Last month Axo opened in Lindenwold New Jersey, featuring a Mexican Asian fusion menu with birria tacos as one of their amazing signature dishes that are packing the place with customers all day long.
I stopped in this week for a late lunch and tried birria tacos for the first time. It will not be my last.
Today I 100% understand why these amazing Axo tacos and the ensuing word-of-mouth “oh you have to try them…” has in just 3 years propelled Chef Lorenzo from a part-time popup kitchen out of his garage, into a full booming restaurant… as well as multiple locations in Clementon Park!
Simply the food is amazing, and customers are enjoying Axo so much they are telling everyone.
Heck, I stopped in mid-meal time around 1:30pm on a Tuesday, and every single seat in the place was filled. At times while I ate, people were waiting for a table. it made it tough for me to get a photo of the full dining area!
Plus you have to consider the 42Freeway coverage is just going online now! Ha!
My server tells me that it has been busy like that since almost the opening. Well, If you make amazing food, word-of-mouth will take care of things for yourself!
But I want to give a shout-out to Marilyn Johnson and her coverage at South Jersey Food Scene (website/group). Her early introduction to the restaurant back in January, as well as numerous rave reviews from members of her 45,000 strong Facebook group, has likely fueled some of the customer visits at Axo.
And It’s a big thing to help restaurants get people in the door the first time, but it takes delicious food and a great dining experience to get folks coming back again and again. Which has to be the case with Axo.
It’s only been three days for me since my lunch, and I’m already plotting the perfect time this weekend that I’ll return to Axo, to share the experience with my wife!
Axo is located at 4 N Whitehorse Pike in Lindenwold taking over the spot which was previously the Little Tuna. The prior restaurant closed Unexpectedly in February of last year.
If you’re unfamiliar, it is close to the Lindenwold middle school and directly across the street from Mama Rosa Italian.
So keep reading for more on Axo and my amateur food review of my lunch experience.
Note: I paid with a credit card on visit. Seems many have commented they are cash-only. I can only assume that it took a couple weeks to get that setup.
Axo – Mexican Asian Fusion
The Lindenwold building that is now home to Axo had only been out of use for about a year, so overall everything was well maintained, and it makes for a very nice dining area for Axo.
Outside it’s a very nice stucco exterior with large tinted windows.
The entrance and main parking are in the back, and you walk up a few steps to the dining room area.
Those large windows really become a focus here as they basically fill the entire space of two walls from table height to the ceiling with glass. It really helps to further open up the space!
It’s a decent size dining area. Cliché to say… it’s not very large, but it’s definitely not small.
My quick guesstimate is that they could probably seat three dozen customers in the space with a variety of table seating for two or four persons (and of course tables can be combined).
There is also a small alcove waiting area, and yes you can get food to go!
While I had not visited the Little Tuna, I imagine the room site and experience is similar. But from that point on things are very much different in regards to the menu!
But more on that in a second!
Chef Jose Lorenzo – Food Garage to Food Guru!
Chef Jose Lorenzo has an amazing success story which has taken him from a pop-up restaurant operating out of this garage in 2020, to today having his own full restaurant as well as multiple locations within the nearby Clementon Park.
South Jersey Food Scene’s article from January does a great job describing how his pop-up garage eatery quickly grew from 15 to 50 orders per day and started the path to further growth.
Great tastes in your mouth leads to great “word of mouth”!
Jose soon found space in a shared kitchen with the Pudding Palace in Oaklyn NJ.
Chef Lorenzo’s delicious food, amazing tacos and a loyal customer base, soon led to the opportunity with Clementon park… which I believe for 2023 has grown to three locations inside the park!
With the whirlwinds still fully in motion, Chef Lorenzo was able to take over the former Little Tuna building in Lindenwold.
Important to note that Axo Lindenwold is closed Mondays and Wednesdays, as the Chef is working in Clementon those days.
The Axo Menu – And My Birria Tacos!
The physical Axo menu for my Tuesday lunch visit was a two sided, single sheet laminated page with maybe 12 items on each side… including appetizers and entrees.
It’s not a large menu but it’s packed with a lot of flavors and creativity.
One side of the menu is focused mostly on the Mexican dishes, while the other is Asian. “Fusion” is happening throughout the menu, with many crossovers such as Korean Alpastor (pork alpastor with pineapple, onion and cilantro).
So there is some logic to the two sides of the menu, with the Mexican aspects focused around amazing tacos, and the Asian side having a primary star with rice bowls.
Proteins choices throughout those dishes include rib eye, salmon, chicken, veggie, birria style and more.
The Asian side of the menu also offers two ramen dishes, and one of them has a lot of fusion going with the introduction of the birria meat.
My Chicken Birria Taco Lunch
I started with Mexican street corn which was a large cob of corn, cooked perfectly. It was coated in cotija cheese, chili powder and a lime mayo. I’m a huge fan of Mexican street corn in general and this was a perfectly delicious version.
For my main course I went with the chicken birria tacos, which I had made my mind up on long before I even walked into the restaurant!
Can I admit to you that I have never had this style of taco before?
If you aren’t aware of what birria tacos are…. well it’s based on a taco you are similar with, but there are big twists to birria version. The Axo delicious version.
While I don’t know how long this style of taco has been around in the US, it seems there has been an explosion in the interest the last few years, driven by social media… particularly Instagram and TikTok.
A 2021 article at Today.com describes how taco stands and restaurants serving barbacoa added birria tacos to the menu and just saw sales and profits take off!
So get to the point! What are birria tacos!!
Simply birria is a meat stew which includes a combination of chilies and spices, which gives the stew broth a deep red hue.
The meat is slow cooked in the stew so it has the extra tender shredded and falls apart texture.
The chef then takes a mostly traditional tortilla and fills it with the tender meat from the red stew. Other ingredients are added such as cheese, onion and cilantro.
And when I say “fills it”… I mean FULL! There are no cold vegetable ingredients such as lettuce and tomato. You are getting three tacos fully loaded with meat and other ingredients.
So there’s some differences so far. But just wait… the show is just starting!
The tortilla is then dipped into the broth so that the thin layer of fat from the birria stew which has collected at the top, is picked up by the tortilla.. and then the tortilla (meat, cheese, everything) is tossed on the griddle so that it gives it a crispy outer shell.
The Axo version I had was cooked so that the cheese oozed out a bit from the shell, and created that delicious crispy cheesiness experience. Kind of like how one of the best parts of French Onion soup is the crispy cheesy that cooks on top and down the sides!
When served to you, the delicious birria stew is provided in a dipping bowl.
Yes! You DIP YOUR TACOS! It’s a perfectly delicious idea, especially when there aren’t any “loose” components of the taco to fall off.
The flavor of the meat cooked in birria stew, The cheese that mixed perfectly throughout the taco. The texture of the tortilla, and the delicious dipping stew… wow. I mean, WOW!
So I had walked into the restaurant wondering if I was hungry enough to even attempt lunch, but honestly I could not stop myself from eating everything that was offered to me on my plate.
An honestly an order of three birria tacos at 15 bucks makes for a hearty meal. Oh and I added in that mexican street corn.
I really enjoyed my meal, and I totally understand how Axo has caught a growing popularity wave.
Number one, everything was simply delicious. Chef Lorenzo and the team are really doing things right.
But the interesting side aspect of the birria taco is it takes a very common concept that we’re all familiar with (tacos), and provides a unique and delicious twist to the experience. It’s familiar yet very different at the same time!
I guarantee that after you try Axo and their birria tacos, you absolutely will tell at least one person about your experience.
Well I know for a fact the 42 freeway fans are going to jump all over this experience!
Links and Locations
Axo – Mexican Asian Fusion
4 N White Horse Pike