The Grove West was busy last Wednesday, due partly to the grand opening of Pop’s Garage, a casual Mexican restaurant that has two other locations, one on the Asbury Park boardwalk and the other in Normandy Beach.
Pop's Garage boasts the same owner as Langosta Lounge, Trinity and the Pope, Dauphin Grille and Labrador Lounge, restaurants I frequent and enjoy.
The Pop’s Garage closest to my apartment in Asbury Park is seasonal and open right next store to bustling Langosta Lounge in the summer. It only has room for sit down counters and boardwalk tables. The view is great, but I was excited for the location in Shrewsbury, with extra space for tables inside and some outdoor seating.
Pop's Garage had a soft opening followed by a grand opening on Cinco de Mayo last week with a band playing. I have seen this band before, as they often play at Langosta Lounge on Wednesdays in the summer, with $5 margaritas and fireworks. The music definitely sets the tone for fun.
I went there with my mom and my best friend, and as this location is BYOB, we brought along some Sols, which I felt were appropriate for the holiday. We ordered salsa, guacamole and a basket of tortilla chips to munch while we were browsing the menu. They hit the spot ... the only complaint I have is there weren’t more.
My friend ordered the chimichanga, fried and stuffed with chicken, beans, rice, queso and topped with cilantro crème, amazingly fresh pico and guacamole. What I liked about this traditional dish was that it was fried and left crispy, but not too greasy. I ordered Meneco’s Mother’s Mole, sliced chicken served over ruby rice, sautèed Jersey beans and topped with red mole sauce. It was only the second time I tried mole sauce. It was good but I would have had more if combined with the rice.
My Mom ordered the Arroz Con Pollo, organic roasted cayenne chicken served over ruby rice, summer veggies and verde rojo drizzled with cilantro crème. She also ordered a side of the Cuban grilled Jersey corn (since Jersey corn isn’t in season yet, it was Californian corn … guess there’s a reason to come back this summer).
In the past, I have had the veggie quesadillas, which were also pretty satisfying. The menus at each location are slightly different, so you have a chance to mix it up if you are ever in any of the locations and are in the mood. The Asbury location, with a liquor license, is more of the “walk off from the beach” type, which can be good for both lunch or dinner after that long day in the sun. The Grove location is also good for a break from a day of shopping.