Viva Tortilla Sunrise


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The specials

Four words: Chile Relleno Tortilla Sunrise.

The last two indicate where your next meal should be. The first two are what you should order when you get there. And yes, this is a Mexican restaurant in Verona. With chile heat that would be described with a colorful phrase that begins with the word “kick” were this not a family friendly Web site.

If you walk in Tortilla Sunrise and the faces behind the counter look familiar, it’s because you’ve seen them before, in Caldwell. Steve and Meryl Connelly once owned Laughing Burrito in Caldwell. They sold their building and their business, but not their Mexican food souls. And now they are here, in Verona, in the strip mall that housed the original Frank Anthony’s.

We went there on Family Night, lured–we will admit it–by the discount coupon provided by the Verona Municipal Alliance Committee. Yes, Holly Denton had told us, probably more than once, that we had to go to Tortilla Sunrise. But Mexican? In Verona? No, it was just too improbable.

And so, before we realized that it was Steve Connelly in the kitchen, we ordered our food almost in defiance. Bring on that chile relleno. Yes, we’ll see if that corn soup is as good as you claim. Mexican restaurant pretenders regularly mess up rellenos, stuffing a green bell pepper instead of a poblano. Not at Tortilla Sunrise. If the look of the pepper on the plate didn’t give it away, the zap in our mouths did. And not a whiff of gringo cheese anywhere in sight. (The photo on our home page is the chile relleno, by the way.)

Oh, and that corn soup. With a corn flavor that you don’t usually get until August in New Jersey. Corn, tomatoes, potatoes. OK, yes, now we understand why this is the most popular soup in the place.

Hot, hotter and hottest

Sure, you can order quesadillas, burritos and tacos. There’s even a fish taco for those of you who have realized that this is one of the best ideas to come out of southern California since the Beach Boys. But there are a dozen hand-written notes about specials taped to the front counter, promising lamb fajitas, spaghetti squash with enchilada sauce, shrimp Veracruz and more. There’s salsa to go, mole sauce by the container and racks of Mexican groceries and hot sauces, as well as Jarritos sodas. There are no service frills, but maybe there don’t need to be when 3 people can eat for $18 (before tip).

But here’s what really convinced me that the sun should definitely be rising on Tortilla Sunrise: Scattered among the business cards on the counter was one from an old foodie friend who always found the best places for real food before any of the rest of us had ever heard of them. If Jonathan had found his way here, Tortilla Sunrise needed to be on my map too.

Tortilla Sunrise is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can eat in or take out, and there is limited delivery service. Tortilla Sunrise also does catering.[mappress]

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].



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