Saturday, September 22, 2012
El Papi Burrito - Alex's Cafe and Aztec Nights, Chester, NJ
Chester is an interesting town in the middle of northern New Jersey- lots of old-style houses, and lots of little shops that get plenty of foot traffic near main street, in an area that is part "main street" part pedestrian mall of sorts. The alrea exudes the kind of charm and sense of community that was largely gone in most areas by the time I came of age. In areas such as this, you are bound to find all manner of small, specialty restauants- in my travels through the area, one such place was "Alex's Cafe and Atec Nights" - which proclaims to serve authentic mexican and american cuisine. It seemed like an interesting little place to stop for lunch...
Aside from being served sour cream in a little plastic cup, Alex's actually delivered on their promise of authentic mexican food. I chose the El Papi burrito- a burrito filled with mexican chorizo sasuage, ebra cheese, grilled jalapenos, grilled onions, rice and refried beans. All in all, the burrito had good flavor, but was somewhat light on the heat- I expected more kick out of the grilled jalapenos than I got- although theydid make their presence known. Perhaps this was a conscious decision to make the menu a little more family friendly, or perhaps this batch of jalapenos were less intense than normal- or maybe I've finally gone off the deep end from eating too much spicy food and my perception of heat is off-kilter. All in all, though, the burrito was clearly made from fresh ingredients that worked well together.
The one thing that I didn't like about the dish was that the chorizo was fairly greasy. The grease tiself tasted pretty good- it is made or cured, seasoned pork after all- but there was a lot of it to the point where the underside of my burrito was soaked in it, making it difficult to pick up and handle without getting angry-looking chorizo-oil stains on my hands.
Was this the best or most authentic mexican food I've ever seen? No. But it certainly made for a nice afternoon lunch in a pleasant setting, with lots of interesting, homey nick-nacks to look at. If you're ever in the area, it's worth a visit- the menu has a lot of variety, my burrito really only scratches the surface. As far as authenticity goes- I've had mexican food that is more authentic, but they are making a strong effort there, as long as you can forgive sour cream served in a little plastic cup!