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Authentic Mexican in northern NJ (Bergen County)

Hey everyone,

Born in NJ .. lived in NYC for awhile and now back in NJ (Hackensack). When in NYC we loved finding the small mexican joints that served real mexican food and was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for places in bergen county?

Thanks in advance

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  1. If you're willing to venture into Rockland County, try Dona Maria Bistro in Suffern. Nice array of creative, fresh Mexican food that goes well beyond the taco/burrito/drowning in gloppy melted cheese fare that pases for Mexican food.

    1. Not in Bergen county, but if you are willing to travel to Morris county, i love Casa Maya in Meyersville!

      1. Not in Bergen, but in Morris County is a little store-front place called Fresco De Noche Restaurant @ Fresco Deli on Route 206 in Flanders. Small place, best for take-out, but makes some really terrific Mexican food. While the menu is targeted to more familiar Tex-Mex dishes, they are executed in authentic roots. They also have some less known offerings. Amazingly fresh Guacamole and they use freshly made corn tortillas, exactly like the ones I have experienced in Mexico.

        The deli also has some great sandwitches and non-Mexican offerings.

        Here is the website:

        And I do not have any affliation with this company, I am simply a fan that would like to see this small local business thrive.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Springhaze2

          Hi Springhaze2...thanks for the kind words...I am the owner of Fresco Mexican. We are still around and currently renovating the Flanders restaurant. We have a second location in Chester NJ now, 137 Main street

        2. There's a spot in Westwood I'm going to try out...i'll tell ya how it is

          Also, downtown Englewood on Pallisades in the "not-so-blazingly caucasian" area near the circle, there's a mini mex restaurant/grocery store (almost next to NY and company).

          3 Replies
          1. re: sixelagogo

            The one in Englewood is called El Paso. It's good if you're in the neighborhood (I really do like the chorizo and egg torta and the Alambres, which is a kitchen sink type of meat concoction), but if you're travelling I prefer La Batalla in Bergenfield not too far away. The chorizo, cecina and lengua are all much better. I'd also avoid the carnitas at El Paso- it's served with small chunks of cartilage, which I'm not too crazy about.

            1. re: TongoRad

              Glad you replied to the englewood post...been meaning to check it out for months and now that I know they have a killer torta, I'm there....

              Agree with yer assessment of la batalia's carnitas to cartilage ratio...that's what kinda grossed me out last time I was there, but I gotta say, they've got killer salsa..

              .by the way, have you been back to mi peublo in Bergenfield since the new owners? The last tamale I had there was absolutely the last tamale I'd ever have there, but I'm wondering if it's improved since then (about 1 mo. after takeover).

              1. re: TongoRad

                That probably was skin (or cuero), not cartilege in the carnitas. Although you may not like it, that would make it more authentic than most of the gringo stuff that passes for carnitas. When I used to go get "bootleg" carnitas in So Cal (sold only on weekends by a guy who made it in his garage), my friend from Mexico City would only eat the cuero and nothing else. It is an acquired taste however.

            2. Just take the Midtown Approach Bridge across the Hackensack River into Bogota. I do not know the name of the place, but right on Main Street directly across from The US Post Office is a very small restaurant(BYOB). Most of the menu is $10 or less and the food is all freshly made. The Steak or Pork Tacos were $2 last time I was there. Anyone I have ever suggested this restaurant to has always been pleasantly surprised and pleased.

              1. A place we go to pretty often is Zapata which is just over the NJ/NY border on Piermont Rd. (that becomes route 340). They are located at 779 Route 340, Palisades - (845) 359-8700.
                We've taken lots of people there, have had baby/wedding showers there, and the food is always good. The owners are lovely and aim to please. Food is pretty authentic Mexican fare. They do have the usual fajitas and burritos, but other interesting stuff as well. Have never been disappointed there.

                2 Replies
                1. re: CookingBabs

                  The place on Main St. in Bogota has apparently closed. Twenty five minutes from Hackensack, as was mentioned before, is Dona Maria on Lafayette Ave. in Suffern. It's the best around theses parts. Up the block and across the street is La Hacienda, which I think is the second best place in the area.

                  1. re: CookingBabs

                    Sorry to say --- tried Zapata's last week - place is lively and nice - service aims to please - lots of servers - but food was mediocre - flavors all tasted the same - I had a shell steak with garlic with green sauce and rice and beans - the steak was flavorless and the plate was a swimming pool of liquids all blended together with the rice - beans were hard to find!

                  2. Pancho's Burrito in New Milford, excellent and fresh mexican food. Tinga's in Westwood also yummy, esp their weekend brunch menu. Creative spins on classic mexican fare

                    1. In Pearl River, just over the border from Montvale, go to La Cocina. Amazing. Also, if you feel like treking over to Westchester, Mariachi Loco has the best Mexican I have ever had. It looks like a total hole in the wall, no one speaks a lick of English and the jukebox and TV just blare Spanish. When you can get the flan (sells like hotcakes), its heaven.

                      1 Reply
                      1. there's a great little place in Edgewater, NJ on that winding road from Fort Lee that leads down to Edgewater called Salsa. A couple small tables to eat in (BYO) but people seem to usually take out. Great fresh food for cheap! Guac, nachos, burritos, salad are all really good~


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: shutterbabe

                          My bf and I had our eye on Salsa for a couple of months, but had never had the chance to go... until tonight. I called ahead and asked until what time they'd be open, and was told ten. Perfect, right? So, we got our bottle and headed over, only to be told upon entering (literally around 8:30 on a Saturday night) that they were closing. They had run out of food. no rice, no chicken, etc.

                          How, pray tell, does a restaurant manage to run out of basic foodstuffs on a Saturday night?

                          I would understand if there had been a snowstorm, blah blah... but seriously. Now, as much as I was for trying the place, I sort of don't want to go back on principle. Methinks I'll stick to the more local, indigenous spots like Antojitos Chapines (90th just off of Bergenline... where Nungessers used to be in North Bergen). It's Guatemalan as opposed to Mexican, but it may have to do until we can get back to our favorite Mexican spot -- Jose's in Spring Lake Heights.

                          Has anyone tried Puerto Vallarta on Kennedy Boulevard in NB? It's been there forever, but I've never been...

                        2. You should try Jalapenos in Glen Rock - not too far off Rt. 17 (maybe 15+ minutes from Hackensack) - http://www.jalapenosnj.com/. They have fresh tortillas, great salsa, nice atmosphere and a full bar. I love their fish tacos and the chimichangas. I also really liked Hacenda in Paterson. Don't let the location scare you off - it was fine and the food is excellent. Enjoy.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: lrapetrie

                            Alas, Jalapenos has closed also. Another Chowhound post said that the same owner has opened a Greek restaurant in its place, which we have tried and enjoyed.

                            1. re: AGH

                              That's right, bu the Greek restaurant closed too and now opened as a Mexican Restaurant again. I ate here after the second "coming" of Jalapenos....The food was just OK...wouldn't venture here. Went to a Mexican restaurant in Wyckoff, in the Boulder Run Shopping center but just can't recall it's name....it is a "semi" chain....3 other locations I believe. Anyway the food was good, much better than Jalapenos and so was the service!

                              1. re: shiloh15

                                Blue Moon is the chain, I'm guessing. Horrible. Jalapenos, reasonable local place for americanized-tex-mex.

                          2. also in Rockland County (spring valley)...El Bandito, their 30 year anniversary is next month!

                            1. Cinco de Mayo on 9W between Fort Lee & Englewood Cliffs, Small family run place, not fancy, BYO, food is very good. Don't be scared away if its empty they deserve your business! You won't be sorry.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: choosieeats

                                Cinco de Mayo is TERRIFIC. Not so great in terms of ambience but the food is very good. They make a good fresh guacamole for the table and can make it as spicy as you want. I love their Pollo Diablo.

                                Fiesta Hut is also fantastic. They are in East Rutherford on Park Ave, not far from Park and Orchard. This is the original owner of the Fiesta Hut that used to be on Route 4 where McDonalds is now. They have a chile con queso dip that is addictive, and the best salsa and green sauce anywhere, and I think the best mole sauce in NJ. Also they have a liquor license and have amazing margaritas. I believe 201 even listed them as best margarita one year.

                                Both are family owned small authentic Mexican not the TexMex sputtering fajita plate kind. You have to go. Only bad side is the service is not always so quick. But still so worth the wait.

                                1. re: Triceratops

                                  Definitely concur on Fiesta Hut! Don't let the name keep you away. GREAT food, and I agree--the mole is particularly good!

                                  1. re: Curlz

                                    If you like the mole, you should try a mole chile con queso dip there. It's not on the menu, but just ask and they'll know exactly what to do. Yummy!!!

                                2. re: choosieeats

                                  P.S. - Cinco de Mayo - reason it sometimes looks empty is they do a huge takeout/deliv business. ask for Arturo, tell him Ellen & Josh sent you. wine shop 2 doors down - Quench.

                                3. Has anyone tried Serrano's in Rutherford? (on Park ave, next to Daruma). I think it's the same owners.

                                  1. Hacendo in Paterson on route 20 from what I hear is really good and does have a liquor license.

                                    El Norte in Lodi is alright and does have a liquor license... they could be dead one night and then heavily packed the next.. but I never had to really wait longer than 5 minutes.

                                    MexiCali Rose in Montclair is supposed to be tops in NJ.. No liquor license but BYO and they'll make you pina coladas and margharitis.. or you can get them virgin. Place looks the cleanest/nicest/newest out of the three hands down.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: privax

                                      I'm always curious about "virgin margaritas". A margarita is tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. A virgin margarita would be 1 ounce of lime juice with ice.

                                      1. re: tommy

                                        Or in this case probably a sweet and sour margarita mix slushie.

                                      2. re: privax

                                        Mexicali Rose USED to be tops in NJ.
                                        If anyone can tell me otherwise, I'd love to hear about it...but I probably wouldn't believe you.

                                        1. re: Curlz

                                          Terrible, awful, miserable! Why anyone would go to Mexicali Rose is beyond me -- frankly, I'd rather go to Jose Tejas!

                                          Jose Tejas
                                          647 US Highway 46, Fairfield, NJ 07004

                                      3. Mama Mexico in Englewood Cliffs on 9W south. Pricey but worth it.

                                        1. Zapata is on the NJ/NY border on Piermont Rd just off the Palisades Parkway I don't know if the address is Rockleigh, NJ or Tappan, NY but it is so great. We go there all the time! The food and service is wonerful.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: NJfoodLover

                                            any new updates on mexican food in bergen county...???
                                            my 2 favorite spots are Fiesta Hut in rutherford, but agree the service is still slow...and Fiesta Mexico on Route 303 in Orangeburg, NY.

                                            1. re: flashdahash

                                              Jalapeno's in Glen Rock reopened a few months back. I guess the Greek experiment didn't work out. I went there last night, good food and good sangria.

                                          2. My fave Mexican place is the family owned Los Charritos in Hoboken <they have 3 other restaurants>.


                                            Their chilaquiles is one of my all time favorites.


                                            1. Cinco De Mayo--They have a small counter on Broadway in Hillsdale, and a sit-down place in Waldwick. Excellent food. Mole Poblano like abuelita makes. The place in Hillsdale does even more authenic sandwiches and things.

                                              1. Blue Moon Mexican Cafe in Woodcliff Lake, Englewood, etc (there are other locations) is pretty good. I've only been there once, but I loved the burritos!

                                                They have multiple locations also:

                                                Blue Moon Mexican Cafe
                                                42 Kinderkamack Rd, Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: blueanxiety

                                                  You'd characterize these restaurants as "authentic"?

                                                  1. re: blueanxiety

                                                    Blue Moon "authentic"?? That's like saying that take out Chinese is authentic...

                                                    The only Mexican that approximates the food you will get IN Mexico within 50 miles is in NYC, Toloache. In New Jersey, slim pickins.

                                                    1. re: menton1

                                                      Toloache is our pick also. Blue Moon is southwesternish and not even good as that. There are some authentic in Passaic if you are adventurous.

                                                      1. re: doxy216

                                                        Blue Moon is good for one thing- their Full Moon Chili. Period. And, yup, it's more Tex Mex than anything authentic.

                                                        I'll repeat myself from upthread (and other threads as well)- La Batalla in Bergenfield has got the real deal, though you do have to watch what you order. The combination plates in particular seem to be pretty Americanized. But stick with the sopes, queso fundito, torta, tacos, relleno, etc. and you'll do just fine.

                                                        Check out this post from Off the Broiler for some photos:

                                                        La Batalla
                                                        83 N Washington Ave, Bergenfield, NJ 07621

                                                      2. re: menton1

                                                        Cinco de Mayo in Hillsdale is "authentic". Unfortunately, it is basically a 12 seat counter with maybe 2 tables of four in the back of the restaurant. Not the kind of dinner destination two couples would seek out for a Friday or Saturday night. Excellent stop for solo dining.

                                                        Their Waldwick location is not "authentic". They don't serve lengua, tripe, cecina etc

                                                        1. re: Bosmer

                                                          can someone please just point me in the right direction (in the bergen county nj area) as to where i can get a frigging pork or beef tamale??? please help.

                                                          1. re: jerseyrain

                                                            It claims to be "authentic" but I can't vouch for quality, this was 3rd party info.


                                                    2. El Norte in Lodi isn't bad. They have pretty good food and sangria.

                                                      El Norte Restaurant
                                                      10 US Highway 46 E, Lodi, NJ 07644

                                                      1. For "authentic", try Selena's taqueraa in Pompton Lakes. Here's info:


                                                        1. A couple of weeks ago, i sample my first Huarches in Brooklyn and i'm in love (see photo). Did a little research and found out these are staples of Mexico city but seldom seen outside that area...anyone have a line on them in NJ?

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: sixelagogo

                                                            Click on my post of Apr. 12, 2010- the Off the Broiler link has some photos of the sopes at La Batalla- very similar, smaller in size. I've also seen sopes served in the East Harlem area, sometimes right on the street.

                                                            La Batalla
                                                            83 N Washington Ave, Bergenfield, NJ 07621

                                                            1. re: sixelagogo

                                                              i know how you feel sixe. i discovered these about 10 years ago and they are great. the queso anejo they sprinkle on top just puts it over the top. unfortunately, i have not found them locally. although sopes are similar, and delicious in their own way, they are a different dish. both use masa but they have a different corn taste and texture. i get my huaraches in astoria at la espiga 2. it's located under the train tracks at 32-44 31 st. whenever i go to LGA, i get off at hoyt st. and make a left under the tracks. it's about a mile down the road. they used to only speak spanish but now english is no problem. i am partial to the carne enchilada but the carne asada, chorizo and lengua are also good. and ask for both the red and green sauces on the side. i prefer the green salsa but try them both. it's not convenient, but i find myself going to LGA more often than i would prefer.

                                                              1. re: dock

                                                                Not Bergen County but close. On Kearny Ave. in Kearny there is a little storefront place calledd Mi Pueblito. You can't get any more authentic than this place. Everytime I have been there, there are many Mexican's either eating there or picking up take out. The prices are very reasonable. The portions are a very good size. The service is attentive. The only problem is that there are only arbout 10 tables. I love the place and so has everyone that I have brought there.

                                                            2. El Norte on Route 46 in Lodi isn't bad. It has a real authentic Mexican feel to it.

                                                              El Norte Restaurant
                                                              10 US Highway 46 E, Lodi, NJ 07644