Five minutes downhill from Eberhardt Hall is a cafe that’s causing a stir in Newark. It has been featured on the @NewarkDownTownDistrict weekly “Tasty Tuesday” Instagram post and has already peaked the interest of some NJIT student food enthusiasts.
“The theme for Mocha Town is diversity,” said Brenna De Sosa, a 22-year-old barista at the cafe. “Our empanadas are from Argentina; bubble tea originated in Taiwan; sushi is from Japan; vegetarian samosas are from India; and then we have your American food: pancakes, breakfast sandwiches and delightful pastries.”
I had never heard of Mocha Town until I stumbled upon their Instagram page late last semester. Evidently, this is how a number of local students discovered the eatery, with some coming “in and show[ing] [the staff] pictures from the page asking for the exact same sandwich or panini [Mocha Town] posted” according to De Sosa.
The cafe’s Instagram page (@mocha.town) may have kicked off in October 2019, but its owners have been Newark locals since 2007. They first opened Mocha Town in 2014 as a frozen yogurt and coffee shop. Now, they have expanded to become much more, reflecting the multicultural demographics of the local community.
“Becoming more active on social media has helped us become more involved with the community,” said De Sosa. “Professors, students, workers, doctors, even the homeless all come here. Customers just have to walk through here once and they will want to come back … We are part of the [Newark] community. Students come in and do their homework or hangout with their friends. Maybe this semester we’ll open late during finals for study sessions. You could have study groups here. We have healthy and nutritious snacks. Like the sushi/poke bowls. We’re going through big changes. New menu items. Our inspiration is to be your number one choice.”
Last semester, on Dec. 7, the NJIT Art Club volunteered to design and paint a winter-themed mural on the back window of Mocha Town. Partially inspired by the at-the-time newly released “Frozen 2,” the window art features rainbow snowflakes and abstract swirls, in addition to an outline of a reindeer head where people can pose.
“For Christmas we wanted window paintings. We contacted the NJIT Art Club through Instagram and asked if they had done it before,” said De Sosa when asked about how the collaboration started. “They were happy to come by, and they want to do one every semester. Which is fantastic! They did a wonderful job. I hope they enjoyed the bubble tea and smoothies.”
While the boba may be slightly more expensive than the drinks at Intrinsic Cafe, another local bubble tea store, I would say that the quality and quantity of the bubble tea was worth the price. I also tried the chicken empanada. Again, just as with the bubble tea, Mocha Town’s empanadas may be slightly more expensive than cheaper alternatives closer to campus, but were still of great quality and size.
De Sosa, who has been working at Mocha Town since September, personally recommends the Nutella waffles with strawberries and bananas.
“To be honest, I love everything with Nutella,” she said, followed by a few other recommendations: “The cheeseburger empanadas with hot sauce are delicious! My favorite sushi options are the crunchy roll with spicy mayo, [and I like] the poke bowls too because I can build it myself at our sushi station. Everything is fresh. The sushi burrito is delicious too, [it’s] very popular. The strawberry bubble tea with strawberry jelly is amazing.”
The best part of Mocha Town is that there are so many options in one place. If your friend wants sushi but you want bubble tea, now you can go to one place and both have a great time.