Roberto Islas has been a resident of Jersey City for over 22 years and has worked in the Jersey City culinary scene for all of his career. After years of hustling in the kitchen after kitchen, he most recently worked at Mezcal Kitchen, Roberto is thrilled to open a place of his own, La Brujeria in December of 2020. What’s even more exciting is that Roberto is sticking to his Mexico City roots and will be dishing out authentic Mexican food at his new restaurant located at 590 Grand Street.
Todos Los Detalles (All the Details)
Roberto may be a chef at heart, but he’s a businessman, too. He recognized the troubles that restaurants had during the pandemic, as offering delivery, takeout, and outdoor dining weren’t all necessities back in 2019 for restaurants in the area.
To set La Brujeria up for success, Roberto decided to find a space with a big kitchen, but a small dining room. “I saw what’s been happening here with restaurants closing due to high rents and dining restrictions, so I found a small space that allows us to focus on takeout and deliveries,” Roberto explains.
Thankfully, the restaurant has a significant amount of parking space for people to see and experience La Brujeria IRL. Plus, the exterior of the building has an absolutely gorgeous, Dia De Los Muertos-style mural that is screaming for locals to photograph and post on Instagram.
(Photo credit: @labrujeria_jc)
El Significado del Nombre (The Significance of the Name)
In Mexican language and culture, “brujeria” is a word often used when talking about what makes something special. Roberto explains that when someone says, “this is so good, what did you put in it?”, oftentimes the answer from a Mexican chef might be “le heche brujeria,” meaning “I added witchcraft.”
Roberto was recently sitting at a bar in Passaic and saw this cultural slang unfold in front of him. A customer asked the bartender to show everyone the “brujeria” (witchcraft) that he puts in his drinks.
Roberto and Chef Santos Xochiua worked collaboratively to create an authentic menu, staying true to real, original Mexican flavors that they feel a lot of places in the area don’t always stay true to. Plus, everything on their menu has some “brujeria” in it, of course.
So, next time you hear someone ask, “what did you put in here?” you can confidently say “Brujeria.”
La Comida (The Food)
(Photo credit: @labrujeria_jc)
It’s important to the team at La Brujeria to remain incredibly authentic to the kind of Mexican cuisine you would expect to eat at a family gathering in Mexico City. The menu will feature items like birria, barbacoa, pozole, pipian verde, tacos de chicharron, lengua (tongue), and cochinita pibil. Roberto is excited to offer traditional dishes that he hasn’t seen served at other restaurants in the area.
The kitchen staff is from all different areas of Mexico, bringing their own traditional flair to each dish they create.
The restaurant will offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night dishes.
La Brujeria is now open 24/7 to feed your Mexican food cravings all day and night. Food is available via pickup (you won’t be able to miss the beautiful mural) or delivery. Outdoor seating is minimal, and the team is working on finalizing their small indoor space.
Roberto is working on a fun, functional pick-up option for the future as well. “In Mexico, you can drive up and someone will come out and take your order and bring your food when it’s ready at many restaurants. We are working on a similar car service concept, especially late at night when it’s cold and you don’t want to come out.” Say no more, Roberto!
For updates on La Brujeria, follow the restaurant on Instagram at @labrujeria_jc.