—Folklore Artisanal Taco has two other locations, in West Orange and Chatham, but the family behind the restaurant concept has culinary roots that go all the way back to a string of successful restaurants in 1970s Puelba, Mexico. They opened the first Folklore location in West Orange in 2016, and the third location, just opened in Cranford, does not skimp on the extensive, expert menu of the original: a heady array of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and mulas (where taco meets sandwich) with a massive selection of protein and vegetarian filling options—anything from Cochinita Pibil to grilled cactus to Mexico City-style Hibiscus flower. Top that off with some housemade Horchata and Tamarind Juice (or double down and do a Hibiscus juice), maybe an ear of spicy, creamy Elote and (why not) golden brown Churros, all made with love and a family-style Mexican legacy.
Folklore Artisanal Taco, 101 North Avenue West, Cranford; 973-939-5703
—Another Mexican spot, yet to open, called Fat Cactus Mexican Cantina, is hiring for a future opening in “the heart of New Brunswick.” According to their social media posts, the spot has been long in the making (with announcements for “Grand Openings” and promises of “coming soon” confusing an apparently hungry crowd). The plan eventually rounded out to open up in early 2020, but the coronavirus got in the way of that for the Fat Cactus, as for many spots, but an eager call for all positions makes it sound like they’re actually opening up soon—likely by end of summer, latest. Don’t hold your breath, but keep your eyes peeled if you’re looking for a stress-free Margarita and chips kind of night.
Fat Cactus Mexican Cantina, 350 George Street, New Brunswick; no phone yet.
—More Mexican is coming to the Garden State: with one other location (in Florham Park) Dos Toros Taqueria is opening another New Jersey spot, this time around in Randolph. The NYC-Chicago-based hipster-chill burrito concept run by two brothers is making slow inroads into the Garden State. The menu is effectively straightforward, with burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and bowls (with Impossible “meat” thrown into the mix and some gluten-free options as well). No word on exact opening date yet, but towards fall is most likely. They opened the Florham Park location last October. There’s no question they’ll open up ready to go with Covid-19 considerations in place and a sleek takeout/delivery system.
Dos Toros Taqueria, Randolph; no phone yet.
—Deal Lake Bar & Co. in Loch Arbour isn’t a brand new opening, but it has been extensively renovated, with both interior and outdoor spaces revamped. It’ll be a minute before we get to enjoy the three new bars inside (or the space for 150 people). Outside, however, there’s an expanded patio with room for 90, a “new and improved bar,” and a lakeside view visible from the patio. Chef Chris Calabrese (whom you might know from Nettie’s House of Spaghetti) is consulting with the owners on the forthcoming menu, which will veer toward American classics and comforts.
Deal Lake Bar & Co., 601 Main Street, Loch Arbour; no phone yet.
—Also in the works is Primal in Cape May. From the same owners of Mia Mia Raw Prime Steakhouse in Wildwood (and before that, and for 20 years, Gia’s Restaurant), Primal was originally slated to open this spring. At the helm will be chef Mia Chiarella, the daughter of the original owners of Gia’s. Per the restaurant website and a few recent Instagram shots, Primal is still under construction (sister restaurant Prawn, however, is open and serving up fresh seafood daily).
Primal, 406 Beach Avenue, Cape May; 609-408-6524