One of our goals at NYC Plugged has always been to inspire New Yorkers and visitors alike, to venture out and see the real city. New York City is one of the most bustling cities in the world, with countless things to do, places to see, and restaurants to try. With COVID-19’s impact, the bustle we’ve all become so accustomed to has been put on hold. In response, many businesses have been getting creative, Jajaja Mexicana being one of them. Their innovation and quality are not to be missed.
Co-owners, Nima Garos, and Koorosh Baktiar work daily to make the magic happen at Jajaja, and their other establishment, Gelso and Grand located in SoHo. We recently got on the phone with Nima to discuss all things Jajaja.
Let’s Start With the Basics
For those who don’t know, Jajaja Mexicana is a plant-based Mexican restaurant, serving some truly innovative and mouth-watering food sans the meat. When they first opened, everyone raved about their kale pancakes, which owner, Nima, also cited as one of his favorite dishes. Made with a kale powder and flour batter, it’s topped with a mango coconut milk sauce and topped off with toasted “bacon” coconut bits. Brunch Boys described them as a great balance of earthiness and sweet, but the innovation doesn’t stop there.
A Strong Base, Starts With Some Killer Teamwork
Nima and Koorosh often collaborate with other brands to create new tastes and flavor profiles that match their current initiatives. Most recently, they teamed up with their friends over at Stanley RX to offer a Tumeric Ginger RX Soup which includes the addition of their immunity-boosting drops, which can often be expensive when bought separately but comes at no additional charge. Perfect in today’s climate, where a boosted immunity is paramount. They have also teamed up with Gem and Bolt on a Spicy Watermelon Mezcal, which turned out to be such a hit, that it might be added as a permanent menu item when they reopen. Another refreshing cocktail to come out of quarantine is their Lemon Ginger RX.
Building on Their Support by Supporting Others
Jajaja has also been able to offer some freebies with every order, like Topo Chico mineral water, whom they plan to team up with again. In early April, they worked on a National Burrito Day initiative, matching their number of orders in a day, with food to be delivered to an NYC hospital. They plan to do this at least two more times in the coming weeks. Keep a lookout, so your order can also support a healthcare worker with a free meal that day!
Let’s Talk Menu!
Jajaja’s philosophy is that everything should be fun, playful, and shared, their menu consists of tons of options to support just that. Nima who has been vegetarian on and off for quite some time has recently taken it on 100%. Seeing the difficulty of eating out and finding options for someone who’s vegan or vegetarian, lead to the inspiration to change the mold of plant-based restaurants. Appealing to their customer base, while also inspiring those who aren’t mainly plant-based eaters to try it.
Their menu items are baked, not fried, keep it healthy, and avoiding anything too oily or heavy. All of their juices are made fresh in-house, and their menu is balanced to bring out different flavor profiles in each dish and drink. The variety is constantly adapting, items highlighting something already on the menu, can be swapped out to make way for new harmonious tastes.
During restaurant closures, Jajaja has fought to retain the majority of their management staff and most of their kitchen staff, and plan to hire back as many of their other employees as possible once things are back in action. They keep their staff working during these uncertain times by offering their full menu to those ordering in, while also creating innovations like those mentioned above. They also offer a Grocery Box set (titled Do It Yourself on Caviar), curating items of fresh ingredients they often use in the restaurant, so customers can freestyle a meal of their own from home. Looking forward, their next project is a great package they’ve put together to help New Yorkers celebrate Cinco de Mayo, even when stuck indoors.
The Cinco Fiesta Kit (LES, West Village) we’re talking about will include agave margaritas (serves up to 2), hot sauce, two branded shot glasses, a shaker to help make cocktails at home, decorations for your apartment, a playlist of curated with songs they regularly play at the restaurant (so you can feel like you’re there), and a pinata filled with vegan candy and a golden ticket! The golden ticket might give you a little Willy Wonka nostalgia, but the difference is that a prize will come with every pinata, there are no losers here.
The prizes vary in offerings like food and drink from the Jajaja Mexicana, subscriptions to MNDFL Meditation or Chillhouse, or a bottle of Mezcal or Tequila. A single delivery will include THE ‘Golden Ticket’, with a grand prize trip to Mexico City and Oaxaca (once all this craziness is behind us). You can also pair this with their Cinco Fiesta Tacos, an assortment of 15 chef-picked tacos.
Show Support by Treating Yourself
To support Jajaja, you can order from their LES or West Village locations on almost any delivery platform. Their Cinco Fiesta Kit itself is available for pre-order on their website and Caviar (along with their full menu, including drinks), but order quickly because there are only 200 available!
For their regular food and drink menu, check out Caviar, Seamless, Grubhub, or Postmates, and keep an eye out as they’re working on being added to UberEats. You can also purchase gift cards and merch from their website.
Jajaja Mexicana has three locations: Jajaja LES at 162 E Broadway, Jajaja West Village at 63 Carmine Street, and Jajaja Brooklyn at 103 N 3rd Street, which serves wine and beer only.
Keep an eye out, as we will continue to feature innovative businesses, as a source of motivation for other businesses, and highlighting ways you can support, where and when you’re able to.