NJ Dining: Elsa La Reina Del Chicharrón


Elsa La Reina Del Chicharrón
1515 Teaneck Road, Teaneck NJ 07666

Web Site (Spanish): http://lareinadelchicharron.com/

About a week ago, we noticed that the vacated building on 1515 Teaneck Road which had been sitting fallow for two years was showing sign of life. Previously, it was Stickey’s BBQ restaurant, which had taken over and completely renovated the former Wonder Bread outlet before closing suddenly in 2006, about a year after it had opened. Curiously, Rachel and I pulled up to see that new blue awnings had been hung, emblazoned with the magic word — Chicharrón (CHEE-CHARR-ROAN). That could only mean one thing — Latino Cuisine!

This weekend was the restaurant’s opening, and we happened upon it on opening night. While the place hasn’t fully gotten its act together yet, I happen to think that the food itself was very good Dominican/Puerto Rican/Cuban fare, in particular when focusing on the items the restaurant excels at, such as Fried Pork (Chicharron), Roast Chicken and Roast Pork (Pernil) as well as the signature 7-meat Sanchocho soup flavored with Recaito (sofrito without tomatoes).

The New Jersey branch of Elsa is the chain’s 5th store, which has locations in Manhattan and the Bronx. For those of you not familiar with Dominican cuisine, you might want to look at my posts on El Malecon and La Estrella del Caribe.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Estas Listo para some serious Comida Latina? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry link” below por mas!

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

For the most part, Elsa hasn’t altered the interior of the former BBQ restaurant. They’ve done some work to the counter area and went with a less kitchier theme than the previous establishment, but everything is clean and nice.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Main dining room

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Chicharrón, the signature fried pork ribs. Crunchy pork skin, fat and meat. This ain’t diet food, kids. For those of you who aren’t pork eaters, there is also Chicharrón de Pollo, a fried chicken version.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Chicharron is chopped up into orders using a large Chinese cleaver.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Orders of Chicharron.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Elsa, like other Dominican restaurants of its type, is also known for its roast chickens.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

All we need is some Brugal y Coca Cola and a couple of Presidentes and we’re set. The restaurant is BYOB, so you’ll need to come with your own.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Elsa has a huge menu to choose from. Notice that they also serve the traditional Dominican breakfast items, and the restaurant is also going to be serving Cuban Sandwiches as well.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

More!

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

And of course, the daily specials section.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Ensalada a La Reina. Yeah, its a salad with fried pork. So sue me.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Chicharrón closeup.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Some more pieces.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Arroz Amarillo, yellow rice.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Sancocho de Siete Carnes soup, a must order. This is a hearty thick soup which has seven different types of meat in it and is flavored with Recaito, a vegetable/herbal mixture common to caribbean cuisine that features the Recao or Culantro leaf. That big chunk of meat you see there is an entire pork rib.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Dominican red beans.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

An order of roast chicken.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Pernil, Dominican roast pork.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Roast Pork closeup.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Eggplant and Okra, one of the daily specials.

Elsa La Reina De Chicharrones, Teaneck NJ by you.

Elsa is now the most significant Carribbean latino restaurant in the entire Teaneck/Englewood/Bergenfield area, which should bring in many happy customers seeking this type of cuisine.

25 Responses to NJ Dining: Elsa La Reina Del Chicharrón

  1. Migui says:

    wow! she has or had a small take out spot in Washington Heights..this is wonderful!

  2. daisy says:

    you might as well give her the heads up that me and migui are coming, altho I won’t be able to blog the place! *glares*

  3. Esther says:

    Jason – Thanks for the review. I hope you don’t mind, but I posted your close-up of a piece of pork rind on the Teaneck Progress site with a link to your review. Your technology articles are incomprehensibe to me, but the food articles are dvine.

  4. Rosie says:

    Jason— Do you have a phone #? This place is going to get busy now that you have posted those delicious pictures. Rosie

  5. Daniel says:

    Jason – I’m in Aruba right now, and the Colombian people here make their style of chicharron and I’m plugging my arteries with it every day. When I return to the States, I’ll be up to Teaneck to check this joint out. Thanks for the warning from us at http://www.bentpage.wordpress.com.

  6. slpernie says:

    im so glad you posted this. i love dominican food. although its cuban i wish they had a sophies in new jersey.

  7. Mike says:

    Just got back from ordering take out. Wanted to go simple for our first try. Cuban Sandwiches. They got it wrong. My Cuban had roasted pork, swiss cheese, and mayo that was pressed for 1 minute. I was the only person at the restaurant at noon, so I can’t defend them by saying that it was busy. No ham, no pickles. Disappointed!

  8. Aw C’mon mike. You don’t go to a Dominican Chicharron specialist the first time and go off the reservation with a Cubano! Thats like going to a Sichuan Chinese restaurant and faulting them for crappy Egg Foo Young.

  9. Tim says:

    @slpernie

    There’s apparently a new Cuban place on the Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights. I haven’t tried it, yet.

  10. Mike says:

    I guess you’re right, but all I wanted was a very simple sandwich for lunch!!! :)

  11. Eric says:

    The specialties are very good but expect to wait a loooooooonng time to get your food. They are understaffed and being a new establishment they really have not gotten their act together. Also, if you speak Spanish that is a big plus in this place.

  12. Yeah, agreed on the Spanish. But the menu is bilingual and a bunch of the servers speak English just fine.

    I -DID- warn you guys on the service issues, though :) The place isn’t even open a week yet, they aren’t even close to getting the bugs out of the system. If you go now, its clearly Beta. Tasty Beta, though. :)

  13. John says:

    They got it right. They promissed to offer one of the best cuban sandwich in Jersey by this Thursday. They are putting everything together. I think they are really professionals and know about quality. let’s sww. I will be there this Friday to try the reformed Cuban sandwich

  14. serfman says:

    im so glad you posted this i love dominican food. although its cuban i wish they had a sophies in new jersey.

  15. lindadcb says:

    I went there. The food was great, but they definitely do not encourage BYOB. (as I found out when I whipped out my bottle of wine)

    They have fears that they may get fined for that, and feel uncomfortbale with the notion as it is a family dining establishment.

  16. Maria says:

    I was so happy to see the grand opening sign go up. We went to pick up fresh chicharon on the first friday they opened. the best!!! yummy.

  17. Maria says:

    I was so happy to see the grand opening sign go up. We went to pick up fresh chicharon on the first friday they opened. the best!!! yummy. Thank goodness for that type of restaurant in bergen county. I’m from NYC and moved to Jersey in the winter.

  18. Joseph says:

    I live in Orlando Florida and had the opportunity to go out to eat. I was taken to Elsa “La Reina del Chicharron”. I am Dominican and I can tell you Elsa live to her name. I ordered chicharrones and tostones (fired Platains). Let me tell you, if you are worried about getting fat do not go there but you will miss great food and lating flavor. Great restaurant. You must try the sancocho.

  19. Fritz says:

    I went to Elsa’s a couple of week’s back with mixed results. After seeing this post, I decided to stop in and give it a try for lunch one day when the opportunity presented itself. I had just concluded doing some business in Teaneck and was considering my options for a meal….Popeye’s for Fried Chicken or Korean from the counter at the Han Au Reum market in Englewood, Sushi at East or a Pastrami Sandwich from Sol & Sol…..when I remembered Elsa’s

    I stopped in Elsa’s about 1:00 PM and there were only two other patrons inside. There was a young female server with limited English who sat me. An older gentleman came by and took my order of Spare Ribs with rice and red beans with an Iced Tea for beverage. After near 15 minutes wait, my meal was presented along with the beverage.

    The plate consisted of three ribs that looked very dry and not very meaty, accompanied by a bowl of beans and an inverted bowl molded rice portion. My take, skimpy on the ribs, but plentiful with the rice and beans. The Iced Tea was no more than instant sweetened tea. No refill was ever offered. Here is the problem begins. I started first by emptying the bowl of beans alongside of the rice and ribs on the plate. About my third or fourth forkful of rice and beans, I encountered a four inch strip of plastic in my mouth from my best guess, the beans. This in itself did not really bother me. I have been around long enough to realize theses things happen and no big deal. The plastic was similar to the protective seal you find on new jars of food or around a new dairy product container like whipped butter or yogurt. I tried unsuccessfully to gain any employee’s attention for at least five minutes, so I just decided to eat with the offending plastic placed aside. The rice and beans were good, plastic non-withstanding. The ribs however were very dry and unappetizing. I ate one and left the other two on the plate untouched.

    When I finally was able to gain the older gentleman servers attention, I signaled him I wanted the check. When he arrived to produce the check(so I thought), I pointed out the foreign object in my food. He whisked it away without a word and leave the check. About another 5-10minutes went by without any sight or communication at the table. All this time, I could see the gentleman server moving back and forth about the kitchen, as if he was looking for someone…although there were other employees in plain view. I finally decided to go up to the Cashier?Manager and just pay the bill. Now at this time, the cashier/ manager and a female cook kept indicating to me to wait with little or no other words. Finally after another couple of minutes, I simply stated I wanted to pay the bill and leave.

    The meal plate was $6.00 and $1.95 for the Iced Tea, from my recollection of the stated menu prices

    Now the gentleman server returns and without any printed check and says $8.00, no tax. I give him a ten spot and tell him to keep the change.

    Only the female cook says “Thank you” to me.

    For the record, I was not looking for a free meal, only an apology. I did not receive the latter…..but don’t you think it would have been appropriate to either comp the meal or at the very least, invite me back for a comped meal at another time as good business sense?

    BTW…I have been in the Restaurant and Hospitality Industry for over 40 years.

  20. After a few visits to this restaurant for both lunch and dinner in the weeks after it first opened, I simply stopped going. Possibly the worst service I have ever experienced. The wait staff simply has no interest in being there. One time, the kitchen overcooked a whole red snapper to where it was inedible and I returned the next day to demand and receive a refund. Some of the food I had was very good and the prices are low. But that’s not enough. Even when the place was almost empty, service was glacial. To get great food and service, you’ll have to go to El Malecon near the uptown GWB bus station in the city.

  21. angie says:

    do they have catering or a catering menu?

  22. Jason Mejia says:

    Hi my name is jason mejia, elsas son, I KNOW it was just CRAZY the first couple weeks, id even say the first year. Trust me now when i say its REALLY GREAt new cooks new workers new everything , they even changes the place a little, ALOT actually. I know im really late on this but yeah just throwing that out there, its alot better now. oh yeah and the CUBANS ARE GREAT NOW. even ive made some and they are awesome

  23. Anna says:

    I’m not one to write reviews but I felt obligated to let the people know what they are up to when going to this place. I have gone to this place and have ordered take out a few times before when it had first opened. I always thought that their service was not up to par but nothing could compare to the experience I had on my latest visit.

    We came in a large group. There were a few other tables occupied and only one server. When the salad came the proper condiments were not served with it. A few of us on the table did not even have utensils. Then our table was not served their food all together. One person on the table got their food 10mins before everyone else. Then another person got their skirt steak a few minutes later and when the server was asked why, all she said was she did not want his steak to get cold so she served it first. Talk about being disorganized.

    I have never seen nor experience such bad service. As her service went on, it just got worse and worse. She gave a few more people on our table their food then proceeded to serve another table. After serving that table, she came back and served the rest of the meals. The worse part about this service was that after she gave everyone on our table their food, even served me my rice and plantains, she came to me and told me that they did not have the dish I had ordered. She asked me if I wanted something else but by this time, I was so frustrated because of the hunger and the service in the place that I just refused.

    I have never been to a place or even heard of a place where they tell you that they have run out of dishes after everyone else at the table have been served. It was such a horrible experience!!! I work in the restaurant business and I try very hard to be as understanding as I possibly can to restaurant workers but this experience was just that horrendous that I felt the obligation to share my experience.

    So to the people reading this review, you might want to think twice about going here, unless you are okay going to a place with bad service.

  24. jason mejia says:

    thank you so much Anna, i will show this to my mom because we know exactly which worker this as, we’ve been a little effy about firing her but after this i know my mother wont refuse. sorry for your as experience , try again someday with a diffrent worker,

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