Newly Reopened Cantina Dishes Up a Tasty Brunch

I was lucky enough to go to the Tortilla Press Cantina, Collingswood’s Tortilla Press’s sister restaurant in Pennsauken, a few times before it had shut down.  Extended construction on the roads around the cantina made it near impossible to get to the restaurant and a decision was made to close its doors.  Well the construction is over and the roads are clear, so they recently decided to reopen the doors and give it another shot.

My nephew Michael and his girlfriend, Laura

I’ve always loved the ala cart brunch over at the Tortilla Press in Collingswood so when I go the email blast about the Mother’s Day buffet brunch at both locations, I knew it would be a hit with my mom.  I’ve been dying to get to the cantina since it reopened. My daughter and her fiancée have been going there for karaoke and having a really good time. So I made reservations for the Mother’s Day buffet brunch at the cantina for me, my mom, my sister, my nephew and his girlfriend.

Waitress Ashley talking to my mom. I forgot my camera, again, so I was stuck using my phone camera. Ugh!

When we arrived, there was a slight mix-up with the reservations which was totally my fault. The staff was very friendly and accommodating and managed to fit my party of 3 that turned into 5 at a booth with a chair pulled up to the end. When our waitress arrived, she said that she thought she could get us a table that would fit us all and headed off to the hostess stand. Two minutes later we were led to a 6 top.

My Mom and her 99 cent martini.

My sister and her 99 cent martini.

Our waitress, Ashely, couldn’t have been nicer. After seating us, she took the time to explain how we accessed the buffet. She informed us that pomegranate Martinis were only 99 cents for moms. What a deal! My sister and mom both ordered the martinis while I opted for a bloody mary. We started off with complimentary thick, house-made tortilla chips and a honey yogurt dip that I absolutely adore.  The drinks followed shortly. My bloody mary was very spicy and obviously hand-made. No mix here. My mother and sister both loved their martinis and couldn’t believe they were getting them for just 99 cents. (Regular price was still a bargain at $6.00.)

The buffet brunch winding around the bar.

Now that we had our drinks in hand, we were ready to tackle the buffet.  The buffet was in the next room and ran along the bar. The first table held plates of various sizes, a bowl of fruit salad, and baskets of various mini-muffins.

Serving brunch

As we round the corner, we’re greeted by beautifully thick french toast triangles sprinkled with powder sugar along with warm peach pie filling and maple syrup. A warmer of sausage and crisp bacon followed.  We then approached some roasted potatoes and something that I cannot spell or pronounce but ended up being just Mexican lasagna.  And right beyond that was a fajita station with beef and chicken strips and all the fixings including grilled onions and peppers, two types of salsa, tomatilla sauce, sour cream, shredded cheese, jalapeno peppers, rice, black or refried beans, and scrambled eggs.

Beans, Rice and Grilled Onions & Peppers

Beyond that was a quesadilla and omelet station.  I’ve never had a custom-made quesadilla before.  The fillings offered were onions, cheese, spicy chorizo, sautéed spinach, sautéed mushrooms, real chopped bacon, and a few other items.  Along with the two stations, the were slicing up a stuffed pork roast with sauce.  It was a lot of food.

My first plate and yes, I piled it on.

PROS – The service. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to see us. Even with my mix-up with the reservation, the hostess was very friendly and accommodating.  Our server couldn’t have been nicer and the manager regularly walked through the restaurant talking to the patrons. He stopped a couple of times at our table.  The fajita steak was incredibly tender and I really enjoyed making a fajita with steak and eggs in it. The bacon was crisp and not soft and fatty like it sometimes is on buffets. The black beans were awesome. The martinis were spot on and ice-cold. Most everyone at the table enjoyed the pork but I thought it was a little dry. I liked being able to custom-make my quesadilla. Plus $12.95 per person is an amazing bargain.

CONS – No one liked the Mexican lasagna dish. It was bland and mushy.   All I could taste was the soft corn tortillas. My sister thought the eggs were too wet. I thought they were perfect. We all loved the quesadillas but mine could have been cooked longer. My tortilla was still partially soft and although I was disappointed, I still enjoyed it none-the-less. The problem was that they were only using one press to make them and the line backed up fairly quickly.  In order to keep the line moving, I think the chef decided to cook them shorter than she should have.

Overall, I would give Tortilla Press Cantina 5 stars for service, 4.5 stars for drinks, 3.5 – 4 stars for food, and 3.5 stars for atmosphere. Everyone had a great time and we all agreed that we would like to come back sometime for their regular Sunday brunch.  I want to add one more thing:  I can’t stress enough the importance of great customer service. Even though it was Mother’s day, they were busy with large parties, children were crying, and it was loud, the staff remained friendly and efficient. Our server made our meal. And the manager who came to our table didn’t just ask us how we liked our meal but took the time to listen and even joked with us. This type of service can take a good meal and turn it into a great dining experience. Which is exactly what it did.

The Tortilla Press Cantina is located at 7716 Maple Avenue in Pennsauken, NJ.  For more information, visit them at www.tortillapresscantina.com.

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