We have lived in Maplewood for nearly 10 years, and yet somehow only recently discovered Red Cadillac. After years of settling for adequate, family friendly Mexican at Tinga and Cactus Charly (made more pleasant once we got over the idea of dragging a bottle of Patron with us to family taco night), my colleague Amy ordered us to run — not walk — to Red Cadillac on our next date night. We’ve never looked back.
“preparing burritos” by jakub at foodiesfeed
Similar to Tinga, Red Cadillac is not exactly authentic Mexican cuisine. Once you’ve experienced the joy of simple chips and salsa in San Antonio, or fifty years of fresh, from-scratch home cooking at Cyclone Anaya’s restaurant in Houston, it is hard to accept imitations. The cuisine is more “Mexican-inspired”, with extra focus on delivering a punch of flavor occasionally lacking in the more traditional cuisine.
The less obvious menu choices are among our favorite meals in town. Both the shrimp and garlic appetizer and the garlic pork steak took us a few visits to try, but are now are hard to pass up. Sadly, the guacamole is probably the weakest item. The warm, fresh-baked tortilla chips and roasted tomato salsa served at every table definitely make up for this shortcoming. My favorite appetizer is the abuelas empanadas, served up with sour cream and picked purple cabbage that together make a tasty topping for the rich roasted pork. I confess to having food dreams about the beef tacos.
“taco” by stina_magnus via pixabay
After a few fun-filled nights out alone we realized Red Cadillac was the perfect Friday night family dinner routine – sangria and good food for the parents and the best spot in town for a game of “eye spy” with the kids. There is a kids menu (albeit with adult-sized portions) and ours beg for the grilled Mexican corn; it’s a special dish not on the menu but it’s nearly always available in season.
Red Cadillac also has warm, friendly service and kick-back-it’s-finally-Friday ambience on its side. Family business comes through in the way all the servers treat the guests. The matriarch makes rounds from time to time to enjoy the children. I love hearing her reminisce about her handsome husband, featured beside his beloved Cadillac in old photographs gracing the walls. Dark, red-tinted lighting, lounge seating, and live music on select evenings, coupled with knockout margaritas and sangria, make the adults feel young again.
A word of caution: arriving early with kids means there is nearly always an available table. If you’re heading out during the adult dining hour, consider a reservation.
“bar” by Steve Allison via unsplash
2258 Morris Avenue ⋅ Union, NJ ⋅ (908) 349-8411 ⋅ www.theredcadillacnj.com
p.s. We’ve more than once pulled up to Red Cadillac to find it closed. Currently they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays and start lunch late (1pm every day except Friday at 11:30am). They take an extended break for a few weeks in August. Check the website for up to date information.