At first glance, Jersey City, New Jersey may appear to be less exciting than the neighboring boroughs of New York City’s Manhattan
and Brooklyn. But, when it comes to dining out – Jersey City offers a whole host of choices all within a small compact area. From cheap quick eats on the go to quiet local haunts and even more upscale choices, Jersey City is certain to have the perfect cuisine for every palate. Just short ride on the PATH Train (15 minutes from midtown Manhattan and 8 minutes from Greenwich Village) and you will arrive in multi-ethnic alcove of Jersey City.
Your first stop in Jersey City should be the Pavonia/Newport area. Home to mostly a commuter crowd, a large effort has been made in the past few years to keep these residents closer to home. Part of that effort has involved the creation of a whole slew of new restaurants.
For quick bite to a relaxing dining experience stroll down Washington Boulevard. It has it all!
Dorian’s Bar is perfect for a business lunch or drinks after a hard day at the office. Slightly more upscale and decor in price, this restaurant/bar also has outdoor seating. It’s extremely popular with the lunch crowd, so be prepared for a bit of a wait during the afternoon hours. For the a taste of some of the best true-blue American cuisine, try the steak.
Across the street from Dorian’s you’ll find a whole cluster of wonderful ethnic fare.
Confucius is a bistro featuring some of the best Asian fusion cuisine in the area. Sit outside on a warm summer day and enjoy a wide variety of Japanese and Chinese cuisine. The restaurant is also family friendly and wait staff are more than happy to make suggestions for those unfamiliar with the sometimes exotic cuisine. But if it’s a basic rice-based dish that you’re after they’ll also do an exemplary job.
Bertuccis is hands down the best Italian restaurant in Jersey City. Out door seating combined with an elegant indoor decor makes for an all around great evening out. And there’s also the fast and friendly service and the exquisite food at an extremely reasonable price. There is of course the usual fare such as ravioli and spaghetti and meatballs, but if it’s true taste of Italy that you want, then try some of the delicious thin crusted pizzas spiced up with Italian sausages and herbs. A popular option is also to create your own pizza or pasta. There are tons of toppings and sauces so it’s not an easy choice, but all are far above satisfactory. For the best value, drop in before 3:00 p.m. and grab a lunch special. Besides a variety of pasta choices, the meal also comes with an unlimited amount of fresh, warm bread and a complimentary house salad. If you can find room for dessert, you can choose a wonderful Italian pastry or an ice cool gelato.
If you’re after something with a little spice, then pop in to Ole for a taste of Mexico on the east coast. Both fun and flirty, this is a great spot to take a date or just to kick back and relax with some friends over a round of margaritas. There’s not necessarily anything original on the menu when it comes to Mexican fare, but you won’t hear any complaints. Ole’s policy seems to be keep it simple and it allows them to make sure that even the simplest burrito lives up to very high taste standards.
For those looking for a quicker/less expensive meal, pop into sandwich chain Cosi. Centrally located on Washington Boulevard next door to Newport Mall, you’ll find an array of sandwiches and salads that are perfect for a quick lunch or an in between meals snack. If you’re counting carbs, try one of Cosi’s salads or make your own. Each salad also comes with the famous flat bread straight from the oven. If you have more of an appetite, sit down, stay awhile and dig into a Cosi sandwich. Most of the sandwiches are turkey or chicken based, but there are vegi options as well. For a topping, try the honey mustard. It has a kick to it, so you might want to splurge and get the large soda or bottle
of water. Cosi also offers a variety of muffins, cookies and brownies that are best in the morning when fresh from the oven.
One stop away on the PATH Train or a short ten minute walk will have you right in the heart of the Grove Street section of Jersey City. Home to both the commuter crowd and long-term residents, it’s no surprise that the cuisine of this area heavily reflects its residents.
Right on Grove Street, you will find the neighborhood “it” spot Marco & Pepe. The atmosphere is art deco and artist friendly, even if the prices cater a little more to the numerous Wall Street commuters who live in the area. Smart diners can still find a deal on the appetizer menu though, which ranges from highly stylized macaroni to french fries served with a variety of dipping sauces. The ambience of Marco& Pepe with its tiny tucked together tables and its corner locale on a busy thoroughfare make it the perfect place to see and be seen. Meet up with a friend for coffee or waffles topped with fresh fruit and you’ll probably see anyone who is anyone in the neighborhood. The outdoor seating area is dog friendly as well and it’s not unusual to see a golden retriever lounging under a table. Marco & Pepe also offers an extensive wine list. If they don’t have it, then there’s a good chance no one in the area does.
The Beachwood Cafe, located across the street from Marco & Pepe, is the new kid on the block, but they are wasting no time in catering to the neighborhood. With large glass windows that face out onto the street, The Beachwood is the perfect place to sit down and grab a cup of tea during the afternoon. Sunday mornings are busy as they draw a huge brunch crowd, but the food is worth the wait. Be sure to go hungry, because you’ll think twice about leaving anything on your plate when you see the prices. This cafe may be a little over-priced for the neighborhood but they’re still finding their footing and may come to realize that lower-priced fare could lead to a hefty swiping of the Marco & Pepe crowd.
Merchant is a restaurant and bar that caters more to the dinner crowd. Singles meet and mix during a sometimes rowdy happy hour. Dinner choices range from large apple and goat cheese salads to burgers and meat loaf wrapped in applewood smoked bacon. Nothing here is ordinary including the appetizers – chicken fingers are covered in a tasty corn flake crust and Worcestershire sauce is the dip of choice. Prices range from reasonable to slightly above average, but if you’re not up to a full meal – try dessert. The apple pie served with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream drizzled in chocolate sauce is to die for! Merchant also has a sister-outlet next door which also serves as a wine-tasting area. Eat dinner and then go next door for a round of drinks.
Uno Pizzeria first made its claim to fame on the streets of Chicago but it fits in fine in Jersey City as well. Trying the famous deep dish pizza is a must at least once, but if you’re ready to move on, there’s also a fine selection of burgers, salads and chicken sandwiches. With a comfortable friendly atmosphere and wide booths, Uno is the best bet for family dining. They even have a kid’s meal so no worries about having to order a one of the large adult portions that could overwhelm a little one.
Located next door to Uno Pizzeria is the fast food alternative Fat Burger.
Better than typical McDonalds fare, Fat Burger does, of course, burgers best.
Their ordering system takes some getting used to as it involves the person who takes your order yelling it back to the short order cook in a sing song voice and then their echoing it back. If you can get past this though, take your order to go, and picnic at the waterfront a few short blocks away. Here you’ll find a nicely maintained waterfront perfect for jogging or relaxing that offers breathtaking views of the New York City skyline.
If it’s a more eclectic dining experience that you’re after than the Iron Monkey is for you. The food may be of the typical variety (salads, burgers, etc) but no one really goes there just to eat. Go inside and ask to sit out on the roof. The 3 flights you have to climb are worth it though. The service is actually better up above and there’s a full-service bar on the roof as well. Large crowds gather after work as it’s the perfect place to unwind and catch some cool summer breezes.
The Brownstone Pancake Factory is arguably the busiest restaurant in Jersey City. Just try to get a table on Saturday or Sunday morning! While the Brownstone may be a diner, it’s not a typical one by any means. The menu is extensive – to say the least. Anything you could ever dream of ordering is here and then some. It’s a popular family spot so bring on the parties of five or more – they can take it. While you can get the usual fare for lunch and dinner, the breakfast foods are the star of the menu. There is a whole page full of different varieties of pancakes. Portions are large and generous and breakfast is served all day. Open early and late, Brownstone is always there when you need it.
All in all, Jersey City may not have the street cred of Greenwich Village or the large trendy population of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, but it is still a force to be reckoned with – especially when it’s way past your dinner time and you’re in need of a good meal. Whether you’re on the run or in relaxation mode, Jersey City will definitely have the right spot just for you. For convenience and great tastes come for a visit. Don’t be surprised though if you find yourself hurrying back for more!