owner Gabriel Leis doesn’t spend a lot of time online wondering if his restaurant is popular – he sees it in person most nights of the week.
“Our recognition comes just seeing people every night,” Leis says. “For us, it’s just seeing the same people and seeing the tables full almost every night of week.”
That popularity bore out on Mill Valley Patch this week, as Joe’s won the in Mill Valley, garnering 40 percent of the votes cast.
The win comes at a pivotal moment in Joe’s history, as Gabriel’s father Joe opened the restaurant at 382 Miller Ave. nearly 20 years ago. Joe, who passed away in 2003, opened the restaurant in October 1992, with his wife Marni scouring local church rummage sales and the Marin City flea market for religious iconography and kitschy Mexican tchotchkes, transforming a former greasy spoon diner into a shrine to all things Mexican, according to Joe’s website.
Despite strong competition from fellow 94941 stalwarts and the , Joe’s came out on top in our contest, a reminder to Leis that despite a slight hit from the recession and the short-term dip caused by the opening of several new restaurants nearby, people still love Joe’s diverse menu and inimitable atmosphere.
As for the 20th anniversary in October, Leis says the free food giveaway at the restaurant’s 10th birthday party didn’t go over so well, as customers instead opted to buy their own personal favorite dishes on the menu instead.
“But we’ll definitely do something to celebrate for sure,” He says. “I’ll come up with something.”