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Mexican Delights at La Candelaria

By Sandra Ramos

It’s always nice seeing someone that’s from the same town as your parents become successful business owners in the U.S.

Candido is from Puebla, Mexico, just like my parents. They were acquaintances when living in Mexico. Nearly 20 years later, they have crossed paths once again at his Mexican styled restaurant. His successful, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. business, is open the whole week. Sundays are open 10 a.m. -11p.m. Not only does he bring in natives from Puebla, he also attracts people from other parts of Mexico, not to mention customers from countries in South America (Colombia, Peru).

Walking into La Candelaria, I was immediately hit with the aroma of salsa, chips, and meat: lots and lots of meat. The main part of Mexican food is usually meat, from tacos to pozole, a traditional Mexican dish usually made of pork. We Mexicans eat meat almost every day. Although it is a small restaurant with a funky rectangular layout, the food and decoration make up for it. The seats and tables are painted in scenery common in Mexico, mountains and rivers and fields, with bright oranges, reds, greens, and yellows. There is always banda music playing or slow love songs.

As a small appetizer, the waitress brings over chips and salsa. The salsa is a muddy red and isn’t too spicy, but spicy enough to have a presence. It’s fresh and accompanies the chips well; it reminds me of my dad's salsa.

We have already walked in knowing what we are going to order in mind: a plate of twenty tacos with different types of meat. From al pastor, carne asada, carnitas, chorizo, and lengua, also known as cow tongue. We decide to also order a shrimp cocktail: a cool and fresh ketchup, cilantro, and avocado snack topped off with large shrimp. It is a good contrast from the steaming tacos, presented on a large circle platter.

The tacos surround sliced radishes, grilled onion bulbs, green peppers, and lime. Presentation wise, it’s gorgeous, appealing. Biting into the tortilla stuffed with meat, cilantro, onions, and avocado (with a dash of lime), our taste buds explode with flavor and leave us anticipating our next bite. The grilled onions don’t have much going for them; they are plain without a tang of lime. The green peppers, on the other hand, have a kick to them, drying the throat a bit. It’s the good kind of kick, not the eye-watering and coughing sort. It brings me back to the parties my dad would cater during the summer as a side job: seamless conversation, some laughs, and a soccer game presented on a large flat-screen.

La Candelaria has a diverse menu, ranging from oatmeal, cheese and western omelets, and French toast for breakfast, to Caesar and Mediterranean salads for lunch. Also great are their platters and soups of seafood: salmon, sautéed mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari, and even lobster tails! It’ll take a lot of visits to eat your way through this mouth-watering and colorful menu!

La Candelaria

73 S. Washington Ave.

Bergenfield NJ 07621

Very Good

The Space Tucked in-between nail & spa and thrift store. Rectangular layout, tight squeeze if there are large families.

The Crowd Couples, families, locals. Casual wear.

The Bill Appetizers, $6 to $8. Breakfast $3 to $6. Salads $6 to $8. Sandwiches (Tortas, cemitas) $4 to $10. Lunch/ Dinner (platters and soups) $10 to $25. Kids menu is also available.

What We Liked The menu and specials that occur every day. The owner talking with customers, a friendly atmosphere.

If You Go Open Mondays to Thursdays 8 am to 10 pm. Open Fridays to Sundays 10 am to 11 pm. Reservations accepted. Do deliveries. Takeout. Cater events.

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