San Julian: Cape Town’s Secret Authentic Mexican Restaurant

Friends! Happy Restaurant Wednesday 🙂 For once, someone showed ME something new and I really enjoyed it. My friend Phill has travelled to the States a number of times and is really familiar with the different kinds of foods you get there, including the difference between Tex-mex and authentic Mexican food. Us South Africans go to Spur and reckon we’re eating Mexican, not really. So when Phill found San Julian, a new family run authentic Mexican restaurant in town, he knew I’d be down to visit.

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San Julian has a tiny little sign and is tucked away in a quiet corner of Cape Town city bowl. It may not seem possible to have a quiet corner in Cape Town, but it’s true. It’s between the main city bowl and Greenpoint and isn’t easily passed by. From the moment you arrive though, we’re welcomed by a big open window, displaying the chefs hard at work, and big bright fairy lights that offer a warm glow even on a winter’s night.


When you step inside you are met with a world of fun, vibrant, Mexican themed decor. Banting hangs from the ceiling (so does a bicycle), crosses to reflect the strong Catholic faith practiced by so many Mexican families, little worry dolls and sprinkles of day of the dead memorabilia align the shelves on the yellow restaurant walls. It’s an intimate by candlelight space, but warm and welcoming too.

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To start the evening, I had to have a tequila, naturally. It just wouldn’t seem right without one. At San Julian, they rim the glass with a funny cinnamon mixture of some kind. The only way I know how to describe it is as ‘dry’. Like, it’s dry tasting with cinnamon and a spice that I don’t think I know! I should have asked them! They have a variety of tequilas there so don’t worry about having the break the bank on buying some authentic import, they have a variety available.

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To start, I was quite keen on a number of items. Phill and I shared chilli popper croquette type things. They’re pickled jalapeno filled with cream cheese, crumbed and served with guacamole, but they weren’t filled with just cream cheese, I think they had other bits and bops in there as they weren’t like chilli poppers as we know them. They were tasty though! I also tried the empanadas as I wanted to try a few things. They were really good, as they were lightly fried and weren’t greasy at all. Topped with cabbage, I really enjoyed these, definitely the best ones I’ve ever had.

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For mains, I indulged in a braised pork quesadilla. I almost have no idea why I ordered this because the melted cheesy dish looks so much better, LOL! But I think I was in the mood for braised meat so I had to go there. It was very tasty and I like the way they do their avocado. I have to say that their food tastes quite healthy, as in, it’s not SUPER oily and creamy like we know Mexican to be. So don’t go there thinking you’ll get hangover food, you won’t. Others had ceviche and tacos, they looked super good!

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For dessert the table had bread and butter pudding, I was too full after the 3 things I had an gave it a skip. It looked good though and I think I recall them saying it was the best thing they’d had all night! But they could just be pudding monsters so I’m not too sure how much of a reflection on the food it is. 🙂


I had a really nice time at San Julian and I’d definitely like to return. It’s pretty special having mexican food cooked by real Mexicans! I don’t have any Mexican friends so I really enjoyed the experience. I do, however, have South African friends. Go team GO 😀


After dinner we  popped back to Phill’s house and he spoilt us by sharing some of his Mezcal that he brought back from the states. It tasted totally different to tequila, but was really good! Thanks for sharing the fun Phil 😀  I’d recommend going to San Julian, I spent about R350 after a few shots of tequila, a frozen margarita, a couple of Savannas and 2 starts and a main, OOPS! Guess I did go pretty in! But I think it was worth it and would definitely return.

If you’ve been there, please leave a comment below and tell me what you thought of it?


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