Trio of restaurant veterans invests in San Pablo

Culinary trio invests in San Pablo
Culinary trio invests in San Pablo

By Mike Kinney

After working in fine dining in San Francisco for many years, Javier Valdivia along with couple Juan and Mely Padilla decided to combine their skills and invest in a culinary home of their own. Lucky for us, the trio opted to invest in San Pablo.

Eight years ago, they opened Taqueria San Juan Mexican Grill at San Pablo Village at San Pablo Avenue and Vale Road. The restaurant is named after the couple’s hometown of San Juan in the Mexican state of Jalisco. They have also owned Mely’s Café next door for the last three years. We visited Mely’s last year (story here).

In this story, we visit a Mexican restaurant that puts a focus on serving quality meats, including its stewed steaks, grilled beef and asado dishes. No surprise, the Super Burrito is a top-seller, and the tacos, which you can choose to have with homemade tortilla, along with the enchiladas, aren’t far behind. But there’s much more to explore on this menu, like the Pollo Adobado, a charbroil marinated chicken breast served with beans, rice and tortillas.

Another house special is the Molecajetes served with rice, beans and tortillas. It has charbroil chicken, beef steak, chorizo, cactus with cheese on our special salsa for $25. Menudo and Pozole soups range from $13 to $16.

“We like to think of Taqueria San Juan as a hidden gem,” Valdivia said. “Because many people in the area do not think a place like this could exist, with the kind of food we serve here.”

Owners say they strive to provide service to match their food.

“We know if you do not treat your customers well, they simply will not come back and will go somewhere else,” Valdivia said. “We treat all of our customers like family. Our food we serve here and the customer service is the secret of our success.”

When they aren’t working, the owners said they might be bowling in Pinole, dining at Suki’s Restaurant in the El Portal shopping center or shopping at local stores like Los Montanas, Food Maxx and Smart N Final.

Taqueria San Juan Mexican Grill

13501 San Pablo Ave. # C, San Pablo, CA.

(510) 965-9745 

Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm