Jajaja has been on the top of my list for quite some time, especially as a vegetarian. The adorable hip vegan Mexican restaurant is right up my alley. The entrance is a bit tricky to find as it’s right in front of the entrance to the subway. Towards the right, there is a window for to-go orders. To get seated, walk-ins are encouraged since they do not take reservations. There is a 90-minute rule for table service to ensure a smooth flow.
We posted up at the bar and ordered cocktails while we waited for a table open up. Jajaja has a strong tequila and mezcal program, and offers a range of boozy beverages. The bartender recommended a concoction with matcha so that made our decision much easier. The Matcha Y Coconut is a stunning green cocktail prepared with tequila, coconut, lemon, and topped with matcha art resembling a cactus. The libation was strong but a hint of coconut balanced the tequila.
Green is certainly the theme at this plant-based restaurant, from not only the menu but the decor elements, laid-back aesthetic, and tropical vibes. Glass carafes are filled with water infused with mint and vibrant hibiscus flowers for added flair. The musical playlist was on point too. A full all-day menu is available in addition to select brunch items, including challah French toast, kale pancakes, ‘shroomy eggs, and more.
The expansive menu is overwhelming to say the least, especially knowing there are no dietary restrictions on my end for a nice change. We placed an order for one starter, two entrees and considered ordering another item until our server promptly stopped us to advise it would be enough food for the two of us. Initially, I was taken back that a server would not encourage more but appreciated the disclaimer upon seeing everything come out.
First up we shared rajas con crema, a creamy coconut queso with shredded poblano peppers and black lava sea salt. Coconut overpowered this dish and was in dire need of a kick. Thankfully, a trio of hot sauces are provided which helped balance the flavors a bit. Coconut is commonly used as an ingredient to substitute dairy products in various cuisines so we were not surprised how many items incorporated the fruit.
Next we split a massive portion of chilaquiles. Warm tortilla chips were covered in a spicy red sauce and topped with eggs, onions, and herbs. We were pretty sure this was tofu but tasted great nonetheless. It was a much welcome (and spicy) change from the previous item. You also have your choice to add vegan chorizo or avocado on top.
At this point we were already beginning to feel full but only halfway through. The Chimichurri Eggplant Torta was intriguing to me. I wasn’t sure what to expect. A sandwich was filled with all of the fixings; eggplant, pickled jalapeno, flax seed, avocado, sprouts, fermented bean, lettuce, and tomato. The sandwich sits on a bed of spicy red sauce which made it rather messy and difficult to eat. It was unbelievable though and rather unique.
Lastly, we ordered cappuccinos with almond milk to wash down a piece of banana cake. The cake was entirely too sweet for me personally but it had potential. It certainly tasted like banana but needed just a little something else.
For the most part, we truly enjoyed our experience and would definitely come back to try the other half of the menu for dinner.
The Bitches say: Four Champagne flutes for a laid-back Mexican restaurant specializing in cool cocktails and interesting vegan fare in LES.
Jajaja serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.