Orale! Mexican Kitchen is a dining experience, one best enjoyed when you’re in a fun, upbeat, colorful mood. It’s a place to overload your senses: admire the art installations on the walls, engage your taste buds in innovative flavor combinations and talk loudly over the music while sipping on strong cocktails. Like a mini-party restaurant. Not that it’s a club—it’s definitely a restaurant—but you want to go there when feeling festive because the place just bleeds festivity.
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Start off with one of their fantastic, strong, house-made margaritas. I had the basic on both visits.
I dined here twice in the past three weeks because the food was so good the first time, I had to go back for more. The seating is semi-communal; I was placed both times at the large middle table, which goes along with the restaurant’s belief that meals should be shared amongst friends and that dining experiences are an opportunity to meet new friends. Orale! also has a fancier looking private room which I’ve not seen occupied, but the size and decor have an inviting vibe that’s ideal for hosting local events.
Orale! believes in the small shared plates thing, which I like, but I think the serving sizes are perfect for one (unless you order off the “Platos Principales” section of the menu—those portions are quite large), so it’s best to order individually and share.
Unlike other typical Mexican restaurants that make your guacamole at the table, Orale! makes your salsa at the table. Perhaps because you have to pay for it rather than it being complimentary and they want you to feel like it’s worth it? It’s not my favorite salsa, being on the sugary side. That said, you can choose mild, medium, or hot and the hot is satisfyingly hot. Order a glass of water.
Their guacomole selection is innovative, yet that comes out already made. I like that their menu has many types of guacamole, so if you’re adventurous, try the guacamole trio ($12), where you choose three from blue cheese, seasonal fruit, crispy braised pork belly, chipotle, or guajillo shrimp. If you’re basic, as my dining companions unfortunately were, order the house ($7), which is typical fresh restaurant guacamole. (Will someone more open-minded about dining come with me next time?)
Another dish we shared at the table was Queso Flameado ($7), which is a mix of melted oaxacan & chihuahua cheeses served with more chips. This was a winner with my group. It totally melts in your mouth.
Both times, I shamelessly admit, I ordered the same entree, Taco Machin: roasted bone marrow topped with crispy pork belly & shredded cabbage ($12). Look at the amazingness below:
Pure deliciousness. On my second visit, I had one wrapped to go, and I was surprised to see they included the bone!
The carnitas are similar, consisting of braised crisp pork belly, onions, salsa verde and cilantro, and my friends loved them:
I must also note that the service was excellent. Our waiters knew the menu thoroughly and were always there when you needed them without hovering at all (an art form). My list of things to try in future visits consists of most of the menu, starting with the raw bar and ceviche dishes. Next, the Ensalada de Mariscos (octopus, squid, guajillo shrimp, endive, frisee, roasted red peppers, fingerling potatoes in a passion fruit vinaigrette), the Mexican mac & cheese, and the pork (pineapple, chile de arbol), chicken (soy pickled serrano chiles, pico de gallo), beef, and lobster (yes, lobster!) tacos. I can’t wait to report back.
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[…] and I love their taco trio,) but since Jersey City is making a weekend out of it, I may salute at Orale! Mexican Kitchen on the actual day. Other places that come to mind are Taqueria, Boca Grande, Blue Moon Mexican […]