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Amazing Peruvian in Lambertville

I had a truly amazing Peruvian meal at El Tule in Lambertville, NJ this weekend. http://www.eltulerestaurant.com/. The ceviche sampler contained three ceviches that could have come from the best cevicheria in Lima. Fresh, creamy, with interesting blends of flavors. I loved the aromatic parihuela (fish) soup with pieces of lobster, crab, muscles, and fish. We also ordered the rice pudding and tres leches cake. The cake was the best rendition of tres leches I've ever tried. The service by Jack and his Peruvian family was gracious and attentive. I'd highly recommend this gem! (They also serve Mexican food, but we ordered off the Peruvian menu.)

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  1. Yes, this restaurant is great. It is BYOB. I have no measure to compare Peruvian food to but everything i have had there is delicious. The ceviches are excellent. The causa de pollo (potato cake stuff with chicken salad) was very good. The chicken in yellow vinegar sauce is really good too.

    Their Mexican food is very good too -- I really like their tortas. But since they have begun offering the Peruvian menu regularly, I can't resist it!

    The family that runs the place is super nice and welcoming. Service can be a little slow -- it takes a while for the food to come to the table. So it's not a quick meal. But everything is carefully prepared so who cares. The atmosphere is casual but cute. And sometimes they offer complimentary pisco sours.

    1. Thanks to the reviews above, I went to El Tule for the first time last night -- we had an excellent meal and cannot wait to return!

      From the peruvian menu, we had the ceviche lemono and a version of the causa de pollo which substituted octopus for the chicken (it was a special of the night). Both were delicious. The causa had this very tasty olive sauce. From the mexican menu, we had the guacamole (very good!) and carne asada tacos and spicy chicken tacos, which were on homemade soft corn tortillas and a side of black beans and rice.

      The owners and the staff were very friendly, helpful, gracious and more than willing to make a recommendation from the menu. Everything was just delicious and full of flavor. We will definitely be frequenting El Tule. Can't wait for the spring and summer, as they have a patio in the back and we can enjoy our meals outside.

      1. My family and I went there on Saturday night and really enjoyed the Peruvian menu. The place was full and we had to wait about 10 minutes for our 6:45 reservation; by the time we left there were one or two empty tables, so I'd suggest coming a bit later. The mixed ceviche was awesome, and I loved that it was served with the traditional red onions, sweet potato and big corn kernels. My husband had a delicious lamb dish special and our daughter the chicken escabeche. We will definitely come back--so much more to try!

        1. We had dinner at El Tule this evening and we were really looking forward to it, based on all the great reviews here on CH and several other sites.

          Our meal was horrendous.

          We tried the ceviche sampler, which was pretty good, although the one which contained shrimp and calamari was extremely fishy. My husband had the Parihuela soup, which I tried and thought was pretty tasty. My son had the tres leches cake for dessert, which he enjoyed, although the fried ice cream was much less successful.

          But our entrees? Holy cow, I can't even remember the last time I had such horrible food. My husband ordered the lamb stew, which was so unbelievably gamey, it was really overwhelming. Most of it was left on the plate.

          My son ordered the skirt steak off the mexican menu - the Falda de Res en Rajas Poblanas. It looked great, but he took a bite and told me it had no flavor. I tried to cut a piece to try it and it was so tough I couldn't saw through it with a regular knife. I even had a hard time with the steak knife he handed me. And when I was finally able to try a bite, I discovered that he was absolutely right. It was truly the most flavorless piece of meat I have ever eaten in my entire life. Tasteless AND flabby. Just gross.

          My entree - I ordered the Lomo Saltado Mar y Tierra. Peruvian surf and turf, which consists of shrimp, mussels, calamari and steak with "crispy" potatoes. Well, the seafood was completely overcooked, the steak was tough and the potatoes were limp and soggy.

          This was not an inexpensive meal and I am just really flabbargasted out how bad our meal was, given all the rave reviews. We absolutely will not be going back to this place. Ever.

          2 Replies
          1. re: flourgirl

            Woah, what a shocker! I'm bummed out that you had such an awful meal. Did you let the manager know how bad it was? Send anything back? If there is uneven quality like this, it's most unfortunate to hear. We'll try the restaurant again soon and report back with our results. Thanks for your honest report.

            1. re: pianoboy

              No, we didn't see the point in getting involved with the manager when all three of our entrees were so bad. We just aren't going back. There's no way we're giving that place a 2nd chance after that meal.

          2. El Tule is a hidden gem. Who would have thought that you'd find authentic, creative Peruvian cuisine in Lambertville, NJ? It's just a matter of time before word gets out and El Tule reservations become nearly impossible.

            In the meanwhile, don't miss El Tule's ceviches, which are best enjoyed by ordering the platter of assorted ceviches ($28), which is easily shared by two or four. On a recent evening, the assortment included a traditional lime-based ceviche, a "Chinese" ceviche with Asian spices and wonton noodles and a ceviche with shrimp. We also enjoyed a seafood-stuffed avocado, the causa de pulpo (octopus) and the mixed seafood soup, a sort of Peruvian bouillabaisse.

            Service is friendly and attentive. On a recent Saturday night, the dining area was packed and a bit loud when we arrived for our 7:30 reservation. We were informed that our table was not yet vacated and were invited to sit in the yard, where braziers kept the temperature comfortable and we were given a basket of chips, along with a dish containing three different salsas.

            1. I was wondering if anyone had a more recent experience at El Tule? I went last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, but the place gets torn to shreds on another site. I'm heading back to Lambertville next and was thinking about going back.

              4 Replies
              1. re: bropaul

                I had lunch there recently and have been several times in the past. The food is still delicious and great quality. The cons: service is slow, sometimes awkwardly paced, and it's not cheap (and no lunch specials, otherwise I'd eat there more frequently since I work nearby). I scored a Living Social deal recently ($12 for $30, excluding Friday and Saturday) and will be using that for dinner soon.

                1. re: sadiefox

                  Yes, the complaints are more about the service than the food.

                  1. re: bropaul

                    I saw the comments on the other site. Pretty brutal. Maybe that's why they were offering the Living Social deal? I've never had service THAT BAD there... definitely slow but have always enjoyed the food, which seems carefully prepared... good thing there's a wine store down the street :) Once, my husband had to run and get another bottle!

                2. re: bropaul

                  Just ate there for the first time tonight and absolutely loved it. We lucked out here after striking out at the first three places we tried to get in (Brian's was full, Harrison House was having a private party, Maron was almost empty but not taking any more tables because they had a large party coming in.) We were about to head home in frustration when we saw the sign for El Tule, and wow! I guess our first three strikeouts paid off with a great meal.

                  We shared the wonderful ceviche sampler to start, then I had the parihuela which was loaded with crab in shell and a nice flavorful but light broth. Sweetie had a special of red snapper that was just loaded with fresh crab meat. We also shared the wonderful Tres Leches for dessert.

                  We seemed to luck into arriving there just before the place got packed, and service was just fine. Next time we're in Lambertville we'd absolutely return.

                3. We ate here last night and it was good as ever. Service was very good too. Started with the ceviche sampler, which I have had before, so good. I ordered the red snapper and crabmeat tacu tacu which was amazing. Pan fried red snapper and crab over a rice and bean cake, topped with a delicious red sauce. Hubby had the dish that was like chinese fried rice, but with quinoa. Portions were generous and we were too full for dessert.