April 8, 2024
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April 8, 2024
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Bluestar Café Brings Kosher Cuisine to Hackensack

Elmer Jimenez

Bluestar Café and Catering, under RCBC supervision, is now open at 2 University Plaza in Hackensack, serving a wide variety of traditional and Latin-inspired dishes weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m..

Chef/owner Elmer Jimenez has created a wide-ranging menu with choices for everyone. The classics include eggs; pancakes and waffles; bagels and toppings; fresh-baked pastries, muffins and croissants; sandwiches; paninis and salads. Jimenez is serving Mexican specialties including tacos, tamales and burritos and many others that are entirely new to the kosher community.

In a delicious innovation, Jimenez is making sushi and sashimi with a Latin twist. Choose from an assortment of composed poke bowls or create your own. At a pre-opening party for friends and family, he served a variety of sushi appetizers including salmon on tostada shells with spicy mayo, sesame, lime and cilantro. The chef is baking his own desserts such as cheesecake, brownies, tres leches cake, lava cake and rice pudding. Enjoy your dessert with regular coffee or an espresso beverage.

(l-r): Mark (Mendy) Schwartz, Elmer Jimenez and Marc Legman, Legacy Property Group leasing agent.

The Bluestar interior has a long, rustic, elegant wood counter, several tables against a wall, and a large table in the back of the restaurant ideal for meetings or group events. The well-designed space with artistic touches is unusual in an office building dining area. Jimenez is skilled in construction, in addition to his credentials as a chef. He worked in construction when he first came to America, and his brother is in the business. “My idea was that people are sitting at a computer in their office all day and when you come in, you see a different dimension, a fresh look,” Jimenez said in our pre-opening interview. “It’s my own design.”

Jimenez has been working in Teaneck-area kosher food establishments for the past 15 years. He was the head chef for 8th Day Caterers. Jimenez came to America in 2007 with a background in culinary arts and the dream of owning his own restaurant one day. In the years he worked in kosher restaurants, he got to know many people who have remained friends and helped him make his dream come true. Chef Gabe Gilbert of Teaneck introduced him to the building management and guided him through the process of opening the restaurant.

Salmon with spicy mayo, sesame, lime and cilantro on tostada shells.

At the pre-opening party, Gilbert told me about their long friendship. “Elmer and I have been friends since I worked at Shelly’s [a restaurant, now closed, owned by Noah’s Ark]. He was the kid busing tables and I was the kid making omelets. We have been friends ever since. He catered my wedding and my daughter’s bat mitzvah.” Gilbert helped Jimenez when he had questions about RCBC supervision and other details. “I have experience opening restaurants so I was able to help him with that. I want him to be as successful as possible. He’s a great chef and he makes amazing food.” Gilbert is the production manager for Mehadrin Dairy Corporation, where he is currently working on making new ice cream flavors.

Mark (Mendy) Schwartz, Teaneck Council member and Jewish Link co-publisher, is another longtime friend (and tenant of the building) who came to the pre-opening to congratulate Jimenez. “Ever since coming to America, Elmer and his family have worked in the kosher food industry,” Schwartz said. “In opening his own café, this will truly define the word ‘authentic,’ having a non-Jewish owned RCBC-certified establishment for the hundreds of kosher and thousands of non-kosher office workers, including me and FDU students in the University Avenue complex. With multiple minyanim and many different types of offices, and thousands of free parking spots among the three buildings plus the school, I look forward to seeing everyone come by.”

Gabe Gilbert and daughter.

Bluestar had a soft opening for the public on Monday, March 4. I came with a friend for lunch and we tried several items. I had Oaxaca Sopes, a Mexican dish with black bean sofrito, sour cream, avocado and cheese on homemade tortillas. It was bursting with flavor without too much heat. Avocado toast with a poached egg had well-spiced guacamole and a perfectly poached egg with a rich, runny yolk that mixed with the guac and complemented the crunchy toast. We also split a Caesar salad and tuna sandwich. For dessert, Elmer made what he called lemon
cheesecake but was really a luscious lemon-infused custard in a sweet, crunchy pastry cup topped with a sliced strawberry and blueberry. It was the perfect sweet ending.

Lemon “cheesecake” custard in pastry cups with strawberries and blueberries.

I had asked Jimenez at our initial interview how he chose the name Bluestar Café. He had many reasons: The star represents the flag of Israel; he likes to think of a star as being up high, something you can’t touch but always have to reach for; and he hopes that he will be a star in his new café. He’s already shining brightly.

Avocado toast with poached egg.


Quesadilla platter.


Rainbow poke bowl.


Elmer Jimenez in the kitchen.
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