Nestled in the middle of the Ironbound amongst the abundance of Portuguese and Brazilian offerings, one finds a pleasant surprise. Mi Pequeno Mexico, opened about 3 years ago with a remodeling in between, landed here and has reintroduced a great cuisine that’s actually hard to find in this town. Yo Amo Mexican Cuisine and this restaurante shows us why… ON WITH THE REVIEW!
Mi Pequeno Mexico
81 Ferry St
Newark, NJ 07105 (map it)
Made from scratch
Easy to find
The menu at Mi Pequeno Mexico combines traditional (read: non-Taco Bell) version of familiar favorites with less commercial but very tasty typical Mexican entrees. Upon arrival, you are greeted with a bountiful basket of fresh made chips and salsa made in-house. When you get a hold of the large menu, you’ll find tacos, burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas and fajitas right alongside chilaquiles (sautéed tortillas), barbacoa dishes (Goat meat), various soups, tortas (sandwiches) and several seafood based entrées. Most dishes are served with beans, rice and fresh guacamole. It is quite an assortment!
The food at MPM is very fresh and flavorful, just as true Mexican dishes are intend to be, even prepared by what seems like a legion of moms in the kitchen! The meat is tender and savory. The different moles (sauces) has the right bite, spice and pepper taste. The guacamole is made on the spot, even served to you in the pestle used to mash it. You can taste the chunks of the avocado and kick of the lime in every bite and happens to be one of the best guac’s this writer has ever had!
All of the food is made to order and fortunately Mexican doesn’t normally take a long time to prepare unless it is a slow-cooked meat dish, which tends to be prepared in advance so that it won’t tap into your lunch hour anyway. You’re getting a hot, quick meal prepared as you wanted> Nice.
The food of Mexican cuisine tends to be composed of mostly heavy dishes. So if you are a light eater or fall asleep easily after a good meal, a recommendation would be to prepare to take some leftovers (which guarantees a tasty dinner!). You do have to try their desserts, as they are also mostly homemade, that is of course if you can make it to dessert without exploding from all the food. Overall, Mi Pequeno Mexico does not cut any corners when it comes to food quality and preparation.
The decor at MPM is thoughtful, simple and just enough to get the point across without losing out on being inviting. It’s a small but not tiny place, about the size of one of the local bakeries with seating for one or two groups and plenty for quadruplets. The big open windows gives the restaurant a great open feel with good natural light in the front and the constant movement of the waiterseminds you that this place is indeed Mexican. The establishment was even blessed by our own MLS star Rafael Marquez (a Mexican born soccer player, formerly of FC Barcelona and now starting for our very own NY Red Bulls), who’s autographed jersey hangs on the wall. The restaurant is run by an all female staff, which is a definite break from the norm (and a small cheer for the pro-fem’s out there). In a nutshell, its small enough to be neighborhood but taken care of well enough to be considered grades above that.
There is no alcohol served at MPM, but BYOB is OK. One thing they do have is Sangria Senorial (pronounced: San-gree-Ah Sen-your-al) soda, which is fun twist on sodapop for those of us that want something other than Coke or Sprite. A sangria flavor is always a plus and this drink’s mild taste of grappy-wine goodness doesn’t disappoint. A product of Mexico, it always finds a place on people’s tables and is a recommended drink to give a try.
Fast, courteous, ample and friendly. What else would you expect by a bunch of mom-types that like serving food? All of the staff is Mexican and no, you do not have to speak Spanish to get your point across. The waitresses are always happy to make you feel welcome and ensure your lunch time is a culinary success. Well done here, ma.
Mexican food was not very good at one thing historically and that’s being expensive. It is one of the cheapest cuisines around, especially when you compare price to portions to feeling of fulfillment. Although you’re not eating gourmet at MPM, you definitely are eating well and not paying a lot for it. An overstuffed burrito will run you $8.75 with all the trimmings. The most expensive item? Red Snapper at $12.50. Exactly…
Mi Pequeno Mexico is one of those place when you need a fix, a good dinner, something different or something fun. It’s easy to find and won’t cost you a lot. It’s dedication to freshness and service is evident, making it a safe bet for anyone who enjoys this hearty, savory cuisine.
Hurricane Category Rating (0-5): 4.5
H-Cane’s final spin: After several visits (meaning about 100 visits), this place has yet to disappoint. So I’d chalk up consistency as part of its list of great qualities. The tacos are large, the burritos are huge and the guacamole is awesome. Don’t overeat on the fresh chips-n-salsa (I do, a lot) and you’ll have space for the actual meal! Also, if you are looking for a plethora of healthy dishes, you may want to stick with the tacos, avoid the sour cream, guacamole, cheese, chips… why you are dieting again?? For those of you wondering what to do with that Sangria Senoral soda when you are in need of a buzz: Why… I heard that a little bit of orange Rum goes a long way with it… just sayin… Take anyone you want to impress about your know-it-all-ness of “hard finds in easy places”. They’ll thank you. This place is a definite ok spot for a daytime date, but beware – the milk shake machines can be loud if you’re sitting in the back. One last note: All standard Mexican cuisine precautions apply… so if you don’t know what the means, ask a friend.
H-Cane’s Question of the Day: If you had to choose – would you eat a dish made of frogs legs or made of chicken feet? (Believe it or not, you can get both in Newark – where? You’ll have the answer in my future posts!) Leave your choice along with your input on today’s review in the comment section below!