Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Princeton Edition: El Jaripeo

This small plaza restaurant packed a surprise - it's not so small. Located off of Stafford Drive in a plaza, it's much larger than the outside displays. Before I headed home for the week, we stopped here for dinner.




When you walk in, it's like a different world. The ceiling is painted blue, with clouds, to mimic the sky. The walls are bright oranges, blues and greens. Art litters the walls - suns, moons, decorations. It's a Mexican restaurant alright, but it's fun, too. When we went in, it was very quiet; I only saw one other couple. We waited a minute or so at the front before the waiter fetched us and seated us.

The table had the name "El Jaripeo" embla- zoned on it, and the decor- ations were very true to the cuisine. I wouldn't say tacky, but it didn't possess the class of Campestre, another local Mexican restaurant I've become quite font of. As soon as the waiter took our drink orders, he brought out a basket of chips and salsa, with two bowls.The salsa had some kick to it. I tried a little bit, but washed it right down with my Coke. When the waiter came back, I asked for the appetizer sampler. He left, but came right back, saying they didn't have that. Quickly, I wanted to try an appetizer, so I asked if they had queso. They did, and he brought out an individual casserole dish full of queso. It was a pretty cheesy queso sauce, but it was good. It wasn't as warm as I preferred, but it was tasty.


I ordered "Cama- rones Locos" (just like my favorite at Campestre), while Chris got a shrimp diablas dish. Which essentially translates into really hot shrimp, with a side of  rice, lettuce and sour cream. My dish's description was nearly identical to the one at Campestre - shrimp, lobster, scallops, crab in a cheesy sauce with peppers, onions and a side of rice. So I thought it'd be good to test it. When my dish came out, it certainly wasn't as pretty as Campestre's - the peppers were in long strips, instead of small chunks, so it was a little more difficult to eat without looking like an animal. The scallops were plump and melted in my mouth. The shrimp, however, weren't as fresh as they could've been, and some were very, very tiny. They also weren't de-veined ... which grosses me out. But the cheese sauce was good, and it came with tortilla shells. I was excited about these, but really, they kind of masked the flavor of the dish. I opted against them afterward.

This dish really wasn't bad at all. But comp- ared to Camp- estre, I think I'd prefer Campestre. The dish was flavorful, but the seafood wasn't quite as fresh as it could've been, and I prefer the large pieces I get at Campestre. But for that side of town, it's a good deal. It's not too busy, either, so it makes for a good afternoon away from the hustle and bustle.

Grade: B
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