Say hola to this family run eatery on Asbury
SOMETIMES you just have to go for it.”
Endo Girl and I were in the middle of our usual summer craziness and were in need of an easy night out to recharge our batteries. And we were, of course, hungry.
“There’s a new place in town and a friend said it was good,” said Endo. “I stopped by there today. It’s a little spot on Asbury. The people were nice and I hear the food is great. It’s called ‘La Autentica,’ let’s go.”
So off we went in search of a new dining experience, toward the historic Downtown, where we discovered La Autentica Mexican Grill at 1018 Asbury Avenue. It’s part grocery store, part restaurant. It’s quite modest on the outside and I almost passed it. But I’m glad I gave this place a try because inside I found some wonderful Mexican cuisine and a nice family serving it.
“My wife is a great cook,” said Arturo Sanchez, who owns and operates the store
with his wife Yolanda. “She is a great cook and I’ve always told her she should open a restaurant and here we are.”
Endo Girl and I sauntered in and dropped ourselves at a table near the front door. Arturo and Yolanda’s son Jayden was our server and soon dropped an appetizer basket of warm chips drizzled with a delicious sauce that we polished off before they had a chance to cool.
Endo Girl and I popped a couple Jarritos, which are cold, fruit-flavored carbonated drinks from Mexico. I prefer the mango but Endo sipped on a guava as we perused a menu filled with tacos, tortas, enchiladas, nachos and more. These are authentic dishes made with original family recipes. Jayden was truly helpful when it came to our many questions about the menu.
“We use a combination of recipes from northern Mexico including my mom’s and my wife’s. People love the empanadas,” said Arturo. “I’m from McAllen, Texas and my wife is from Renosa. They’re right across from each other and that’s how we met. We’ve been in Ocean City for 15 years. I came over for a summer and we wound up staying.”
La Autentica was open on 8th Street for a dozen years but moved to Asbury Avenue in July. Like many businesses in Ocean City, this is a family place. Yolanda and Arturo’s mom Edelmira handle the kitchen duties while Arturo and the kids handle the front of the house.
“I don’t cook,” said Arturo. “I don’t have it. The kids asked me to make tacos once so I did, but they’re not like Yolanda’s.”
Endo and I decided to order “Grandma’s Empanadas,” topped with tomato and avocado, and served with rice and refried beans. We chose one of each variety; chicken, steak and pumpkin flower. Endo chose the chicken tacos which came with four, yes, four soft corn tacos. Available meats for the tacos include steak, al pastor (pork), lengua (tongue), or barbacoa, which Jayden told us is lamb. It’s nice to have the opportunity to ask questions and become more familiar with your cuisine.
Grandma’s empanadas were crispy, chewy and neatly stuffed. They were topped with tomato and avocado and drizzled with yet another delicious sauce. Served with refried beans and yellow rice prepared by Yolanda.
The tacos were, like the appetizer chips, drizzled with a sauce and topped with ripe avocado. Endo and I traded plates once or twice and our conversation flowed, made easier because of the good food.
“This place is unassuming as you walk by,” said Endo. “I’m glad we came in, it’s delicious.”
A woman near us said “get the ice cream dish.” So we did. The ice cream nachos have two scoops of vanilla atop cinnamon nachos drizzled (yes!) with a caramel sauce resulting in a warm but cold, crispy yet creamy dessert.
Find this and more in the September/October issue of OC Mag