As many of you know, my partner, Paolo, and I recently relocated from Los Angeles to New Jersey. One of the things I have desperately missed since moving here has been tacos. In LA, it seemed like every street corner had a restaurant or food truck where I could get delicious marinated carne asada, carnitas, or al pastor. Latinx cuisine has become a staple for me, so when I was asked to come and check out Loquito, a new Lebanese-Mexican fusion restaurant in Hoboken, I jumped at the opportunity. Loquito’s main items are tacos and bowls, with the ability to customize your meat as well as the type of condiments you get on top of your food. They also offer a small selection of sides and dessert.
Walking in, my first impression of the restaurant was that it was largely a takeout joint. There is very little seating and no restroom, which is understandable for the small location size. The customer service at the restaurant is really friendly and the service was surprisingly quick considering it hasn’t been open for long and they make everything fresh. I asked the owner, Stephen, to surprise my partner and me with the pairings he believed complemented one another the most. Our feast included a kifta bowl with brown rice and “the OG” topping, three tacos, one pollo shawarma, one avocado falafel, and one za’atar carnitas. The shawarma and falafel had “the OG” toppings and the carnitas had their “verde” toppings. Stephen also surprised us with an order of za’atar fries (more on those later!).
When I first heard about Loquito, I was skeptical about how they were going to make the fusion of Mexican and Lebanese flavors work, but I have to emphasize: they really delivered. Instead of tortillas, they use a delicious tandoori mountain bread, which is a surprisingly awesome substitute. All of their meats are Lebanese-spiced, but the toppings clearly have more of a Mexican influence with pico, pickled vegetables, garlic crema (garlic toum on their menu), cilantro, salsa roja, and salsa verde as some of the many options that you can get on top of your taco or bowl. The flavors combine in a way that is unique, yet absolutely delightful on your tastebuds.
All of the meat options really delivered on flavor, but I was particularly impressed by the avocado falafel. I had never thought to put falafel in a taco, but it works really, really well with their “OG topping,” which is a garlic toum with lemon pico de arabes. The garlic toum adds the perfect creaminess to your protein choice, while the acidity and crunch of the pico de arabes balances it out in a really delightful way. The pollo shawarma was cooked very well and was still moist, which many taquerias struggle to get right, and the spices were definitely on point.
The carnitas taco with the verde sauce on top needed an extra crunch, as the softness of the “tortilla” and the tenderness of the meat and salsa made for a combination that was very messy to eat. The verde sauce flavor profiles are there, but it wasn’t nearly as spicy as I was expecting.
My partner said that his kifta bowl was well-spiced and that it was a really delightful cross between a typical taco bowl and a Mediterranean bowl. A quick taste of the hummus in his bowl convinced me it was made fresh in-house. He added that it was a really substantial amount of food for the price.
The most pleasant surprise of all was the order of za’atar fries. Their spice blend is phenomenal, and the fries are exactly what you think of when someone says “street food”, but without all the greasiness. Perfectly crispy on the outside, but fluffy on the inside. I wasn’t expecting to get incredible french fries at a Lebanese taqueria, but if you go, I highly recommend you try them.
Last, but not least, I love that Loquito really cares about their customers. Though it has only been open a month, they took feedback about taco prices and adjusted their menu make meals more affordable. When you decide to try Loquito, come in with an open mind. This is not an authentic Mexican experience, nor is it trying to be. It is something completely different, and it fits a niche that I think will pleasantly surprise everyone who comes to visit. Overall, this is a fun, unique dining experience that palates of all kinds will enjoy. I will definitely be back. If you want to continue seeing what’s up with their restaurant, please follow them on Instagram at @eatloquito.