaurant run by a Mexican family in South Africa (not sure when last that was confirmed – but hey, it’s the run by a real Mexican family part that really got my attention).  The family originally came to Cape Town back in 2009, planning to stay for only 1 year.  But for various reasons, including the World Cup and the fact that Cape Town is the best city in the world (OK OK, I added that last part), they decided to stay and open a place where they could serve and enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine.  The rest as they say is history, and today they’re still serving food made from extra special family recipes to their many happy customers.

But how does one kick off a good Mexican feast?  With some margaritas of course!  Their frozen margaritas are served by the glass or in jugs.  But trust me on this one, skip the glass and just go straight for the jug (or in our case many jugs).  You definitely won’t regret it.

We opted for their lime one and it was absolutely delicious… I dare even say that these were the best frozen margaritas I’ve had in the whole of Cape Town…

On the food side, I have to point out that they make absolutely everything from scratch, so you won’t be finding any suspicious store-bought looking nachos here my friend.  There was a lot of umming and ahing, because everything sounded so delicious, but in the end I knew I wanted to try three things:  their chilli poppers (R15 each), their ceviche starter (R70) and their tacos (R85 for chicken & R90 for the braised Chilorio which is a pork dish).

On the left we have the ceviche served with homemade nacho chips. Does it beat El Burro’s?  Hands down yes.  And those nachos were so full of flavour you could literally eat a bowl of those on their own. On the right you have the chilli poppers – do they beat my favourite poppers from Fat Cactus? Again, a hands down yes. Both these dishes absolutely blew me away and I really can’t wait to have these again…  oh also, that guacamole?  So tasty, we had to order an extra bowl of that… #yum

Then clockwise from top left you have: chicken tacos, tacos dorados which is served with a Mexican rice, the accompaniments they serve with your meal, and the Chilorio (pork) tacos. Now the only thing that caught me a little by surprise was that these tacos are all soft-shell and not those hard-shell ones that are quite common in supermarkets. The flavours were really good though and after doing a bit of Googling back home I found that those hard-shell ones are actually just a US creation based on the traditional Mexican taco… so ja, now I know…

We didn’t have space for dessert – but they do a “Platano Tatemado” (R45) which is a hot cake topped with roasted banana, vanilla ice cream, goats milk & brandy caramel.  Doesn’t that sound bloody delicious? (I’ll just have to try that next time)

Other worthy mentions include that our one waitor was actually from Mexico and was able to give us some great travel tips (Mexico’s definitely on my travel to do list).  The rest of the team are all super lovely and so friendly, and they even encourage a bit of dress up if you’re keen.   Just be sure to act fast and snap up a sombrero before they’re all gone… otherwise you’ll have to take one for the team by rocking a wresting mask, just like my friend Jules here:

Such a trooper… and that’s why we love her…

Of course no Mexican restaurant is complete without some great tequila options, and you can rest assured that here you will only be served the best…

I can highly recommend San Julian for everything from first dates, to group celebrations, it really is such a fun and tasty experience.  For their amazing food, great service and all round awesomeness, I’m going to give them kiss4_smudgeon the Miss K Kiss-o-Meter scale.

This is definitely my new go-to Mexican spot, and to get your own taste of Mexico, take note of the following:

  • You’ll find them here: 3 Rose Street, Shop 3 & 4 State House building, Cape Town
  • You can call them on: 021 419 42 33
  • And they are open:  Monday to Saturday from 5pm to 11pm

And with that I’m going to say:  Olé! 😉



Luzani Mothobi Jan 22, 2015 - 12:55 pm

LOL Jules is a G

Karisa Jan 22, 2015 - 1:01 pm

If by G you mean gangster, then yes 🙂


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