Jose’s Blue Sombrero opens today at 7615 W. State St. in Wauwatosa. But we were fortunate enough to get a peek at the new restaurant over the weekend during the venue’s soft opening. And there’s plenty to love about the newly renovated space.
Like each of the DeRosa restaurant concepts, Jose's Blue Sombrero in Tosa sports its own unique look, while dovetailing nicely with the recent improvements to both the streetscaping and pedestrian-friendliness of State Street.
The first thing guests are likely to notice are the garage doors on the exterior of the building, which offer an open-air feel to the lower level of the restaurant, as well as plenty of light, an aspect of the former Chancery’s design that was notably absent.
There’s also a beautiful second floor patio, which offers stellar views of the newly renovated State Street below.
The first floor maintains a somewhat similar floorplan to the former Chancery, with a host station to the right of the main entrance. But there’s a brand new bar, featuring beautiful tilework and a more updated, modern look.
There are a few hightop tables adjacent to the bar for dining, as well as a lounge area. It's the perfect spot to enjoy Jose's weekday happy hour, which takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. in the bar only. Specials include $3.50 12-ounce margaritas, $4.50 16-ounce margaritas and a free taco bar from 3 to 5 p.m.
If you meander down the hallway to the rear of the restaurant, you’ll note that the narrow dining area, which overlooks the Oak Leaf Trail, has also been brightened up with cheerfully colored booths and a new paint job. Of course, those who've been seated in this area in the past might appreciate the fact that the tropical ceiling fans – which always looked a bit out of place at The Chancery – now seem to fit right into the decor.
Meanwhile, a spacious upstairs dining room sports bright colors and both traditional and whimsical artwork on its walls.
The menu at Jose’s in Tosa mimics that of the other locations, featuring a large beverage menu with classic items like margaritas and sangria, along with a very broad menu of Wisconsin-inspired regional Mexican fare from tacos and burritos to specialty entrees.
Among signature offerings is guacamole, made tableside to your specifications (mild, medium or hot) for $9.95.
There are also dishes like Bubu’s chile relleno, a lightly battered poblano pepper filled with your choice of cheese or ground beef and served with rice, beans, warm tortillas and sauteed onions and tomatoes ($12.45).
Tacos include modern takes like Juan Won beef kalbi, jerk chicken and Korean bulgogi along with more traditional options like Guanajuato al pastor featuring seasoned pork loin, onion, cilantro and pineapple served with refried beans and rice ($11.95).
Meanwhile, desserts include items like chimichanga cheesecake and fried ice cream (with your choice of chocolate, vanilla or strawberry ice cream).
For a complete menu, visit josesbluesombrero.com.
Jose's is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.