The hand-carved doors, the embroidered napkins, and the festive touches of color at Charrito’s Mexican restaurants in Hudson County gives the eateries authentic south-of-the-border appeal. With two locations on Washington Street in Hoboken alone, business has grown since the first restaurant opened on Bergenline Avenue in Union City in 1992. Now the popular Mexican eatery is coming to Weehawken.
“Everything we have here is straight from Mexico,” said owner Uzziel Arias, who insists on making everything from scratch like his father taught him. The 6,000-square-foot building on Boulevard East will open in September.
The restaurant will have three atmospheres, with the main dining area sporting a view of the magnificent Manhattan skyline, while the basement level of the building will become a “tapas lounge,” where appetizer items like tacquitos will be served in a comfortable and casual environment. He says that the new spot in Weehawken will include a liquor license.
“We’ve done really well in the past on food alone,” Arias said. “The liquor license is going to be a definite plus.”
Planned for the top floor will be a private room for parties or corporate events complete with microphones and projector screens. The building has occupancy of 250 people.
Arias says that ever since his father opened the first restaurant, the quality of the food has been the secret to success.
“Everything we have here is straight from Mexico.” – Uzziel Arias
A labor of love
All of the food served at the restaurants is made on the premises with the exception of the tortilla chips, which are delivered fresh and baked on site, Arias said. His mole, a sauce made with apples, walnuts, bananas, pecans, raisins, spices and peppers takes six employees 10 hours to make.
“Other restaurants can say what they want,” Arias said, “but my mole is something special.”
Another signature dish is the tacquitos, which were first served after Arias’s father perfected them back in the early 80s.
“My parents are Mexican immigrants,” Arias said. “My dad used to be a truck driver and my mom was a stay-at-home mom, but once they came to American they basically traded places.”
While his father was off during the days, Arias’s mother worked at a local factory in Hoboken. Out of necessity, his father learned how to cook.
“My dad started to cook and quickly mastered my mom’s recipes,” Arias said. “He started bringing lunch to my mom at the factory and everybody loved it. They all wanted to try a bite, and eventually my dad started bringing more and more.”
Eventually, his father was bringing hundreds of tacquitos, called “crispies,” to the factory to sell at a dollar a piece.
“They started placing orders at the factory,” Arias said. “Eventually, my father saved that money and opened his own place.”
The first Charrito’s opened on Bergenline Avenue in Union City in 1992. Two years later, Arias took over the business from his parents.
“My parents gave me the freedom to really run the business and trusted me enough to do so,” he said, adding that he was only a senior in high school at the time. “I guess they saw that I had a different vision. It was my younger vision combined with their know-how and cuisine.” And, the rest is history.
Charrito’s restaurants are located on Central Avenue in Jersey City, on Washington Street in Hoboken, and in Union City. For more information on Charrito’s, please visit www.loscharritos.com.
Sean Allocca can be reached at email@example.com