Orale, pronounced aura-lay, is well named. “It means, ‘Hell, yeah!’ or ‘C’mon in!’ in Mexico City slang,” chef James Muir told me. Muir, 36, is not Mexican, but he knows his Mexican food. The son of a Scottish father and a French mother, he grew up in Buenos Aires, went to prep school in Massachusetts and traveled widely through Mexico. His food at Órale is as authentic and vivacious as anything I’ve eaten in Mexico City.
Grove Street—downtown, near the Hudson River—has become Jersey City’s Restaurant Row. The young hipsters who populate the neighborhood embraced Órale as soon as it opened in April. It’s easy to understand why. The look alone is worth a visit, from the illuminated floor-to-ceiling display of bottled Mexican sodas in their day-glo colors to the Lucha Libre wrestling masks on the walls.