Latest Mall Restaurant Opens, First New Jersey Location

El Chico Cafe brings Mexican cantina to Ocean County Mall

Opening day for is today, after construction began in early April at the next to .

The opening marks the mall’s newest tenant with a liquor license, which is shared by Benihana, whose owner Hassan Halani also owns El Chico Café.

Halani said the idea to bring El Chico to Ocean County first emerged more than two years ago, after he visited a location elsewhere and fell in love with the food. He decided to bring the franchise to New Jersey, building it next to his Benihana restaurant in the same corridor with on the Oak Avenue side of the mall.

The restaurant, a Mexican cantina, is the first El Chico in New Jersey.

The 5,600 square foot cantina-style restaurant was fully staffed yesterday as hosts, servers and managers came around often to check on guests during opening day. The lunch crowd was a mix of mall shoppers: families, groups of friends and folks on lunch break in tables and booths. A full service bar was cranking out specialty margaritas and Mexican draft beer.

Staffers promised outdoor dining seating would be forthcoming, and that happy hour and late-night specials had yet to be finalized.

Owners said the restaurant will bring approximately 60-70 full-time and part-time positions to Toms River. A “join our team” banner hung outside the eatery.

El Chico is open for lunch and dinner daily, and open through midnight weekdays and til 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Jackie January 27, 2012 at 07:09 PM
I tried it twice. Thankfully had a coupon each time for a buy one, get one entree. It still wasn't worth the cost. Food is either just bad or much too highly seasoned and I am not a stranger to spicy/seasoned foods. Wouldn't waste any more money there.
Alexander January 28, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Among the Tex Mex offerings in Toms River, you can't go wrong with El Chico. The atmosphere is friendly, the entire place is clean, and the food is exactly what I want from a Tex Mex restaurant. The salsa is pretty great (although too piquant for some) , and as with any good restaurant, if anything does go wrong the staff will do what it takes to make things right. Definitely worth a visit.
james taylor February 27, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I have eaten there twice and both times the food was great and the staff was very good. Will definatly return again for a good Tex Mex meal in Toms River
thirdgenerationff February 27, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Good luck they shuttered up.
1stcav February 27, 2012 at 10:51 PM
It was bad !!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »