100814 peppersThe plate-hogging Burrito Texano and tamarindo agua fresca at Señor Pepper’s. Below, multicolored tablecloths spice up the dining room.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


100814peppersEvery now and again, the same old tuna sandwich isn’t going to cut it for lunch. PieHole wanted something with big flavor and a little heat. Feeling ravenous, we also wanted quick. Experience reminded us that Señor Pepper’s on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank would fill our needs.

On a surprisingly warm October afternoon, the first order of business was a cooling beverage. Skip the soda and bottled iced tea here and go for the agua frescas. A little sweet, these tea-like concoctions are a most refreshing quaff. Wanting something we hadn’t tasted before, we opted for the tamarindo agua fresa. Offered in sizes small for $1.75 and big for $3, this tamarind-flavored cold drink, served in a trendy Mason jar mug, was the perfect thirst-quencher while we munched on complimentary, house-made tortilla chips that came with both red and green salsa.

100814peppers3 Another lunch special of the day for the carnivore crowd: Señor Pepper’s fajita special. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Decisions, decisions. When you are famished, and see before you an extensive menu, it’s hard to choose a dish. Teresa Marcado, our insightful waitress, was more than helpful, suggesting the Burrito Texano as a lunchtime favorite of many customers. The only other decision to make next, was chicken, chorizo, vegetables, or camarones. The camarone’s, or shrimp, won out.

An enormous burrito ($6.95 lunch, $9.95 dinner), takes up almost the entire plate. Don’t think for a second that the sour cream-embellished, pastel-colored sauce was a bland choice, though. The first forkful carries a bit of the soft flour tortilla, some rice, a few beans and a big chunk of shrimp. Then it hits the back of your tongue. That creamy sauce your burrito is swimming in isn’t tame at all. The spicy little burn in the back of your mouth is due to the sneaky kick of chipolte peppers influencing the sauce and making it sing Hallelujah. Was it good? We ate every bite and considered licking the plate. Yeah, it was scrumptious.

Timing, they say is everything, and our late lunch seemed to be the perfect time to stop in, as there were only two other diners in the restaurant. “With the restaurant business, you never know,” said Marcado. “Some days it’s crickets, and other days its packed.”

Sitting next to a guy who ordered Señor Pepper’s fajita special – a plate filled with just about every kind of meat, onions, peppers, and a side of rice, beans and tortillas – we pretty much decided what to have on our next visit, if we can resist the pull of the sauce-covered burritos.

Señor Pepper’s is at the corner of Bridge Avenue and Monmouth Street, opposite the train station.