Despite being voted South Jersey’s Best Mexican restaurant, the Tortilla Press in Collingswood is not an authentic Mexican restaurant. Rather, chef and owner Mark Smith describes the food as “Mexican-influenced gourmet.” While the food has a decidedly Southwestern flare achieved through Mexican spices and sauces, many of the dishes tilt more toward upscale American cuisine. Make no mistake, the food is delicious, but first-timers should be aware that the menu offers fancier fare than cheap tamales, rice, and beans (which could be a letdown if you’re really craving a mole enchilada).
We most recently visited the Tortilla Press on a snowy day – my birthday, in fact! Since the restaurant is a BYOB, we brought the ½ full bottle of tequila we had in the freezer from our last visit. We’re not big tequila fans, but the Tortilla Press makes virgin margaritas (strawberry or freshly squeezed lime, frozen or on the rocks) in cute cactus glasses. It’s a nice accompaniment to the complimentary chips. There are two types of salsa (one with chunks of veggies, the other that tastes like Heinz canned tomatoes and a dash of hot sauce) and a surprisingly tasty black bean dip. Unfortunately, their celebrated guacamole must be ordered at an extra cost.
For entrées, we both chose seafood dishes. In my experience, this is the best bet. My past orders have included the Sweet Potato Burrito (soggy, bland), House Salad with Chicken (standard, but the cilantro vinaigrette was too acidic), and Rainbow Shrimp – a sauté of shrimp, peppers, onions, and mushrooms in a scrumptious garlic butter sauce (right on the money!). This time, I chose the other shrimp dish on the menu. The Coconut Habanero Shrimp features grilled shrimp in a light and spicy coconut sauce and comes with delicious chipotle mashed potatoes, grilled pineapple, and grilled vegetable medley. The dish was tasty, but I would have liked a more evident coconut taste and the veggies were a tad undercooked. Over the two, I’d recommend the Rainbow Shrimp.
Jamie ordered my favorite Tortilla Press entrée, the Mango BBQ Salmon. The grilled salmon is light, moist, and flavorful with an amazing sweet mango barbecue glaze. This dish is also served with mashed potatoes and veggies.
For dessert (this was a special occasion after all), we ordered a warm brownie with coffee ice cream. It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and ice cream.
The prices (like the food) are more on par with El Vez than the Adobe; ie, between $15 – $20 per dinner entrée, or $8 – $13 for a taco or burrito from the lunch menu. Of course, the ingredients seem fresh and portions are sizable, so prices are fair enough.
On the weekends, the Tortilla Press can get quite busy. It’s a cool place to bring a (smallish) group of friends and share a pitcher of margaritas. There’s a slightly hip, slightly classy ambiance that would also be great for date night. Don’t forget the tequila!