Joe Jack’s has its place firmly in the pantheon of Puerto Vallartan restaurants. It has a carefree atmosphere and is a cleverly marketed restaurant, what with its logo (the familiar image of Mexico’s Adelita), t-shirts, and its whimsical menu (“All the news that’s fish to print”).
It’s unashamedly geared for the tourists on Basilio Badillo, and they love it! I’m reviewing it now before it gets mobbed. It’s a splendid place for cocktails, and there is always some young man or woman vigorously wielding a shaker behind the bar. Belly up and enjoy a margarita, martini or mojito, the latter on a 2 for 1 daily special. And they invite you to “eat your vodka” with their super gazpacho Bloody Mary, really a meal in a glass. They’ve lots of Mexican craft beers too.
Appetizers include such interesting offerings as salt cod fritters and fried Brussels sprouts. I must endorse their seafood chowder, more redolent of the Caribbean than New England. They’ve ceviches and poke, which I prefer as I do not like food that’s too acidic; you can try a sampler, which is the way to go.
Fish is their focus, they’ve always got the freshest mahi-mahi and red snapper or go for the fun peel-and-eat shrimp bucket or octopus a la plancha. PV has made me an octopus convert, I never really loved it before I moved here!
The Baja style fish tacos with a cabbage/cucumber slaw are marvelous, some friends of mine claim they come to town just for them.
Moving away from the sea, they have an excellent “Tasty” Burger as they call it (nominated for one of the best in town) and five-pepper steak and barbeque chicken.
I go for one of my favorite dishes, the Salad Nicoise. I spent a month in the South of France last year and consider myself quite the expert on “the finest summer salad of all” as Gordon Ramsey refers to it. As I was staying a mere 20 minutes from Nice, I could pop there regularly to indulge. If you go to that beauteous city, run, do not walk, up the
Promenade des Anglais to the Hotel Negresco, a bastion of yesteryear glamour, beloved by Princess Grace. There you will have the definitive Salada Nissarda as it is called correctly in Occitan, a Romance language peculiar to that region.
Classically it consists of tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, those delicious Nicoise olives, and anchovies all tossed in olive oil. But of course, it can be tweaked in many ways, usually with the addition of cooked or canned tuna.
They do not approve of potatoes in it in Nice, but personally, I am in the potato camp, so Joe Jack’s suits me just fine. They also add crunchy green beans and your choice of shrimp or mahi-mahi, all bathed in a well-balanced vinaigrette. Perfecto! Of course, they’ve lots of salads, I like to order a mixed green one and add their devilled eggs.
For desserts, harking back to my British roots, I like the butterscotch pudding which is served with bacon strips dusted with powdered sugar – they’d probably faint if you did that in Jolly Old, but actually, it’s rather wonderful.
I must mention the lovely rooftop dining area so perfect now for the next several rain-free months. So, go order something from Joe (haha – everyone has a name tag with the “Joe” embroidered on it!) and enjoy the laid back “are we in Key West yet?” vibe. Oh, – Joe?