Carlito’s Barbecue Taqueria Opens in Garden State Plaza

Plus: Other restaurant openings, closings and updates in Wayne, Saddle River and Haddon Township.

Carlito’s Barbecue Taqueria is the latest addition to Garden State Plaza’s increasingly crowded dining scene. The restaurant, which began as a taco truck in Jersey City, is ushering in the next generation of Mexican fast-casual, with a simple menu of Central Texas style low-and-slow barbecue meats and a sweet plantain vegetarian option. Sauces are made in-house, sourcing (and animal ethics) seem important, and the Aguas Frescas menu (featuring a Pineapple Cucumber) is basically screaming for summer. Carlito’s Barbecue Taqueria, Garden State Plaza, Paramus; 908-502-7192

—The house that Shack Sauce built continues expanding, this time opening its doors at Wayne Town Center. The opening was originally slated for late 2018 and pushed to early 2019. In addition to its regular lineup, it will feature custom “Concretes”—thick frozen custards—like the Pie Oh My, which combines vanilla custard with seasonal pies from It’s Delicious Desserts in Lincoln Park (5 percent of proceeds go to benefit the Jillian Fund for critically ill children). Shake Shack, 96 Willowbrook Boulevard, Wayne; 862-684-8660

—Not quite an opening, but the Saddle River Café—the relaxed counterpart to chef Jamie Knott’s Saddle River Inn just around the corner—is now officially serving dinner. Starting February 5, the restaurant began offering dinner between 5 and 9 pm from Tuesday through Saturday, with a (current) menu offering casual dishes like Mussels & Fries, the Chef’s Chicken Sandwich with provolone and basil aioli, and entrée proteins (Sirloin, Bronzino, Filet, Scallops) seared a la plancha and served with your choice of sides. Saddle River Café, 171 East Saddle River Road, Saddle River; 201-282-2300

In the Works:

—In response to news of Anthony Bourdain’s passing last June, state assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester) approached the Division of Travel and Tourism with a resolution to create an official “Anthony Bourdain Food Trail” featuring some of the late chef and Leonia native’s favorite Garden State dining spots. Co-sponsored by Carol Murphy (D-Burlington) and Angela McKnight (D-Hudson), the bill for the trail’s approval was approved unanimously at the end of January. According to the bill, AR-173, the trail would include places Bourdain featured in his New Jersey episode of “Parts Unknown,” including Kubel’s and Lucille’s Country Cooking in Barnegat Light; Knife and Fork, James’ Salt Water Taffy, Tony’s Baltimore Grill, and Dock’s Oyster House in Atlantic City; Tony and Ruth Steaks and Donkey’s Place in Camden; Frank’s Deli in Asbury Park; and Hiram’s Roadstand in Fort Lee. Other specifics of the trails creation have yet to be announced.

Closed:

—Haddon Township resident Stacey Douglas opened Espressit Coffee House on Haddon Avenue in 2007, but after 12 years, she’s finally closed its doors. Over the course of its decade-plus in operation, Espressit was both a haven for caffeine- and culture-seekers, with Douglas, an artist herself, using the space to showcase local art, host open mic nights, and otherwise showcase neighborhood art. Douglas also oversaw the café menu, and has plans to continue wholesale of her Awegi Vegan Bar. (There were also murmurings of possibly offering an Espressit Coffee House cookbook sometime down the road on their Facebook page, but that would likely be far off.) Douglas is currently looking for a buyer for the coffee shop. Espressit Coffee House, 18 Haddon Avenue, Haddon Township; 862-854-1001

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