Special to The Sun
One of Edmond’s newest restaurants, Monterey Jack’s Cafe & Cantina, is unassuming outside but once you step inside, you are immediately taken over the border to the inside of what looks like a Mexican road house.
Owner Jack Young sold his restaurants by the same name in Midwest City, Lawton, Oklahoma City and Texas in 2000 with thoughts of retirement. Young’s history as a restaurateur dates back 20 years when he opened his first Monterey Jack’s in Oklahoma City in 1993 on Northwest 23rd Street and Ann Arbor.
In addition to opening the new Edmond location, he took over his original Midwest City Monterey Jack’s last year. Even though Young has a commercial Realtor’s license, he said, “The restaurant business is in my blood. When I received a call about the Edmond location being available I decided to go for it.
Young is helped by his son and general manager Matthew Young and front of house manager Jennifer Ash.
The road house atmosphere is set when customers step over the threshold to the cantina and are met by a larger than life senorita painted on the wall and the aroma of fresh chips and mostly Mexican food with a little Guatemalan and Peruvian food cooking in the kitchen filling the air.
“We took eight years to collect our recipes,” Young said. “Many of them are family recipes and we found our original book of recipes and we are using them again.”
Chips and homemade salsas are served with orders, and along with the original recipes many of the original staff have joined Jack in his new location.
“Our salsas are what separate us from the rest,” Ash said. “They are made fresh on site and in addition to our red salsa we have a green chile salsa that is incredibly flavorful. Our cheese dip is the best you will ever find.”
With plans to offer mango, orange and peach salsas in the future, Jack said they are still working on the recipes for those.
“When you eat here you get a different flavor in all the food whether you order Mexican, Guatemalan or Peruvian, and it is all fresh, made from scratch and delicious.”
Lunch specials start at $5.99 and go to $7.99 for one of five grilled meat offerings. The same lunch specials are available for an additional $1 on Saturday and Sunday and after 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Vegetarians haven’t been left out. Spinach enchiladas and veggie quesadillas are among the many offerings vegetarians will find on the menu.
Fresh cannot be emphasized enough by Jack.
“Everything we make is fresh and made from scratch,” Jack said.
“If you have never tried Monterey Jack’s and are looking for something special,” Ash said, “try our Mexican pot roast or Carne Guiso or Costillas ala Parrilla, marinated ribs. We also have an American food section and a children’s menu that includes a kid portion of fajitas that you won’t find offered at any other Mexican restaurant.”
Fish dishes including tilapia and shrimp are available and California vegetables are served with many of the meals as well as the most flavorful rice and refried beans that can be imagined.
With a full bar available, Ash said their margaritas are also made fresh and go down smooth. Happy Hour pints are served Sunday through Thursday for $2 each.
Of course, sopapillas covered with cinnamon and sugar and served with honey top off the meal.
Customers can look forward to home made margarita bread pudding in the fall as Ash takes to the kitchen baking some of her specialties.
“We are striving to be a multi-concept business,” Jack said, “and we have catering available as well as a semi-private room which seats 38 people.”
He added in a few months the menu will be expanded to include take out desserts including a 6-layer cake, one of Ash’s specialties.
In addition to all of the menu items, Matthew said if a customer doesn’t see what they want all they have to do is ask.
“We are here for the customer. We have the knowledge, ingredients and staff who can prepare anything,” Matthew said.
Even though Monterey Jack’s is still enjoying its soft opening while wait staff refine their skills and the cooks are getting their rhythm in sync, Jack said he couldn’t be happier.
“Over the weekend we had wonderful, wonderful comments,” and he added they are ready for customers.
“For the true, rich subtle flavors of Mexican food, it’s Monterey Jack’s,” Jack said.
Monterey Jack’s Cafe & Cantina is located at 834 W. Danforth Rd. in Edmond in the shopping center at Kelly and Danforth.