Mexican Restaurant El Nopalito Opens in Haddonfield

October 10, 2019 Shelby Vittek

Open:

—With El Nopalito, Haddonfield welcomes a new Mexican restaurant and the Palillero family finally sees their long-awaited operation come to life. Located in the former Apron space on Kings Highway, El Nopalito is family-run, with matriarch Estella Palillero manning the fires in the kitchen, bringing with her years of experience working in Mexico City restaurant kitchens. The menu toggles more familiar Mexican dishes with some of the Palillero family’s own specialties (including a rich, robust mole) and the family vibe carries through in the orange and yellow front dining room, which looks onto Kings Highway, with colorful painted portraits and an open, sunny sense of comfort. El Nopalito, 47 Kings Highway East, Haddonfield; 856-651-7041

—The deceptively humble, delightfully greasy Steve’s Burgers on Route 46 in Garfield has accrued a seriously devoted fan base with almost a decade of funky roadside charm. And as of Monday of this week, they’ve added a second location just across town on Passaic Street. The second, slightly smaller Steve’s Burgers opened in the slim former home of Food Train. The Steve’s-style burgers and larger menu will remain the same, but at least one new item will distinguish the second location: a bacon cheeseburger served on the namesake item from Glaze Donuts in New Milford. FYI: the glaze donut burgers—which, yes, look like this—are only available Wednesdays. Steve’s Burgers, 68 Passaic Street, Garfield; 973-955-2882

In the Works:

—Morris County’s Gillette is getting a strongly staffed new restaurant in the century-old former home of Long Hill Tavern. Austrian-born and well-traveled chef Klaus Kronsteiner, formerly of Chez Catherine and Hudson Hall, will helm the kitchen of The Ardor, a modern American-style restaurant with a polished seasonal menu and a strong wine and beverage program. Working alongside Kronsteiner will be chef de cuisine Jon Hung (of Common Lot and The Raymond 1886 in Pasadena, California), executive sous chef Julian Ortiz, and pastry chef Alexa Clark (of Common Lot, Viaggio, and The Raymond 1886). Wine director Adam Greer will oversee the wine and beverage programs, bringing with him brings experience working at Restaurant Serenade, Lorena’s, and Pier 115 in New Jersey and under John Fraser, a Thomas Keller protégé, in a now-shuttered Michelin-starred NYC restaurant. The exact opening date isn’t known yet (though it’s a matter of weeks, not months) and while there aren’t any menu previews online yet, there’s video evidence of at least one possible—and very autumnal-looking—dish: quail, cauliflower, squash, and blueberry. (That’s executive sous chef Ortiz doing the plating.) Keep your eyes peeled for more details as they come. The Ardor, Gillette; no phone yet.

Chefs on the Move:

—Humberto Campos, Jr., chef/owner of Lorena’s, a fine dining BYO in Maplewood—winner of a 2019 NJM Critics’ Pick for Best French—is no longer involved with Luna Stella, an Italian restaurant and bar located less than a block from Lorena’s. Campos was overseeing the kitchen at Luna Stella while continuing to run Lorena’s. He declined to comment on the reasons for his departure from the new restaurant, which opened in late June.

Winners:

Two New Jersey breweries won silver and bronze respectively for two very distinct—very different—beer styles at the Great American Beer Festival. Held in Denver, Colorado, the festival gathers breweries from all over the country for three days of tasting, judging, and awarding. Among the winners were Cape May Brewing Co., who took home a bronze for its Honey Porter, an English-style brown porter brewed with local New Jersey honey and Devil’s Creek microbrewery in Collingswood won silver with Bringin’ Da Heat, a Belgian Dark Strong Ale brewed with Habanero, Ancho, and Morita peppers. If you needed an excuse, buy some this week and celebrate.

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