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Mar 4, 2010 06:02 AM

Is Trenton a capital disappointment ?

I was assigned the seemingly impossible task of finding a restaurant located in Trenton (not outside but literally within the city limits) for a birthday dinner and was told it should not be Italian and not a typical grill or pub-type place. It doesn't have to be fancy but it should be sit-down with decent service. All I have come up with is Malaga so far. Is there ANYWHERE else that might fit the criteria, or have I more-or-less been sent on a wild goose chase?


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  1. You can't go 15 minutes away to Lambertville? Lots of good places there...

    1 Reply
    1. re: menton1

      Or 10 minutes to Oliver-A Bistro or Under the Moon in Bordentown. -mJ

    2. As soon as I saw this, Malaga was my first thought. Too funny! A wild goose chase may indeed be in place.

      Another restaurant however I would suggest is The Blue Danube: they are nice people, with nice Eastern European cuisine if that fits the bill. Nice Hungarian dishes, Czech, etc.

      If you want good Mexican, and not interested in ambiance, check out Tortuga's. The food is good, service is fast, and their margarita's are good. I am not sure I would take a lot of people here or have a special event here, but the food is good.

      My other suggestion, although kind of Italian would be Lorenzo's, across the street from the train station. Good steaks, but a bit expensive in my opinion.

      Other than that, you might be hard pressed to find something to suit your needs. I think out of the ones listed, Blue Danube might be the best bet, along with Malaga's.

      In my opinion, the Trenton treasures include Delorenzo's on Hudson Street, as well as Rossi's Tavern, but those are the grill/pub type places. Rossi's does however have a dining room separate from the bar, and their steaks and chops are as good as their NJ Famous burgers in my opinion. Food for thought! -mJ

      8 Replies
      1. re: njfoodies

        Back in September I read that Lorenzo's had closed. Then in October I read that it had reopened, but only for a few days a week.

        What is the current status?

        1. re: ambrose

          There were people standing in front of it on Wednesday when I drove by, and the sign was lit up, but I do not know for sure... -mJ

        2. re: njfoodies

          I must note that Tortuga's is not Tortuga's anymore... has not been for several years. It is now Las Fronteras, and the food is neither good, nor authentic.

          1. re: sadiefox

            You are correct about the name. As for it being authentic, for this area, it is about as close as you are going to come. Their fresh tamales, when they have them, are every bit as good as the tamales we used to get from south of the border when I was stationed down in Texas, made by an 85 year old Mexican great grandmother. They were so good!.

            As for it not being it not being good, compared to just about every Mexican restaurant around here, I think it is above average. A few exceptions being Tortuga's in Lambertville, which I don't think is authentic, El Meson in Freehold, and the Tortilla Press in Collingswood, which I am not super crazy about.

            Curious to hear who you think has the best authentic Mexican around here. -mJ

            1. re: njfoodies

              mJ, last time I ate at Las Fronteras, which was about 3 years ago, the food was absolutely flavorless, topped with tons of melted cheese and grease, and the service was awful. So bad, we felt like we were working for them.

              Saying "authentic Mexican" anyway is like saying "authentic Italian." Mexican cuisine is so varied by region and most Americans are used to generally Sonoran-style food, I think. I haven't tried El Meson yet, though my SIL moved to Freehold recently so we'll have to try it. Having lived in Arizona, and traveled in Mexico, I don't claim to be an expert but I'm extremely picky about my Mexican food, so...

              I have had some amazing tacos and burritos from this little hole-in-the-wall place on Main Street in Lambertville called Tacos Cancun. Now that place is authentic. It's basically a bodega with a take-out counter, with a couple of stools if you want to eat in. All the food is freshly made and delicious, they also have a good selection of tortas (sandwiches) with authentic fillings like breaded steak, hot dogs, and beans (on the same sandwich). Tacos carnitas, al pastor, suadero (fatty beef) etc, served on little corn tortillas with fresh pepper sauce, lime and radish. Also they have atole here, a thick hot corn drink that is hard to find around these here parts. You'd think you were in Mexico City.

              I also really like Taqueria el Mariachi on S. Olden in Trenton. Maybe more Guatemalan here. Although their pupusas are too greasy for me, I have enjoyed everything else, their fresh salsas are amazing (they plunk down an assortment of 2-3 salsas as soon as you sit), tacos generously sized and cheap! Yes, the tongue (lengua) is delicious! Platters and soups are amazing! Their meats are pounded thin and perfectly cooked.

              Another one I like is Mi Tierra II on S. Broad St. I think their pupusas are the best I've had in the city. They have a huge menu of Mexican and Guatemalan dishes. They have sopes here which can be hard to find -- cornmeal cakes topped with meat, beans, lettuce, tomato, crema and crumbled cheese. Oh and they put pickled hot peppers and veggies on the table -- similar to gardeniera but HOT! They also sell authentic Mexican breads.

              Hope that helps :)

              1. re: sadiefox

                Sorry to hear that about Las Fronteras. We usually sit at the bar, and have always had great service, but maybe it's just because the margaritas are always good, always flowing, and glasses always full!

                I think I have seen Tacos Cancun, but never been there. I have to go to the bike shop in Lambertville this week, so I will try to get some take out there one night. I'll ask the owner of the bike shop if he's been there, as I am sure he has. He is the one who turned me on to Tortuga's in Lambertville.

                I'll also check out your other recs in Trenton! Maybe hit one of them one night this week! Thanks for the recs! I can say that I am not a huge lengua fan, however, I do know good carnitas when I have them. I look forward to checking them out! Cheers! -mJ

                1. re: njfoodies

                  Well, that's good to hear you say that you LIKE Las Fronteras, maybe we were just there on an off-night and it could be given another chance. It was quite some time ago, it was just so bad that we vowed never to go back :)

                  I probably should add that my recs above are total holes in the wall and BYOB's. Don't bring anything too fancy and I hope you don't mind flourescent lighting.

                  1. re: sadiefox

                    Some of the best authentic food I have had has been at holes in the wall. Growing up in Chicago, some of the best restaurants in Chinatown were absolute down and dirty dumps. I don't mind this in the least so long as the food is good, and I am not disgusted by the filth of a place.

                    BYO is a bonus, and as I have said before we are always looking for BYO's! As for bringing something fancy, well, I can't promise that as we enjoy our vino! Sounds like a good reason to break out some good Spanish wines from the cellar!

                    Thanks again for the recs! Cheers! -mJ

        3. If you absolutely have to stay inside the city limits, you might want to check out the restaurant in the Marriot Hotel on Lafayette Street in downtown Trenton. I haven’t eaten there or heard anything about it, one way or another. Please be advised that it might not be the safest place after dark.

          The only other two places that I can think of are Rat’s which is in nearby Hamilton Township and KC Prime Restaurant Steakhouse which is on Quakerbridge Road
          in Lawrenceville.

          4 Replies
          1. re: TomDel

            Couldn't agree more on Rat's, and again, about a 10 minute drive down the road. -mJ

            1. re: TomDel

              The Marriot was going to be my suggestion as well. I've been for lunch a buch of times, but never for dinner. The food is fine for what it is, the service usually very slow. There should be no safety concerns. There is an attached parking garage.

              1. re: jsfein

                jsfein is correct, if you stay within the hotel you should have no problems, just don’t decide to take a walk around the downtown area.

                1. re: TomDel

                  But who doesn't want to walk around downtown Trenton and see our lovely capitol, which is also a foodie's dream? LOL! -mJ

            2. Directly across the Trenton Makes Bridge in Morrisville is Concerto. Sushi and fusion cuisine. A little overpriced, but tasty, and good cocktails. Fun atmosphere.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sadiefox

                Good recco. Been there a few times, and still love one of their shrimp birds nest appetizer things. Their wine prices aren't outrageous either on their bottles. Would probably eat there a lot more if they were BYO. Instead, we go to Fusion and Fusion II since they are BYO. -mJ

              2. If you are looking for restaurants in Trenton proper, You should try Settimo Cielo on E. Front Street. It is a solid Italian restaurant.