Unofficial poll on best places to eat in NJ (high end and cheap) - moved from Tristate board
Okay all...just for foodie fun on a cold day...let's take an informal poll of the best places (high, middle of the road and cheap end) to eat in NJ, best locales to stroll to find ethnic food, and most overrated. I am a world traveler who loves to eat, and former NYC resident, so I was initially miserable when I came out to the burbs, thinking there would be no wonderful place to eat. I was wrong. While there certainly aren't as many places as NYC, there are many jewels. And, like someone else said on the blog earlier, it's the burbs---so everything is spread out. Add your thoughts, and I will put mine below (decidely Central and Northern end of the state, as that's where I am) to start off.
Mid to higher end restaurants:
***Stage Left in New Brunswick (higher end, unless you do the limited hrs for lunch, but fabulous food, service and wine...will help you with the wine too and not be rude...consistent too...I can never say enough about it...catch their podcasts...go for the special events...Paul Hobbs is coming...sad the wine shop is no more...remember tasting some special barrel bourbons there...yum
Stagehouse (Scotch Plains)...prix fixe great, lovely hangar steak and mushroom soup with truffle oil and a killer potato tarte...average desserts though
Boulevard Five72 in Kenilworth...yum, nuff said
A Toute Heure in Cranford...my shining star of the moment...pleeeeeez go! Fun, original, and on the slow food movement tip. Flavor is "in" again.
Frog and Peach...consistent and good
Catherine Lombardi's in New Brunswick (yum...owned by the Stage Left crew)...fab food...fab cocktails...
A little cheaper Middle of the road in price restaurants:
Makedas in New Brunswick (LOVE IT) or Mesob in Montclair for Ethiopian
Daimatsu Japanese Restaurant in Mountainside...consistent and yummy sushi...ignore the look of the place and go to eat...whatever is on the specials board, make sure you order it...and they know how to do lovely little fried oysters and more
Thailand Restaurant (yes, that is actually the name) in Clark, is consistent and authentic, with great seafood. They're in a converted silver metal diner, but ignore the looks and eat there. Packed on the weekend, for sure. Fast and friendly for takeout too.
Really cheap restaurants/and fab takeout places:
Udupi Village (Montclair)...horrible ambience but the super duper tasty and super inexpensive dosas and uthappams are so filling and yummy
European Provisions in East Brunswick...lovely sandwiches made from their own smoked hams...in the Polish tradition...order a ham here for the holidays, but make sure it has the bone in, as it is more flavorful
Mr. Tod's Pie Factory in Somerset..Chocolate cream, sweet potato, pumpkin, or key lime are my favorites, but all the berry and apple pies are really good, considering no one knows how to make pie anymore, or charges way too much. His price is right. The main locale in Somerset is only for takeout pie, though I heard he has a small place in a different location in Somerset to sit and eat pie too, I think. Do not order for the holidays, unless you are prepared to wait in a massive line snaking out the door. Go on some other random weekend and treat yourself.
Locales for cheap eats that I love:
1/Polish food shops in Linden (homemade hams and cold cuts to die for at fab prices for fresh meat)...and some prepared foods, like stuffed cabbage, pierogies, mushroom soups, mushroom salads, and more
2/Little India in Edison and Iselin...chaat shops, markets, cheap eats and more...pick up the Indian meal in a bag and some yogurt and mango pickle at a market and you have a cheap meal that's way more nutritious and inexpensive than fast food
4/AUTHENTIC Japanese and not for an arm and a leg, head over to Edgewater and go to Mitsuwa plaza mall for wonderful food stands with real Japanese broth soups (ramen), soba, rice bowls, sushi, udon, and more...there's wonderful Japanese food markets with tons of wonderful teas, cakes, confections, candies, and fish...don't forget to stop for green bubble tea!
Place I haven't gone to yet, but I am dying to go to, considering how many people I know love it:
Lorena's in Maplewood
Most overated and overpriced and wouldn't return:
David Drake (for the price and all the hype, I was expecting one of the more memorable meals of my life)...good but not great...though the place is romantic
Would love some more ideas from you or thoughts on my picks!
I agree with you on David Drake being overated and of course I agree with ya that Catherine Lombardi has the best cocktails in NJ!
for cheap eats, I go to Thai Kitchen in bridgewater/somverville. great food. Or for more american comfort food and an alternative when anyone says "hey lets go to [insert chain here] I go to Brunswick Grove on milltown road....bar and gril.
High end, Nicholas
For other cheap eats, I haven't found anything on South River's main street that I didn't really like. No bad experiences.
Just over a year ago, mmgpsych, whose gastronomic advice I always respected, came down hard on the Thai Kitchen restaurant near the Somerville Circle.
So, I must ask my standard question about Thai Kitchen, namely which one did you go to? There are at least three, two of which are in Bridgewater. And can you elaborate on what you had for lunch? I am often in Somerville during the lunch hour and if I do Thai it's usually Origin or Splash of Thai. Thanks.
ambrose - It was the Prince Rodgers location. I had the Tom Kai Gai Soup and the #4 on the specials menu which consisted of shrimp, chicken, long beans and bell peppers in a spicy curry sauce. Never eating there before, I tried the medium heat level which was just hot enough for me. Everything was very fresh and tasty and in fact the Tom Kai was one of the best renditions I recall ever having. Reading mmg's post, I do have to agree with his comment about the portion sizes. In fact one of the diners next to me complained about his lunch portion and proceeded to order an extra side of noodles. Considering that I had the soup to start, it was just the right amount of food for me. BTW, I have also eaten at Origin and enjoyed my meal there as well.
For mid-high end (more mid on price, high on experience), I must add Blu in Montclair www.restaurantblu.com to the list!
Also agree about Fascino, 'tho I'll admit that I haven't been back there since I discovered Blu.
For a true bargain and authentic Greek food, Stamna Taverna in Bloomfield, just a block down from Holsten's (don't bother-eat dessert at Stamna!).
Adega Grill and Casa Vasca are favorites in the Ironbound...
i am from los angeles, but working in philly and my friend is in somerset nj at the doubletree hotel.
whats a good place to eat? i will be arriving tonight around 8:30. polish shops sound cool. but which ones and what time do they close? same with authentic portuguese food in newark. which places specifically please?
chaat shops in iselin sounds cool too. but can i get specific names so i can locate them call to make sure they are open and go/
If you're going to be in Somerset, your best bet is to go to New Brunswick...I'm sure a search for NB on this board will yield specifics, but:
Makeda for Ethiopian (GREAT vibe and the food is terrific, imo)
Daryl's Wine Bar
There are a few thoughts to get you started...but do a search on here for other ideas!
For Polish in Linden.....Big Stash has a lot of fans. They supposed to have excellent meats and a killer Prime Rib...they close around 11:00 PM ...and they have a full bar.
Casa Vasca and Sebra's Marisqueira are two of the better places. Forno's. and Iberia have some love, but it's more quantity than quality. CV is Basque and Sebra's is Portuguese.
Actually, I have never been to Big Stash's, but I have heard from many, who do not know each other, that the food is good. My understanding is it is more like a blast from the past 60''s or 70's type place. I have never heard any mention of it being cafeteria style, but I wouldn't really know.
Head to Chowpatty in Iselin, off of exit 131 from the Garden State Parkway
While there I can recommend:
Dahi Battata Pouri
Masala Paper Dosa
For Polish, head to the Pole Town of Wallington
208 Main Ave
Wallington, NJ 07057
(no website, but a quick review is here
I can recommend their Perogis, Borsht, and many salads
thanks for the responses. our eating schedule ended up getting screwed up because of a wild goose chase. i tried to go to a portuguese bbq place called bbq 29 on route 29 but we got there just as it was closing. ended up eating at the hotel, but the point was to see my girl anyway, so food on this outing was secondary.
Wouldn't this list be easier to use and navigate through if the places listed were linked to? (it's the "Link to a place" image next to the "post my reply" button.
Some from my favorite's list
Italian-Libretti's, Nassau St, Orange NJ
Malaysian, Chinese, Asian, Vegetarian-Asia Restaurant, The Boulevard, Kenilworth NJ
Fried Seafood-Keyport Fishery, Keyport NJ
Pizza-Frank Pepe's, Wooster St, New Haven CT
Pizza-Reservior Tavern, Boonton(Parsipanny) NJFr
Spanish Food/Steaks-Don Pepe's Steak House, Route 46W, Pine Brook NJ
Hot Dogs-Amazing Hot Dogs, Bound Brook NJ
Huge Portion Comfort Food-Harolds, Edison NJ
French Fries-Curley Fries, Boadwalk locations, Wildwood NJ
French Fries-Pomme Frites, 2nd Avenue, NYC
Cheese Steaks-Steve's Prince of Steaks, Philadelphia locations. PA
BBQ-Bailey's Smokehouse at the Blauvelt Inn, Erie St, Blauvelt NY
Fried Chicken- Boom Boom Chicken, Main St, Fort Lee NJ
Ices-Rita's, various locations thru out the NJ area
Portuguese, Brazilian BBQ- Route 22 West, Union NJ
Hamburger's-Cheeseburger Cheeseburger, North Ave, Westfield NJ
Deli-Larry's Deli, St George's Ave, Rahway(Linden) NJ
Deli-Irvings, Route 10 East, Livingston(E Hanover) NJ
English Style Fish & Chips-A Salt & Battery, Greenwich St, NYC
Portuguese Brazilian, Spanish-Solar di Minho, E Westfiled Ave (Rt 28), Roselle Park NJ
Sushi- Still looking for some superior consistant sushimi
French- Still looking for either some peasant style or fancy french, a work still in progress
As you can see...I will travel for food and think I've presented some pretty good choices...feel free to agree or disagree but to each his or her own...we all have our favorites and these are some of mine
Spirito's for the bar pie, ravioli and garlic salad, Elizabeth
Keyport Fishery for the shrimp & scallop platter w/extra coleslaw, Keyport
Saigon II for the spring rolls, Lincroft
Eurasian Eatery for the curry lasagna, Red Bank
Bistro on Main Street for the greens & pear salad, Red Bank
Trinity for the entire appetizer menu, Keyport
Drew's Bayshore Bistro for the pork streudel, Keyport
Angela's Pizza for the chicken marsala pizza, Hazlet
Flakey Tart for the key lime mini tarts, Atl Highlands
Havana Tropical Cafe for the shredded flank steak cuban style, Highlands
Manow Asian Bistro for the curry dishes and jasmine tea
Blackbird Dining Estb. for the homemade pasta, Collingswood
Belford Bistro for the rack of lamb, Belford
Bertucci's for the martinis (yes, the do it right), Hazlet
Jameson's for the mac n cheese and fried flounder, Neptune
Hot Dog Place for the amazing soups, Red Bank
Chez Catherine for fine fish prep; especially sea bass, Westfield
The Mad Batter for brunch, Cape May
Peter Shields Inn for melt in your mouth lobster, Cape May
Kenilworth Diner for gigantic cream puffs, Kenilworth
Le Rendez-Vous for french food fix, Kenilworth
Neelam for Indian food, Middletown
Mr. J's for deli style "sloppy joes," Cranford
The Manor for absolutely anything on the menu (especially tartare's), West Orange
Okay...I have to stop here....too many!
Although the NJ-based Nomad Pizza Co. is not a "place...." it's a traveling wood fire pizza caterer....if you happen upon an event or private party where Nomad's is hosting, go out of your way to experience this absolutely show stopping eating opportunity.
Their event calendar for 09 is not posted yet, but check back in March.
I've been to a third of the places on HillJ's list and I agree with them. Now I'll have to check out the other half since we seem to have the same taste.
I also enjoy Zoe's Vintage Kitchen in Atlantic Highlands for breakfast and lunch.
Sugar and Sunshine Bakery in Plainsboro for cupcakes and triple chocolate cookies.
Hot Dog Tommy's in Cape May
McDonagh's in Keyport for a burger
Trinity, Keyport, for the Catalan Clams and if it's on the menu Tuna Cannoli
Drew's Bayshore Bistro, Keyport for the garlic crawfish and funny bone
Aki Sushi, Port Monmouth for their Sunday Sushi Brunch
Well, let's see...
Trinity - Best high-end burger (Trinity Burger) and great Boar Arepas
Drew's Bayshore Bistro - Voodoo shrimp
Flakey Tart - as my Jamaican friend used to say, "Ev'ryting"
Pad Thai - Chinese sausage fried rice, beef with garlic, jumbo shrimp curry w avocado
Thai Chili - Papaya salad, Whole fish w tamarind sauce
Jack's Rib N Ale House - best wings in NJ
Belford Bistro - Agnolotti (sp?) and much more
Ibby's - falafel hummus combo sandwich
Nicholas - best high end meal in NJ
Westlake Seafood - Winter melon soup, any seafood w salt and pepper
Kanji - salad dressing!, specialty rolls
Frankie Fed's - salad dressing, sausage pizza
Jose Tejas - gumbo
I'm sure I missed a few.
Some Picks from my daily eating adventures - take a NJ road trip and try some great food. NJ Foods You Must Try!
Joe Leone's Point Pleasant NJ - Eggplant Pie!
Kyoto Rt 9 Englishtown NJ - Sashimi
Kyoto Rt 36 Atlantic Highlands NJ - Sushi Winter Roll
Ming Edison NJ - Vegetarian Hakka Noodles
Tung Hsing House Spotswood NJ - Chicken and Broccoli
Krispy Pizza Old Bridge NJ - Grandma Pizza
Carmen's Bakery Union NJ - Best Italian Bread!
Hong Fu Highland Park NJ - Soup Dumplings
Perlins Vegetarian Cherry Hill NJ - Mushroom Bourekas
Yumi Sea Bright NJ - Cheesecake Tempura
Surf Taco Point Pleasant NJ - Surf Taco
Saigon or Saigon II Lincroft NJ - Vietnamese Egg Rolls
Ling Ling Riverwalk Chinese Basking Ridge NJ - Pancake Wrapped Shrimp
Organic Tofu House Ridgewood NJ - Seafood Pancake
Bluewater Seafood Grill East Brunswick NJ- Roasted Potatoes
Flaky Tart Atlantic Highlands NJ - Macaroni and Cheese
Veggie Heaven Upper Montclair NJ - Vege Roast Pork
Flirt Sushi Lounge Allendale NJ - Spicy Tuna Tortilla
Mendokers Bakery Jamesburg NJ - Cinnamon Sugar Strawberry Paczki
Big Ed's Old Bridge NJ - Baby Back All You Can Eat Ribs
Rosa's Bakery Shrewsbury NJ - Ice Cream Cannoli
Pop Shop Collingswood NJ - Pretzel Grilled Cheese Sandwich
IHOP - Smiley Face Pancake
Antonio's Mozzarella Factory Springfield NJ -
Fried Eggplant Mozzarella Red Peppers and Pesto
Greek Store Kenilworth NJ - Pastitito and Mousaka
The Petite Cafe Nutley NJ - Try any one of the 100 Stuffed Cupcakes
Cafe de Thai Matawan NJ - Mango with Sticky Rice
Donna Toscana Chocolates Cranford NJ - Olive Oil and Salt Truffle
Panico's New Brunswick NJ - Gnocchi
Panera Bread - Breakfast Egg Souffle
Lucy's Ravioli Kitchen Princeton NJ - Roller
Harold's Deli Edison NJ - Pastrami Sandwich
Dixie Picnic Ocean City NJ - Upcake
Delicious Orchards Colts Neck NJ - Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Wemrock Orchards Freehold NJ - Peach Pie and Apple Cider Donuts
Fuji Dayton NJ - Yummy Yummy Sushi Roll
Mastoris Diner Bordentown NJ - Cheese Bread
Harvest Moon New Brunswick NJ - Puddin Bites (Oh My)
Ristorante da Benito Union NJ - Pasta e Fagioli Soup
Abbate Bakery Matawan NJ - Pignoli Cookie
Life is short! Eat Well - Stay Happy - Live Long!
On the inexpensive side:
Little Saigon at 19 Elm St. in Montclair is outstanding. Far better than any Vietnamese I've had in Manhattan (or virtually anywhere else).
Also, check out Kamil's in Clifton for astonishing Lebanese/Turkish. It's cheap, too.
And Chengdu 1, at 89 Pompton Ave in Cedar Grove (in Essex Co., near Montclair) for great inexpensive Sichuan. This is almost as good as Flushing and you don't have to go so far!
Favorite tomato pies: DeLorenzo's Hamilton
Farvorte pizza: Vesuvio's Belmar
Favorite Thai: Four Seasons, Edison/Tuptim, Montclair
Favorite Chineese: Little Schezauan Little Silver
Favorite Italian: Too many to mention
Favorite Seafood: Harry's Sea Bright
Favorite All Around Restaurant: Bay Ave Tratorria, Highlands
Favorite Mexican: Joyce's Bakery, Bound Brook
Favorite Southern: Jameson's Neptune
Favorite New American: Stage Left, New Brunswick,
Favorite Burger: Red, Red Bank
Favorite 'Special Occasion': Nicholas, Middletown
Favorite Fix Price: Green Gables, LBI
Favorite Romantic: Whispers, Spring Lake
For Portuguese restaurants, search the board for Newark and Ironbound--and then go to Casa Vasca or Seabra's Marisqueiria! :-)
Fwiw, the restaurant at NJPAC is now being run by the family that owns Fascino and Bar Cara. While I haven't been to the NJPAC spot since they took over, they can be reliably counted on for very good eats!