It's generally has been an annual custom for me to go to a Mexican Restaurant for Cinco de Mayo yet while I have been in Toms River, I wasn't sure where to go.

When I lived in Plainsboro I used to go to Tortuga's Mexican Village on Leigh St in Princeton. It was excellent, but since I have been down here I wasn't sure which one was good.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Los Amigos in Atlantic City because I have always wanted to try there and was completely disappointed. It seemed like their fried beans were out of a can and their Chimichanga was frozen.

Well today, being Cinco de Mayo I was going to travel up to Princeton to go to Tortuga's, but then I decided to take a chance and googled mexican restaurants toms river nj and the first one to pop up was Tenampa Restaurante
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I was very surprised. Although it is located in a strip mall and doesn't have the Mexican ambiance that Tortuga's has (Tenampa Restaurante is very sparsely decorated), the food was excellent.

I started off with my Sopa de Tortilla. It was made with fresh vegetables and I could tell it was made there and not canned. I don't know what Los Amigo's was thinking, because I had ordered it there and it was nothing like what I was used to getting. Los Amigo's served it with a brownish broth, whereas I have always had it with a clear broth and this is how Tenampa's was. It was excellent, although I think it sat for a bit before getting to the table. It was hot, but the tortilla soaked up some of the broth by the time it got to the table and was bit soggy. I like the tortilla strips to be crisp.

I then ordered my usual Chimichanga con Salsa de Verde with Guacamole - which I do realize isn't true Mexican - but I like it just the same (I have also eaten real Mexican - such as Mole de Pollo). Unlike at Los Amigo's in AC whose Chimichanga's were made with VERY finely ground beef not to mention some sort of weird sweet tomato sauce concoction, this was FILLED with strips of steak - closely similar to Tortuga's. They have about six sauces to choose from for the Chimichanga, as I said I went with the Salsa de Verde.

My friend Keith started off with the Jalapeno Rollenos which are essentially Jalapeno Poppers. They were very good. He had also ordered Fajitas. He had never been to a Mexican restaurant before and that was a safe bet - I knew he would like that. It came out on a steaming skillet, loaded up with beef, onions and peppers. He tried the refried beans, which seemed to have been made there - because they were much better. Los Amigo's seemed to have their refried beans out of a can. I asked Keith what he thought of Mexican food and he said he would definitely go back there.

We also both had desert. Keith ended up ordering the fried ice cream - which actually had a lot of ice cream. Usually most places have only one scoop of fried ice cream, I think here they served three scoops. I would have preferred the outer crust to be hotter and crustier. Keith let me take a taste to see how it compared. I also had ice cream, but at the moment the name escapes me. It's my usual at Tortuga's too - which is vanilla ice cream on tortilla sprinkled with cinnamon and honey. Again, unlike other places that only give you one scoop of ice cream, here I was served three scoops.

So for anyone looking for good Mexican while visiting the Toms River/Seaside Heights area - I would really suggest trying out Tenampa Restaurante on Route 9 just north of the Parkway.

Just for the record, I have eaten at Spicy's Cantina also, which is located on the Seaside Heights boardwalk. Sorry, but that didn't cut it as good Mexican food, although if you are lucky enough to get one of the window seats, you can sit there and take in the views of the ocean and people walking the boardwalk.

I am really happy I found a place that seems to offer really good Mexican food in the area. Now if I can only find a good Chinese place besides take out or buffet.