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New Brunswick (Rutgers vicinity) must eats for visitors

I am visiting New Brunswick this weekend for a conference and Rutgers, and am eager to learn about favorite local dinner spots. I have been to Clydz once before and enjoyed it -- but am very open as to cuisine, and price - just looking for super deliciousness. An unpretentious or even quiet atmosphere is always nice. Your suggestions are much appreciated!

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  1. Catherine Lombardi Cocktail Bar - For a cocktail. You won't find a better "real" cocktail in NJ. Awesome atmosphere too. Another secret, you can order a half-order of pasta at the bar which is generous enough that I can't usually finish it. I'm a little bias because it's my "go-to" weekly place, but, you still won't find a better 'real' cocktail in NJ. It's not the place you order a vodka and cranberry, if you want a REAL martini (i.e. gin, vermouth), THIS is the place.

    1. Just went to Steakhouse 85 last weekend- an upscale steakhouse but unpretenious, wore jeans and didn't feel out of place. Food was excellent, you can eat and watch tv at the bar or get a table, I would recommend reservations though because it was packed.

      1. Stage Left is very good but on the high side price-wise; I think it's worth it but ymmv.

        1. A big "+1" on Catherine Lombardi and Stage Left (both on Livingston Ave.)...same owners both fine places. Frog And Peach also a longstanding famous spot, though probably a few notches below what it once was and quite $$$$.
          Also, The Old Bay for Creole inspired food (quasi-Creole, but good) and a fairly decent selection of draft beers.

          1. Harvest Moon Brewery on George St has a pretty diverse menu and usually 7 or 8 of their own Micro Brews available on tap. Decent # of TVs for sports if you are dining alone at the bar....gets packed though during RU football games.

            7 Replies
            1. re: bfl13

              Of which I believe there is a game tomorrow, so beware, you won't find much quiet (probably the exact opposite) at harvest moon or raffertys or probably clydz.

              Stage Left has a 3 course menu I believe that's reasonable, for i think 35$.

              Had good experiences at Steakhouse 85 as well, good atmosphere. Lot's of people like Daryl, not me. I think they even switched there menu and its no longer small plates, which at least, was a little intriguing.

              1. re: RPMcMurphy

                I haven't been back since the menu change, but Daryl Wine Bar and Restaurant has always been my "go to" place in New Brunswick. After Daryl, I would look at either the Frog and the Peach or Soho on George. Take a look at the restaurants' respective websites and see if any of their menu's "do anything for you." As far as Catherine Lombardi, I find the place to be expensive for what they give you while with Stage Left, my last meal there a year back was very disappointing. Good Luck.

                1. re: bgut1

                  I work in New Brunswick and eat in the area all the time. Although I can second some of the more expensive options mentioned already, my favorite eats are all lower priced ethnic joints.
                  I don't think I have gone even one week without having lunch at Noodle Gourmet on Easton Ave. Their rice cakes are second only to David Chang's at Momofuku Ssam and everything noodle related there is great.
                  For dinner I often make the very short trip across the Rt. 27 bridge and up about six blocks on Main St to Pad Thai. Their sausage fried rice is the best I've ever had and I also love their beef with garlic and shrimp with avocado in curry.
                  Both places are full of excellent choices whatever your taste preference, and both are relaxed, quiet local places.

                  1. re: seal

                    Good lord of course...how could I forget NOODLE GOURMET. Great food and good bang for the buck. Not fancy or upscale by any stretch, but one of the better Chinese restaurants in the area for sure.
                    Also, further down Easton Avenue in Somerset is POOJA...really good Indian food and one of the better lunch buffet setups (if you're into that). Highly recommended.

                    1. re: seal

                      Holla +1 for Noodle Gourmet! It's my favorite place to eat in New Brunswick.

                      I also like Soho on George for food and Harvest Moon for drinks. After that it's time to hit up a Grease Truck, although it's so not the same any more. :(

                      1. re: joonjoon

                        I'll have to agree about the grease trucks on the campus. Even though it's been almost 35 years since I frequented them as a student, in the intervening years I would frequently make the 2 mile walk from my home to pay homage to the gastronomic 'whatever' that the trucks represented...they got their name for a reason, but dact is there was some decent food there. It's really gotten kind of sad in recent years. Even the food services at the student centers seem to be taken over by the likes of Wendy's and Burger King. Things change...
                        But the "System" is still alive and well in Highland park! ;-)

                        1. re: The Professor

                          noodle gourmet and grease truck... bring back good memories.
                          Noodle gourmet's beef chow fun is excellent, IMO as close as anything you get can that is close to Hong Kong quality in NJ. Order that many times as late night meal as a student.
                          Needless to say, Grease Truck is a must visit if you enjoy that type of food. Nothing beats shoving down a "Fat" sandwich on a cold day.

              2. I second Noogle Gourmet....and second the Macau chicken dish....pick up a bubble tea on your way out.....

                Just had it yesterday. 2 dishes with more food than 1 person can eat, 1 app (chicken wings) and 2 drinks, 23$

                2 Replies
                1. re: RPMcMurphy

                  I lament the passing of Neubie's on Easton; best cafe for breakfast and bottomless coffee anywhere.

                  I'm delighted that Noodle Gourmet made the cut here, exceptional Chinese.

                  I'd add Tumulty's Pub if you are in the mood for solid, better than pub food, and a good beer bar. And lest we forget the Old Bay!

                  1. re: BeerWeezil

                    Old Bay is still worthwhile. Both the menu and the beer selection are certainly not what they once were...they are both considerably 'dumbed down'... but the value and overall quality are still good.
                    It's great that this New Brunswick 'pioneer' is still around. I just wish they would bring back the great blues music they used to have on the weekends, and go back to being adventurous with their beer selection.

                2. I love Soho on George and their sister restaurant Old Man rafferty's is also really tasty. I have not been but many have given Steakhousr 85 great props. Another one I am curious about is Delta's. Anyone been? Oh yeah and Harold's Deli and Arthur's Steakhouse are not too far and are both real great hot spots.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: steakrules85

                    While Delta's is not bad, it is not in the same foodie class as soul food options like Jameson's and At The Table in Asbury Park and Delta's is a bit more expensive to boot.

                    1. re: steakrules85

                      Arhtur's in North Brunswick changed hands a couple of years ago and some Chowhounders who had gone there said it was not the same. Has anyone been there lately? (BTW, Arthur's in Morris Plains is terrific and the steaks are great buys).

                      1. re: albinoni

                        I have it's delicious as ever. For the price it is hard to get a better steak. And this is coming from someone who has eaten in NYC's finest steakhouses and USUALLY REFUSES to eat a steak that is not bone-in. But they serve some great ribeye there.

                        1. re: albinoni

                          My friends went a couple months ago and were kinda disappointed. They said there was something different about the steaks or something...

                          1. re: albinoni

                            Had dinner at Arthur's last night for the first time and was hugely disappointed. I may have ordered wrong. When they told me "The Steak" was a boneless ribeye, I decided on the "special" 22-oz porterhouse instead. I do like a steak with a bone in it. It was very thin, no char at all, not the medium-rare ordered, and had very little flavor. I actually threw away the leftovers--and I've never, ever, done that with a steak bone.

                            So. Do I have to go back and give it one more shot with the boneless rib-eye? It's really hard for me to believe that something really good could come from the same kitchen that sent out that steak last night.

                            1. re: JoanN

                              I went there once and never went back. The place may be ok for a cheap feed, but the place is certainly not famous for fine food. Even the dreaded Old Man Rafferty's does it better.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                Joann I am with you on steak with the bone. I NEVER order a steak off the bone ever ever.. EXCEPT at Arthur's. Their ribeye is terrific and that is the only steak to order. Get it black and blue you will really enjoy it. I had the porterhouse once and had a similar experience. Sent it back and got a great signature 24 oz ribeye steak.

                                1. re: steakrules85

                                  steakrules, what is "black and blue?" I like Arthur's signature steak, too. The changes at the restaurant include a different recipe for their former "signature Onion Soup." Don't like as much as their original.

                                  1. re: NJFoodie

                                    Black and blue is charred on the outside and very, very! rare on the inside, i.e. "blue." It's usually rarer than what I prefer (odd, given that I can gorge myself on steak tartare), but I suspect it would be exactly right in this instance. And I'll give the place one more shot. Fair warning, steakrules85: Your credibility is on the line here.

                                    1. re: NJFoodie

                                      Bloody rare with a charred crust baby.

                            2. Costa Chica Restaurant in New Bronswick (here's the link to the google map http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...) is not much to look at, but has great, inexpensive lobster dinners. You have to bring your own wine along, and note that you will be drinking it from plastic cups.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ChefJune

                                Although we get take out from them all the time ( it's a good idea to speak spanish if you want your food to get there), I have never eaten inside the place. How "not much" is it to look at?

                                Btw - heartily second the food there - esp. the huge $4 burritos and the excellent tacos al pastor.