Back to Square One: Veteran restaurateur brings a taste of Mexico to the Covington Square

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Jose Reyes

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

A veteran of the restaurant business, Jose Reyes has taken on various ventures in the industry at the tender age of 30.
By the time his birthday rolls around March 19, the freshly 31 year-old will be celebrating with residents of Tipton County and the surrounding area at Jose’s Mexican Street Food located at 112 Court Square East in the Covington Square.
“It’s been a big journey,” he said. “When I took over the lease, obviously the first thing I had to think of was how are we going to approach this. How are we going to lay this out?
“I had an idea already since July of my concept because I personally flew to Mexico,” Reyes added. “Everything you see in here is from Mexico, my decorations, my chairs, my tables. Everything we’re going to serve you on is from Mexico.”
Back in 2017 Reyes opened his first restaurant in Munford. The business lasted a few months as Reyes tried to combine street food items with a traditional Mexican restaurant atmosphere.
“I had a plan built already (for the new location),” Reyes said. “I talked to my friend Danny Carroll who is the owner of the building. We’ve been working on this project since last June. We finally signed the lease in September.
“I had to build a whole kitchen in here,” he continued. “Never had to do that before, it was a new experience for me building plumbing lines, electrical lines, gas lines, installing a hood system. The whole nine yards, that’s what took so long the kitchen. Then of course permits and inspections, thank God we passed everything.”
When March hits the calendar, the menu will feature the traditional street tacos coming in corn, flour and Romaine leaf lettuce (protein taco). The street taco Reyes recommends is the homemade masa dough tortilla.
Other traditional street food items on the menu will be burritos, quesadillas and tortas. Customers will get a chance to order homemade chips (totopos) made through a process cutting the dough, drying it overnight and frying the cut pieces in the morning for freshness.
Tamales with plantain  husk wrapped will be a signature item on the Jose’s menu.
“It’s going to be like a surprise when you open up our tamales,” Reyes noted. “It’s going to be like a gift. It’s going to be exciting for the customers.”
As for refreshments, the horchata water will be a unique feature. The water is Mexican rice water served out of traditional jugs with different fruit flavors. The waters have no sugar or syrup added.  
Despite not having a liquor license, Jose’s has a beer permit to serve micheladas. The eatery will introduce a mango flavored Mexican beer on the menu.
“I think my business is going to add a different touch and a different feel,” Reyes. “The Square is known for antique shops and everything like that. Times are changing and although the Square is keeping things authentic, at the same time what I am bringing is 100 percent authentic Mexican street food. We’re not going to have Tex-Mex or none of that stuff.”
Reyes’ walls have pictures of relatives in Mexico, paraphernalia from the country and colorful Mexican artifacts. Then there is a wall created by the artistic talents of Reyes’ cousin Hector “Mose” Macias.
“The vibe that I am offering here is something you won’t even see in Memphis,” Reyes said. “I’m excited about the graffiti wall.
“My name Jose’s Mexican Street Food is talking about the streets,” he added. “Mexico worldwide is known for having some of the best graffiti artists. I was like I have to bring in something fresh, something different, something modern. That’s how my graffiti wall came in.”
The Square’s latest addition has the presence of Mexico and the flavor is coming soon.
“The idea is to introduce our roots,” Reyes said. “It’s a little bit different twist from what I had in Munford. I saw what worked for me over there and I saw what didn’t work for me other there.
“Here we’re going to test it out,” he concluded. “I’ve been more prepared for this one than the last opening. The whole concept is going to be different from orderingwise and everything. It’s going to be a whole different show.”
Jose’s Mexican Street Food is located at 112 Court Square East in the Covington Square. For more information visit on social media at Facebook @josemexicanstreettaco and Instagram @josemexicanstreet or call 296-5225.