HOME > Chowhound > New Jersey >


Bell's Tavern

Is anybody familiar with Bells Tavern in Lambertville?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yes. It's an institution. Really good food that tastes homemade. Very casual atmosphere with a good size bar. I think you'll like it. I still think they're cash only.
    There's often a wait to get a table.

    1. My husband and I went back in October. Got there early to avoid a long wait. Food was very good - we split the calamari appetizer and each piece was perfectly cooked. I got the spaghetti carbonara which wasn't at all like any carbonara I've ever eaten or made at home. It was good, but not what I think of when I think carbonara. The portion size wasn't very big, which was disappointing. My husband had the chicken parm which came with a house salad. He got the homemade sesame dressing and it was outstanding. Really the best thing we had all night. The chicken parm was good, but he was disappointed with the small portions.

      They don't accept credit cards, which they say is an effort to keep prices low. We sat in the bar area and it was very cramped, but my husband struck up a conversation with the bartender and he let my husband try a few different beers before settling on one he liked. We'll definitely be back.

      1. In complete agreement with BC and Sarah above. We go to Bell's often and have never had a bad experience. The food is upscale tavern fare I'd describe as always fresh & comforting with good value for price paid. Service is professional and more than efficient. It's true, the place is always busy (many locals). Stand by the hostest stand at 6 on weeknights and 5 on weekends to ensure a table when they seat the preferred back dining room! The space is tight but congenial! They also have various local artists displaying their work on the dining room's walls. All in all a great place in Lamberville. Tip - find extensive, free parking around the corner at Niece Lumber Company, after hours. See Bell's website for directions.

        1. I've been there a few times and like it. It's certainly the right price. I've had good pasta and salads there, but I also had a chicken dish that definitely tasted like it had been frozen at one time. My boyfriend loves that they have Hennepin on tap and also have a certified Guiness tap (apparently that's a rarity and a big deal for those who appreciate good beer).

          1. Thanks everyone. Am I correct in assuming that the don't take reservations?

            1. Finally got a chance to try Bell's Tavern (I'm right around the corner). The food is great as others have said. Mostly pasta dishes with some board specials, a couple seafood dishes, and the obligatory NY strip steak (which I here is fantastic). Upscale tavern food, they make a great burger and also a very good delmonica steak sandwhich. Portion sizes are a little on the smaller side as was said by a previous poster, but the prices are lower than what you'd expect so it works out. Order a salad with your entree if it doesn't come with one (only $3 for the house salad) or an app and you won't walk away hungry. My favorite dish is the Farfalle Francesca; butterfly pasta with a robust sauce of beef, pork & veal, mushrooms & tomatoes for a meer $11.95 (half order $6.75). Perfectly cooked al dente pasta and the bread is perfect for dipping!

              Note: the hours are not the most convenient, its basically a dinner only restaraunt.
              They're only open for a few hours a day during the week (6-9) and 5-10 on weekends. No cc, bring cash or check. I walk there but I would imagine its limited parking right in front but turn down the nearest side street and you will find ample parking.

              1. I just discovered this place too. I love going to Lambertville, and Inn of the Hawke tends to be where my friends and I end up, but Bell's Tavern is a lovely alternative. The Italian dishes are really solid (the bruschetta is wonderful!), and the atmosphere is very comfortable and friendly. The only complaints so far from the people I have dined there with was that one night the Guinness was a bit colder than it should have been and that the apple cobbler was not up to par (it was definitely not something we would order again). The spaghetti with marinara that I had was truly delicious (I'm pretty picky about marinara sauce), and the veal broth and mushrooms pasta dish (one of the specials) I had another night was simply outstanding.

                13 Replies
                1. re: Heatherb

                  Agree with you on Lambertville - we did a stay over this past Friday at the Inn at the Station. Late lunch at Martines in New Hope and then on to bar hopping between The Lambertville Inn, Anton's at the Swan and finally back to the pub bar at the Inn. All great bars and friendly service as well as very nice patrons.

                  Can't wait to go again this spring for another visit to the great little town and sister town across the bridge in New Hope. The fact that everything is within walking distance makes for a safe and happy time for all.

                  1. re: JerzeyShore

                    How is the Inn as far as accommodations go? Also, how was Martine's? I heard bad things about the new location when it first opened, and having loved the old spot so much, my friends and I have been reluctant to go back. (We also have yet to try the Italian restaurant that filled in the space.)

                    Honestly, I just love those two towns, and I'm delighted they're so close to where I live. There's so much to see there, even in the dead of winter. And yeah, it's a great place to do a pub crawl on St. Pat's:)

                    1. re: Heatherb

                      I can't tell you how many times we have tried to go to Bell's, but it always seems like we're walking around Lambertville on a Sunday when they are closed for lunch. GRRRRR! Need to make it into town on a Saturday sometime and do a late lunch there! Can't wait to try it as one of our friends who lives in town said it's a great place to visit! -mJ

                      1. re: Heatherb

                        Then accommodations at the inn are are excellent, rooms as well as service. As far as Martine's we enjoyed the lunch but this was our first visit here so nothing to compare. On our next trip we plan to try the landing for a lunch - what say you on this place?

                        1. re: JerzeyShore

                          Good to know about the Inn. Martine's used to be located in that very cozy 1700s era building (at least it seems that old) next to Farley's Book Shop, and the three of us (me and the two best friends) loved dining there. The menu was very small, but with excellent food, and it changed frequently. We should give the new location a chance now that it's had time to work out the kinks.

                          As for the Landing, I have never gone there. It's been recommended to me by a few people though, and it sounds like a nice experience. Truthfully, we've been tending to get caught on the Jersey side of the river these last few years. Inn of the Hawke sucks us in most of the time since we hit "regulars" status and the waitstaff knows us by sight. And since the Inn of the Hawke's menu changes constantly, it's hard to get tired of it. There's so many great restaurants to try in the area, but a lot of the really good ones tend to also be very pricey. Still - it's no excuse. Marhaba has been open a while and is pretty cheap, and there's a lot of good places in New Hope we should get to. I need to start going there with other friends who aren't in the same rut!

                          1. re: Heatherb

                            We've been staying at the Inn at Lambertville Station for a while now. We like it a lot. Rooms are spacious, clean, comfortable, and reasonable. They have a nice lobby area with an honor bar, it's a nice place to sit and chat.

                            Went to Bell's only once, usually just don't make it down that far for some reason, place is off the radar. I remember it being good.

                            We've been to Martine's their new place a couple fo times for lunch. It is good, not excellent, but good.

                            How is the food at the Hawke? Thinking of going there Sunday for dinner.


                            1. re: KathyH

                              I like the Hawke for a number of reasons - atmosphere, service and the menu. It's generally got something for everyone on the menu. It can be hit or miss sometimes, but I chalk that up to the fact that they switch up the menu a lot. You can never go wrong getting a burger there. I would also say to avoid the "Asian" fusion dishes and to be wary of the pasta dishes as well (though they once turned out a very impressive chicken parm). Their salads are always excellent, I love their pork dishes and cuts of beef (though rib eye can be problematic), and my best friend is delighted with their vegetarian and seafood options. Love their sandwiches too. Desserts can be inconsistent, but are generally yummy. In general, there's just something about the place on a cold day that never fails to make me happy:)

                              1. re: Heatherb

                                There will be six of us in Lambertville for dinner on Sunday night. I think the Inn of the Hawke would be perfect. They have a varied enough menu to please everyone, it's not super pricey, and they have a great beer selection. Both my husband and son-in-law are beer guys. Not sure we'll wind up there, maybe just for drinks. For some reason husband has it in his head that he doesn't care for the food.

                                1. re: Heatherb

                                  If you like the burger at the Inn and the Hawke, you have to try the burger at the bar at Anton's at the Swan. Not in the restaurant itself, but in the bar. They actually have a really nice, albeit small bar menu. And the burger is to die for! YUM! Someplace we definitely need to revisit. -mJ

                                  1. re: njfoodies

                                    Love the bar at the Swan. It is one of our go to spots, sometimes just for drinks, sometimes dinner. The bar has tons of atmosphere. Same owners as The Boathouse bar, another great, but teeny, place for drinks.

                                    The Swan bar menu is small, but good, and they always have some specials. I love the scalloped potatoes that come with the strip steak. And I've had a very good coq au vin off the special menu.

                                    It does fill up quickly.


                                    1. re: KathyH

                                      I am all about the burger there, but the mashed potato pizza is good too! Great place on a snowy day looking out that window by the fire! Love it! -mJ

                                      1. re: njfoodies

                                        I've had the mashed potato pizza. It is very good, sort of like an pierogi pizza. We were talking to the bar tender one night and he said he liked to order the pizza, eat half and take the other half home. Then the next morning he heats it up, fries and egg or two and has that on top. Boy, does that sound good to me.

                                        1. re: KathyH

                                          That does sound good! With a little leftover filet on the side! YUM! -mJ

                    2. My family and I had dinner at Bell's last night. We thought it was just OK. Doubt we'll be going back. We don't go out to eat that often and there are much better places to go, even at that price range.

                      Our salads were actually pretty good - fresh and not overdressed. My son had the fried calamari appetizer which was surprisingly good as well.

                      But all three of us were disappointed in our entrees. My son had the delmonico steak sandwich. It was dry and tasteless except for the roll - which tasted burnt. The fries it came with were pretty good, though.

                      My husband and I had pasta dishes. I had the baked ziti, which to me was really just a gloppy mess, and my husband had the puttanesca. It was a very small order, and it was watery, without much flavor - which is pretty hard to do with puttanesca.

                      On top of that the bread we were served was freezing cold and on the dry side.

                      The service was OK.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: flourgirl

                        I forgot to add that my husband was deciding on his dessert order and he asked our server what kind of cheesecake they were serving. She snapped back "it's REGULAR cheesecake." It's bad enough that she treated him so badly (keep in mind that we are a very congenial little group who couldn't possibly be easier customers to deal with) but the cheesecake WASN'T "regular" cheesecake at all. It had all these caramel bits in it. Which was pretty good actually, but it's NOT "regular" cheesecake.

                        And I know this is a pet peeve, but I absolutely HATE when servers ask you "are you still working on that?" Like you're a pig lined up at the feeding trough.

                      2. My friends always want to eat at Bell's, they love it every time, but lately I've been left thinking "what am I missing here?".

                        I've had a chance to go back to Bells a few times but none of my subsequent visits seem to live up to my first visit there, for some reason. I ordered the Delmonico steak sandwich again and this time it was (as stated above) dry and kind of flavorless. And, yes, the roll it came with was a little burnt. And the free bread was cold, too, no kidding, exact same experience. It was very busy that night and there was a loooong wait for the entree so I finished it with lots of A-1 ;) The next time I got my favorite dish, the Farfalle Franceska, and the pasta was a little too al dente, and I love al dente pasta. This was simply not cooked long enough, it had a bit of a crunch in the middle. I mentioned this to my server at the bar and you would think I was insulting her or something. So, spotty service too. I ordered the cannoli for desert and it was . . . meh. I guess with the way people pump this place up I may have too high expectations and always seem to be disappointed. Of course, my friends love the place so I will be going back again.

                        As for me, my new fav is Anton's at the Swan, bar area. THE. BEST. BURGER. IN. TOWN. :)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: lien0569

                          I always loved Anton's. Really need to get back there.

                          1. re: lien0569

                            It is indeed an awesome burger1 I've said it many times! And the mashed potato pizza isn't bad either! -mJ

                          2. I am very familiar with it and have had several horrible meals and mixed drinks at the bar that were bad and now revealed as possible dirty water taken from the Delaware Canal or River .... yikes!