What fun! Just this past Friday, Westfield was host to several North Jersey visitors who were interested in checking out some of our towns most favorite “hot” spots.
“Let’s go to Xocolatz for lunch,” suggested one of the guests. “See, it’s over there, ... right across Elm Street. I remember we had the best tuna salad topped with Gruyere cheese, tomato, and lettuce on a freshly- baked croissant, with a side of penne pasta and broccoli. Delicious!”
And indeed she did, but that was about eight or nine years ago when Xocolatz was a teeny-tiny shop located just off the corner of North Avenue and Elm Street. Back in that day, the tiny cafe with the huge Aztec-like name specialized in delicious desserts. But, customers continually asked for “MORE” menu selections.
Proprietor Jaime Chaves would always listen intently, and smile. Then one fine day he and his wife Ana, began offering soups, salads, sandwiches, meat loaf, original-house-baked bread sticks, and potato chips. On cold winter days, we’d come by for steaming bowls of delicious tomato bisque, mushroom and barley soup, and even crocks of onion soup, which he prepared daily.
At that time, folks would enter Xocolatz, (pronounced chock-oh-latz), and step up to a small counter located towards the rear of the establishment. After checking out the menu and daily specials, they’d place their order. And all the while, their eyes would be trained to constantly notice platters of chocolate chip cookies, and blueberry scones. I must confess, there were times I could not leave Xocolatz without one or two cookies, a couple of scones, and of course a bunch of breadsticks which “sang” to me as they came out of the oven.
Ten years later, Jaime, his wife Ana, and their most friendly staff are welcoming guests with big smiles as they escort them to their seats in a much larger, more friendly, dining room, located at 235 Elmer Street in Westfield.
As long as the weather is warm and sunny, dine outdoors under the vast umbrellas. Sip a glass of their famous Arnold Palmer iced tea. Peruse the menu and choose any one of his dishes, all prepared with love. My husband is a Chicken Fingers fan, while I can’t get enough of Jaime’s Chicken Caesar salad. Selections include Quiche, Herbed-Grilled Chicken Salad, Chicken Parmesan, Smothered Meat Loaf, Barbecued Baby Back Ribs, Quesadillas, Burgers, and all kinds of classic sandwiches. Friends love his vegetable strudel, while others actually devour a grilled steak.
Do save room for a house-prepared dessert. A favorite is the Apple Empanadas, pastry patties filled with caramelized Granny Smith apples and cranberries. Served with vanilla bean ice cream and finished with cinnamon and caramel, another popular choice is Brazilian Fruit Flan filled with passion fruit and custard, set in a caramel sauce, and finished with berries. Desserts are priced at $6.25 each.
You’ll appreciate the good food and the always fair price points at Xocolatz.
To celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of Xocolatz, Jaime invited everyone to stop by for one of his delicious chocolate chip cookies. And now, you’re most welcome to purchase your own batch priced at $4.00 for a half dozen.
Thanks to all who are contacting me with great suggestions for restaurants, cafes, bakeries, or specialty dining places.
Thanks to all who are taking the time to simply contact me for a chat about a favorite restaurant or cafe or bakery.
Don’t forget that this is your column. Let me know what you’d like to see or visit.
All the best always,
What: Xocolatz, 235 Elmer Street, Westfield
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday. 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday and Monday
FYI: BYO. Small parking lot and metered street parking. Take-Out and Dine In. Local Delivery Monday through Saturday for lunch. Off premise catering available for parties, special occasions, and corporate functions. Casual dress. Reservations suggested especially on the weekends.