The last time I was in Boyer’s Shoe Store at the corner of High and Penn, I think I bought a pair of Earth shoes. Who’d have thought the former shoe store would make an ideal location for a restaurant? Ron Garza, chef/owner of Juan Carlos Fine Mexican Cuisine knew it as soon as he saw the interior’s stone walls, the brick-arched windows and the cobblestone road running up Penn Street.
“I wanted a place with a real urban feel, not a shopping center,” he said.
On a recent spring day, when Juan Carlos had only been open about a week, I stopped by and did a double-take inside. The decor is chic, yet the stone and brick, the walls painted terracotta, and the Spanish guitar music coming through the speakers made for a warm, inviting atmosphere. Now let’s talk about the food…
I’d had a late breakfast and only had room to sample a couple appetizers. Red & blue tortilla chips dipped in creamy guacamole (with just a hint of cilantro) were out of this world. It’s made fresh for each order and it shows. Then I tried a mini-chimichanga – chicken and cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla, lightly fried and served with ranchero sauce. The chicken and cheese just melts in the mouth.
Chef Garza describes the menu as authentic Mexican, with a South American flair, that includes elements of modern Mexican cuisine. Mexico is a melting pot of numerous Latin American cultures, and Garza incorporates dishes and flavors from Brazil, Argentina and Cuba. And there’s something for every price range.
“We’re a casual, elegant restaurant. There are menu items for a casual night out or for a very special occasion.”
Juan Carlos is BYO, but offers one complimentary glass of sangria for guests who order any steak or fish entree for dinner on Tuesday through Saturday. They also provide margarita mixers for your favorite tequila.
By July, Garza plans to remove the display windows out front to make space for fair-weather outdoor dining, which will be a first for High Street. They’ve got a private party & meeting room downstairs, which is accessed by an original, Amish pegged wood staircase. The room has WiFi and a 12-foot ceiling and can seat 25-30 people. Check it out.
Juan Carlos Fine Mexican Cuisine, 235 E. High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464; 484-624-4931; www.jcmexicanfood.com. Lunch:Tues-Sat 11:30am to 2:30pm; Dinner: Tues-Thur 5:00pm to 9:00pm; Fri and Sat. 5:00pm to 10:00pm; Closed Sundays and Mondays, except for private parties.