Newark—Within Walking Distance of Penn Station
Five of us, three adults and two teenage boys, will be going to the All-Star game at Red Bull Arena next Wednesday. We’re looking for a moderately-priced place to eat that’s within walking distance of Penn Station, Newark. Thinking Newark only because I don't know if there's anything Chow-worthy near the arena. Would certainly consider Harrison instead.
Problem is, since two of the party will be leaving for Spain and Portugal a few days later, we’re really not interested in either Spanish or Portuguese food. One of the teenage boys has his heart set on BBQ, which would be just fine with the adults, as long as it’s good BBQ.
A search of the boards came up with Pic-Nic, but that’s Portuguese, isn’t it? And it doesn’t look as though is would satisfy the teenager who wants ribs. Is it walkable from Penn Station? Modestly priced?
Fernandez Steak House, just reopened after the fire, looks as though it’s not within walking distance.
Can’t find much info on Stephanie’s BBQ. Is it just chicken? Do they have ribs? Are the ribs any good? Is it within walking distance?
Any other suggestions for me?
The Steak House
455 Passaic St, Hackensack, NJ 07601
Pic-Nic Bar & Restaurant
224 Grant Ave Ste A, East Newark, NJ 07029
Thank you all for your feedback.
Much as I would have liked to try Pic-Nic, we ended up—based more on price than anything else—at McWhorter’s. There were seven of us, four adults and three teenage boys. We ordered an appetizer of shrimp in garlic sauce, a platter of pork ribs, a barbequed chicken, a paradilla de la casa (which included pork chops, chorizo, beef ribs, and chicken breast fillets), two sides of beans, a pitcher of wine, and innumerable sodas. We were surprised that they sold wine but not beer. Each of the platters came with a huge pile of shoestring fries and one platter came with yellow rice.
The total bill was $67 before tip. We’re still not sure they didn’t make a mistake, but you couldn’t tell because the bill wasn’t itemized. I mean, this was basically all you could eat and drink (and we were all stuffed, including the teenagers) for $10 apiece. That we thought the food pretty terrific really needs to be considered in that context.
This is Portuguese, not southern-style BBQ. Just past the bar, open to the dining room, is a gigantic rotating grill on an open fire that contains perhaps 50 chickens and 4 whole slabs of pork ribs and is turned with a hand crank. One of our party described it as “the windmill of meat,” and it wafts the odor of cooked meat throughout the restaurant so your mouth starts to water the second you walk through the door.
The food: The shrimp were small and a bit overcooked, but the garlic sauce was very good. The pork ribs were flavorful and tender; the teenager who had wanted ribs was very happy with them even though they weren’t the kind of bbq he was used to. The chicken was excellent; it may be what they’re best known for since we saw an awful lot of people eating just chicken. The pork chop and chorizo on the paradilla were both fine, but nothing special. If anyone even tried the chicken cutlets, I didn’t hear about it. The beef ribs are really short ribs, flanken cut, and cut very thin. We couldn’t figure out how they could be cut so thin, be a bit crispy on the outside, and still be so succulent. If we weren’t already full, we’d have ordered a stand-alone platter of these and will next time. The beans were just beans, no real flavor to them that I could discern. But the fries were surprisingly good, thin and crispy and salty—the kind you keep on eating long after you should have stopped. And the wine, which came in a pitcher and we had no idea what it was, tasted almost like a sangria without the fruit. It was light and refreshing and surprisingly good.
Although I’d love to try some other places, I think it’s going to be hard to keep my friends from heading right back here next time we head out to Red Bull Stadium. The bang for the buck really can’t be beat.
104 McWhorter St, Newark, NJ 07105
I've only been to Stephanie's BBQ once - they do chicken and ribs I believe but I only had the chicken, which was excellent. I would suggest skipping the ribs and going for the chicken, it seems like most of the orders coming in were for chicken there. But it's not American BBQ, more like latin style rotisserie chicken.
Don't be confused with the term BBQ. In Newark and Harrison it is Portugese BBQ. Nothing like Kansas or Menphis BBQ. Dinosaur BBQ of New York is supposed to open up in Newark on Broad Street, which is in walking distance of Penn Station. I am not sure if it is open yet. You might want to google it to see if they are open.
Fernandes is not in walking distance of Penn Station. There are no restaurants in Harrison that are in walking distance of Red Bull Arena.
Pic - Nic is Portuguese BBQ. One of my favorite places. The chicken is outstanding, the ribs are pretty good. My very favorite is a dish called Picadinho. It is pork chunks and shrimp in a tasty gravy, served with rice and french fries. It is not an elegant place, but a little store front with very good food. It is rather inexpensive compared to some of the other Portuguese restaurants in the Ironbound.
Mi Pequeno Mexico at 81 Ferry St. is the only non-Spanish/non-Portuguese place I can think of. I'd recommend it based on my two visits there. If I remember correctly, I had excellent enchiladas. The huaraches were just average or slightly above-average though. The chips and salsa are very good as well. Nice people. Definitely very different from Spanish and Portuguese, to my taste buds anyway.
I'm sure I read something about a good Italian place around here, but that's not my area of expertise and I can't locate the thread... sorry....
Another option: Ride the PATH 10 minutes to Journal Square and walk a few blocks north if you're in the mood for Indian. That's a block of Jersey City that makes you feel like you've suddenly stumbled through a wormhole leading to the middle of Bombay.