MORRIS COUNTY — We missed Cinco de Mayo by a day, but my group of adventurous gastronome friends and I headed to the newest Mexican restaurant in the area for a visit. This past April, Mexican Antojitos opened on North Beverwyck Road in Lake Hiawatha, in a previously owned building by a local pizzeria.
There is certainly no shortage of high-quality Mexican venues in the area, but as Mexican cuisine continues to grow in popularity there seems to always be room for one more. In fact, Mexican food is one of the most popular ethnic cuisines in the United States. Mexican Antojitos appears to focus primarily on antojitos (as in its name), but they offer a lot more. Antojitos, referring to “little cravings,” refers to a wide variety of popular street snacks or appetizers, often sold by street vendors in Mexico as a precursor to the big meal of the day, or after a few late evening cocktails, and considered by many as some of Mexico’s most enjoyable and beloved food. There are at least fifteen types of antojitos and regional specialties. Commonly known choices might include tacos, empanadas, tamales, nachos, and enchiladas, but there are many more selections to choose from.
Mexican Antojitos, a family-owned and operated eatery, offers a wide selection of these tantalizing “little cravings,” as well as an impressive full menu complete with entrees of Pork Ribs, Grilled Steak, Fried Fish, and more. The menu also offers a selection of breakfast items, as they do open their door for business starting at 6:00 a.m. There are no desserts on the menu, but a variety of drinks (Bebidas) and coffee are available. The restaurant is also a BYOB, so for my first visit, I brought along some Cerveza Pacífico Clara, a Mexican pilsner-style beer, to complement my meal
I have always found Mexican cuisine, which is a blend of Indigenous and Spanish dishes, to be hearty, savory, full of flavors and textures, with plenty of gusto. Distinguished by fresh and healthy tomatoes, chiles, traditional spices, beans, corn, meat, and cheeses, Mexican fare is a delicious and healthy cuisine that is certainly worth a try.
Prior to their opening Mexican Antojitos renovated and updated the building’s interior to transform it from the pizzeria that occupied the location, to create a clean, cozy, comfortable, and casual atmosphere where one can relax and enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The exterior windows and signage are enticing and welcoming, decorated with bright colors and a collage of mouth-watering Mexican treats. The interior is brightly lit, with cream-colored walls, a tile floor, and 12 to 14 tables. Apart from the red and green checkered tablecloths, Mexican motif chairs, and Mexican music playing in the background, the interior is simply decorated, with no-frills, and very unpretentious. Clearly, the emphasis is on the quality of the food and not the décor. I found it a nice feature that you could observe the cooks expertly preparing freshly made tortillas through a small open window allowing a view into the kitchen.
As our group arrived, the friendly staff enthusiastically welcomed us. Our pleasant server, Cynthia, who immediately brought over a basket of corn chips with zesty, homemade salsa, was very attentive and helpful. After perusing the menu, we decided to choose a variety of antojitos to share among the group for appetizers, with the intention of ordering individual entrées afterward. We agreed on a couple of servings each of Enchilada de Mole, Sopes, Quesadillas, Tacos Dorados, and Tostadas.
The Enchilada de Mole (a corn tortilla stuffed with chicken or beef in a Mole sauce, topped with lettuce, onions, sour cream, and cheese) a highly popular and traditional Mexican street food, was savory and perfectly seasoned and was clearly enhanced by the rich, nutty, sweet, and earthy flavors of the Mole sauce. Sopes (a soft fresh Tortilla, with beans, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream, with a choice of beef, pork, or chicken) a homemade corn flour shell; thicker than a tortilla, the Sope shell has a rim around the edge with pinched sides to keep in all the toppings. The deliciously fried Sope was savory, and tender, and has a nice crunchy texture. Our Quesadillas (Corn dough with chicken, beef, pastor, or chorizo) were crispy, gooey, and flavorful. The Tacos Dorados (filled with lettuce, tomato, radish, cheese, crema y salsa, with chicken) were perfectly packed within a nicely textured shell, and generously sized; as were all our choices, and finally the Tostadas (Fried Tortillas, beans, lettuce, tomato, queso crema, avocado, and filled with a choice of chicken or meat}. Do not forget to try the assortment of sweet and hot sauces that are readily available. My personal preference was the Habanero sauce, but I do like hot, spicy food.
As we enthusiastically devoured all our antojitos, the consensus was that the food not only met but exceeded our expectations. The portions were generous, and everything was cooked and seasoned to perfection. The only problem we encountered was that “our eyes were bigger than our stomachs,” and despite our initial intention to follow up with a full entrée, we were all so satiated after our antojitos that none of us could not eat another bite. I guess that the Bistek a la Mexicana I was planning to have will have to wait until my next visit. It was a very pleasurable, satisfying, and filling meal. This is the “real deal” for Mexican cuisine and certainly belongs on the revisit list.
I did have the opportunity to speak with Roman Sanchez, who along with his wife Cynthia owns and operates Mexican Antojitos, expressed that “his goal was to offer the finest, most natural ingredients, including fresh-tasting organic meat to real Mexican herbs and seasonings, in the restaurants authentically made dishes. Mexicans take pride in serving you a dish of Mexican food that is packing the punch in taste, texture, and overall delightfulness in every bite you take.” One of my personal tell-tale indicators of an authentic ethnic restaurant is the ethnicity of the customers frequenting the venue. In this case, there were quite a few customers of Mexican heritage enjoying their meals, and when asked, responded that Mexican Antojitos food was as authentically Mexican as you can get. “A taste of home.” A nice compliment for a restaurant!
Mexican Antojitos is another great new addition to our diverse restaurant community. Stop in, just by yourself, with friends, or with the entire family for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I believe you will be happy that you did. And as always, please continue to support all our local businesses.
Mexican Antojitos, is located at 122 North Beverwyck Road, Lake Hiawatha. Phone: (973) 588-4047.
Dine-in · Curbside pickup · No-contact delivery. BYOB. Catering. Reasonably Priced. Ample free street parking available. Open 7 days a week. Monday to Friday 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.