José on Lovers has a secret — an exclusive experience that not too many people know about. The restaurant, which is a neighborhood favorite to local celebrities such as Laura Bush and Rick Carlisle, even hosts A-listers Justin Timberlake and Lauren Conrad when they come to town. But not many know about the tequila table.
Tequila tables pair a tequila with your entrée to ameliorate flavors, just like pairing wine. The tequila table concept is popular in Guadalajara, an area of Mexico that inspires the José staff.
“It’s a fun way to dine differently with friends and try something that’s maybe not on the menu,” says Hannah Wood, José’s project manager.
The chef, Anastacia Quinones, and the bar manager, Carlos, work together to curate a special menu and choose high quality tequilas with the right flavors for pairing. Expect an experience you’ve had with wine pairings — you wouldn’t pair a Merlot with fish. Carlos will teach you about the tequilas: how they are harvested and distilled, how the process affects the flavors and what makes a tequila different from a mezcal.
If the stars align, sometimes the brand representatives of a certain tequila company are in town, and they host the tequila table and tell you more details about their process.
“That makes it a truly special story,” Wood says. “They’re delivering the message straight from the heart because it’s their brand, and it’s what they represent all the time.”
Tequila table reservations must be made in advance so the chef can prepare. Wood says the ideal table size is six to eight people to keep the energy and conversation flowing, making it the perfect group date or girls’ night out. Pricing starts at $85 per person, but can vary if your group makes any special requests like having all premium tequilas.
But those who don’t request premium tequilas still get a good deal.
“The tequila that we use, we’re not picking Cuervo,” Wood says. “We don’t even carry that. We’re picking pretty nice tequilas because we want people to experience good-tasting brands. We don’t want to cheat anyone out of something really cool and different.”