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Sep 3, 2008 12:13 PM

Mexican Meal

Hi guys. I am currently searching for a place to take my husband for his birthday. He loves Mexican food, and I am currently aware of 3 places around here. (Flemington, Hunterdon County) I know there is a place in Frenchtown ( cocino del sol), a local place in Flemington, and also a place in Lambertville. So who can give me some recs on these places, or another you might like around here. Thanks so much.

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  1. Tortuga's in Lambertville is tasty. I always enjoy it. But there's a new place in town called Cinco De Mayo, I think. And I've heard that may be even better. Blue Tortilla in New Hope ain't too bad either, but it's pricey! Frenchtown's Cocina Del Sol is also good. I'd have to say Tortuga's is probably my favorite though. None of the places I've been to are big on atmosphere, it should be noted.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Heatherb

      I'm down near Trenton and I've only eaten at Cinco de Mayo of the places you listed. It was pretty good and the tacos de lengua were fantastic. The prices were a little higher than what I usually expect for Mexican food, but I wasn't unhappy with the quality. We usually drive up to New Brunswick when we're really feeling a jones for Mexican food. There are several places to choose from there. If that's not too far for you, you might consider that if you're looking for a more authentic meal.

      1. re: Citizen Rich

        Citizen Rich, what do you recommend in New Brunswick? We've only eaten Mexican there once, I *think* it was a place recommended by our man Sietsema, but I can't remember the name... We weren't too wowed but are definitely game for going back up there to try another place. Thanks!

    2. I love Mexican food and have eaten at all the places you mentioned. Without question, the most authentic are the two in Flemington. One is on Main Street (Huarache Azteca) and one is on Broad Street (Viva Mexico). They are both owned by the same owners and both are great.
      The others that you mentioned are good, but not very authentic. Tortugas in Lambertville is yummy but the whole plate is covered with beans and cheese. It's really just a step above a chain restaurant like Chilis. Cocino del Sol in Frenchtown is much better but not very authentic. It's also located in a basement and has no atmosphere whatsoever. The up side is that Frenchtown is a nice town to spend some time browsing around. Same goes for New Hope but again Blue Tortilla is not very authentic Mexican food.
      Be prepared that both restaurants in Flemington are BYO and both come with some pretty cheesy decor, but if you are looking for delicious, and AUTHENTIC Mexican food, they are the place to go.

      1 Reply
      1. re: madgreek99

        Madgreek99, I live in Hunterdon County but have never tried any of the restaurants you mention. I'm thinking of going to one of the two in Flemington but tell me, what makes these more authentic than the others? I tend to stay away from the standard Tex-Mex places but would really like to sample some real Mexican food. Any suggestions as to what to order at either of the Flemington locations?

      2. There's a new place in Lambertville called Buho's that I've heard good things about. It's on Kline's Court near the Wachovia. Unfortunately it's pretty pricey, which I think is a crime for Mexican food. There's also Tortuga's in Lambertville, but it suffers from the same $$$.

        There's actually a fantastic, cheap, authentic Mexican place in Warminster, Pa, but I think that's probably too far for you. That's become our go-to place since we moved to Bucks County.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SarahEats

          Went this past Saturday night, busy and so of course noisy. Service was not acceptable. This is a BYOB. I got out my wine and sat it on the table. Menus were brought – but no wine glasses. The waitress came back and I asked for glasses – which she brought. However the wine was still unopened. Her next visit I asked to have the wine opened - she brought a cork screw and left it on the table. I opened my own wine since it was obvious no staff person was going to do it. Food was decent – but not good enough to overcome horrible wait staff service. Went to Cinco De Mayo a while back, not as fancy, but the food and service were better. Also cheaper

          1. re: SarahEats

            Sarah - what is the restaurant in Warminster? I don't live far from there. Have you tried Buho's yet? We are thinking about going this weekend. The others mentioned in this post are too far away from us.


          2. Have not been to Huarache Azteca. I've been to Viva Mexico many times, and while I used to think it was terrific, IMO it has gone seriously downhil in the last year or so and I don't go there anymore.

            As others have said here, Tortuga's is very tasty, if very Americanized, Mexican. I have no idea why one poster complained that Tortuga's was pricey, because my husband and I always shake our heads in amazement at how cheap the place is (we were just there this past Friday.)

            I'm not crazy about Cocino del sol - our experience there is they are often out of menu items, and I personally don't care for the way they season a lot of their meat dishes - way too sweet.

            3 Replies
            1. re: flourgirl

              Personally, I think $15 is on the pricier side for an entree at a Mexican restaurant, especially when our experience at Tortuga's has been a lot of rice and beans and hardly any meat. Our new favorite place serves 3 amazing beef tacos for $4. In fact, none of the entrees are more then $10 and that's for shrimp.

              1. re: SarahEats

                That hasn't been our experience at all. In fact one of our favorite entrees is the carne asada. It's a huge piece of beef that you could easily feed four people with and it's tender and delicious. My son and I split it and we still had enough left over to eat for lunch the next day. And the rice and beans were only maybe 1/2 cup portions on the side. (I actually would have liked a little more rice on the side.) We had 2 appetizers (which we couldn't finish), 2 entrees and 2 sodas and the bill was $59. I think being able to take my family of three out to eat for dinner (in NJ) and get that amount of tasty food for under $60 is a very rare bargain these days. (and like I said, this was also lunch for my son and I the next day.)

                And considering how much even a pound of ground beef goes for at the market these days, I don't know how any restaurant can stay afloat charging the kind of prices you are talking about, unless they're overhead is really, REALLY low. All I can say is, you are very lucky to have such an establishment nearby.

                1. re: flourgirl

                  I must agree with flourgirl. I was sad to find Tortuga's in Lambertville had closed in September. When I got a Tortuga's menu on my porch advertising the grand re-opening under new ownership, I could hardly wait. There is a much warmer, cozy atmosphere now. My waitress (the new owner) was quick to point out that she retained the original kitchen staff and that the menu was exactly the same. In addition, they have added authentic Mexican specials (displayed on a chalk board). This should put to rest some people's complaints on the "Americanized Mexican" food. I went in with my wife and two kids two weeks ago. I ordered one of the authentic steak specials and my wife ordered the chipotle chicken. We also spent under $60 (but our kids are 5 and 3) with appetizers. It truly was one of the best steaks (outside of a steakhouse filet or ribeye) I have had, and the service was reasonable for how busy it was. I think it is the same type of steak as the carne asada ( skirt steak, perhaps). I live in Lambertville, and the prices are comparable to any other restaurants in town. Actually, the specials were cheaper than many other restaurant in town. Why should quality Mexican food be cheaper than any other food in town? We have gone back two additional times in the past two weeks, and I ordered a different special each time (Rib-eye and Carnitas?) The specials are a refreshing change for someone like me who has ordered off the menu too many times to count.

            2. If you're unconcerned about atmosphere, I'd go to Noa Noa in New Brunswick on rte 27, south of town. This is a Mexican neighborhood, with coffeshop style restaurants (several) and a couple slightly more upscale which I haven't tried. We've been to Noa Noa innumerable times and had excellent meals, and SEEN people eating even better looking stuff, like whole fish etc. Double check hours etc; I haven't been there in a long time, mainly because we started going TO Mexico, and thus not eating around here. Noa Noa is on a corner, on a southeast corner.

              Also, there was a place in Hightstown which was also quite good, two doors down from the Spanish place (do not confuse them!) but I believe it closed, but then possibly reopened, and I haven't been back. They even had aguas once in a while.

              2 Replies
              1. re: lomlfoml

                Any other Mex Recs. in New Brunswick? When visiting, we always hit Tapatio on Main St. in South River. We go Latin dancing at a bar in NB, (the only gringoes.), but haven't eaten.

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  I would only have one more place to mention, and it's to advise against. On the same corner that Noa Noa is on, if you go down that street east 100 or 200 feet, there is a restaurant which mentions (real) tacos. However, we had a really bad, well, *I* had a really bad experience there, though the men in our party were completely oblivious to it. Seating is 'family' style, and an elderly man at the same table, probably not all there, was making obscene gestures at me throughout the meal. Seriously.

                  The food wasn't very good anyway.