Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > New Jersey >
Jan 19, 2011 01:55 PM

Restaurant Recommendations for great lunch near Madison, NJ

My husband I just made the move from NYC to the suburbs. We are now in Madison, NJ and desperately need restaurant recommendations in the area. I'm finding that when friends come out to visit we generally stay home and cook dinners, but want to take people out for lunch. Please help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Why don't you help us help you by telling us what kind of food you like, what you are willing to pay and how far you are willing to travel. I know we're not NYC, but there is some good food to be had.

    1. It's been years since I've lived in Madison, but I grew up in Morris Cty and work in Chatham, so I'll chime in...and tell you that you didn't exactly move to a food mecca. BUT. You have some within close reach, so have no fear! As bropaul said, without knowing if you're looking for upscale or family dining, here are a few thoughts:

      In Madison proper, I'm a big fan of Firehouse pizza on Central Ave--for eating in. It's one of the only thin crust pizzas I like. Il Mondo Vecchio, which is on Main Street, has been there for decades; I haven't been in many years, but it still gets raves and has regulars. There's a French bistro (Rob's?) that I've read good things about--also on Main Street. Soho 33 has totally acceptable but average big salads and sandwiches at lunch.

      Heading west in to Morristown, Origin Thai on South Street (note that the link below is to their sister restaurant, but you can get the Morristown info) is upscale (and the prices reflect it) but I have friends who love it. Past the Green (the town square) on Schuyler Place is Sushi Lounge, which is a hip spot with expensive cocktails, and excellent sushi. PACKED on a Fri or Sat night. Down the hill from the Green is Raul's Empanada's, a total walk-in/order at the counter place for the obvious. And they're excellent, imo. Inexpensive, too! It's the kind of place where I'd run in on a Saturday to grab a bite while running errands.

      A little bit outside of Morristown (heading south a few miles on Speedwell Ave-aka Rt. 202) is terrific Chinese at Hunan Chinese Restaurant. Keep going a few more blocks and you'll find some excellent bagels (last I had them) at the bagel place across from the Morris Plains train station. Arthur's Tavern is also there--think Flinstone size steaks, burgers, and beer. If you're serious about steak, it might not be for you, but if not, give it a shot!

      Another couple of miles further (down Rt. 53) is a pair of restaurants owned by a group that also owns places in Summit, Berkeley Heights, and...? Tabor Road Tavern and Grato. I thought Grato was overpriced for what it was, but TRT gets good reviews and is definitely a good spot for lunch. Up the hill from there on Rt. 10W is Cinnamon, which I hear has excellent Indian food (and a buffet at lunch). On Rt 10E is an old standby for Italian food (and BYO!), Il Villagio.

      Heading east, Chatham has two upscale spots: Scalini Fedeli, which I haven't been to in years, and Serenade, which has had rave reviews since it opened more than a decade ago (iirc).

      That should get you started...and I didn't even mention Montclair! :-) But I will--for an exceptional dinner at ridiculously reasonable prices, you have to try Restaurant Blu. BYO, to boot!

      Let us know if you're looking for specific types of places and I'm sure others will chime in...

      Note: there's a thread that's active on the main NJ page about the Harvest Restaurant Group--that's Grato and Tabor Road Tavern--take a read!

      Scalini Fedeli
      63 Main Street, Chatham, NJ 07928

      Origin Thai
      25 Division St, Somerville, NJ 08876

      Sushi Lounge
      200 Hudson Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030

      Soho 33
      33 Main St, Madison, NJ 07940

      Arthur's Tavern
      700 Speedwell Ave, Morris Plains, NJ 07950

      Il Mondo Vecchio
      72 Main St Ste 1, Madison, NJ 07940

      Hunan Chinese Restaurant
      255 Speedwell Ave, Morris Plains, NJ 07950

      3 Replies
      1. re: Curlz

        Hi and thank you! As far as food we really like it all. Italian, Indian, Tai, Sushi, Middle Eastern, Greek, Burgers, Steaks, etc. A good Mexican restaurant (I know this one is going to be close to impossible) would be amazing to find! As far as sandwiches and salads I always want there to be a place like The Grey Dog everywhere if that helps... Also a good cute brunch place would be fantastic to know about. I'm willing to travel a bit if it's worth it, it doesn't have to be right next door. Besides, it will help us learn the area and explore other towns. Thanks again!

        1. re: tasteofnewjersey

          Haven't been there in a bit, but second the Firehouse for pizza and salad. We would buy beer or wine right on Rt. 124 & walk to Nicky's Firehouse. Also try Poor Herbies for a burger and fries. Same block as Firehouse, but across Rt. 124 towards train station.

          Poor Herbie's
          13 Waverly Pl, Madison, NJ 07940

          1. re: jethro

            My Aunt and Uncle were here today visiting so we went to the Firehouse for lunch along with my 16 month old daughter. It was was just what we wanted on a cold day...cute casual place, lunching locals, child friendly, and food was good. We just got pizza and salad, but it hit the spot. Thanks for the recommendation.

      2. Origin Thai in Morristown, just 1 block off the green, is wonderful. Not a traditional Thai, more of a French-Thai fusion, unlike most Asian Fusion places, really creative, original dishes. Elegant atmosphere and terrific service. Highly recommended.

        1. tasteofnewjersey, you could always try Taste of Asia in Chatham....

          1. Glad you agree about Firehouse! I was there last week with some friends for the first time in months, and thought the pizza was as good as always.

            There are comments about most of these places here on CH, but now that I have a sense of what you like, I'll offer a few of my favorites--all within (I think) a reasonable driving distance, and worth the trip(s)!

            Greek: Stamna Taverna on Broad St in Bloomfield--all of 2 miles in off of the Parkway (exit 151) is a major favorite. Boisterous, BYO, reasonably priced, and from what I'm told, offering some dishes so authentic that people haven't seen them since their Greek grandmother made it for them. (Makarounes, for instance) I think their grilled octopus is to die for!

            Chinese: Authentic Szechuan at Chengdu 1 in Cedar Grove--go with a group so you try lots of dishes! Definitely kid-friendly, and the chef/owner's daughter (about 3.5) is there all the time.

            Thai: I'm a fan of Tuptim in Montclair (btw, Montclair IS a food town, for sure) but there must be something closer to you...ooh! Chao Phaya in Somerville. Not next door, but also close enough, and a ride south (for a change).

            Brunch: Raymond's in Montclair (downtown) or Bluestone Cafe in the Watchung Plaza section of Upper Montclair are my favorites, but there are also Jersey diners within your reach now! I do NOT recommend the Nautilus Diner, however. Unless something has changed drastically, it's been referred to as "The Nauseous" for decades. Raymond's has great standards + excellent coffee AND some good, spicy Mexican hot chocolate. Bluestone reminds me of places on the Cape that I love, and I love their coffee as well.

            Burger: Charlie's Aunt in Chatham--total local scene, not unlike Firehouse--and definitely family friendly, but with a full bar. :-)

            Chao Phaya
            9 Davenport St, Somerville, NJ 08876

            Watchung Restaurant
            19 Watchung Plz, Montclair, NJ 07042

            Chengdu 1
            89 Pompton Ave, Cedar Grove, NJ 07009

            Stamna Restaurant
            1049 Broad St, Bloomfield, NJ 07003

            Nautilus Diner
            95 Main St, Madison, NJ 07940

            2 Replies
            1. re: Curlz

              Rob's Bistro in Madison--one of the few spots in NJ where it is possible to get bouillabaise, cassoulet, etc., BYO. Pamir in Morristown--excellent Afghan, also BYO. I second Arthur's--steaks are huge, quality may vary, but prices are very reasonable.

              1. re: albinoni

                Yes, Rob's Bistro is a terrific place for lunch - and dinner too! I nearly always end up there when having lunch in Madison.

                Another favorite spot of mine, though I haven't been for lunch for quite some time, is the Garlic Rose:


                For more casual places in Madison, try the following:

                CJ's Deli on Park Avenue,
                From Scratch on Waverly Place,
                Central Lunch on Central Avenue, and
                David's Rumba Cafe on Elmer Street.