It’s NoshUp time!
Ethnosh™ guides you to the most delicious ethnic food in your area, garnished with the stories that bring the flavor to life. Immigrant and locally owned monthly food series!
It’s NoshUp time! That’s right, Shop Local Raleigh and Kristen Baughman are bringing the Ethnosh flavor to Raleigh! Tonight, Wednesday, March 5th from 6-8pm, at Jose and Sons. Come get a sampling of the most signature dishes, hear traditional Latino music, and get better acquainted with the Ibarra family who bring all of this goodness from Mexico to the City of Oaks. Only $5 at the door gives you access to a tasty plate of signature samplers.
Stay for dinner, bring friends and family. This is a unique opportunity to get face-to-face with the people that make our town that much more interesting and delicious!
True to Ethnosh form, we’ve got a fantastic combo of photos and words to give you a little taste. Stay tuned on Facebook for the full serving, and check out this sampling, courtesy of blogger Victoria Bouloubasis & photo by Stacey Sprenz.
- What: Ethnosh
- When: March 5, 6-8pm
- Where: Jose and Sons, 327 W. Davie St., Raleigh, NC 27601
- Cost: $5
Jose and Sons
Blog written by Victoria Bouloubasis
Charlie Ibarra sits in his family’s newest restaurant, Jose & Sons, to tell the story of how he arrived at this very bar stool, turning his father’s dream into his own.
Jose Ibarra, Charlie’s father, is the inspiration behind the Ibarras’ newest venture. He is the one who, while on his vacation in Mexico, kept up with the Yelp reviews during the opening months, phoning his son to read the comments verbatim. Before Jose & Sons, there was Jibarra, an upscale Mexican eatery in that same spot. Before that, El Rodeo, a Triangle Tex-Mex staple started by Jose more than 20 years ago.
When Charlie was about 5 years old, he remembers squishing into the backseat of a car with his parents, siblings and uncle for a three-day adventure. With Jose at the wheel, the family fixated on the flat road away from La Mirada, California, Charlie’s birthplace, and toward a new life on the East Coast.
After two decades of laboring in a car parts factory, Jose gave up working for someone else for his dream of becoming an entrepreneur. He emptied his 401k and piled his family into the car, which eventually led to the first El Rodeo location on Hillsborough St. More than twenty years later, there’s a steady business with various El Rodeo locations, and gradual transitions to extended family (who transformed them into La Rancherita). You can find him still working at all of those restaurants
Charlie never felt drawn to the Tex-Mex style of cooking that catered to American consumers with less adventurous palates 20 years ago. It wasn’t like his mother’s, Raquel Ibarra, like home. (Raquel still drops by the restaurant often with a packed, hot lunch for Charlie.)
Instead, Charlie envisioned an experience that coupled quality food with inventive care. And he wanted something that felt like home—to him. At Jose & Sons, authenticity cannot be defined or critiqued. The idea of it is as complex and subjective as any immigrant kid’s identity. And that’s what makes it truly genuine.
Where Charlie sits today at the bar, a well-curated DIY backdrop of his own design shows the duality of Jose & Sons. What looks like an actual steer’s skull taken straight from the desert is really a faux, hipster version made of intricate cardboard slabs spray-painted a peachy pink. It hangs on a wall hued a unique dark turquoise. It’s a color you’d probably get if you mixed the bright blue paint slathered on the outdoor walls at Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul with the unmistakable, trademark teal of the Charlotte Hornets. A perpendicular wall is colored a rusty red reminiscent of both the North Carolina red clay soil and the smoky salsa roja pooled atop enchiladas.
This nuanced combination of Southern and Mexican translates to the menu, where Chef Oscar Diaz plays off of Charlie’s ideas to execute high-end technique packed with the flavors of home. Oscar, like Charlie, was born in the U.S. to parents from Jalisco, Mexico. Trained in the culinary French tradition and with a Michelin-starred Vegas already gig under his cook’s belt, Oscar walked into the door after answering an online ad.
“He came out of the blue,” Charlie says of Oscar. “You don’t find a lot of chefs with Mexican backgrounds beyond Tex-Mex. My brother Hector and I put him to the test right away.”
Charlie cites Korean-American chef Edward Lee (who tackles the idea of “fusion” food in the South with a raw, homespun flavor) and Charleston’s Sean Brock (crispy pig ears never looked so appetizing nestled in the lettuce wraps at his restaurant, Husk) as influences. Oscar pulls from the likes of Manhattan molecular gastronomy chef Wylie Dufresne, mimicking his popcorn grits to perfection. Oscar prepares each plate with a gusto influenced by local ingredients and modern twists to traditional cooking styles.
The melding of Oscar and Charlie’s ideas has created a rare menu, in which the two pull from their memories and find a playful palate to explore. Hefty chicken tamales are wrapped in steamed collard leaves. Crisp bacon is folded into homemade pimento cheese and dolloped atop a double-fried plantain, or tostón. Guacamole is enchanced with the tiny pungency of cotija cheese.
“I’ve seen people abuse food, put it on a plate and call it a solid restaurant experience,” says Charlie. “I don’t want to do that. And if I want to connect with people, I have to understand where they are sourcing their memories from.”
Charlie and Oscar’s experience as first-generation immigrants is not unique, but it’s one that is slowly being explored and celebrated in our higher-end culinary styles. At Jose & Sons, you’ll get both an authentic “y’all” and a “gracias” with your meal. There’s nothing fusion or inauthentic about it. It’s Jose, his sons and his chef bringing their Mexican, American, Southern home to you.
Ethnosh will be a traveling series with one event every month at a different locally owned, independent and ethnically owned restaurant! If you’re interested in being a food blogger for one of these events or recommending a location for this Ethnosh event, contact Kristin Baughman or Jennifer Martin today!