Restaurant Review: Lenora’s Cafe (Keyport, NJ)

Chipotle Grilled Chicken Panini

Lenora’s is basically a diner with a Mexican spin. I do not mean that in a derogatory way. It’s actually quite refreshing to be able to get chips and salsa instead of French Fries with a sandwich. I opened up the menu when I first sat down and was impressed. There were a lot of good choices—so many that I had a hard time deciding. Did I want breakfast, a sandwich, or one of their Mexican entrees? In the end, I went with something a little less dramatic, which was a Chipotle grilled chicken panini. 

It was a well-executed sandwich. The roll was a little on the small side, but pressed to perfection. A panini is not a real panini unless you see those grill marks seared into the bread. Packed into this were thin slices of grilled chicken, avocado, bacon, cheddar cheese, Chipotle mayo, and mixed greens. It was a surprisingly light sandwich given the contents. A side of tortilla chips made sure the meal never got too heavy. Priced at $8.95, this is a little below the going rate for such food in the area. Diner prices, like everything else in New Jersey, have skyrocketed. My mom had a turkey Reuben, which was gigantic, and priced even cheaper than mine. You really can get a bang for your buck here, and on Front Street no less.

Open-Faced Turkey Reuben

Flavor and quality were fantastic for both of our meals. My complaints were only minor: 1) For a place with such a Mexican-inspired menu theme, it was a bit of a surprise that the tortilla chips were not homemade. Definitely store-bought and not particularly standout. I don’t know, maybe I just expected different coming from such a place. 2) The Russian dressing on the side of my mom’s Reuben was a little funky. It had a strange, watery consistency and the ingredients appeared to be separating by the time the sandwich hit the table (you can actually see it in the picture above). 3) Normally, I would not even remark on the cole slaw but it was flavorless and watery (again).

All that being said, I am going to give Lenora’s 4 out of 5 stars. I liked the atmosphere. The country decor reminded me a little of Lancaster, while the service was pleasant. The menu options ensure anyone can find something to eat here and the prices were phenomenal for the area. It really took me a long time to figure out what I wanted because I was torn between so many good choices. I would definitely come back. Those spicy pork tacos are calling my name.

Lenora’s Cafe is located at 18 West Front Street in Keyport, New Jersey.

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