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Manhattan & NJ (Bergen County) Restaurant Reviews

Ian Hunter's Guide to Manhattan and Bergen County, NJ's Best Restaurants, Bars, and Gourmet Markets

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MEXICAN/ LATIN AM / SOUTH AMERICAN 
........  Best:  Cucharamama (Hoboken)
 
BERGENFIELD
 
Chapala GrillMexican; Bergenfield; 52 S Washington Av; 23/16/$36; 201-387-2107; Fairly authentic Mexican classics; Gigantic menu consisting of any variety of combos and specialties; Guac and drinks are flavorful and a highlight; Mid-scale in terms of fanciness. Appealing service. Great neighborhood find; Try the fresh fruit margaritas or fish tacos; Full bar;  Rack of Lamb; Incredible enchiladas & Fajitas. 
 
BOGOTA
 
Riviera Maya: Mexican; Bogota; 252 East Fort Lee Rd; 21/15/$26; 201-996-1380; Live Music Thurs and Friday; Authentic cuisine, under the radar local spot; Extremely affordable and surprisingly good; Large portions; BYO – rare for a Mexican place;  Come here when you are craving Mexican and prepare for leftovers; All the standards well prepared.
 
EDGEWATER
 
Rebecca's: Cuban; Edgewater; 236 Old River Rd; 23/20/$47; 201-943-8808; One of the best Cuban restaurants in the county; Addictive food; Incredible quality; BYO helps with the cost; They serve wine only as well; Fun, friendly staff; Secluded backyard for dates;  Smallish- romantic feel. Every Cuban dish you’d expect is on the menu. Try the roast pork; Sort of a Cuban-Caribbean fusion. Charming space. 
 
ENGLEWOOD
 

Blue Moon Mexican CaféMexican; Englewood; 21 E Palisade @ Dean; 24/18/$35; 201-541-0600; Hip, Americanized versions of the Mexican classics; High energy and lively; Upscale Mexican serviced in a laid back environment- almost a club feel; Excellent margaritas; Mouthwatering appetizers including Guacamole; Unique main courses; Just better than the rest.  Englewood location expanded to feature a huge bar area with great drink specials. Happy Hour 4-7pm $3 sangria, beer. 

 

HACKENSACK
 
Casual Habana Café: Cuban; Hackensack; 125 Main Street; 22/17/$32; 201-880-9844; BYOB;   Try the Pork Shank (baby Pernil), Oxtail empanadas; and wildly flavorful steaks;  Prices are very inexpensive and the surroundings surprisingly hip and comfortable; Seafood options include Snapper, various shrimp dishes, Talapia and Cod. 3+ soups to pick from and gracious service. 
Rosa MexicanoMexican; Hackensack; 390 Hackensack Av @ Riverside Sq Mall; 23/20/$46; 201-489-9100; More of an upscale Mexican ‘chain’ which features 3 locations in Manhattan; Known for outstanding Pomegranate Margaritas and homemade guacamole; Gorgeous Mayan décor; Dishes are unique and not your standard Mexican fare; Upscale feel perfect for a date or a great meal after shopping at Bloomingdales. Can be noisy and always crowded. 
 
HOBOKEN
 
Charrito’s: Mexican; Hoboken; 1024 Washington @ 10-11th St; Also, 121 Washington @ 1st-2nd St; 22/17/$28; 201-659-2800;  BYO, family run, and well maintained. Housing the usual fair and numerous varieties of combos and exciting dishes; Insanely good Guacamole, made tableside; Not a huge place but always high energy and extremely reasonable prices.  Small in size. 
 

CucharamamaSouth American; Hoboken; 233 Clinton @ 3rd St; 25/22/$44; 201-420-1700; Epic good quality from celeb chef Maricel Presilla; Dishes are works of art; There is also gorgeous artwork on walls; Outstanding bar and sexy scene;  Huge menu featuring ethnic dishes from all over South America; Beautiful ambiance. Unique dining experience. Eye-opening presentation; A winner & must try. Beware of one thing – service notoriously slow. Cuisines of most South American countries represented.   

 

La IslaCuban; Hoboken; 104 Washington @ 1st-2nd Av; 25/11/$32; 201-659-8197; Voted Best Cuban by NJ Monthly; Extremely authentic; BYO; Sunday Brunch; Very small & non-descript décor; Freshest ingredients; Can eat inexpensively here for breakfast, lunch or for a pressed sandwich; Great experience. Due to quality & price – often line to get in. Casual and worthy take out option. Famous French Toast.

 

Zafra: Pan-Latin; Hoboken; 301 Willow Av @ 3rd St; 23/16/$31; 201-610-9801; Cuban influenced small plates in this BYO hotspot; Tables fill quickly and it is fairly small; Outstanding quality for the genre and a huge selection where you can fully sample the cuisine. Will make Sangria for you with your wine.  Portions are very large for ‘small plates’ & you can order a la carte as well. Brunch on weekends 10-3.  

 

MONTCLAIR

 

CostaneraPeruvian; Montclair; 511 Bloomfield Av @ Park; 24/20/$40; 973-337-8289; Gourmet South American food at last; Wonderful menu that even features a raw bar; Mouthwatering dishes – ideal place for someone not used to experimenting; The Osso Bucco would be my pick; Pan roasted Cod in a spicy seafood sauce; Seafood stew; Hanger Steak;  Grilled fish; Appetizers take the cake though. BYO;  Closed Monday;  Has perfect Raw bar; Get the Costanera Cerviche with Crab & shrimp.

 

Saveur Creole: Haitian; Montclair; 131 Grove St ; 23/20/$40 ; 973-744-3507; Delightful atmosphere; Upscale Caribbean; Closed Monday; Offer cooking classes; BYO;  Menu also features dishes from following cultures – Cajun, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese Creole; Sample as much as possible – start with the Saveur Creole Sampler; Excellent soups; Goat stew; Red Snapper; Tilapia Roule; Conch Creole; Shrimp or Crab Etoufee; Lots to choose from in this large menu. 

 

NEWARK

 

Brasilia RestaurantBrazilian; Newark; 99 Monroe; 21/19/$34; 973-465-1227; All the meat you can eat – servers come around with endless selections; Wonderful rodizio; Huge salad bar as well; Lively atmosphere;  One of the better restaurants in Newark. Ah, did I say all you can eat?  Has a la carte options as well. Try their caipirinha.  Palm trees & colorful décor – if slightly cheesy. $27 for the rodizio/ salad bar.

 

NEW MILFORD

 

Pancho’s BurritosMexican; New Milford; 214 Main @ Prospect; 23/15/$33; 201-225-2554; Happy Hour noon-6 and 9pm-close every day; Huge menu, endless variety; Great guacamole; Many margaritas to choose from; Friendly service; Large, I mean huge portions; Festive, laid back & fun atmosphere. Outdoor seating. Even serve brunch.  Inexpensive and casual.  Amazing drinks. One entrée enough for 3 people.

 

NORTH BERGEN

 

Rumba Cubana: Cuban; North Bergan; 1807 45th St @ Tonnelle; 23/16/$25; 201-854-4000; As traditional as it gets; Dirt cheap prices and the real deal on food; Full bar; Huge, monstrous portions; Mojito is the signature drink; Island décor inside; Outdoor seating available; Lots of fun on weekends; Oxtail on Wednesday; Try a Cuban sampler platter;  Best for lunch or weekday dining for newcomers.

 

SaborNew Latin; North Bergen; 8809 River Rd; 24/21/$41; 201-943-6366; Large menu featuring selections from all over the Caribbean; They serve hot and cold tapas style dishes as well as full hot entrees; Pricy for the genre; Gorgeous setting- festive and polished. Ideal for a date and also solid for a drink. They serve Brunch as well. Seasonal outdoor seating; DJ & dancing after 11pm weekends;  Full bar. Guac, Pork Shank, Skirt Steak.  Dancing on weekends later in night. Try Tapas Thursdays. Newly renovated.

 PATERSON
 
La Hacienda: Mexican; Paterson; 102 McLean Blvd; 24/18/$36; 973-345-1255; Enjoy Margaritas & Mexican Beer; The combo appetizer includes quesadilla, grilled shrimp, empanadas, calamari and wings; Nachos outstanding; Dinner combos are huge and tasty; Basically a typical Mexican menu and very affordable pricing; Great seafood soup and grilled items.
 

RUTHERFORD

 
Sabor Peru: Peruvian; Rutherford; 8 Highland Cross @ Park; 23/15/$35;Locals rave about how authentic the cooking is; Hidden gem for sure; Closed Monday, Tuesday; Try one of these: numerous ceviches, seafood medley salad, one of a dozen home-made soups, or a Peruvian stir-fry which are made to order and delicious. Also have cheapo lunch specials; Noodle dishes.  
 
UNION CITY
 

Mi Bandera: Cuban; Union City; 518 32nd St; 23/21/$30; 201-348-2828; Generous portions of flavorful fare; Located above a supermarket; 20 years in business; Very solid service;  Amazing sangria; Famous for their churrascos; Nice port chops; Flavorful steaks; Tropical themed décor;  Staff makes an excellent effort; Fun energy and a great local option. Reliable for the genre.

 
WEEHAWKEN
 
Charrito’sMexican; Weehawken; 974 JFK Blvd @ 47th; 22/17/$28; 201-330-1130;  Family run, and well maintained. Housing the usual fair and numerous varieties of combos and exciting dishes; Insanely good Guacamole, made tableside; Not a huge place but always high energy and extremely reasonable prices. Small in size. This location has full bar and amazing views.
 
WOODCLIFF LAKE

 

Blue Moon Mexican CaféMexican; Woodcliff Lake; 42 Kinderkamack @ Prospect; 24/18/$35; 201-782-9500; Hip, Americanized versions of the Mexican classics; High energy and lively; Upscale Mexican serviced in a laid back environment- almost a club feel; Excellent margaritas; Mouthwatering appetizers including Guacamole; Unique main courses; Just better than the rest. Happy Hour 4-7pm $3 sangria, beer. 

 

WYCKOFF

 

Blue Moon Mexican CaféMexican; Wyckoff; 327 Franklin @ Godwin; 24/18/$35; 201-891-1331; Hip, Americanized versions of the Mexican classics; High energy and lively; Upscale Mexican serviced in a laid back environment- almost a club feel; Excellent margaritas; Mouthwatering appetizers including Guacamole; Unique main courses; Just better than the rest. BYO at this location.