Now Open: Meximodo Cocina Mexicana & Tequila Bar in Metuchen

RELEASE: Meximodo: Where the roots of classic Mexican cooking are always respected, and our modern approach blossoms into a fresh, new culinary experience featuring modern Mexican cuisine combining traditional culinary techniques with a contemporary flair and prioritizing locally sourced ingredients. 

Field Research In Mexico City

The Meximodo team’s priority has always been authenticity. Meximodo aims to bring the sights and sounds of Mexico, all while creating an amazing culinary experience. In doing research and development, the team knew there was only one thing to do — go straight to the source itself.

In April 2023, the Meximodo team took a trip to Mexico City to discover everything that they wanted to bring back to New Jersey. They went to the legendary Coyoacan Market, where Chef Antonio led the crew in exploring different spices, chilies, and other ingredients to inspire his handcrafted authentic menu.

Since Meximodo aims to have the biggest tequila selection in the Northeast, master mixologist Carlos Ruiz leads the charge through a tour of Tequila, Mexico. The team explored everything from agave fields to the tequila creation process, learning the ins and outs of this staple Mexican spirit.

They dined at as many different restaurants as they could to really get a taste of what authentic Mexican food and drink has to offer, from renowned restaurants to the smaller mom-and-pop family restaurants. And of course, they couldn’t pass up on trying as many inventive and delicious cocktails as they could.

Energized and inspired by everything they learned, the Meximodo team flew back north with a deeper understanding of the vibrant food and culture. They can’t wait to show patrons everything they took to heart over the course of the trip, and are excited to bring a little more color and fun to New Jersey. 

The Atmosphere

Interior Design & Design Concept by Celano Design Studio

Meximodo is a bold and modern Mexican restaurant rooted in classical Mexican cooking. The design mixes vibrant colors, rich textures, and crafted details for a unique and fun dining experience.

The energy of a celebration and vibrancy of Mexican cuisine and culture were the inspiration for the design of Meximodo. To bring this forward in the space Celano Design Studio blended artwork, traditional Mexican craft, and bold architectural moves inspired by famed Mexican architects Luis Barragan and Ricardo Legoretta. Layered against this are rich textures and authentic materials to give the space an approachable and festive feel.

From the exterior of the restaurant large windows wrapping the building draw guests in giving them a full view of the lively atmosphere inside. Colorful metal flowers, iconic to the brand cover the brick building and set as a backdrop to the patio dining area. Bringing the fun of the restaurant out to the promenade, the patio dining area is surrounded by lush greenery and has residential-style seating upholstered in a mix of graphic patterns making it the perfect place to sip a margarita on a sunny afternoon.

Once inside the open floor plan allows guests to be immersed in the energy of the full space. The bar area, bar dining, and main dining all work together to create a celebratory vibe while allowing guests to have a range of experiences.

Slide up to the bar and be greeted by Catrina, our muse for the celebration painted boldly in the center of the feature bar and surrounded by traditional Mexican tiles. If she likes you, she might blow you a kiss, wink at you, or rain flower petals from the sky. This is all achieved through video mapping and happens slowly through the day and evening bringing excitement and the unexpected to the experience. If exploring new spirits is your thing, peruse the vast collection of the best tequilas and mezcals from distillers around Mexico highlighted in bright pink shelving on either side of the bar.

From the main dining room, an open kitchen framed by colorful porcelain tile allows guests to see their dishes being made and contributes to the lively energy of the space. Sculptural stepped wood banquettes with magenta upholstery and fun graphic pillows make this a perfect spot for lunch with the family, date night, or group hanging with friends.

If you want to throw your own celebration at Meximodo then Dalia’sRose Room is where you want to do it. This magical spot transports guests to a Mexican Garden-inspired lounge and private dining room. The walls are wrapped in a large-scale custom floral wallcovering, the tile floors have a colorful geometric pattern, there’s a hanging garden swing, the perfect photo op, and gigantic neon rose light fixtures hovering over the space. Combined together this makes for a truly unforgettable place to celebrate and make memories.

Meet Executive Chef Antonio Carballo

Le Malt Hospitality Group’s Executive Chef, Antonio Carballo, brings innovation, creativity, and a predominantly Latin flavor to the tables at Le Malt Hospitality Group in New Jersey and New York City. ChefAntonio was originally born in Chicago, IL, but grew up in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. From the age of 3 years old, he was immersed in the culinary world by his father who opened a Spanish restaurant right above their home in the downtown area of Puerto Vallarta. Many chefs and cooks throughout the world have started their careers, he began washing dishes at the age of 15 and he also began to learn the basic culinary fundamentals of a kitchen such as ascutting an onion, making a stock, and peeling shrimp.

A couple doors away, in the same street as his family’s home and restaurant, was where his grandmother “Anita” also resided. ChefAntonio used to visit her house every weekend to enjoy the best Mexican food. He learned beside her how to make fresh masa tortillas, refried beans, queso panela, and the best arroz con leche you could find in the country, but that’s what every native Mexicanthinks about their grandmother’s cooking skills, and he was certainly of them very proud about his heritage.

Between the age of 15 and 18 years old, he was able to work his way up and learn every side of the hospitality industry through his father’s restaurant. He learned preparation skills, high-volume line cooking, being a busser and a server, receiving guests as a host, expediting food as the liaison between the back and front of the house, and ultimately working alongside his father to learn the numbers and entrepreneurship skills. Throughout this time in the kitchen and finding a passion for Mexican gastronomy through his grandmother’s homemade cooking, he decided he wanted to make the culinary world his career.

At the age of 18, he packed his bags, knives, and motivation to Hyde Park’s world-known culinary mecca, the Culinary Institute of America. There he was able to refine his skills and learn worldwide techniques. While being in school, Chef Antonio also worked alongside other chefs of the institute in their Contemporary American, French, and Italian restaurants. He did a culinary internship at the first Michelin restaurant in Spain, Via Veneto. He then graduated in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in business management, with a concentration in Latin cuisine.

After graduating college, he worked for Hillstone Restaurant Group, Dig Inn, and La Esquina, in New York City. All his experiences, challenges, and endeavors have led him up to where he is today. Chef Antonio, alongside his team in LMHG, is working on opening up his first Mexican concept called Meximodo in the heart of Metuchen. He will bring a new fresh air of Mexican culinary authenticity to this beautiful town and anyone who stops by for a dining experience.

Meet Beverage Director Carlos Ruiz

The Meximodo experience will awaken, and even astound guests with the vast variety of agave spirits that exist beyond the familiar nationally-known brands. To build a library of over 500 individual bottles, the Meximodo/Le Malt Hospitality team has not only leveraged their buying power in the U.S., they have personally sought out artisanal, small-batch brands on excursions to the agave states of Mexico. In order to bring out the best of each brand and their individual expressions, from silver to reposado, for savoring neat, or in creative cocktails found nowhere else, Meximodo needed an expert with deep knowledge and a subtle palate. They found him in their beverage director, Carlos Ruiz.

Award-winning cocktail artist Carlos Ruiz is one of the most dynamic and innovative young mixologists in the country. Ruiz, who was born in Peru and moved to the United States when he was just eight years old, and who abandoned a promising future in software engineering to pursue a career in cocktail creation, said his passion for the liquid concoctions was “love at first sight.” His interest in learning the trade was so strong he went to work on his days off and spent countless hours behind the bar studying every move made by the restaurant’s experienced staff. He credits renowned mixologist Christopher James for showing him the ropes, and his uncle, Carlos Ruiz Sr., for introducing him to and helping him understand flavor combinations.

However, Ruiz, who began bartending when he was 18 years old and could whip up mixed drink masterpieces he couldn’t yet legally taste, is mainly self-taught, and says he developed his unique mixology style through a combination of hands-on training, reading a plethora of industry books and watching hundreds of cocktail-making tutorials on YouTube.

Throughout his career, Ruiz, whose charm and pizazz make him a focal point at any establishment, has held high-ranking bar management positions at a long list of award-winning restaurants. Agricola Eatery in Princeton, New Jersey, his prowess behind the bar helped the restaurant earn a spot among the state’s top cocktail destinations and was praised by local media. At the prestigious crystal Springs Resort, in Hamburg, New Jersey, five of the six bar concepts he created in the venue were lauded as the best in the state.

At the young age of 30, Ruiz has already won top industry awards. In 2015, he was named “Mixologist of the Year” by the New Jersey Restaurant and Hospitality Association and was a finalist in the Renaissance Hotel’s Bar Brag Cocktail Competition in Washington D.C. In 2016, he took home first-place awards at the Iron Shaker Cocktail Competition and the Sailor Jerry “Beat it Rummy” Cocktail Competition, in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., respectively

He’s also competed in international competitions like the Gin Mare Mediterranean Inspiration competition in Ibiza and the Herradura Tequila competition in Mexico, in which he was a finalist. Ruiz’s cocktail creations have been featured in an assortment of publications and on television, including Food & Wine, Vine Pair, Good Morning America, Telemundo, Univision, Apple News, Latina Watch, The Princeton Courier, Edible New Jersey,, What’s on Tap, Spirits Business, Vue New Jersey Luxury Magazine, among many others.

At Meximodo, Carlos is excited for the opportunity to introduce guests to the bounty of the New biggest agave spirit bar and to offer them an innovative and unexpected list of cocktails that will express not only his own creativity but the knowledge he has gleaned from native agave growers and distillers on the Meximodo team’s exploratory journeys to Mexico. To guests from near and far, he was excited to say, ¡Salud!

Meximodo – Cocina Mexicana & Tequila Bar
5 Pearl Street
Metuchen, NJ 08840