Montclair is long known for its diverse restaurant scene. Just with Latin cuisine alone, you can sample Mexican, Brazilian, Puerto Rican, and Caribbean dishes all within a ten-minute walk. Latin cuisine is known for flavor, texture, vibrancy, and even beautiful presentations. While “Latin” is a broad term that refers to Latinidad as a whole, the food and recipes themselves are very different depending on the country of origin – suffice it to say that there are definitely layers to the cuisine, and they’re all worth trying! Read on to learn what to order at these must-try Latin restaurants throughout Montclair.
Brasil Passion Grill | 180 Bloomfield Avenue
MG Pro Tip: Go for the rodizio. The 20+ types of meat are grilled on an open flame and rushed to the dining room immediately when it’s done. If a cut looks appealing, wave to the server and have a piece sliced off the long skewer onto your plate. The best part is that you can order as much of particular meat as you’d like – there’s no limit, just a flat price.
Caribbean Grill | 343 Bloomfield Avenue
Patrons can find a variety of essential Jamaican dishes at this quaint restaurant. Customers love the jerk chicken and goat curry dishes and for a quick bite, opt for the roti or beef patty. Fried fish is also available. Popular options are whiting and red snapper.
Read More: A List of Montclair Restaurants That Deliver
Caribbean Touch | 318 Orange Road
Online reviewers rave about the oxtail. The chicken stew and curries are popular too. Side dishes, such as plantain, braised cabbage, and macaroni and cheese, are also delicious, according to reviews.
Cocina Candela | 706 Bloomfield Avenue
The elegantly decorated restaurant serves vibrant Puerto Rican fare. Traditional dishes are plenty, such as ropa vieja (slow-cooked shredded flank steak) and Mofongo Al Pilon (plantains mashed with fresh garlic and olive oil, and topped with meat or seafood of choice). But those looking for lighter and more creative options will not be disappointed either. The appetizer items burst with tropical flavors, and the empanadas are also delicious.
Cuban Pete’s | 428 Bloomfield Avenue
Think vacation in Havana: salsa music playing, palm trees lining the walls, live performances, vibrant colors, and authentic Cuban food. The outdoor dining area will transport you to a tropical oasis. This BYOB spot is a go-to for all celebrations. Bring a dry wine or rum, and Cuban Pete’s has all the sangria and mojito mixers anyone could want. Here, you get the bang for your buck with large portions and affordable prices. Known for the tapas, opt for the empanadas, garlic shrimp, chicharron de Pollo (crispy chicken lollipops with mojo sauce), masitas de puerco (bite size crispy pork), or platanos rellenos (stuffed plantain with ground beef and white cheese).
Empanada or Nada | 454 Bloomfield Avenue
The little bakery serves savory and sweet empanadas. Popular flavors include beef and cheese, chorizo, and guava and cheese (sweet). Vegan options are available. Coffee and smoothies are also on the menu.
Noches De Colombia | 19 Elm Street
You can find this Colombian restaurant in many Latin neighborhoods across the tri-state area. The large menu offers Colombian staples for all three meals of the day. Must-try items include arepas (corn cakes ubiquitous in Colombia), chicharron (fried pork belly), and churrasquito (grilled skirt steak).
Paraiso Cocina Dominicana | 25 William Street
The small restaurant serves classic Dominican dishes at affordable prices. Get the pernil (roast pork) whenever it’s available (many reviewers call it “the best in town.”). Its chicken stew, roast pork, and empanadas are popular among Montclair High School students.
Puebla De Noche | 6 Park Street
The colorful spot, opened last summer right after lockdowns were lifted, serves traditional Mexican cooking beyond tacos and enchiladas. For something unique, get the Aguachile, a brightly flavored dish of shrimp submerged in a chili-and-lime-infused sauce, or chicken in spicy Mexican mole.
Samba | 7 Park Street
The best time to visit is on Friday and Saturday nights, when feijoada, Brazil’s national dish, is on the menu. Black beans, sausages, ribs, and smoked meat are slow-cooked for 24 hours and served with collard green, farofa (toasted cassava meal), and orange slices. Another popular Brazilian specialties is moqueca, an aromatic shrimp and fish stew simmered in coconut milk with plenty of herbs, which is available every day. The restaurant is 100 percent gluten-free. The owner Ilson Goncalves has also published a cookbook on Brazilian home cooking.
Saveur Creole | 131 Grove Street
Haitian dishes are not as spicy as Cajun food, but the flavors are no less bold and or vibrant. The restaurant serves Creole favorites like gumbo and chicken stews, But there are also “exotic” dishes less familiar to American eaters. Some interesting items include Lambi Bouki (ceviche-style conch in hot sauce), tassot de chevre (shredded fried goat served with pickled vegetable), and Haitian legume (a vegetable stew with spinach and eggplant).
Tacoria | 367 Bloomfield Avenue
The Mexican fast-casual restaurant is so popular that it has opened six locations across the state (another one to open in Hoboken). The tacos are delicious and extremely Instagrammable. There are classic flavors such as carne asada and pollo tinga, as well as more creative ones such as Brussel sprouts.