Tag Archives: Mexican Food

SJ Taco Time: Reflections

18 Dec

This blog started as an assignment for my Online Journalism class. When I picked a topic, Mexican food in South Jersey, I was familiar with it but over the course of the semester I have learned so much more about Mexican food and culture. I’ve sampled Tex-Mex, classic Mexican food, several gallons of horchata, a few quarts of salsa and mole sauce.

Through visiting restaurants, talking with chefs, friends, and servers I’ve learned that Mexican food is all about feeling at home. It’s about expressing yourself with materials as simple as beans you made yourself or horchata that you prepared for your guests. It is both humble and complex (if you don’t believe me try to make a mole sauce like Plaza Garibaldi).

The focus of this blog is Mexican restaurants but the most popular entries were about cooking at home. A few of my greatest hits:

Making Horchata

Mexican Food In Your Kitchen

Shopping At the Collingswood Farmer’s Market

More than just Tacos at The Tortilla Press in Collingswood

SJ Taco Time Mexican Restaurant Map (newly updated!)

This has been a wonderful learning experience.

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El Azteca: Spicy Mole, Fun Atmosphere

11 Dec
Chicken taco from El Azteca

Chicken taco from El Azteca

El Azteca in Philadelphia appears to be a quaint little store front on Chestnut St. between 7th and 8th St. It’s a BYOB that also has a full bar. However, there is a $5 cork fee.

I got a chicken taco and cheese enchiladas with mole sauce. The food was pretty good, the mole definitely had a kick to it.  The atmosphere inside was lively and exciting since there were several large parties celebrating in the restaurant. The price range is middle of the road: dinner entrees range from $11-$15 with a variety of sides. They also have a vegetarian menu.

Enchiladas from El Azteca

Enchiladas from El Azteca

I would recommend visiting the Philly location if you want to have a nice dinner with friends. There is more than enough space to accommodate large groups.

El Azteca also has locations in Mt. Laurel, NJ; Pottstown, PA and Levittown PA.

 

A Clean Plate Means Good Food for Juan Diaz of Taqueria La Raza

10 Nov

Juan Diaz of Taqueria La Raza


Juan Diaz is the owner of Taqueria La Raza, a restaurant in North Philadelphia, that I have written about before. It is a warm and inviting place that is family owned and operated. Many restaurant owners are invested in their profession, but Juan is an active participant, often speaking to customers directly. He was kind enough to sit down with me and explain what he loves about running Taqueria.

Chef Batista Ernesto on Mexican Food the Puebla Way

13 Oct

Chef Batista Ernesto and myself at The Mexican Food Factory

The Mexican Food Factory has been around about as long as rice and beans, since 1979 to be exact. I decided to see what all the fuss was about. The food was simple, colorful and flavorful.

The chef, Batista Ernesto, came by at the end of the meal for a quick chat. He was relaxed and friendly, true to Mexican-style hospitality. He’s from Puebla, a large city in central Mexico.

 How long have you been a chef?

“About seven years.”

 How did you learn to cook?

“I learned from my uncle, he was actually a chef at an Italian restaurant. I cooked with my sister too. I like food, I cook for friends a lot.”

 What is your favorite food to prepare?

“I love to cook fish. Salmon is my favorite, also snapper and tuna.”

 And your favorite food to eat?

“Rice and beans, but mostly beans. My parents say beans are good, the doctor says beans are good. I love them. They’re comfort food.”

What is the most traditional dish on the menu?

“Fajitas are the most traditional mixed with onions, peppers, and cilantro.”

Ernesto moonlights as DJ Tazz in Philadelphia and Camden, he was looking over a set list when I left. The Mexican Food Factory is located on Route 70 West in Marlton, NJ.