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Real Mexican Food In New Jersey

I'm sure this has been posted before but I'm actually looking for some authentic mexican food in New Jersey for my brother and his family. The recently moved back to New Jersey from California and haven't been able to find anything close to what they had there. Any suggestions. All areas of New Jersey would be okay. But if anyone knows of any in the Morristonw area that would be of help.

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  1. From my experience, Mexican food in NJ will never compare to that found in Cali simply due to the lack of fresh ingredients. In Cali, the lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, etc are all locally grown, not trucked in and nearly frozen for weeks on end. That said, I do like Tinga in Westfield and Charritos in Hoboken. Not an "authentic" experience, but the food is very good for NJ Mexican food. I can't wait for the next time I can taste some yummy Cali Mexican food....

    1. What constantly mystifies me is this. If Sean McGillicuddy moves from New Jersey to California and opens a Mexican restaurant there, it's regarded as "authentic" But if Jorge Martinez moves from Mexico City to New Jersey and opens a Mexican restaurant, it's not authentic as Sean's in California. Why is it that Mexicans forget how to cook their native cuisine when they come to New Jersey but anybody in California can cook authentic Mexican?

      And I doubt if it's the ingredients. First New Jersey tomatoes are superior to California's by far - and fresh ingredients are available world wide today. Any restaurant that wants fresh ingredients can get them.

      Can someone explain to me why Mexicans living & cooking in New Jersey can't cook Mexican food authentically? Do they have to check their Mexican-ness at the Delaware?

      15 Replies
      1. re: CompareFranco

        I disagree with njchowgirl regarding availability of fresh and agree with some of Franco's points.

        What kind of "authentic" do you want? Authentic to me........is...what a population of Mexicans like to eat. For instance, my town has 3 Mexican "restaurants". The Menu's aren't in english and some of them, you walk in, and everyone thinks the white guy is in the wrong place. To me, that's "authentic" Mexican food. Ok, so mabey it's not as GOOD as what YOU (in general, not anyone specific) think is "good" Mexican food, but, the Mexicans in my town (which there are a lot of) seem to love it.

        BTW - I love the Mexican food in my town, but if you think you're going to go to/find a place where you can sit down, white table clothe and have a Chiles Rellenos on a hip rectangle plate, it's not going to happen. Nope. You need to hit up a town with a high Mexican population and walk into the place every other non-Mexican doesn't.

        If you are curious about the Mexican places I'm talking about in my town, check out a "tour" I did of my town's cuisine, there are a few menus.

        1. re: RPMcMurphy

          Nice tour at your link - I love South River, almost moved there once when I was still living in Jersey. Looked at an apartment on Whitehall (?) about 10 years ago, I think it was? Pretty much walking distance from the downtown area.

          We're awash in great Mexican food here in Portland, OR but sorely lacking Polish. That's okay though, it's encouraged me to learn to make pierogi on my own...

          Interesting thread, I have to read through all this. My sister just bought a place in South Plainfield, near the Plainfield border, and I'll be visiting soon. I've heard Plainfield has a bunch of great Mexican. Never tried any when i was still back there, though...

        2. re: CompareFranco

          I'm no expert on Mexico. But I do know that most Mexicans immigrants in NJ are from central Mexico -- from Puebla and nearby. If you dine at their restaurants, ask for dishes from central Mexico. Mexico has many distinct culinary regions, like China or Italy.

          I suspect that many non-Mexican diners in NJ are looking for a Cal-mex or Tex-mex cuisine. You're not likely to get Cal-mex flavors in a Pueblan kitchen. Just as you won't get Bolognese flavors in a Neopolitan kitchen. A Pueblan restaurant might offer a baja fish taco on their menu, but it's not really their thing, and probably won't satisfy a San Diegan. Instead try ordering a pork stew or a huarache from a central Mexican chef -- you will be getting something authentic.

          1. re: val ann c

            My daughter in law is from Puebla. When they lived in New Jersey she had a very difficult time finding a place to her liking. Now she lives in Tampa and is having a more difficult time finding the foods she was used to in Mexico. I agree, we americans are looking for more of a tex mex or cal mex dining experience.

            1. re: val ann c

              That one Road Food show featured a sandwich from the Puebla area of Mexico that looked incredibly good. Unfortunately, the restaurant was in Chicago:-(

              1. re: Heatherb

                Mmm, cemitas. That place in Chicago is excellent. I know there are places in Queens that also make these.

              2. re: val ann c

                val- interesting post about the regionality of Mexican food. i totally agree. i have a friend whose wife is mexican (i believe from Mexico City). she cooks "authentic" mexican food, but it is nothing like what i've seen in nj or cali- full of creamy sauces, fried foods, and very heavy. it appears that "authentic mexican" is often matter of perspective, then.

                as for the fresh food aspect- you can get "fresh" food here in NJ, and NJ tomatoes ARE the best. however, during many times of year we need to truck in these "fresh" veggies and, in my humble opinion, they taste less than fresh. to make things worse, even when fresh locally-grown food is available, many restaurants fail to use it. comparefranco, tell me that you haven't ordered a dish with tomatoes in august just to find the trucked-in stuff on your plate. yuck!

                the freshness of the ingredients in cali is what stood out to me as the major difference between coasts.

              3. re: CompareFranco


                You can find excellent, authentic Mexican food in many places in New Jersey. The backroads of Salem and south Jersey in general are filled with great little places intended for farm workers. Route 27 at the south end of New Brunswick has a large concentration of Mexican restaurants and bakeries that are all but unapproachable without serious knowledge of the cuisine. Finally, downtown Plainfield has some real Mexican places mixed in with its large number of restaurant from all over Latin America.

                ...and Franco...relax, Mexican cook excellent, authentic food all over the state. Okay...maybe not in upscale places like Hoboken and Westfield, but for the rest of us.

                1. re: BrianYarvin

                  Wow, very intriguing post. I think the road is calling me...

                  1. re: BrianYarvin

                    Hey, and don't forget downtown Perth Amboy
                    My brother and I (both locally raised) lived in New Mexico. With some family business to attend he flew in from Nevada (he is married to an old New Mexican family.) and I drove down from Maine. We chowed happily at Tapitios in South River several times for a quick lunch and were both pleased. And luckily, he drove home from the Mexican Bar n Prospect St. Need trouble finding good Mexican comida? Come to Maine!
                    Murph, sorry I didn't get to meet ya.

                    1. re: BrianYarvin

                      If you take Elmore Ave. in Elizabeth/Elmora (I think its route 439) you'll pass a bunch of Spanish restaurants and grocery stores. However, I’m not sure if they’re all Mexican, they might be Salvadoran or Guatemalan.

                      1. re: MShapiro

                        I haven't noticed any Mexican on Elmora, but besides the Salvadoran and Guatemalan, there's Peruvian and kosher deli worth eating too.

                        1. re: BrianYarvin

                          BrianYarvin -

                          My bad - thanks for the clarification. What was the Peruvian place you mentioned? Have you tried any of the Salvadoran and Guatemalan?

                          1. re: MShapiro

                            M -

                            The Mexican might well be there, but I haven't gone wrong at the Peruvians.

                            1. re: BrianYarvin

                              Specifically which of the Peruvian places do you recommend? Gracias...

                  2. In Hammonton, just off the AC Expressway is a restaurant called Fiesta Mexicana. While they do have some Tex Mex items, but many of the dishes listed are things I haven't seen since leaving Texas several years ago. Very authentic Mexican food. Hammonton is the heart of blueberry and tomato farming in S Jersey, and there is a huge Mexican population of farm workers living there. You will always find Mexican workers in the restaurant. Their menu says they have a website, but when I enter the name of the restaurant, something completely different comes up.
                    IMO, this is probably the best Mexican food I have had in NJ. If you're interested, Philly has a good handful of authentic new Mexican restaurants now as well.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: mschow

                      It's a joint, but Mexican Village in Princeton. Not sure how authentic, but it beats a chain any day. Off the beaten path, very rustic, a rough hidden gem.

                      1. re: 2ndToNone

                        I LOVE Mexican Village, but you will miss it if you don't know where it is. It is called Las Tortugas on the outside of the building. It's actually Zagat rated as well. I live in Ensenada, Mexico 2 months out of the year, and it's some of the best western Mexican food I have found in central Jersey. Their enchiladas supremas are amazing. highly recommended.

                        The fresh salsa with chips before the meal is very spicy for most Americans, just a heads up. Especially in summer when all the ingredients are at their peak. It's on Leigh Ave by the hospital. Find any spot on the street and just walk, the parking lot (if you find it) only accommodates 4 cars max.


                      2. re: mschow

                        My family and I love Fiesta Mexicana and we often head over to Hammonton when we get a craving for some great, and amazingly affordable,Mexican food.

                        1. re: mschow

                          Add me to the list of those who recommend Fiesta Mexicana. I was just there last night. Their verde sauce is really to die for. The mole is pretty good too. There is always at least 2 large tables of actual mexican people eating there. They serve all kinds of mexican beers. It is definately worth the trip out to Hammonton.

                          1. re: nightflower

                            Love the Verde sauce. Not so crazy about the salsa, though.

                        2. I suppose I can't say I've had "authentic" Mexican food (since so many people here decry the lack of it in NJ), but I absolutely love Don Jose in East Hanover (route 10). It's seldom that I leave any food on my plate there, and the table salsa is fantastic!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dj487

                            I love Don Jose (the restaurant, not the man!) - best mole I've ever had!

                          2. No place near Morristown but Mi Mexico, rt 35 south, Point Pleasant Beach make amazing tinga!

                            1. I second the Don Jose recommendation. Great guacamole. In Flemington, there are two: Huarache Azteca is the more authentic of the two, but also more of a "hole in the wall" type of place. The other is Viva Mexico. Both are owned by the same Mexican couple.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: madgreek99

                                Madgreek99, by any chance do you know anything about Casa Maya in High Bridge, farther up Route 31 from Flemington? I have never been there but a couple of friends have given it high marks.


                                1. re: ambrose

                                  No, sorry, I've never been there. If you go, let us know how it is...

                                  1. re: ambrose

                                    Although any Mexican you are liable to find in NJ is not going to compare favorably to Mexican in California, Arizona, Texas, etc., i believe that Casa Maya is the best Mexican in NJ. I am very surprised by the positive reviews of Don Jose in East Hanover, which I found to be well below avearge. Casa Maya is consistently good and about as "authentic" as you'll find in this part of the state.

                                    1. re: LV_Foodie

                                      LV_Foodie, I see your post is a while after theirs. We use to frequent Don Jose (I'm debating going there tonight), but found the quality has gone WAY downhill. Many things seem reheated and mushy, and the spiciness has decreased.

                                      But perhaps five years ago and going back before that, it was very very good.

                                      Don Jose Restaurant
                                      929 Main Ave, Passaic, NJ 07055

                                2. I have said it before and swear by El Meson in Freehold. I do not like the creams and cheeses on many of the seafood platters but they are willing to fit my requests. Last time there had some terrific spicy lobster tails and they are often creative in a great way. (and its byob which always is a positive for me)

                                  1. I think RPMcMurphy is right on the money here. With the mexican population we have, it's not too hard to find a truly 'authentic' mexican joint in nj. There are tons of places where the people don't speak english and the menus are in spanish only. I doubt it gets more authentic than that. Long Branch, Freehold, Asbury are packed with such joints.

                                    Every time I drive through Morristown I see some Mexican places I wish I could check out that look similarly "authentic". They're out there, just give them a shot!

                                    1. There is a little place that recently opened up in Hillsborough NJ; La Costenita. The owner Alicia cooks Oaxacan food. the picaditas with carnitas are fabulous. Also try her chile rellenos, and tamales. It is in the Amwell Mall just west of the intersection of route 206 and Amwell road. It is a grocery store with a counter and 3 stools in the back. It is "real" Mexican food. Her food is amazing. You can also buy big bags of Chiles including Chile Anarillo fromOaxaca. I recommend it highly.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: millstrj

                                        Rosa's Taqueria on Sudam Ave, New Brunswick. And several more in the area.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          El Familiar in Toms River NJ


                                          1. re: Tapas52

                                            Paco's Tacos in Marlboro, opened Dec. 22. Um, pretty good, but not what I'd call authentic Mexican, what with the nacho cheese sauce on my enchiladas. Owned by two American guys.

                                            The rice and beans were excellent. My wife had an extra order of rice and the owner wouldn't let us pay for it. I had a raspberry margarita (non-alcoholic, but the owner said I could bring my own booze next time, and they'll mix it up).

                                            Coupons in those Coupon Clipper type magazines. Good green sauce. Amazing wall of hot sauces (all for sale).

                                            1. re: MarlboroMan

                                              "but the owner said I could bring my own booze next time, and they'll mix it up"

                                              Technically illegal in NJ. While any restaurant w/o a license can be a "BYOB" (as long as the town doesn't have regulations against it) the alcohol permitted is limited to beer and wine (see #4).


                                              Obviously it is the owner who gets in trouble with the ABC (and the "no advertising" portion of the law seems to be routinely ignored), so it's not your concern but his competitors who have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on a liquor license probably would be interested.

                                              1. re: MarlboroMan

                                                Oh wow-sorry but I so have to disagree here. I was happy to see a local mexican place opening and even happier to see they delivered. So I picked up the menu and ordered steak fajitas, some corn fritters and coconut flavored shrimp rolls. Let's start with the fajitas-I have had fajitas in Mexico, New Mexico and many other places and NONE ever had cauliflower, green and yellow squash and broccoli included with the peppers and onions I am accustomed to. The fajitas had absolutley no taste to them as well. The coconut flavored shrimp rolls tasted like they were soaking in Hawaiian Tropic sun tan oil-blech! The only thing good were the corn fritters. I promptly threw out the menu. If you want really great authentic mexican I suggest you try the Grub Hut in Manville. They also have great BBQ. http://www.grubhutbbq.com/

                                          2. re: millstrj

                                            Thanks to this review, we have found the best Mexican in central Jersey! Just want to report back that they have recently expanded their menu. They now more tacos including lengua (to die for!) and burritos.

                                            1. re: millstrj

                                              Thank you for your wonderful compliments. We have broaden our selection of Mexican specialties. You may find the new menu on our Facebook webpage.


                                            2. Try Costa Chico on Handy St. in New Brunswick... authentic, yummy and cheap. We've been going for years both to sit down and feel the atmosphere, try out our mediocre Spanish on the kind waitstaff, or for take-out.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: sharpfried

                                                I suppose the VW dealership on Handy St. is long gone?
                                                Try latin dancing, near the top of Sudam and rt 28. I can't remember the name of the place. My wife and I are the only gringos, but everyone is very friendly. Often the highlight of our trips for Garden State culture.

                                              2. get to passaic around home depot lots of day laborers with small cantina type resturants

                                                1. In Long Branch you can find Mexican prepared by Mexicans for the local Mexican community at Acapulquenos on the corner of Branchport and Broadway. Spanish TV competes with Mexican pop tunes on the jukebox. All orders are cooked to order, so service may be a bit slow, but well worth it.

                                                  Menu: http://www.exit109.com/~mstevens/Take...

                                                  1. forget about finding anything approaching "real" mexican in this state unless you're willing to travel far to the south. and even then........
                                                    i've travelled all over mexico and have never found anything close to the real thing.
                                                    instead, why not pick up any of the books by Diana Kennedy, like "The Art of Mexican Cooking." The recipies are thorough and easy to follow., and cooking Mexican food generally is not all that difficult.
                                                    The money you spend on one of these books will save you many wasted dollars spent on medicore mexican food in n.j.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: seanachie

                                                      Authentic ?

                                                      That's funny considering the variations that exist !

                                                      A good meal first and foremost ..... authentic ... eh !

                                                      1. re: seanachie

                                                        I will accept the notion that authentically recreating any culture's cuisine at a geographically distant place may be impossible. If only given the fact that the products incorporated into the food will inherently vary, e.g. Jersey corn doesn't taste the same as Mexican corn.

                                                        Regardless, the influx of Central American immigrants to our region has led to a proliferation of tacquerias producing food that seems to be well-recieved by the community and accepted as pretty authentic. Places like Mi Mexico and North of the Border certainly have a loyal following. In fact, even our local Tienda sells $1 tamales made by the owner using the same masa, corn husks, and jalepenos he used in Mexico. To me, that's pretty "real."

                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                          As long as they taste good !

                                                      2. When I want Mexican, and there's nothing down the Shore (including El Meson which still doesn't live up to the handle of TRUE MEXICAN), I go to Joyce's Bakery in Bound Brook right on Main St.

                                                        Just a small dive where no one speaks English and the food is prepared very simply. Peasant Mexican food. Sure works for me.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: JustJake

                                                          We too lived in California over 30 years. We have searched and searched all over NJ for a great Mexican place and yes there is a great one down the shore. it is on Rt 9 in Bayville, Azteca. You'll love it, very authentic and great low prices. Nice family runs it.

                                                        2. On S. Olden in Trenton is a little hole-in-the-wall dive called Restaurante El Mariachi. It's a taqueria that is just a couple of blocks off of Greenwood. Don't be put off by appearances: I've been there twice now and will continue to go back again--especially for the tacos. The tacos de lengua are my preferred choice, but to be fair, they're my preferred choice everywhere. An order is three tacos, and they're pretty much a meal in themselves. The pupusas de chicharron were also very good. Surprisingly, the real big winner so far was a tripe soup that my wife ordered. I'm not big on tripe, but this was just great. Nice, with just the right amount of kick. Perfect for a late breakfast after a night of drinking. I think they called it Sopa de Panza y Pata. I'll definitely get it for myself in the future. The help was really friendly, but I don't think they see many gringos in the joint and there was no English spoken. My wife is a native Spanish speaker and my Spanish is passable (meaning they found it amusing), but don't worry if you don't speak it because the menu has English translations. Give it a shot if you're in the area.

                                                          1. Robert

                                                            I recommend Casa Maya as well, Having lived in Texas for several years I am well versed in authentic Mexican food (and def. know the difference between Mexican and tex-mex) I have only gone to the original location in Myersville, (as I live near Morristown), not the new location in High Bridge. Meyersville is only about 15 minutes from Morristown, just to the south of Harding Twp. It is pretty much of a hole in the wall type of place, but the food is amazing. I have found the staff to be very accommodating when one in our party had special dietary restrictions due to food allergies, or another wanted things extra spicy. You will not be disappointed with the food there, great variety of entree selections. I was impressed that not only are there is usual beef, pork and chicken selections, but they have several seafood options as well..

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: PuniceaRana

                                                              I grew up in that neighborhood.. when I was a kid, Casa Maya was a little convenience store called Cracker Barrel (no relation to the restaurant of the same name). This was in the early 70's.

                                                              A few years ago, I lived up the road from there in an apartment, and I ate there a few times. Yes, very good food. I also thought La Hacienda in neighboring Berkeley Heights was rather good on a few occasions.

                                                            2. In Springfield, there's a tiny little place called Picante the Taste of Mexico. http://picantethetasteofmexico.com/

                                                              I've only been there once so far, but it's more authentic than the piles of mush served at most places. It's family-run - friendly service and an extensive menu. I had a dish that included pork and beef to make your own tacos. The pork had a spice rub on it that was outstanding and the steak was tender. The whole thing was topped with some Oaxaca cheese and it came with corn tortillas, tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos and onions. My sister had mole enchiladas that she loved. She and her husband both go to Picante frequently - he was raised in San Diego and says this is the closes thing he's found since coming to NJ.

                                                              The guacamole is great too. They do takeout - there are only a few tables but if you get one, you'll be well cared for. It's located on Morris Ave, not far from the Wine Library.

                                                              If anyone else has tried it, curious to hear your thoughts too!


                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: ladyberd

                                                                Co-signing. The mole sauce is fantastic -- you can taste the depth of guajillo and chocolate. The variety of tacos is nice (tongue is offered, though no tripe <sad panda>) and each one is well-made. Quite fond of the tender carne asada and tangy al pastor. I'm also fond of the earthy huitlacoche, and the kitchen is willing to put it in a chile relleno for a surcharge. Oh yeah, the ranchero sauce is delicious, and goes well on a chile relleno. If you like green sauce on your enchiladas, it has a really nice kick. They use really good Oaxaca and cotija cheese.

                                                                They make their own horchata which is pretty good, and have canned Mexican soft drinks. BYOB makes it nice. The family that runs it is accommodating. They refrigerated my beer and tomato-spice mix (I was making Micheladas) when I was with a party of 7. They do take-out as well.

                                                                1. re: yellowmix

                                                                  We just went there, and were pleased with everything but the price. Not usual to be charged 60 bucks for a few drinks, two adult meals and two kids meals, especially at a Mexican place (and we've been to several listed here as authentic/good that are not as pricey). You certainly don't pay for ambiance as there are a few tables and you can't sit that far from the register (it's a storefront).

                                                                  Salad was excellent, carne asada and mole sauce were very good, and their signature homemade picante sauce was very good. Usually we like very hot, habanero hot, so the picante sauce was actually a little mild for us (I understand that Oaxacan food isn't usually too hot though). I was disappointed that there were not more cactus dishes, but I'll try the cactus salad next time.

                                                                  Flan was very good, reminds me of some my friend's mother used to make when I was young. Heavy consistency, dark caramel, not too sweet.

                                                                  We'll be back, but probably will bring our own drinks or maybe take out.

                                                              2. Picante in Springfield is a nice spot. Two others you might try are El Rancho Grande in Orange and Los Tapatios in West Orange, literally around the corner from each other. My favorite Mexican in all of NJ is Huarache Azteca in Flemington.

                                                                Los Tapatios Restaurant & Bar
                                                                10 Main St West, Orange, NJ

                                                                El Rancho
                                                                540 Valley Rd, West Orange, NJ 07052

                                                                Huarache Azteca
                                                                136 Main St Ste 1, Flemington, NJ 08822

                                                                1. For those who relish the opportunity in eating real Mexican, I again offer up Joyce's Bakery & Taqueria. If I pick up a couple of tacos or a burrito and sit down for lunch at our office lunchroom, folks ask 'where did you get that?'. Those who have tried it LOVE it.

                                                                  A couple of links for those who may be interested in this authentic and real, and like RP McMurphy's post from yesteryear on this thread, I stand out like a 'lost soul' when I'm there, unless Sally (the owner) is there and who knows me over 10 years strong...


                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: JustJake

                                                                    I need to try Joyce's Bakery - thanks. Bound Brook is a great spot for ethnic food. Have you tried Taqueria El Chivo across the street? Lip-smacking tacos with homemade corn tortillas.

                                                                    Taqueria El Chivo
                                                                    220 E Main St, Bound Brook, NJ 08805

                                                                    1. re: JustJake

                                                                      I recommend:

                                                                      La Esperanza Restaurant & Bar
                                                                      40 EastGibbsboro Rd
                                                                      Lindenwold, NJ 08021
                                                                      Tel 856-782-7114Fax: 856-782-7128

                                                                      It is the closest thing to real Mexican Food I have eaten since going to Alcapulco!

                                                                      1. re: 54ar0nyamp377

                                                                        I second that. La Esperanza does a great mole.

                                                                    2. Just tried an excellent Mexican spot in Rahway: La Malinche.

                                                                      Mostly Spanish-speaking customers. Mexican-style hot chocolate flavored with cinnamon. The fresh Guacamole is superb and the tacos (al pastor, carnitas, pollo, chorizo) come wrapped in two soft corn tortillas with chopped cilantro and onions. Very good tortas and entrees like Pollo en Mole Oaxaqueno. The Chiles Rellenos, coated in egg, are delicious. The Camarones al Chipotle, ordered spicy, is really spicy.

                                                                      This place is now one of my favorites for Mexican food in New Jersey.

                                                                      La Malinche Restaurant
                                                                      1588 Irving St, Rahway, NJ 07065

                                                                      1. I don't know if you are near Kearny, but there is a little place on Kearny Ave. named Mi Pueblita. The food is very good. Usually when I am there, you see Mexican workmen coming in for take out. They also do a big delivery business.
                                                                        It is a small place with about 8 tables.
                                                                        My daughter in law is from Puebla and she feels the food is authentic.

                                                                        1. Had excellent tacos (lengua, al pastor) and quesadillas de huitlacoche at Tacos Matamoros in Clifton. A tiny, mostly Spanish-speaking spot. Worth seeking out.

                                                                          Tacos Matamoros Restaurant
                                                                          213 Parker Ave Ste 1, Clifton, NJ 07011

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: EthnicNJ

                                                                            There is a great mom and pop lunch counter in Somerville, NJ. They do not speak much english but very good tacos and tostadas. have a great homemade hot sauce as well. It is called Luis a Maria. It is on Main St across from the shopping mall that has been finally leveled.

                                                                            1. re: Spaetzle75

                                                                              Thanks - I will definitely try it. (I grew up in Somerville, before the town became a restaurant destination, and before I spoke any Spanish.)

                                                                          2. La Casa Del Sol great real mexican food made and served to real mexicans.Not fancy just a few tables inside a real mexican grocery. BYOB ,good prices on the boulavard in seaside hights

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: Rick7

                                                                              El Senor Frog in Manahawkin definitely falls into this category - very authentic, fresh, reasonably priced food prepared/served by a friendly, extended Mexican family. Their shriimp empanadas are to die for, as are the guaraches, anything pastor, etc. I've yet to be disappointed in something I've tried there.

                                                                            2. Chapala Grill in Bergenfield or Pancho's Burritos in New Milford

                                                                              Chapala Grill
                                                                              52 S Washington Ave, Bergenfield, NJ 07621

                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                              1. re: jerseygirl201

                                                                                I've been meaning to check out Chapala Grill, I drive by it enough- is there anything that you'd especially recommend?

                                                                                Chapala Grill
                                                                                52 S Washington Ave, Bergenfield, NJ 07621

                                                                                1. re: TongoRad

                                                                                  I recently tried Crazy Burrito on Plainfield Ave. in Edison. It was me and about a dozen Mexican males eating there, jukebox had all Mexican music, TV had Mexican channel on. Tacos were what I'd imagine to be authentic. Chips and salsa were good too. I hear the steak burrito is awesome also. I will try that next. I will not, however, be dancing to the music anytime soon.

                                                                                  Crazy Burrito
                                                                                  238 Plainfield Ave, Edison, NJ 08817

                                                                                  1. re: jethro

                                                                                    You can also try Tequila Sunrise in Verona, NJ. Owner used to own Laughing Burrito in Caldwell, NJ. Good food, good prices, friendly staff. You can taste the freshness.

                                                                                    Laughing Burrito
                                                                                    392 Bloomfield Ave, Caldwell, NJ 07006

                                                                                    1. re: jethro

                                                                                      maybe a few more margaritas next time??

                                                                                      1. re: jethro

                                                                                        I've been there a few times and their burritos are good! It can be somewhat intimidating for someone who is not of Mexican origins though.

                                                                                        1. re: jethro

                                                                                          Where is it on plainfield ave? I am intrgued and I would like to check it out.

                                                                                          1. re: jester99

                                                                                            Best Landmark would be next to the burger king, across from tasty subs.

                                                                                            It's the corner store.

                                                                                            1. re: coldsolderjoint

                                                                                              That's my go-to place, although I've been testing various ones in New Brunswick lately. I've never had bad food there.

                                                                                              1. re: chuck98

                                                                                                correction - I ordered a taco and it wasn't very good. dry and wrapped in two soft tortillas (?), I was disappointed. This surprised me because the quality and (as far as I can tell) authenticity are usually very good. The chiles rellenos en salsa verde are great, also lots of interesting platters.

                                                                                                1. re: chuck98

                                                                                                  Tacos are normally wrapped in two soft (corn) tortillas...it's usually a sign of authenticity.

                                                                                    2. Another vote for Los Tapatios in West Orange -- the restaurant side, not the bar side.

                                                                                      Los Tapatios Restaurant & Bar
                                                                                      10 Main St West, Orange, NJ

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Disneyfreak

                                                                                        I went back to Los Tapatios recently -- the first time in quite a while -- and I was not totally thrilled with it. They used to give complementary cheese quesadilas -- this time we didn't receive any. Perhaps they stopped due to financial constraints?

                                                                                        I ordered a couple of tacos and they were just okay. The steak was dry, as was the chicken. The chorizo was good as was the one other I had. I can't remember if it was barbacoa or something else, but it was nice and flavorful. Also, they used to use corn tortillas - these were flour. I like the corn flavor.

                                                                                        My kid had the steak quesadilla -- which I tasted -- I thought it was better than my taco. She also had black bean soup which was really good.

                                                                                        The complimentary chips and salsa was good too. Crispy fresh and not greasy chips -- and the salsa had a nice bite to it.

                                                                                        Los Tapatios Restaurant & Bar
                                                                                        10 Main St West, Orange, NJ

                                                                                      2. I tried this at the Montclair Farmer's Market last autumn and it was awesome...http://www.nj.com/entertainment/index... The food truck is in Newark during the work week....check it out.

                                                                                        1. Here's another link to the taco truck in Newark.....http://www.nj.com/entertainment/dinin...

                                                                                          The taco truck
                                                                                          62 Newark St, Hoboken, NJ 07030

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: maryanne06

                                                                                            Taqueria Auntentica is the name of the truck which now has its own restaurant in Bloomfield on Broad Street.

                                                                                            1. re: Sdenred

                                                                                              Ditto...plus 1 for Selenita...not fine dining, but quality, very good, Mexican food...


                                                                                            2. I'm fond of Mi Pequeno Mexico in Newark.

                                                                                              1. In the Trenton Farmers' Market, there is a friendly little Mexi-Grocery. On Saturdays, they have tamales - generally pork, chicken or beef with red or green sauce. They're fantastic.

                                                                                                Also, I second a previous poster's recommendation of Restaurante El Mariachi in Trenton. They're great, friendly and have horchata. :-) It's technically Guatemalan food, but the carne asada tacos are the closest to So Cal that I've found around this neck of the woods.

                                                                                                El Mariachi Restaurant
                                                                                                318 Smith St, Perth Amboy, NJ 08861

                                                                                                1. Nealtican Restaurant
                                                                                                  124 Chestnut Street, Roselle Park

                                                                                                  I've been going there for a few years. Best Mexican in Union Country. I haven't tried the entrees but the tacos, burritos, tortas, quesadilla are all really good. I lived in San Diego for a few years and have a very specific version of what I find Mexican which is not Taco Bell or Beana's (Beana's I find to be totally gross and have no idea how it's been there so long) It's take out, has a small counter for eat in and the staff mostly speaks Spanish but it's a great place to give a shot to.

                                                                                                  1. Stay away from El Mason in Freehold- Commercial food at rediculous prices...3 tacos for $14.99?? Much rather go to North of the Border in Red Bank...3 for $6.00 and much better quality!! Yuck!!

                                                                                                    North of the Border
                                                                                                    176 Monmouth St, Red Bank, NJ 07701

                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: sockster

                                                                                                      I couldn't agree more.Dined there twice on a recommendation of a friend as well as CH and was disappointing both times. Muddy tasting mole,watery salsas,industrial tasting cheese,TAM jalapenos,and the injustice of having to wait for a table?. At least North of the Border makes no pretense of their chain status and serves better salsas.

                                                                                                      North of the Border
                                                                                                      176 Monmouth St, Red Bank, NJ 07701

                                                                                                      1. re: Duppie

                                                                                                        And you'll never, ever have to wait for a table at North of the Border!

                                                                                                        1. re: Duppie

                                                                                                          Chain status? I don't think North of the Border in Red Bank is part of a chain.

                                                                                                          North of the Border
                                                                                                          176 Monmouth St, Red Bank, NJ 07701

                                                                                                          1. re: fershore

                                                                                                            I think he's thinking of On The Border.

                                                                                                            If only North of the Border's food was available in more locations!

                                                                                                            1. re: seal

                                                                                                              Forgive me. I was thinking of On the Border. Now please tell me about North of the border, any good?

                                                                                                              1. re: Duppie

                                                                                                                Just read all of the comments here on CH- It's fantastic!

                                                                                                                1. re: sockster

                                                                                                                  Now you're just messing with me.

                                                                                                                2. re: Duppie

                                                                                                                  We used to go to On the Border as we aren't too familiar with the West Paterson area and wanted something easy. By far the best stuff there is when they have the Hatch Chili specials. Wonderful queso fundido with tons of Hatch Chilis in it, also soup and enchiladas with them.

                                                                                                                  1. re: rakh

                                                                                                                    I was just going to as if anyone knew of a "New Mexican" ( As in our 48th state)style restaurant, featuring New Mexican Hatch style chiles, red grean or Christmas (both).
                                                                                                                    The emphasis is on the chile, not sauces. I know one in S. Hadley, Ma, but was wondering if one exists in the Garden State.

                                                                                                                    Garden State Restaurant
                                                                                                                    287 Central Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07307

                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                      That would be wonderful and might be worth a new thread for greater exposure.

                                                                                                                      I've noticed that NJ has a hard time supporting hyper-focused restaurants like a New Mexican restaurant might be. Which is a shame.

                                                                                                        2. I'm su8porting a local find On the boulevard in Seaside Hights
                                                                                                          La Casa Del Sol excellent food at great prices
                                                                                                          A real Mexican grocery w a grill attached BYOB and really good

                                                                                                          Casa Del Sol
                                                                                                          115 Broadway, Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677

                                                                                                          1. The most authentic Mexican food around is La Esperanza in Voorhees. Most of the patrons are Mexican. Food is excellent!

                                                                                                            La Esperanza Restaurant
                                                                                                            119 Roseville Ave, Newark, NJ 07107

                                                                                                            1. write this one off....

                                                                                                              previous visits were very good, but after Friday night, they're off our list.

                                                                                                              I must say, the shredded pork was good (has it has been in the past), but the chicken tacos were tasteless and the refried beans were an embarrassment. they had the consistency of baby food with a faint hint of dishwater. The prices are high for Mexican food - fortunately, we had a $10 coupon from the Entertainment book, but we still got a raw deal.

                                                                                                              Carlos O'connor Mexican Restaurant
                                                                                                              31 Monmouth St, Red Bank, NJ 07701

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: nick28

                                                                                                                The title of this thread is "Real Mexican Food In New Jersey." Not sure if even fans of Carlos O'connor would expect this establishment be discussed here...

                                                                                                                1. re: equal_Mark


                                                                                                                  not sure why you'd say that - isn't just as important to know where they're NOT serving "Real Mexican Food"?

                                                                                                              2. Mexican Mariachi Grill. 1505 Parkway Ave, Ewing, NJ. This is the real deal and what you've been craving. Everything is good and reasonably priced. BYOB with a liquer store a few doors down.

                                                                                                                Our favorites include steak tacos, fish tacos and chorizo quesadilla. Their desserts are off the hook! Tres Leches, flan, and choco-flan.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: jkling17

                                                                                                                  +1 on Mexican Mariachi Grill. It's really solid - the guacamole is delicious, nice job on the carne asada, and the tres leches is to die for. Only complaint is that the flour tortillas seem to be the garden variety preservative-laden ones you find all over the northeast, but that's not their fault. Highly recommended.

                                                                                                                2. The Taco Truck in Newark is okay, a little price not so authentic.
                                                                                                                  Grill Poblano
                                                                                                                  47 Park avenue
                                                                                                                  Rutherford, NJ
                                                                                                                  They serve burritos, platters, and quesadillas. They also serve beef tongue (tender & awesome)

                                                                                                                  You can get cemitas in Passaic. NJ has plenty of real Mexican places if you are willing to search

                                                                                                                  1. Slamming. Absolutely slamming. Went here for lunch on a whim when taking our daughter back from ballet class a few blocks away in Lambertville. It's Mexican food with many Peruvian specialties on the menu.

                                                                                                                    We had a sizable peruvian pork tamale, one each of a carnitas, carne asada and house-made chorizo tacos - all of which were served on freshly made corn tortillas. Also, a salad that featured half an avocado filled with a spicy chicken sala cozied up to a nest of greens drizzled with a cilantro dressing, topped off by a grilled shrimp.

                                                                                                                    The freshness of the ingredients and authenticity of preparation were first rate. It's not taqueria-style fare - it's a notch up from that, which is not always a plus in my book. But what they're doing here is lovely, and it's obvious from our chat with the waitress that they care about what they're doing at this restaurant. If it's open, the outdoor seating with heaters looks most pleasant. This place is HIGHLY recommended - and this is from a San Diego-bred taqueria snob.

                                                                                                                    El Tule
                                                                                                                    49 N Main St, Lambertville, NJ 08530

                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: pianoboy

                                                                                                                      I should remark (because the restaurant link at the bottom is so small, and I wrote an unclear post...) that the above review is in reference to El Tule in Lambertville.

                                                                                                                      1. re: pianoboy

                                                                                                                        This place is getting such great reviews - I can't wait to try it.

                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                          It's really worth checking out, flourgirl. They're doing it right.

                                                                                                                          1. re: pianoboy

                                                                                                                            Well, we checked out El Tule tonight - and it was absolutely horrendous. I posted a fairly lengthy review on the thread specific to this restaurant, but suffice to say, we are never going back there again. It was that bad.

                                                                                                                      2. Went to this little Mexican place in South River on Main St cam Tempito(sp?) right next to the Bravo supermarket. Had some tacos there and a torta. Had the al pastor (ehh), lengua and carnitas, chorizo was good. Double wrapped, lightly dressed, overall pretty good.

                                                                                                                        They also had posole and menudo but i didnt try it, gotta try it again. Also, telemundo was playing on the TV which is generally a good sign.

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: jester99

                                                                                                                          I'm in New Mexico now, but when we return to vist family, we hit Tempito too. Authentic and cheap. The menudo is very good as well as the posole.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                            I went back there, the name is spelled El Tapatio, i think the posole is a weekend only thing

                                                                                                                        2. Try LaCostenita in Hillsborough -
                                                                                                                          As a transplanted New Yorker I struggled for ages to find any decent Mexican in NJ until - La Costenita.
                                                                                                                          It's really a tiny place, not a lot of atmospherics etc- but the food is totally authentic. I work close by & eat there all the time, trying something new & not yet being disappointed.
                                                                                                                          Their mole sauce is absolutely incredible! I have it with the chicken enchiladas at least 1x week.

                                                                                                                          1. OK...so it's not near Morristown, and not actually in NJ for that matter...but about 3 minutes over the border of Mahwah NJ (Bergen County), in Suffern (Rockland County, NY)...is two Mexican restaurants...

                                                                                                                            Hacienda de Don Manuel...no frills, not fine dining by any means...but quality, authentic Mexican food...well prepared and executed. Extensive menu, very good food, guacomole made fresh tableside...

                                                                                                                            Tequila Sal Y Limon...small, almost cozy kind of place, right down the block...more ambiance, more environment...better place for a "nice date" kind of thing. Also, quality, authentic, good Mexican food.

                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: ELA

                                                                                                                              Agreed. I really love the ceviche at Hacienda de Don Manuel.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Sdenred

                                                                                                                                I like the place. No-frills, not fancy, but very good Mexican food. They offer a lot of "authentic" dishes that most places don't offer, so I enjoy that. Sure, you can get your standard fare there, fajitas, tacos, etc.---but like you I like the ceviche, and I look for fresh guacamole, dishes like coctel de camaron, different tortas, and so on.

                                                                                                                                If I am looking for more ambiance, then I'll head down the street to Tequila Sal Y Limon.

                                                                                                                                1. re: ELA

                                                                                                                                  have u tried their new place in new city?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: smilingal

                                                                                                                                    Which one? Not sure what place you are talking about. I was told Hacienda has another location in Goshen, and was told it was very nice.

                                                                                                                                    I know TSyL has other locations -- one in Piermont -- but I've never been.

                                                                                                                                    Which place in New City? Thanks.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: smilingal

                                                                                                                                        No, I have not. Didn't even know about it. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                        As I said, I knew about another location or locations -- Piermont specifically -- but I wasn't aware of the details.

                                                                                                                                        Thanks again for the heads up.

                                                                                                                            2. Being there was a long wait at a favorite place, we went down the street to Taqueria La Juquilita on the main street in Pompton Lakes. A bit strange is that there is a selection of Italian dishes on the menu. However we stuck with the Mexican entrees. Chips were served with some salsa and pico de gallo. We ordered tacos and enchilada and were surprised when were served a mixed green salad. The taco selection included outstanding carne asada, al pastor, tongue, and sausage varieties. I will be back!

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: Sdenred

                                                                                                                                I like TLJ...not my favorite and to me it's more hit or miss depending on what you get. It is a bit of an "odd" place based upon the menu and some of their offerings -- last time I was there, they had Italian dishes on the menu! LOL. I haven't been there in a while, because I like Selenita's (right down the street) much better (just my tastes, likes, dislikes, etc.). Anyway, at TLJ, some of their stuff seems like it was bought in the supermarket. Their salsa was sub-par (supermarket type) and their chips seemed like they were sitting around out of the bag for a while -- the bag being bought at the supermarket. Their guacamole is average at best IMO.

                                                                                                                                They do have good sized portions...and some of the entrees are good -- good tastes, flavors, etc.

                                                                                                                                If you are in PL...try Selenita's...right down the road. Not sure if you know the place. Small place, good service, authentic menu -- but the food is very good! A lot of flavor, tastes, etc. Nothing fancy about the place at all. I've been wanting to go back for a while now. LOL.

                                                                                                                              2. just wondering - is the Tex-Mex place still open in Boonton. I think it was called Joes's. The owner was stationed in San Diego in the US Navy, liked the cuisine and learned how to make it there. I still remember the pulled pork burrito...

                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: nick28

                                                                                                                                  Do you mean Chili Willie's? They do have a pulled pork burrito. I haven't been there in a little while, but they are still open.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: njkori

                                                                                                                                    sounds right - it's been a looong while....