The Lambertville area has become a true foodie destination with many excellent restaurants representing cuisines from around the world. El Tule continues this tradition, embodying the diverse cultures of Mexico and Peru.
Evy and I have been huge fans of this family run restaurant ever since it opened in 2011. And we’re not the only ones. In its first year, El Tule Mexican & Peruvian Restaurant rose to the top of Yelp and TripAdvisor ratings and remains among the highest rated restaurants in the region. In 2014, the New York Times visited, and posted this flattering review.
What is it that makes El Tule, and its sister restaurant, Quinoa (in Doylestown, PA), so special? In a word – passion.
Passion is a word tossed about so much these days that it’s lost much of its meaning. But in the case of Jack Egoavil Gomez, the word choice is perfect. How many restaurateurs travel thousands of miles and spend months learning the cuisine in a traditional cooking school? But that’s what Jack did for several months this year. Even though his Peruvian mother is a master chef, Jack explains that there’s always more to learn because there are so many facets to Peruvian cuisine. Recently he’s been sprucing up the presentation of the dishes, making them as visually appealing as they are delicious.
Jack shares his excitement for the food and culture of Peru with his patrons. He describes every dish in detail, going beyond the mundane description of the ingredients to explain the cultural significance of each item. At our most recent visit, we learned more about ceviche and Peruvian food than we’ve learned in years of visiting other restaurants. These insights increased our enjoyment of the food by giving us a greater appreciation for what we were eating.
Peruvian is an eclectic mix of cuisines, reflecting the influence many cultures. Fresh, seasonal ingredients and seafood highlight the diverse dishes. Perhaps it’s the diversity that makes Peruvian so appealing. A veritable melting pot of cultures, Peruvian food takes it’s inspiration from around the world.
The most famous Peruvian dish is ceviche which takes sashimi-like raw fish and marinates it with lime juice and hot peppers. The result is a delicious, refreshing appetizer with a kick – perfect for a hot summer day or any time of the year. We enjoyed the ceviche cocktail (shown above) with the traditional leche de tigre (tiger’s milk) topped with a piece of fried calamari. This definitely woke up our taste buds!
You’ll find more than just the traditional ceviche at El Tule. In fact, they’re pushing the edge of the definition of ceviche by playfully experimenting with additional flavors and preparations. While traditionalists may frown on this, Evy and I were impressed by the new textures and flavors introduced by the “ceviche caliente” (hot ceviche).
Many people would perceive fried ceviche as a contradiction but it’s amazing how ceviche-style marinated fish and spicy leche de tigre combined with a light and crispy fry to produce a dish that was truly delicious.
Another take on ceviche is El Tule’s ceviche Carretillero, which combines a traditional ceviche with some fried calamari, giving you a taste of several of the native Peruvian ingredients.
I love the yam and giant corn that El Tule provides with many of its dishes. They provide sweet and salty counterpoints to the spicy-sour of the ceviche marinade.
And El Tule has so much more than ceviche. El Tule serves all types of traditional Mexican foods like fajitas, enchiladas and tacos. It also has a wide variety of Peruvian dishes and stews that will satisfy diners no matter what their tastes.
Some of our favorite dishes are the shredded chicken nachos, the Picante de Camarones and the wonderful Tacu Tacu Encebichado – a delicious combination of the classic ceviche limeno with the Peruvian canary bean Tacu Tacu (like a sophisticated hash brown).
On our most recent trip, Jack suggested we try the Chaufa de Mariscos y Quinoa – an Asian-influenced quinoa stir-fry with seafood. This dish surprised me with it’s unexpected soy flavors mixed with Peru’s traditional puffy grain – quinoa.
More from El Tule
The tacu tacu encebichado has become our favorite dish. It places the traditional ceviche on top of the classic tacu tacu, bathed in leche de tigre for an incredibly delicious combination that satisfies every time.
One of our favorite desserts, the simple yet delicious tres leches cake.
Whenever you are in the mood for Mexican, Peruvian, or creative fusion, you’ll enjoy it all at El Tule in Lambertville.
El Tule Website
Location: 49 N. Main St. Lambertville, NJ 08530
Location: 3710 N. Easton Rd, Doylestown PA 18902