Jardines revitalized

Tucked into the main commercial thoroughfare in downtown San Juan Bautista is the charming blue and white Jardines de San Juan Mexican Restaurant & Gardens. The local gem—open nearly 40 years—sits on the first floor of a two-story building at 113 Third St., and like the name, boasts a spacious back patio colorfully decorated with full spectrum of umbrellas and overflowing with beautiful potted plants including asparagus fern, geranium and cascading succulents.
The restaurant was revamped about four years ago when general manager Marcus Edwards took over.
“We’ve kind of done a ground up overhaul of everything,” says Edwards. “The restaurant had great food when the current management team took over it just needed some modernization.”
Edwards says they reworked everything, made some changes to the menu and put some much-needed love back into the garden.
“He has a vision and it’s been beautiful,” says assistant general manager Nick Winkler.
People have taken notice.
Frequented by patrons from Hollister and business persons during the week—Jardines de San Juan is also a destination site for travelers on the weekends, when there’s sure to be a wait.
The restaurant’s top sellers include meats, which can be had in everything from its tacos to full entrees and include carne asada ($4.99-$16.99), carnitas ($3.99-$13.99), burritos ($8.99-$14.99) and enchiladas ($4.99-$5.49).
“We’re known for our enchiladas for sure,” says Edwards.
Winkler says his favorites are the beef chimichanga ($12.99) and the deep fried ice cream ($4.99).
Our party enjoyed the carne asada ($16.99)—a skirt steak marinated in red wine and herbs, grilled and served with tortillas. We also had the chile relleno & cheese enchilada ($12.99) served with a mild green chile stuffed with jack cheese, covered with egg batter, fried, and topped with a light ranchero sauce & a cheese enchilada with onions and black olives. The egg batter on the chiles was light and fluffy, the only thing that could have improved the dish was a freshly-roasted pepper.
Big appetite or small, many of the items can be ordered à la carte—so there is something for everyone.
Edward says he loves the atmosphere. “When you walk in there and see the kids running around playing and you’re surrounded by the gardens and the brick patio that goes everywhere, you feel like you’re transported to village square in Acapulco or the Mayan riviera.
But the garden and the food aren’t the only stars at Jardines de San Juan.
“The apricot margaritas are the best. I come for the margaritas and stay for the food,” says Elisa Lalor of Hollister.

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