New Taco Truck Concept Exceeds Expectations During Montclair Pop-Up

by Peter Candia
best ceviche in NJ

Last week, we broke the news of a new taco truck—Lulu’s Truck—coming to Montclair at the hands of the expert team behind Gioia Mia. You can read that announcement here

A pop-up dinner was held for Lulu’s at Gioia Mia this past Sunday, which featured a menu rife with Mexican fare in place of the restaurant’s normal menu. If this sneak peek is any indication of what Lulu’s will bring to the table, then Montclair diners are in for a treat when the truck opens officially this summer. 

chips and guac

Chips and Guac

As we popped open bottles of Modelo finished with a squeeze of lime, our first bite hit the table: chips and guacamole—the proper way to start the meal, in my eyes. The chips were obviously fried fresh and seasoned well with salt, while the guacamole was creamy and flavorful. Simple guacamoles are usually my favorite, and Lulu’s hit the mark. They were not much more than smashed avocado, salt, lime, and a touch of red onion. I asked for seconds. 

I was elated to see a ceviche tostada on the menu, which came with citrus-marinated black bass, chunks of avocado and thin-sliced onion on a crisp, blue-corn tortilla. I’ll cut straight to the point: this is a killer ceviche. The Aguachile marinade alters the texture of the bass, giving it a slightly more toothsome feel, while adding an obvious zing of acid to the dish. Juxtaposed by a crackly tortilla, it’s a bite I won’t soon forget. 

Mexican Street Corn in NJ

Mexican Street Corn

Other appetizers included a grilled elote, lathered in jalapeño mayo and showered with tajin and cotija cheese. It’s sweet, spicy, salty and acidic. To go along with it: chicken flautas. Chunks of chicken are rolled inside a corn tortilla and fried to a crisp. To finish, shredded lettuce, crema and a healthy dose of soft queso fresco. No tacos in sight yet, and we were already off to a strong start.

Flautas NJ

Crispy Chicken Flautas

Lulu’s Pride and Joy: The Tacos

We came for tacos after all, and Lulu’s did not disappoint. The menu featured four varieties of tacos: carne asada, carnitas, chorizo and a beer-battered fish taco. It’s my understanding that when the truck opens, the options will be expanded even further. 

Carne Asada in NJ

Carne Asada

First up, the carne asada taco. It’s always a pleasure when carne asada tastes like its name implies—meat and fire—and that’s what Lulu’s accomplished. Whatever seasoning or marinade they use is not overbearing, while still seasoning the meat properly. The steak is flame-grilled to order and to my pleasure, still medium in some areas. It’s juicy and unctuous. Wrapped in a griddled corn tortilla and anointed with either the house-made salsa verde or smoky red chipotle salsa, it’s a home run.  

Carnitas is always a favorite of mine—somewhat of a litmus test for taquerias. Here is what I’m looking for in a great carnitas: soft meat, mouth-coating braising liquid and plenty of pork flavor. I want to taste pork when I eat carnitas! Lulu’s, again, delivers. The pork is what I assume to be oven-braised in lard or another oil. As it cooks, the pork fat leeches out and essentially confits it the rest of the way. That’s how carnitas is done. It should be bold and flavorful—soft and shredded. Above all, it should go perfectly with plenty of fragrant cilantro, onion and salsa. If you have some guacamole left from the appetizers, throw that on there too. Why not? 

Carnitas Taco in NJ

Carnitas Taco

The chorizo taco was easily the most flavorful of the bunch with plenty of spice and garlic. The ground sausage mixture is cooked on a plancha, lending a nice browning on pieces of the meat, while other areas remain with less color. This creates both a textural and flavor contrast that works rather well in a taco. Another hit. 

Beyond the Tacos

Entree options go beyond tacos and Lulu’s presents a menu that makes stops at several pinpoints within Mexico’s expansive culinary fabric. Take the molé poblano for example, which comes with fall-off-the-bone braised chicken, black beans and tomato rice. The molé itself is flavored with plenty of dried chili and peanuts. Yes, peanuts. If you’ve never had molé of this variety, it’s a true treat and compliments braised chicken to a tee. It’s nutty and profoundly spicy on the back of the palate—addictingly good.

best quesadillas in NJ

Chicken Tinga Quesadilla

And a taco truck is hardly a taco truck without its close cousin the quesadilla in the mix, too. Lulu’s sported two types for the pop-up: chicken tinga and a local mushroom quesadilla, each on fresh corn tortillas. Each tortilla comes filled with either protein and a good amount of melty Oaxaca cheese—which if you ask me is the ideal quesadilla cheese. There isn’t much more you could ask for from a quesadilla.

Mole in NJ

Peanut-Forward Mole Poblano

Lulu’s Truck is poised to open this summer, with its main parking location yet to be determined. There was never a doubt that Chef Logan Ramirez of Gioia Mia would impress with a taco concept, but still, it exceeded my expectations. If this pop-up is any indication, then Lulu’s will quickly become one of the top destinations for Mexican food in NJ. 

About the Author/s

All posts

Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment

Yes, I would like to receive emails from The Digest Online. Sign me up!

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: New Jersey Digest. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact