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Moving to NJ - what town(s) have most interesting restaurants and food stores?

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We are planning to move to NJ by June of 2010 and are researching locations at the moment. Would anyone be able to suggest best town(s) on the NJT rail system for the food-obsessed? Thanks very much in advance.

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  1. where in Jersey? North? Central? South? it's a big state. i assume North since you posted on the Tristate Board, but i just wanted to be sure. a list of some of the towns you're considering would definitely help.

    17 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      True, it is a big state, bigger than one usually thinks of it as being. Primarily from Newark (which is an obvious candidate, given the Ironbound) north and west, within say 45 mins of the city by train (husb works near Lincoln Ctr, I in Secaucus, which latter is certainly not on my list for gastronomic reasons).

      1. re: buttertart

        that makes it much easier :)

        Jersey City has a growing restaurant scene and would be super-convenient for both your commutes. if you're looking for something more suburban, Montclair is a great option. i'd suggest searching the boards for discussion about these two places (or post separate queries about them to get feedback) and go from there.

        BTW, avoid the other towns directly across the Hudson (Edgewater, Fort Lee, Englewood, etc). they're extremely expensive, and the area is a culinary wasteland except for a smattering of Korean places in Leonia & Palisades Park and a couple of Latin spots in North Bergen.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          We've just started looking - in Rutherford and Wood Ridge just as a jumping-off point, have been in those towns shopping and so forth from Secaucus - and Montclair does look very appealing. I think JC would be too expensive, although it would be great to be so close.

          1. re: buttertart

            Depends what you are looking for but I don't think Jersey City is expensive relative to the suburbs or Manhattan. However, you have to not mind a certain level of grime even if it is nicer than it was when I lived there 15 years ago. Hoboken certainly looks a lot more gentrified. As for food JC is much improved over the years (and Hoboken has a lot of college type bars and restaurants, not sure if it is a foodie scene although some places are better than others). If you want suburbs possibly Morristown area has a lot latino, decent chinese, Indian, and an Afghani place among other things. Oak Tree Road in Edison has the best Asian food in New Jersey.

            1. re: jcmods

              "and Hoboken has a lot of college type bars and restaurants"
              ~~~~
              yeah, i purposely didn't even mention Hoboken because i call it Fraternity Row. i'd never suggest it as a place for anyone over the age of 23 or 24 to move/settle down. it's popular for those straight out of college who want to be close to the City & can't afford to live there, but the only adults/families i know there are people who landed there right after graduation and just never bothered to get out.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                yet there seems to be an Italian community as well as nice brownstone neighborhoods in Hoboken, right?

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Yep, there are still a lot of born and raised folks here, lots of Italians, and surprisingly no really good Italian restaurants, a few brownstone neighborhoods left, but mostly new condos.
                  Good health, now you know an adult that lives here that didn't end up here after graduation, I moved here at the ripe old age of 41, which I'm sure is very old for a new resident moving to Hoboken.. lol

                  1. re: roro1831

                    I'm not sure I would call Hoboken cheap. Even 23 years ago it was too yuppified for me to move there straight from College (which is how I ended up in Jersey City). However, I think it would be a perfectly fine place to live as long as you are not the type who insists on a big yard and peace and quiet. I just don't think the restaurants are chow worthy (on the whole). Not sure if Ali Baba is still there but I used to go there a lot. Then there used to be a place called Cella Luna (probably gone) which I thought was pretty decent....but other stuff is just americanized ethnic..

                    1. re: jcmods

                      Hoboken is out, for cost and for the fact that we graduated from college many moons ago. Also Hoboklen past the main drags is not really all that wonderful.

            2. re: buttertart

              Rutherford and Montclair are nice options. They are close to NYC, have some nice restaurants and a little shopping areas.

              1. re: NJfoodLover

                Those are high on the list - we will be carless at least for a few months (or as long as we can stand it, we got rid of our car when we moved to NYC 20 yrs ago and have not missed it).

                1. re: NJfoodLover

                  The two towns that come to mind immediately for me are Montclair and Edison.

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                As someone who lives in Hoboken, I can say I do most of my dining in NJ in either Jersey City or Newark. Hoboken has a few decent places but considering the cost of places here I would suggest living someplace else if you are basing it on food.
                I work in Clifton and I find it very chain central out this way.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Have to disagree. In the Edgewater area, we not only have Korean, and Latin nearby in North Bergen and Union City (excellent real Mexican, Cuban, etc.), we also have great Turkish and Italian. Kinara is a delicious Indian restaurant in Edgewater, and offers some of the freshest Indian food around (the chefs rely on subtle but delicious spicing rather than loading the food with creams and oil). There is good Japanese (Umeya) not far away in Cresskill. Drive down to Jersey City and there is Nha Thran (Vietnamese - very similar to Nha Thran in Chinatown), and little India with all the great options including Dosa House. There are also Korean-Chinese restaurants in the area that are very good. We also have Korean soft tofu restaurants that are great. There's Jewish cooking in Englewood (nearby). There are also some Spanish (European) restaurants in Weehawken. But, yes, the Edgewater - Fort Lee area is expensive, but Montclaire (nice area) is no bargain either.

                  And, in Edgewater, there is Trader Joe's. Further, Hoboken is close by.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    How do you search boards for a specific location in new jersey..Pretty new to this.Thank you

                    1. re: lab302

                      just type the same of the location into the search field.

                  2. re: buttertart

                    So when would you be shopping? on weekends mostly? Would you have a car or would you want to stick with public transport?

                    what kind of food/supplies do you most want easy access to?
                    A daily baker?
                    butcher or fishmarket
                    indian, chinese or other ethnic stores
                    cheeses

                    For example out here by Morristown/madison on the Morris/Essex line where I work there are quite a number of options of various sorts but fairly little accessible wihout a car. Within 10 min I can be at Trader Joes, a big Chinese or Indian Supermarket, a very good health store with freshly ground grain and some decent local cheeses and a very good wine shop, also with cheese and fancy foods (Garys). Bread - could be an issue. They have weekend farmers markets in Morristown and some of the other towns out here as well as some less-pricy local farm stands. Morristown has a major central american/columbian enclave with restaurants, bakeries and shops near downtown. Some very good restaurants too, including asian. A lovely (upscale) area, but it is the burbs and a 1-hour ride to Penn Sta.

                    there might be some good close-in options in areas like Hoboken or Jersey city which may work well for transit, but ive never explored the food activity there (there at least used to be some good bread makers Hoboken and there are indian filipino and hispanic enclaves which could be intersting.. I really like the ironbound as a lively neighbornood but it is a closeknit ethnic community and you would have to feel out whether you fit in.
                    The Iselin/Edison area is also good for Asian stuff

                2. my 2 favorite foodie towns are hackensack and rutherford. they are both on njt. and although they both have many moderately priced places to eat, there are hundreds of terrific places within a 10 minute drive of either.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: dock

                    Hackensack totally slipped my mind - good call. River Edge would be another nearby option.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Hmm, thanks for all thoughts!

                  2. Paramus is a culinary wasteland...with the exception of Fairway Supermarket and Whole Foods..

                    However, from Paramus it is relatively easy to get to towns like Englewood, Ridgewood and Montclair because of its location and accessability to major highways.

                    Blue laws shut down Paramus on Sundays.

                    Traffic during rush hours can be hectic.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Bosmer

                      "Blue laws shut down Paramus on Sundays."
                      ~~~~~~
                      Blue laws shut down *all* of Bergen County on Sundays. it's such a nuisance.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        ghg,

                        This is not entirely true.....in Paramus, food stores and food establishments can be open for business.....even at the malls. I believe the movie theaters are open as well. For the rest of the county, stores like Home Depot and Costco are open, but there are some items you cannot purchase under the blue laws. Most restaurants and recreational facilities are open as well.

                        Towns have the option of enforcing the blue laws or not......If you drive through Teaneck, most stores are open and sell their goods. Even the banks have Sunday hours now too.

                        1. re: fourunder

                          i guess for the benefit of the OP i should have specified that blue laws don't apply to food establishments, drugstores & movie theaters since Bosmer didn't. but while Costco may be open on Sunday, most other retailers are closed - even Target. perhaps some areas have loosened the restrictions since my earlier days, but i was living in Edgewater for the last 18 months, and Tenafly, Englewood, Fort Lee & Edgewater were all veritable ghost towns on Sunday.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            That's what New York is for ;-)

                    2. As 20 year NYer who just moved to Montclair, I'll give it a hearty recommendation. Great restaurants, downtown and other shopping pockets. I can't say the food stores part is that great, but once you get a car there will be options. Nice farmers market too.

                      Unfortunately, the pizza and bagels in town are both meh.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: harrison

                        That is good to know, thanks. We're seeing a place there this weekend.

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Montclair really does seem like one of the few towns on the train line (buses, too) where it is feasible to live (esp in the Bloomfield Ave area) without a car. VERY few other towns are that way, though--except maybe Ridgewood, which imo, is a somewhat different vibe. Montclair is more urban overall, and I think has a better selection of restaurants expensive and non- as well as small food shops and a passable but small Whole Foods + a mediocre A&P, and in 'upper' Montclair, Kings Super Market, which is an NJ chain. Just note one thing about Montclair, though--the train service on weekends JUST started up (like, 2 weeks ago!) and the trains only go as far as the Bay Street Station, iirc. That's on the Glen Ridge border. Ask your real estate agent about that, as you might be relegated to buses on the weekends if you plan to be in the city all the time!

                          ETA: I grew up in Morris County, and although 'downtown' Morristown has plenty to offer, if you're not living downtown, you need a car to get around.

                          1. re: Curlz

                            I agree about downtown Morristown - it is a very attractive area - about the only area that really appeals to me when I think I might want to transplant to sububurban NJ. I dont know how it would work out in practice without a car, but I think it would be possible to make do. I cant think of many other places so attractive that have an afghan , japanese and high quality indian-chinese restaurant, a columbian/central american enclave AND a century 21 store within few min walk of a lovely, urbane town green. Threre is also a very good health food store (where I m going to pick up my turkey next week )not far on, close to the train station. .

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              Very interesting and thoughtful commentary from all, thanks v v much!

                      2. I can't believe no one mentioned Maplewood, South Orange or Milburn. First each town and they are all neighboring have some of the best resturants in NJ all depending on preference there is something for everyone. In Maplewood are Luke's Kitchen, Lorena's and now Indigo Kitchen (same owner as Indigo Smoke from Monticlair). In South Orange we have Eden Gourmet the specialty market and Millburn also known as Short Hills we have the high end shopping boutiques and eateries not to mention the mall. The Midtown Direct Train gets you into NYC in 20 minutes. Also not too far away is Summitt another nice downtown for eating (Huntley Tavern and Roots) and shopping and a train station.

                        You mentioned your husband worked at Lincoln Center, I suggest checking out Maplewood an enclave for artist and musicians.

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: 2455Bklyn

                          I was just thinking the same thing as I was reading this thread. So.Orange/maplewood is a very attractive area for foodies. Montclair is also an obvious choice. beyond the obvious supermarkets, there are lots of good ethnic food shops within a short driving distance. Morristown/Madison are also attractive spots.

                          1. re: bropaul

                            While I agree that these are commutable towns, the big issue I have with Maplewood is that if you don't have a car, you need a way to get to South Orange Ave where Eden Gourmet and some of those restaurants are--depending upon where in M'wood you are, of course.
                            Summit is definitely a town to consider although I don't think the restaurants there are nearly as interesting (or good) as those in Montclair. It's also a bit less 'funky' and more suburban than Montclair or Maplewood. Millburn/SH? Yawn. Although Millburn did just get a Trader Joe's, where's the nearest supermarket? Certainly not walking distance if you're talking about Kings, ShopRite, or the Whole Foods on 124...

                            1. re: Curlz

                              I cant see why anyone would want to buy in these towns unless they have kids to put in their very good schools. Admittedly they are pretty, nice, upscale suburbs, but the property taxes are killing and they are not very diverse. Nor are they really eating or food shopping destinations in any way, despite having some good restaurants for their upscale populations. Every time I think about moving to NJ from Brooklyn I think about the large extra tax burden , especially if and when I leave the work force, and the idea recedes.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                Circumstances dictate. Remember NYC and NY taxes on your NJ-earned income: in our case they add up to more than NJ property taxes even in Bergen Cty, and mortgage payment incl taxes for 2x or more room - and a much nicer kitchen - would be around what they want for our apartment in rent starting next lease period. I wouldn't leave Bklyn for anything otherwise. That's why we want to be as close to the city as possible (I think of it as doing what we did years ago, living in Berkeley and "using" SF.) We're keeping an open mind and making very interesting discoveries along the way (I didn't know there was what looks to be the Titan Foods of Polish groceries in Garfield, NJ for example).

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Indeed - As I get older, I think more of what my fixed expenses would be than about income taxes. Also about what amenities are in walking/public transport distance from home. Since we are homeowners here in NY the thought of pickup up 20,000+ in property taxes after a move to NJ (which will not end when my working years do) appals me. I wouldnt want to move anyplace that I wouldnt consider staying long term. I think overall NJ has some great eating and food shopping opportunities depending on where you are and whether you are willing to travel, quite excellent asian for example for a more upscale clientele than the NY chinatowns and little indias, middle eastern (Paterson) portuguese, cuban, etc. I truly wouldnt want to move there without a car however.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    I didn't know there was what looks to be the Titan Foods of Polish groceries in Garfield, NJ for example).
                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                    The corridor from Wallington through Garfield is known as *Poland on the Passaic*. I believe, Pope John Paul II, was even acquainted with the phrase. If ever in Garfield/Elmwood Park, two places you must visit are:

                                    http://www.piast.us/

                                    http://www.royalwarsaw.com/

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      It was Piast I saw, looks heavenly. Garfield definitely has its strong points, interesting place.

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Piast is great for pork cuts, smoked sausages, cold cuts and chicken from the deli/butcher counters.......their daily specials are fantastic @ $6.00 with two sides and soup or salad. I purchase them on occasion whenever in the area. My new favorite is their baked pork shank Bavarian Style for $8.00. You cannot purchase and roast yourself for that price.

                                        1. re: fourunder

                                          It was reported that Piast was opening a self-serve restaurant on Passaic Street earlier this year that was supposed to be open by August. I have not heard any news on an opening or status. Does anyone have any information on this news?

                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Euc6H...

                                          1. re: fourunder

                                            Actually it was the one on Passaic St I saw. Was definitely open.

                                  2. re: jen kalb

                                    When you say not very diverse you can't mean either South Orange or Maplewood two of the most diverse towns anywhere and Springfield is a close third. If you are looking for just your ethnic background that may be true but that doesn't make it any more or less diverse.
                                    I agree about the taxes they are high. I am a Brooklyn transplant and I am finding every other person I meet is from Brooklyn. All depending on what you want the taxes are worth the quality of life. In my first year I would blast my music and ran up and down my lawn barefeet not something I could do in Brooklyn. The towns are small but I would say the Short Hills Mall may be included as a shopping destination, and you will find the best resturants in these small towns.

                              2. re: 2455Bklyn

                                Very interesting, we're looking all over the place, these are good suggestions. (Husband teaches history at Fordham at Lincoln Ctr, is not that kind of performer.)

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  Lots of educators and college professors in Maplewood. I suggest you checkout Maplewoodonline they have a message board and postings all the time from people interested in the town.

                                  www..maplewoodonline.com

                                  1. re: 2455Bklyn

                                    Hmm good to know, thanks.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      I should have also mentioned Maplewood Patch which is linked into the NY Times. I'm not sure how they picked which town to feature but they landed on Maplewood in NY and the Ft Greene area of Brooklyn. I think it has to do with amount of blogers.

                              3. I would be very interested to know if anyone reading this does live without a car in NJ, and if so, how you are managing. We plan to acquire one but not immediately. Thanks!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: buttertart

                                  I lived a long time in Jersey City without a car with no problem. However, you are relegated to the dumpiest supermarkets which I don't think would be acceptable to me today (I lived in Journal Square). I am a very frequent visitor to Morristown and agree with those who say it might be manageable if you live near the train. Otherwise, I think that would be rough....especially shlepping your groceries around in Winter. My friends live close to the square but they still need a car because they live in back up a hill in the woods. So even though the (lousy) A&P is in walking distance, you couldn't buy very much and stay on foot.

                                  I do think Jersey is tough without a car unless you live in Newark, Jersey City or Hoboken.

                                  1. re: buttertart

                                    I know what you mean I moved to Springfield in 1996 without a car and it was tough. At the time I worked in NYC would shop at KMart in front of Penn Station and carry everything taxes are not as big an issue in Union county and now that I have a son in grade school its worth every penny.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      I spent my last 14 months in NJ without a car, in Woodbridge. NOT recommended! Lol. I never meant to do it, but my last car died on me a year or so before I had planned. I knew I was moving cross-country to Portland the next year (car-free), and there was no way I was buying another car just to use for the last 12 months or so.

                                      I got by surprisingly easy but I had a bit of a cheat, though - I was able to use the company work van for groceries during the week when I was working near a supermarket or a farmers' market. Fortunately, I was near a bus stop so my commute was easy enough, bus to Metropark, train to Metuchen, ~ 1.5 mile walk to work. The walk during winter was hard at times (especially with no sidewalks outside of downtown Metuchen, come on people!), but I got through knowing I was only gonna have to do it for that one winter.

                                      But when I was in walkable (by Jersey standards) urban areas I always did have a car. If one can work from home, I can imagine over a dozen, maybe two dozen towns where living without a car would be possible, if not exactly easy in all cases. Newark, Jersey City, Hoboken, Paterson, Passaic, South Orange, Westfield, Montclair, Ridgewood, Englewood, Lambertville, Belleville, Maplewood, Summit, probably some of the close-in Philly suburbs (I'm not too familiar with that area). Maybe Red Bank. Some of them would surely require an occasional cab ride to a decent grocery store, but overall most things could probably be done locally on foot, especially during farmers' market season.

                                      1. re: JayinPortland

                                        Thanks, that's pretty much what I expected. We have lived blessedly car-free for all but 2 years of our adult lives, in cities with excellent public transportation except for a stint in far far upstate NY, and I do not relish the thought getting back behind the wheel at all.
                                        We seem to have found an excellent solution very close to the train (I need it for my commute to Secaucus which is not well served by the bus) and with frequent bus service to the city. Hoping to close soon. It's not in one of the places you mention (a very well-thought-out list btw) and I'm too superstitious to say where until the keys are in our hands!

                                    2. Just a quick summary of some of the ethnic enclaves that provide for authentic food experiences.

                                      Jersey City's Indian Enclave on Newark Ave. close to Journal Square Path Station.

                                      Jersey City's Filipino Enclave on Newark Ave. close to Journal Square Path Station.

                                      Union City's Latin Mix on Bergenline Ave. Cuban, Equadorian, Colombian, Argentine, Honduran, Mexican, Salvadoran. Great food here.

                                      As someone had mentioned, Newark's Ironbound neighborhood near the Newark Path Station gives Portuguese, Spanish, and Brazilian food.

                                      Korean and Japanese in Ft. Lee/Edgewater/Palisades Park. The Mitsuwa Japanese Market is a great stop. http://www.mitsuwa.com/tenpo/newj/ein...
                                      Some good Korean BBQs in the area as well.

                                      Patterson has a strong flavor of Peruvians, Turkish, and Dominicans.

                                      Not sure if you are familiar with this site, but it has good summaries of the Union City and Jersey City areas. www.eatingintranslation.com

                                      So, I think the best bet if you really enjoy the ethnic food, is to be either in Newark, Jersey City, or Hoboken. Then you have pretty easy access to these enclaves by bus or train. Patterson may be the hardest to get to...not sure of the buses out that way?? You then also have easy access to manhattan, queens, and brooklyn for any food you cannot find in Jersey. Path runs 24 hours! Of course Jersey City and Newark look a little rougher than lets say Morristown or Milburn, but if you want the urban lifestyle close to transit and good, authentic food the sacrifice needs to be made.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Mootsarell

                                        I worked in Newark for 7+ years and kept hoping it would change more drastically than it has. Sadly, other than in the Ironbound proper, there really aren't the residential services that most people are looking for...nice supermarkets, cafes, dry cleaners, etc. The downtown area buzzes during the workweek, but it's still pretty empty at night, and that's 10+ years after NJPAC opened. There's a new strip mall on Rt 21 just as you get out of the city proper and towards the highway--it's got a bagel place, a cellular phone store, a liquor store, and...can't remember. But it's NOT upscale--that's for sure. And as a non-Spanish-speaker, I can't imagine living in the Ironbound!
                                        It's a shame, but I just don't think Newark is going to swing in the other direction any time soon. I really wish it would, but I don't think it'll happen.

                                        1. re: Curlz

                                          I think you can easily live in the Ironbound without being Spanish. The problem as I see it is that it appears to be becoming "less Spanish". I can't really say this for sure, but that is what my Brazilian friend who lives there thinks. It's the only place in NJ where I truly feel like I am in a foreign country (with cafes etc.). That is what seems to be disappearing.

                                          1. re: Curlz

                                            I worked in Newark for 6 years and still go in on occassion. I see the difference since the 5 years I have worked off site and do miss the convenience of having delis and coffee shops just downstairs. There are many more lunch choices than a few years ago. I am now in Iselin which is great so long as you don't mind driving to lunch.
                                            I would not move to Newark especially from anywhere in NYC.

                                          2. re: Mootsarell

                                            As urban as possible, we currently live in and love Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

                                            1. re: Mootsarell

                                              There is many athenitalian restaurants often forgotten down on Westside Ave and broadway, while by communipaw a few bocks south is bread shops which offer homemade bread, 1 of them even has a sister store in Hoboken at 1/2 the price since the store is owned and not rented. Check out all along Westside Ave in Jersey City there is all kinds of restaurants and bakeries that are missed if you are just looking downtown.

                                              Another plus on Jersey City for real estate is getting a 2 family so when you are no longer working and the house is paid off you have income coming in to pay the taxes. Near the Bayonne Jersey City border is a large amount of Irish-Italians mixtures and the houses are cheap compared to downtown Jersey City and the Heights or Journal Square

                                            2. Montclair is restaurant heaven. Most restaurants are BYO.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Rosie Saferstein

                                                Montclair is okay. I like to try different places as much as possible especially new places and sometimes they appear in places that are gentrified over time. I remember when SoHo was basically abandoned and it was a scary place for me and my friends as a child to venture when looking for adventure. The Bowery was full of real bums and hookers and no where was it considered trendy to live there. My how things have changed.

                                                1. re: 2455Bklyn

                                                  "Montclair is okay. I like to try different places as much as possible ..."

                                                  The problem is that unless you live in a major city--with good mass transit--if you don't have a car, your choices are going to be limited! Friends who live in NYC don't think twice about hailing a cab when they have groceries from the Union Sq Greenmarket but need to go to the UWS--but they usually get down there by subway. You simply have a lot more options that way. Regardless of where the OP ends up, after you've done the rounds and found your favorites, not much is going to change within a small radius.
                                                  I still think that 'downtown' Montclair has the best overall options for people without a car.

                                              2. It's a bit far if you're commuting everyday, unless you are right in midtown, but I loved when I was in the New Brunswick area (NB, Highland Park, North Brunswick, Somerset even). Downtown had great restaurants - great pub, ethiopian, decent indian, and excellent fine dining. In season there are 3 farmers markets to choose from (Highland Park, Rutgers and New Brunswick). You're about a 15 minute drive from a PA dutch market on weekends (in Kingston). And if you want to travel for the occasional run, an AMAZING Quail Farm in Griggstown that does pot pies, chicken, turkey, and some prepared food - I used to do a run once or twice a year when living in NY just to stock up on their food.

                                                Even if you don't wind up living in the area, it's about 20 minute to half an hour from Montclair, Millburn etc and it might be worth the occasional trek for dinner and/or the Quail Farm shopping.

                                                1. By far the most exciting ethnic food shopping in Northern NJ is in Paterson and Clifton, although it's not a place I'd choose to live. Main Street has Nouri's, Fattal's for middle eastern groceries, olives, and sweets, Saray Bakery for Turkish bureks and cakes. Eternatea Coffee on Crooks Ave is a Macedonian full service store with fresh and frozen meats, and imported goodies from the Balkans. Taskin Bakery on Hazel St is worth it just for the smell of the bread baking, but also try the olive breads and cheese and spinach breads. East Railway Ave has fantastic produce at rock bottom prices and Mexican, Perivuan and Dominican groceries. And of course two blocks away is Corrado's, for poduce, cheeses, fish, meats, enormous selection of breads and Italian pastas and specialities. It's more than you could possibly see in one day, and you probably need to go by car, because you're going to have a lot to carry home! And be sure to get a shawarma or felafel to tide you over, or a nice hot dog at Papaya King!

                                                  1. Westfield is very nice , too....for that "village" feeling..

                                                    And regarding the mention of Summit, I had a great steak & service at the stylish
                                                    (but not overpriced) ROOTS steakhouse in the center of town..

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ellen4441

                                                      Montclair is probably the food mecca in north central jersey... you name the kind of food you want to eat and you'll be able to find a good place in Montclair...
                                                      Westfield and Summit have pretty good food as well... the Broadway Diner in Summit is awesome for breakfast
                                                      Downtown Maplewood and Millburn have a few solid restaurants as well... Millburn has the Millburn Deli... and i've yet to find a better sandwich anywhere...
                                                      Gaffers in West Orange is ridiculously good for the price... burgers, wings, chili, salads
                                                      Libretti's in East Orange has been there for decades and is still packed nearly every day even though the neighborhood is no longer italian...
                                                      Newark's Ironbound section is awesome for Spanish and Portuguese food...
                                                      Cait and Abbey's in South Orange is the best bakery in the area...

                                                    2. The fact that you have indicated "as urban as possible" means you should stick to Jersey City or Hoboken. There are a plethora of good food choices in these 2 cities that should fulfill your needs as well, both in restaurants and specialty stores. Most of the other locations mentioned here are not at all urban.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: menton1

                                                        As a former NJ resident, I have to agree with this, simply on the basis of not hav.ing a car. You are hugely limited without one.

                                                        1. re: menton1

                                                          Both Jersey City and Hoboken are great cities to live with lots near by that are walking distance. I have friends in both and they all have cars. Eventually they want to leave and drive to other parts of NJ. The parking is expensive if your apartment doesn't have one,otherwise for a NY transplant its an easy transition to NJ.

                                                        2. For great Indian go to Newark Avenue in Jersey City (Journal Square PATH stop). There is a section called Little India with amazing restaurants, in both the Northern and Southern styles. For delicious dosa I go to Dosa Hut, not to be confused with Dosa House further down the street. A dosa cost about $7. For a fabulous sit down meal try Rasoi Restaurant at 810 Newark Ave...I've had fantastic dishes there almost as good as the old spicy mina's...average dish $11. Another fantastic option, from the people who brought us Devi is American Masala located at 95 Green Street, Jersey City- in the financial district near Exchange Place. They offer a limited menu of Indian American comfort food created by Suvir Saran. The food is amazing and incredibly inexpensive...average dish $7. One of the best restaurants in Jersey City...worth taking the PATH train over. americanmasala.com
                                                          Near the Grove Street PATH station is Grand Sichuan...very authentic, fiery hot food...best Chinese I've had outside of China.

                                                          1. You have got to try Pumir in Morristown,NJ. Pumir is easily the best afghani restaurant in NJ.

                                                            http://njtastebud.blogspot.com/

                                                            1. We did it! Rutherford won, for carless (for the time being) liveability and proximity/accessibility to our workplaces and NYC. It's faster into the West Side than it was from our part of central Brooklyn.
                                                              I can't say I don't miss Brooklyn, but by and large have found that the everyday level of restaurant here is better than those in our former immediate area (quite decent Thai at Red Basil, Turkish at Nazar, Mexican at the 70's throwback Fiesta Hut, oldschool Chinese-American at the New China Inn, a place that retains its decor as well as its cooking style, for example).

                                                              -----
                                                              Fiesta Hut
                                                              227 Park Ave, East Rutherford, NJ 07073

                                                              New China Inn
                                                              32 Ames Ave, Rutherford, NJ 07070

                                                              13 Replies
                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                congrats butter. i think rutherford is great foodie town. since i live about 20 minutes away, i don't visit as often as i would like. you must try sabor peru. great ceviche. and i love cafe matisse for a special occasion. and look into a zip car. you gotta get away sometime. now that my wife and i are empty nesters, we're looking into getting back to brooklyn. maybe i'll hit you up for foodie advice then. good luck

                                                                1. re: dock

                                                                  Thanks! Looking forward to Sabor Peru. The BYOB thing is very nice too.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Sabor Peru
                                                                  8 Highland Cross, Rutherford, NJ 07070

                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                    We went to Sabor Peru last night and loved it - weren't in a ceviche mood so had the tacu tacu with steak (me) and the pasta with green sauce with steak (him). Huge plates of food - my takehome container easily weighed over a pound. Everything was extremely tasty - the grilled rice (sort of a rice potato pancake) that came with the tacu tacu was great - the fried yuca and maduros were a great contrast to it all. Their green hot sauce is wonderful. Warm welcome and comfortable setting. We will be back, happily!

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Sabor Peru
                                                                    8 Highland Cross, Rutherford, NJ 07070

                                                                2. re: buttertart

                                                                  Is Fiesta Hut the same one that was on Route 4 in Paramus back in the 80's???

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Fiesta Hut
                                                                  227 Park Ave, East Rutherford, NJ 07073

                                                                  1. re: tuxedo

                                                                    Sorry don't know, total NJ restaurant newbie (except as concerns Secaucus, where I work).

                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                      http://www.parkandorchard.com

                                                                      Park and Orchard used to be quite good; I haven't been there in quite a while though.

                                                                    2. re: tuxedo

                                                                      At one point, the FH in Rutherford and the FH on Rte. 4 were the same owners. Not sure who owns the FH in Rutherford these days.

                                                                    3. re: buttertart

                                                                      Congrats! And a good call in terms of getting in to the city, too. I'll echo Dock's rec of Sabor Peru, and add Sweet Ave Bake Shop for some tasty cupcakes, and Ice Cream Charlie's for the obvious. Good to hear that Red Basil is good, as it recently reopened and I haven't been over to try it yet.
                                                                      In non-food news, I don't know if ZipCar is out here, but there's an Avis right near the Rutherford train station and an Enterprise rental place in Lyndhurst on the corner of Ridge Rd just across Rt 3. Welcome to the 'hood!

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Ice Cream Charlies
                                                                      200 Park Ave Ste B, Rutherford, NJ 07070

                                                                      Sabor Peru
                                                                      8 Highland Cross, Rutherford, NJ 07070

                                                                      1. re: Curlz

                                                                        Thanks for the pointers! We are loving it. So fun to make discoveries in a new place again. And Peapod worked extremely well for groceries - everything arrived in prme condition and on time, even the meat was first class. A luxury not to have to drag all of the stuff back to the cave on foot.

                                                                      2. re: buttertart

                                                                        Rutherford is such a pretty town. I grew up in North Arlington and Lyndhurst after moving from Jersey City at age 13. I have friends who still live in the area and we eat out in Rutherford once in a while. It's nice to know the New China Inn is still good. My friends and I spent many nights there eating and drinking back in the late 80s and early 90s. Brings back a lot of very good memories!

                                                                        -----
                                                                        New China Inn
                                                                        32 Ames Ave, Rutherford, NJ 07070

                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                          It's good for the old Chinese-American dishes. The restaurant ambiance is fun, it's like being back in the early '60s!

                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                            Yes, it is. And it's not done for "effect" either; it's always looked like that!

                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                              I love that they have their 2-star NYT review from 1986 or 1987 posted on the wall.

                                                                      3. Hoping to piggy-back on this thread a little- as I'm being relocated to NJ, job in Edison. Is Montclair commutable (reasonably) to Edison? Are there any great food towns down the parkway or are they mostly north of there?

                                                                        20 Replies
                                                                        1. re: WCchopper

                                                                          Montclair to Edison is a pretty reasonable commute, Edison is a fun food town depending what you're looking for, but they'res not that much in the ways of food towns south of it that i can think of off the top of my head.

                                                                          1. re: Antigone

                                                                            What about Red Bank?

                                                                            1. re: WCchopper

                                                                              Edison to Red Bank? its maybe 35 minutes away by car, and you can take the train from woodbridge to red bank.

                                                                              1. re: Antigone

                                                                                Thanks, I was also wondering about what the food situation is like there. Coming from the west coast, it's all very different, so I'm not sure what is there.

                                                                                1. re: WCchopper

                                                                                  I haven't spent too much time in red bank, because theres not much around there that i can afford (im a 21 year old vegan college student, my options are limited sometimes). I know there are a ton of wonderful options around there though, and quite a few threads on this board dedicated to the areas restaurants. Another fun food city near there is Asbury Park.

                                                                          2. re: WCchopper

                                                                            great Asian food in Edison/Iselin area - Indian and, farther south, Chinese too. I think.

                                                                            1. re: WCchopper

                                                                              Are you going to commute from Montclair to Edison by car? If so, yes--doable, but certainly in plenty of traffic each day, as you'll need to take the Garden State Pkwy--really aren't other options from one to the other. If you're thinking mass transit, it's going to be a crazy long commute!
                                                                              But I echo what someone else already said; lots of great Indian and Asian food/markets in Edison, but there's no 'town' like there is in Montclair--and it might be tough living there without a car, whereas Montclair isn't.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Garden State Restaurant
                                                                              287 Central Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07307

                                                                              1. re: Curlz

                                                                                Montclair isn't tough without a car???? Shopping at Whole Foods for everything is pretty limited and pretty expensive...

                                                                                1. re: menton1

                                                                                  Yeah, Montclair is easy to eat and commute from without a car. Plenty of people shop at Whole Foods all the time. It's no more expensive than other stores selling similar quality. And limited? I shopped at WF exclusively for 2 years. I never wanted for anything else (other than toilet paper and the like, which surely can be found in travels in and around montclair).

                                                                                  In general, Montclair is one of the easier towns in which to live without a car.

                                                                                  If your contention is that WF is expensive, then perhaps the OP could make that determination on their own. Some people spend more than others on good food, yes?

                                                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                                                    I'll also add that they revamped the A&P on Valley Road, and it's quite crowded since their prices are reasonable AND everything's not organic. Between feet, taxis, and bus service, there are plenty of ways to get around without a car.

                                                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                                                      The OP has made her decision wih her feet (as well as counsel here and an odd attraction to the place) and moved to Rutherford. Very happy here, wish there were a supermarket in walking distance but Peapod works, would think a Garden of Eden-style store could succeed downtown...

                                                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                                                        I'm not a huge WF fan, I suppose anytime anyone on CH posts the word "expensive" you could respond that they "should make that determination on their own".

                                                                                        WF produce is about 3 times higher than ShopRite, with an insignificant increase in quality, it is laid out more beautifully, though.

                                                                                        I suppose I'm also spoiled living near Fairway in Paramus, which has reduced my visits to WF to just a handful of times per year.

                                                                                        Sure, for the 'burbs, Montclair is possible without a car. There's a lot of restaurants within a 10 block x 10 block area. Easier in the summer, though. Tough braving the cold walking even a few blocks. But it's not NYC, so the finite number of restos might reach diminishing returns after a few weeks without a car.

                                                                                        1. re: menton1

                                                                                          Tough braving the cold walking even a few blocks? LOL! Yeah, it's much easier to walk a few blocks in NYC. It's much warmer there.

                                                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                                                            Perfect analogy! There are 75 restaurants in 5 square blocks in the city, and 20 restaurants in 10 square blocks in Montclair. You got up too early today!

                                                                                            1. re: menton1

                                                                                              What? It's no easier to walk in the big city than it is to walk in the lowly burbs. If you'd like to talk about restaurant density go right ahead.

                                                                                              1. re: tommy

                                                                                                Greater density means less walking in the cold. Duh.

                                                                                                1. re: menton1

                                                                                                  So, you'd just walk in to the closest restaurant in NYC to avoid the cold, the majority of which are just horrible.

                                                                                                  Everyone can see it but you, so let me just state it clearly: Curlz is right, you are wrong.

                                                                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                                                                    I guess it ain't THAT tough, but you were also wrong in your hypotheses as well BTW....

                                                                                                    I suppose I'm just spoiled, I can't imagine life in the burbs without a car... And NYC? No car there, but I don't want to live there! Paris, well, now you're talking!

                                                                                          2. re: menton1

                                                                                            I must agree with regards to the prices at WF vs. ShopRite. In terms of cost, WF is through the roof. If someone has plenty of money and their main concern is NOT cost, but rather organics, quality, etc., then WF is fine. But if someone's on a budget, buys a lot of groceries, and doesn't have a car, then Montclair is sorely lacking because it doesn't have a ShopRite, or at least a Stop & Shop or a Food Basics. There's that strange underground Pathmark, but that's somewhat expensive too compared to ShopRite. OTOH you've got some really good restaurants including Chengdu 1 nearby in Cedar Grove for awesome Sichuan food!

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Chengdu 1
                                                                                            89 Pompton Ave, Cedar Grove, NJ 07009

                                                                                    2. re: WCchopper

                                                                                      WCchopper, if you love Indian and Chinese food then maybe you should look for a place IN or near Edison, never mind Montclair! But if you want more variety, then yes I'd say Montclair is a good choice. I know someone who did that commute by car for a few years and they said the traffic wasn't too terrible.

                                                                                    3. Morristown by far. Try Ming II in Morristown!

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Ming II
                                                                                      3 Speedwell Avenue, Morristown, NJ 07960

                                                                                      1. The best towns are Ridgewood, Westwood, Montclair and Hoboken. You can walk around in these towns, browse the shops and choose from many wonderful restaurants.

                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: shiloh15

                                                                                          I ended up moving in to Hoboken from the SF area a few weeks ago- any specific recommendations there?

                                                                                          1. re: WCchopper

                                                                                            By far the best restaurant for food and wine in Hoboken is Amanda's. Check it out:

                                                                                            http://www.amandasrestaurant.com/

                                                                                            For sheer Hoboken/NJ culture and some pretty good Italian American, go to Leo's and ask to be seated with Betty:

                                                                                            http://www.leosgrandevous.com/s

                                                                                            Welcome to HobokenWCchopper! Search the NJ board for other Hoboken recs and when I have time, I'll post a couple more of my faves. Unfortunately, many Hoboken restaurants are just not what they used to be.

                                                                                          2. re: shiloh15

                                                                                            If anyone actually moved to Ridgewood for the restaurants, I'd suggest that their tax dollars are going to waste. Move to Paramus next door, and drive 5 minutes.

                                                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                                                              I dunno, there's certainly a large number of restaurants in Ridgewood; however, nothing really stands out, there are just NO destination restaurants in the town.

                                                                                              Mediterraneo isn't bad, and I saw a new place in the corner building just opened next to Latour. Don't know the name, cuisine, nor if it's any good. The betting is that it isn't.

                                                                                              1. re: menton1

                                                                                                A Mano is a destination.

                                                                                                The idea of moving specifically to a town that has restaurants seems absurd. Why not just move wherever you want, near the restaurants. You have to drive there anyway. Basing a huge financial decision like 'where to live' on the town actually having restaurants within its borders is very odd to me. One would think housing costs, schools, taxes, etc, would trump "I heard there's a good sushi place in Ridgewood, let's move there."

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                A Mano
                                                                                                Ridgewood, NJ, Ridgewood, NJ

                                                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                                                  Well, it is seemingly silly to move to a town because of its restaurants!

                                                                                                  I do get the feeling, however, that in this case the OP is renting, and has no car, so this might be a slightly stronger factor than to one purchasing a home and owning a car.

                                                                                                  It also seems that the OP chose Rutherford, although were I in that same situation I probably would have picked Hoboken...

                                                                                                  1. re: menton1

                                                                                                    The reason for the move was not the restaurants, but they were a factor in choosing a town. The OP in fact bought, and chose Rutherford over Hoboken because she worked in HOB for 10 years and has had a snoutful of the (yupped-out) town thank you very much. No car and no need of one as yet since access to the city is so easy.

                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                      Yeah, sorry I"M the one that ended up in Hoboken, not the OP. No car etc, coming from the SF Bay area so looking for what's good around here.

                                                                                                      1. re: WCchopper

                                                                                                        a couple of things to help you get started...i've heard good things about La Isla in Hoboken for Cuban. if you head up River Road to Edgewater, Rebecca's is also terrific. for a special-occasion meal (or any time you feel like dropping big bucks at a steakhouse without crossing the Hudson), the River Palm Terrace, also in Edgewater, is the way to go.

                                                                                                        and some trustworthy recs for a little farther north/west in Fort Lee:
                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6889...

                                                                                                        definitely check out the threads on Jersey City too.

                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                        La Isla
                                                                                                        104 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030

                                                                                                        1. re: WCchopper

                                                                                                          Definitely check out La Isla on Washington (btwn 1st and 2nd iirc) for Cuban food, and new The Taco Truck on Newark Ave almost to the corner of Washington for excellent soft tacos + a bunch of authentic Mexican food I haven't seen much of in NNJ!

                                                                                                          Grand Sichuan (multiple locations in NYC) has one in Jersey City; haven't been, but folks I trust say it's great--if nothing else, you may be able to get delivery!

                                                                                                          Elysian Cafe on Wash btwn 11th and 12th is a great spot, imo--a true bistro.

                                                                                                          India on the Hudson on Wash around 13th was always excellent (and my Indian ex-bf agreed)

                                                                                                          Sushi Lounge on Hudson does a great job too!

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          La Isla
                                                                                                          104 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030

                                                                                                          Sushi Lounge
                                                                                                          200 Hudson Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030

                                                                                                          1. re: Curlz

                                                                                                            Amanda's as well, owned by the same folks that own Elysian Cafe. The new Italian restaurant in the Sheraton in Weehawken is actually very good, service stinks but the food was great. They've only been open for about three weeks, so hopefully service will improve.
                                                                                                            Also in in Edgewater is Havana's Cuban Cafe, the best empanadas I have had, the sauce makes them

                                                                                                            1. re: roro1831

                                                                                                              If you're coming into Essex and Union Counties... here are few inexpensive but awesome food, restaurant choices...

                                                                                                              Greek Taverna in Montclair
                                                                                                              Los Tapitios in West Orange - family owned and run Mexican
                                                                                                              Bella Italia in Orange - 3rd generation family run - everything is home made fresh every day
                                                                                                              Harusame in South Orange (formerly Haru) - sushi so good people thought they were owned by the very expensive NYC' Haru sushi house so they were forced to change their name
                                                                                                              Rendezvous in Kenilworth - french bistro
                                                                                                              P.F. Market in West Caldwell - fresh seafood

                                                                                            2. OK, my son (the Jr. Hound) just landed in West New York, N.J., and is commuting to a job in Englewood Cliffs. What's currently really good, and reasonably priced, on the way between him and his job?

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

                                                                                                Are you looking for lunch/take-out to purchase so he can have at work.....or places closer to his job where he can go out for lunch?