*Chapala Grill: Mexican; Bergenfield; 52 S Washington Av; 23/16/$36; 201-387-2107; www.chapalamexicangrill.com/; Fairly authentic Mexican classics; Gigantic menu consisting of any variety of combos and specialties; Guac and drinks are flavorful and a highlight; Mid-scale in terms of fanciness. Appealing service. Great neighborhood find; Try the fresh fruit margaritas or fish tacos; Full bar; Rack of Lamb; Incredible enchiladas & Fajitas.
Riviera Maya: Mexican; Bogota; 252 East Fort Lee Rd; 21/15/$26; 201-996-1380; Live Music Thurs and Friday; Authentic cuisine, under the radar local spot; Extremely affordable and surprisingly good; Large portions; BYO – rare for a Mexican place; Come here when you are craving Mexican and prepare for leftovers; All the standards well prepared. $5 margaritas at times. https://www.rivieramayamexicancuisine.com/
*Blue Moon Mexican Café: Mexican; Englewood; 21 E Palisade; 24/18/$35; 201-541-0600; Hip, Americanized versions of the Mexican classics; High energy and lively; Upscale Mexican serviced in a laid back environment- almost a club feel; Excellent margaritas; Mouthwatering appetizers including Guacamole; Unique main courses; Just better than the rest. Englewood location expanded to feature a huge bar area with great drink specials. Happy Hour 4-7pm $3 sangria, beer. www.bluemoonmexicancafe.com/;
*Rosa Mexicano: Mexican; Hackensack; 390 Hackensack Av @ Riverside Sq Mall; 21/22/$46; 201-489-9100; www.rosamexicano.com; More of an upscale Mexican ‘chain’ which features 3 locations in Manhattan; Known for outstanding Pomegranate Margaritas and homemade guacamole; Gorgeous Mayan décor; Dishes are unique and not your standard Mexican fare; Upscale feel perfect for a date or a great meal after shopping at Bloomingdales. Can be noisy and always crowded.
Mariachi Grill: Mexican; Lyndhurst; 262 Ridge Rd; 25/12/$28; 201-528-7493; http://themariachigrill.com/; Simply fresh and homemade Mexican cuisine; For sure authentic; Steak fajitas are outstanding; The space is tiny and very casual – best for lunch or take out. BUT – the food is so good you’ll want to return; Oh the salsa, guac and enchiladas; BYO; Hidden Gem.
*Pancho’s Burritos: Mexican; New Milford; 214 Main; 24/15/$33; 201-225-2554; www.panchosburritosnj.com/; Happy Hour noon-6 and 9pm-close every day; Huge menu, endless variety; Great guacamole; Many margaritas to choose from; Friendly service; Large, I mean huge portions; Festive, laid back & fun atmosphere. Outdoor seating. Even serve brunch. Inexpensive and casual. Amazing drinks. One entrée enough for 3 people. Famously fun cocktails. Hard to stay sober here.
La Hacienda: Mexican; Paterson; 102 McLean Blvd; 24/18/$36; 973-345-1255; http://haciendarestaurant.com/home; Enjoy Margaritas & Mexican Beer; The combo appetizer includes quesadilla, grilled shrimp, empanadas, calamari and wings; Nachos outstanding; Dinner combos are huge and tasty; Basically a typical Mexican menu and very affordable pricing; Great seafood soup and grilled items.
Charrito’s: Mexican; Weehawken; 974 Blvd East; 22/21/$38; 201-330-1130; www.loscharritos.com; Full bar; Family run, and well maintained. Housing the usual fair and numerous varieties of combos and exciting dishes; Insanely good Guacamole, made tableside; Not a huge place but always high energy and extremely reasonable prices. Beautiful views of Manhattan; Has 3 small Hoboken locations – very different. Brunch served.