The owners of Pop’s Garage know how to run a restaurant. In fact, they have run five of them along the Jersey Shore, as the New York Times points out. At Pop’s Garage, they pour more than 85 years of restaurant experience into their kid-friendly, BYOB Mexican taqueria. While evoking the festive, summer atmosphere of Sayulita, Mexico, the restaurant's ambiance exudes an upscale dining atmosphere.
Pop’s menu consists of made-to-order dishes, each handcrafted from locally sourced, natural, and organic ingredients, including fresh lettuce and vegetables. Taco shells are packed with chicken and chorizo, quesadillas ooze with cheese, and burritos are stuffed with ruby rice. Just as genuine as the ingredients are the recipes they are made from. Explaining to the New York Times, “Our intent is to be authentic. . . . One of [the chefs] makes his mother’s mole, a red mole,” which is just one of the menu’s several mole sauces.
El Chico's culinary artists paint their tortilla canvases with melted cheese and spiced meats to curate a menu of fiesta-worthy Mexican feasts. Sizzling fajitas surf in to tables on hot skillets, announcing their arrival with aromatic waves of seared beef, chicken, shrimp, or baby back ribs ($15.99) before lying out to sunbathe on soft flour tortillas. Forks and knives slam against chili relleno enchiladas ($9.99), which burst like savory piñatas with cheese and mushrooms or beef. Chipotle-wine sauce imbues the chicken burrito ($10.49) with an air of sophistication as it commingles with tender spiced chicken, rice, and frijoles rancheros. Boulders of fajita steak and avocado speckle the corn-tortilla landscapes of three tacos ($9.49), and pork-tamale trios ($9.99) unwrap their husks to reveal elaborate cave art scrawled in a thick sauce of chili con carne.
Monsignor’s has a fondness for crafting quality Italian entrees such as sausage and peppers over pasta and eggplant stuffed with ricotta. However, the menu also saves room for Spanish-inspired meals: flour tortillas envelop quesadillas, and sautéed meats bulk up burritos. Diners can take their meals inside the bistro-style cafe, or head out to a garden decked with grape and fig trees and birdbaths that bubble over with vinaigrette for robins with sophisticated palates.
For fifteen years, the bakers at La Boulangerie Lopez have served up a menu centered around fresh hand-rolled artisan breads, gourmet pastries baked on the premises, and time-treasured Mexican family recipes. Take advantage of the noble tomato's unfamiliarity with SPF by biting into a warm sun-dried tomato baguette ($2.35), or indulge a traditionally minded tastebud with artisan sourdough loaves ($2.25 for a small, $4.25 for a large). Homemade plain or chocolate cannoli tease tongues with their rich, creamy filling and dead-on crepe impersonations ($2.75), while fresh fruit tarts ($3.25) exchange the latest Gérard Depardieu gossip with warm cups of café au lait ($1.75–$2.75).