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Nov 17, 2009 10:54 AM

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

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

                    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.

                  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


                        This is not entirely 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.

                    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:



                                    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?


                                          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.


                                    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.