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Mar 8, 2012 01:55 PM

Chipotle coming to East Brunswick

On Rt. 18 South, In front of the new strip mall featuring the likes of Five Below and Pier 1 Imports, is a block of about 3 stores. The one on the right end will be Chipotle. I'm hoping one of the other ones will be something we don't already have in this area.

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  1. East Brunswick is a vast wasteland of chain restaurants. Unfortunately ,Chipotle. will not fix this problem.

    13 Replies
    1. re: BigGeorge

      The folks down at Baja Fresh must be in a panic by now.

      1. re: BigGeorge

        George, as I read the top post 'citing' Chipotle coming to EB , I could only think of what you wrote in your first sentence. Driving that section of Rte 18 (If I have to is pure HELL). Trying to find a decent dining spot along same roadway is the same - pure HELL.

        1. re: JustJake

          The only place along Route 18 I like is the Korean restaurant in the Goodwill shopping center. I don't know how good the food is on an absolute scale, but it's the only Korean restaurant near me, and I always order the same sort of thing anyway (Soon Du Bu Jigae or something similar).

          1. re: eleeper

            For some non-chain options: the japanese buffet near the Goodwill is ok. I haven't been to the Phil-Am around the corner because I had a crummy meal at the Easton Ave Phil-Am and there's a better Filipino place nearer to me. I wanted to check out Caliente but they either closed or went dinner-only last time I stopped by. Mr. Pizza and Georgian food in the Loehman's plaza allegedly has a Georgian menu, but I didn't know to ask for it and missed out. Some bagel place on the southbound side has Cuban sandwiches, don't remember who. Maybe the one next to Orchid? Sunny Palace has weekend dim sum. East Brunswick Fish Market has seafood lunch specials. There's a standard chinese buffet in the Midstate Mall.

          2. re: JustJake

            Pollo Tropical is my go to spot when in the area.

            1. re: jsfein

              I drive that stretch often. In fact, drove it this morning, to North Brunswick and back. I LOVE Pollo Tropical. Had dinner there the other night. The wife suggested it.. who was I to refuse? (oh, it was either Pollo Tropical, Olive Garden, or Red Lobster).

              I love their Yuca dipped in the cilantro garlic sauce they have. Love the riblets, the roasted chicken, and the mojo pork. And the mango iced tea. If Pollo Tropical is fast food, then it's far and away my favorite fast food joint.

              Only problem was trying to get my daughter a frozen yogurt. The yogurt wasn't freezing, so the manager subbed a tres leches cake. Daughter AND Daddy both happy.

              I noticed, in the aforementioned strip mall that sits behind Chipotle, there is also a "Muscle Maker Grill" going in. Yup, another chain.

              1. re: MarlboroMan

                East Brunswick was a wasteland for food when I was growing up there...and sadly it still seems to be. All I remember are chain restaurants as discussed by previous posters. When I was a kid Stuff Yer Face and Red Lobster were the big treats...sigh...the only actual good food I remember was from a place called European Provisions in South River...such great sandwiches!!
                I have a family member still living in E.B. and I'm sure he'll be excited about Chipotle...he's already a fan of Baja, and I understand Chipotle is better?

                1. re: lovessushi

                  EB is a disappointment with regards to restaurants (and Rt 18 traffic), however the original baja fish taco's are the best. Chipotle is fine for Burrito's, but try a fish taco for something really nice.

                  Moe's is an even better chain place for Burrito's, located a few miles away on Rt 1 in North Brunswick.

                  1. re: jracpa

                    ut oh.. you mentioned moes.. everyone here hates that place..

                    anyways.. there is also one in somerset now off of easton, and they have a mini carvel station inside too.. get some ice cream and burritos!!

                    and since my reputation precedes me here.. the new Dorito taco from taco bell isn't very awesome in my opinion, might be better if they just made "double" nachos with regular Doritos.

                    1. re: coldsolderjoint

                      +1 for Moe's. We have them up here and I have to say, it's the only chain restaurant I'll eat at. Seemingly fresh, can be healthy, love that they have a tofu option, and it's inexpensive! Good for a quick healthy meal on the run (sometimes anyway)

                2. re: MarlboroMan

                  Pollo Tropical was better when they had ribs rather than riblets.

                  We go to Pollo Tropical and Baja Fresh, but neither is (IMHO) authentic ethnic cuisine. At Baja Fresh, I get the Skinny Chicken Bowl, but with the rice on the side. (With the rice in it, there are way too many carbs for me.)

                  1. re: eleeper

                    I am really bummed. Drove by Pollo Tropical in East Brunswick last night. Gone! All signage removed. I was just there about 10 days ago.. all appeared to be fine.

                    Unfortunately, this is NOT a delayed April Fool's joke.. unless it's THEIR idea of one.

                    *Edited to add* It appears ALL of their NJ locations closed overnight. Closest location now appears to be Georgia.

                    1. re: MarlboroMan

                      There's some corporate turmoil going on for Pollo Tropical -- e.g. see

                      They may be collateral damage.

          3. I agree that there is a dearth of decent restaurants in East Brunswick. However, Bone Fish Grill is good, and there are a few local pizza/Italian places. Franco's isn't bad, and Alfonso's (near Stop & Shop) is usually reliable (their back room). There's also Blue Water Seafood (I think) on Rte. 18 across from the Brunswick Square Mall. Other than some Chinese restaurants that are ok, and Thai Chili (which I think is actually closer to Spotswood on Summerhill Road), nothing inspires. Its' a shame. I thought there was supposed to be a Panera Bread coming in somewhere near or in the Mall???

            16 Replies
            1. re: foodieiam

              Sunny Palace on Route 18 is very good dim sum.

              Went to Blue Water Seafood once. Wasn't impressed.

              1. re: ieee488

                Blue Water Sf used to be bad, but it seems to have improved the last two times I was there. Still noisy though.
                Here's another --- - new Asian restaurant next to the new Stop & Shop. It's really very good - gracious service and actually pretty and peaceful inside despite the strip mall location --- recommend highly -- they have chinese, some japanese, and I think some Indian-inspired dishes.

                1. re: foodieiam

                  Yes, Panera bread is coming to Brunswick Square Mall.
                  Speaking about North Brunwick, Chipolte's, Panera and Five Guys are already there.

                  1. re: foodieiam

                    Orchid was decent. They seemed to be aiming for well-executed asian fusion, and the one time I went I the food was pretty good. I would have preferred some more unusual menu options, though.

                  2. re: ieee488

                    Agreed - Sunny P has good dim sum, otherwise not reliable.

                    1. re: foodieiam

                      I am a big fan of Sunny Palace's dim sum where they bus chefs in from New York on a Friday to prepare for the weekend. However after several attempts we gave up years ago trying to find anything else that isn't dull,tasteless and overpriced for what it is.I believe once we actually had a decent steamed flounder with ginger and scallions but sadly that was an anomaly. The Irony is they actually have a decent banquet menu and is a popular venue for wedding receptions,anniversary and birthday celebrations among the Asian population.

                  3. re: foodieiam

                    It's ironic that there is such a dearth of restaurants when there is one of the few Asian supermarkets for the area on the road.

                    1. re: eleeper

                      You make an excellent point,Hong Kong supermarket is a great resource but unlike H Mart in Edison who made sure to not only have a food court that offers authentic Korean fast food but lined up Picnic garden and Soft tofu restaurants leases before laying a one brick, while HK only has the buffett,the little bakery and the Japanese place.
                      I can only hope that they recognize the large Asian population surge and perhaps lure some better food service into the underutilized adjacent property.Our own Golden Mall if you will.

                      1. re: Duppie

                        Drove by Chipotle in East Brunswick today. Like I said, 3 stores. Middle one is going to be "Cups" which I assume is a coffee joint. Store on the left had their signage up. "Sarku Japan - Teriyaki and Sushi Express". Sorry, folks, another chain. Food for the masses. :)


                        1. re: MarlboroMan

                          I went to Chipotle on their 2nd day of operation. The dining room is tiny, and the self serve root beer was tapped out. I told the girl at the counter, but nobody took care of it so I had to drink Mr. Pibb. Baja Fresh fills me up more. I usually get an order of steak fajitas at BF, and I would need at least nine Chipotle steak tacos to feel as satisfied.

                          1. re: MarlboroMan

                            Oh, and Cups is a frozen yogurt chain.

                            1. re: ebchower

                              The frozen yogurt places are becoming as prolific as Italian restaurants around here.

                              What I'd like to see: A frozen yogurt with a high fat content; made with whole milk yogurt. I doubt I'll ever see it.. everyone is hung up on the absurdity of "low fat." Or even worse, "no fat."

                              I guess because yogurt is esteemed as a healthy food, while ice cream is viewed as an indulgence.

                              1. re: MarlboroMan

                                I had never heard of them before. It's a fledgling chain with only four locations, all in NJ. EB is one of six coming soon. None of the flavors look appealing to me except chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.

                                1. re: ebchower

                                  They are now having their grand opening week. Stopped in to try it. It's all self serve dispensers with a single sized cup, then onto the toppings bar. Cost is by weight. It's indistinguishable from Kravings in Red Bank. They were crowded, but Magnificos across the street didn't seem to be hurting.

                                  1. re: ebchower

                                    That pretty much describes most of the frozen yogurt places around here. They advertise "Only 49 cents" per ounce, but that adds up mighty fast. One of the first times we got yogurt at one of these places (Let's Yo in Marlboro), I had sticker shock.. $20.00 for 3 of us. So, there's Let's Yo, Cups, Kravings, Crave (Shoppes at Old Bridge). Sounds like all have the same concept.

                                    On a semi-related note, I stopped in at Sarku today (adjacent to cups). This is Japanese fast food, so to speak. I nearly laughed out loud at the cashier's obviously fake eyelashes.. just so over the top! The only difference between this store and a mall food court operation is that the sushi here is made to order, and not premade and displayed in a refrigerated case. Not that it matters much. I ordered one thing.. a spicy tuna roll to go. It was made by a guy that looked like he was maybe 16 years old. The roll was sloppily constructed. It was okay, but I detected very little spice. Would I go back? Nope.. and in a food court, there'd be better choices as well.

                                    So the obvious winner of the trio is Chipotle, IMHO.

                                    1. re: MarlboroMan

                                      Probably no accident that the first topping you encounter is the strawberries. They are dense and you're likely to scoop up a bunch of them before deciding not to get carried away with toppings.

                                      I think those units would have been better served having their entrances facing the Five Below instead of the street. They would be better accessible from the parking lot and the other stores. But perhaps it's more inviting for cars driving by to decide to stop in the way they have it.

                    2. Smash Burger will open here as well according to a May article in the East Brunswick patch. No word on when, but it states that they will occupy an end unit.

                      1. Chipotle definitely has a good burrito for the price.