Guanaticos, located on Irvington Avenue, is a family-owned restaurant that puts a Latin American twist on traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. Seton Hall students can dine in, take out or even have their food delivered to their dorm.
The Villanueva family never expected to own a restaurant. However, the family decided to pursue this once they moved to the U.S. from Costa Rica three years ago.
“It was never a dream to open the restaurant, but I was inspired to open the restaurant to be independent,” Vannessa Villanueva, Guanaticos’ owner, said. “[It] offered new opportunities.”
Ashley Villanueva, the owner’s daughter, explained the highs and lows during the earlier years of the restaurant. She said that in the beginning, they had problems gaining some of their licenses for the restaurant. However, she explained that the restaurant has developed a good reputation for their fresh Latin American food.
Ashley said, “We do our best to make Costa Rican food, and we try to give our best to our customers.”
According to Ashley, many Seton Hall students dine in at the restaurant. In some instances, she will find students eating with their professor, especially their Spanish professor.
Gabrielle Roberts, a freshman biology major, detailed her recent experience at the restaurant.
“I tried the chicken tacos; I thought it would be a great time to try some authentic tacos since I have never had them before,” Roberts said. “The tacos were bursting with flavor, and the peppers and onions were phenomenal. All the food tasted fresh, especially the tortillas. The prices were fantastic and cheap, and you get a lot of food that’s super filling.”
Ashley explained that many customers are happy with their homemade, fresh food. She noted that one of the most recommended dishes is the steak and onions.
“I would recommend the restaurant to everyone because it’s authentic, has home cooked food and is cheap and affordable,” Roberts said. “It’s an intimate setting. It was a great experience.”
The restaurant is less than a 10-minute walk from campus. Students, like Ashley Phillips, a senior journalism major, decided to keep her options open when trying to pick a Latin American restaurant.
“I have never been there or heard of it, but I would be open to going, and I would like to try the empanadas,” Phillips said. “After looking up their menu, I wanted to try this place because it’s affordable and convenient.”
Nicholas Hernandez can be reached at nicholas.hernandez@ student.shu.edu.