If you want the best Mexican food within walking distance of Santa Rosa Junior College, you need to check out Juanita’s. Located next to the Chase bank on Mendocino Avenue, Juanita’s is the perfect spot for hungry college students looking for a cheap, convenient and delicious meal.
When you enter Juanita’s, the first thing to hit you is the smell. Sizzling mounds of carne asada, freshly fried tortilla chips and the sweet aroma of juicy pico de gallo combine to form an enticing scent that sparks your appetite the second it touches your nostrils.
In all the times I’ve eaten at Juanita’s, I’ve never seen over a minute’s wait time for a seat. On all but the busiest days, friendly staff members quickly lead you to a table. The booths are comfortable, and the ambiance is relaxed and casual, with traditional Mexican decor and music.
The main appeal of Juanita’s, and the reason I keep coming back, is the taco deal. All day every day, Juanita’s sells street tacos with any meat (excluding shrimp and fish) for $1.25 each. If you’re in the mood for a cheap satisfying meal, 4 for $5 will fill you up with delicious taco goodness without breaking your bank. I recommend sampling four different meats, as most are served with their own unique salsas.
Chips and salsa are complementary, as they are at any taqueria worth its tacos. Juanita’s takes this a step further with an expansive and constantly evolving salsa bar. Patrons are free to take as much of the delicious salsas and toppings as they like, and Juanita’s is always adding new flavors to the rotation. I recommend the pickled red onions, a sweet-and-sour topping with just as much kick as the also-free sliced jalapenos.
The other must-try menu item is the super nachos. All taquerias serve some variation of this classic dish, but Juanita’s homemade tortilla chips bring their nacho platter into its own light. The chips are thick, flavorful and still provide an audible crunch, even after being soaked in guacamole and cheese-oil. Juanita’s has also perfected the chip-to-topping ratio, ensuring that every chip has enough topping to be satisfying, without having leftover toppings at the end.
All of Juanita’s staple meats are exemplary, with the exception of one: the chorizo. I’ve tried their chorizo on tacos and in a burrito, and both times it was a burned oily mess. What seasoning there was on the meat was overpowered by the crisp burned pieces, making the whole dish taste like a campfire. Avoid the chorizo and go for the al pastor, served in juicy chunks with a delicious seasoning.
Juanita’s also has a rotating array of special dishes. These can range from the tame, like fish tacos or tricolor enchiladas, to the insanely spicy Camarones a la Diabla. This dish consists of shrimp in Diabla sauce served with rice, beans and tortillas. The sauce is deliciously smoky with nice chipotle seasoning, but finishing the whole plate is challenging due to the incredible heat. Luckily, Juanita’s also makes a killer Horchata if you need to rinse the lava out of your mouth.
Between its killer salsa bar, $1.25 taco deal and fresh homemade tortilla chips, Juanita’s is the best Mexican food option for SRJC students. The flavors, value, mood, pricing, speed and convenience of this restaurant are outstanding. Aside from the disappointing chorizo, Juanita’s excels in every category and is a must-try for Mexican-food lovers.