HOME > Chowhound > New Jersey >


New Jersey Monthly Poll

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. another crock of %&*#. But everyone is entitled to their opinion i guess.

    1. There are a couple of winners on the list, like Nicholas, Flakey Tart, Chez Catherine and Hickory Hog, I just scanned the list, probably missed some.

      But on the flip side, much credibility is lost when Big Ed's makes the list, that place is horrific.

      3 Replies
      1. re: angelo04

        I second your opinion of Big Ed's. I couldn't believe it a few years back when he was opening multiple locations.....most if not all of which have since failed to the best of my knowledge.

        1. re: angelo04

          Angelo04, what BBQ places do you recommend? I love bbq and travel a lot for business so I would be interested in hearing your recommendations, locally or in other states. Thank you in advance.


          1. re: corvette johnny

            I think bbq in these parts is just ok. Hickory hog is the best I've had but I don't. Seek it out often. That is because this Yankee has resorted to making his own. And I have woodburner and this thread to thank


        2. I would not call A Toute Heure French, even though their name is. To me it's more regional American, locavore, borrowing from various European cuisines.

          1. Seeing the Orange Squirrel named among the Top 25 made me very happy. Much deserved.

            1. Hard to see how Basil T's and Artisan's rank on beer selection ... good beers, and arguably deserving in the brewpub category, but really?

              5 Replies
              1. re: ooi82much

                Any decent brew pubs in central NJ? I have a mug at basils so i am looking for other spots. I am referring to actual restaurants that brew on the premises. Although not a brew pub, I am running carton boat beer out ofbmy home bar now.....great local brew for those that dont know about it.

                1. re: corvette johnny

                  Closest is probably Artisan's in Toms River, which used to be another Basil T's. Totally different food & beer. Carton & Kane are the local breweries, but it looks like you know that. Next closest is probably Chicago UNO in Edison/Woodbridge on Rt 1 So.

                  1. re: corvette johnny

                    Based on the beer itself (quality and selection of styles brewed), I've always found Princeton's Triumph Brewery to be the best central Jersey brewpub. Food can be expensive and variable - some dishes seem to be different every time ordered. Impressive space but not exactly a friendly "neighborhood pub" atmosphere.


                    1. re: corvette johnny

                      I'm sorry I don't know the name of it as this isn't really my thing but I have driven passed it on my trips to Costellos in Woodbridge. It's an old manufacturing/warehouse building on the corner of main street just before the train bridge across the street from Quick Check. I know they are a locally brew company with typical pub style fare.

                  2. When and where did Il Mulino open up in Atlantic City? Their New York location is a very over rated place in my opinion.

                    1. I have to agree that Blu is best of the best in Northern NJ and was thrilled to see that Daryl took the Central NJ slot as well; if you haven't had Zod's food yet, you may not understand why, but since I was at one of his restaurants last night, I have very fresh reminders. VERY creative and not break-the-bank pricing is an awesome combo, imo!

                      Other personal favorites that made the list:
                      10th Ave Burrito in Belmar
                      Raymond's for breakfast/brunch
                      Skylark Diner in Edison
                      Denville Dairy

                      And while I agree that there are some head-scratchers (Park & Orchard?!? Tinga? Dinosaur BBQ which is barely open even though I agree their food is good...? Cuban Pete's? Egans for beer selection? They're usually "out" when my serious beer-drinking pals order interesting stuff from the list...weird how it happens over and over!)

                      I guess the bottom line is that when you ask the masses for their opinion, you're going to get it! And that includes all of the places that blast their e-mail lists with requests for votes...

                      1. Wait, now. Just read the list (I know, slow on the uptake). Kudos to Brian and the staff at 10th Ave Burrito for making the "Bang for the Buck" category. However, how is Belmar suddenly in South Jersey when Asbury Park's Trinity and the Pope made the same category for Central?
                        In the "Cheesesteak" category, Belmar reappears as a Central Jersey town for Main Street Cheesesteak, which I believe has been closed for months. Ditto for Klein's in "Seafood." Nicholas also bounces between South and Central, depending on the category. What's the point of geographical designations if the lines can be erased to accommodate the list?

                        And I won't even venture a guess as to how T&P is a "Bang for the Buck" nominee. Is Sugar Rush possibly better than Flaky Tart? No Local Smoke but Big Ed's BBQ?

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: aklein

                          10th Ave will no longer qualify for being a "bang for your buck" now that they have a liquor license.

                          1. re: MGZ

                            To be fair, they have a seasonal liquor license --- a great source of income in a shore town --- yet their menu prices have barely changed since their inception. IMHO "Bang for the Buck" is a designation based on the food, not because diners can choose to have a few margaritas or not. For what's on the plate, it's a steal.

                            1. re: aklein

                              I had been told that the license was going to be year round. I'd like it much better if you are correct.

                              I think their prices are fair, but I don't think I'd go so far as "a steal." I mean three dollar tacos, eight - nine dollar burritos is ok for the food served, but it's not really cheap anymore. My point was, when I was getting the same food and bringing in my own Racer 5. it was a great thirty dollar lunch (including the tewlve dollar sixer). I'm not really feeling the same way about paying forty or more for us to eat the same fare and drink less(er) beer.

                              1. re: MGZ

                                Fair enough, I just don't look at those polls with thoughts about the eventual bar bill.
                                I had not heard that the liquor license was year-round. Next time I'm there I'll ask. Now that you say it, they seem to have put an awful lot of effort in to the bar for a license that could be dormant in a few months. But still...

                                I was there last week and came up with my first complaint: they are using a separate service bar for the restaurant, which would be fine except that the perfect margaritas we had at the bar were vastly better and different than the ones we got at the table. I think they're using a mix for the service bar, which is a big no-no to me. What I get at the bar should be what I get at the table. Sorry, maybe straying OT.

                                1. re: MGZ

                                  During our lunch at 10th Ave. last week, our waitress told us that the liquor license is seasonal. She said it would be valid until October.


                            2. re: aklein

                              We split the BBQ discussion off to its own thread since it seemed like a popular one: http://www.chow.com/topics/860624

                            3. Nicholas in Red Bank is top French restaurant while Nicholas in Middletown is the top Vegetarian?

                              Is the Hawaiian Kampachi sashimi with black bean puree French or Vegetarian? Both?

                              1. This list is so tainted because the restaurants of Montclair along with Calandra's campaign so aggressively. Next Door isn't even the best burger in Montclair. Best beer selection Egan and Son's ? You must be having a laugh, up the road is the Cloverleaf and along with the Shepperd and the Knucklehead both of their selctions dwarf Egans. Best nightlife, Egans? C'mon I go there and some nights I can do cartwheels down the middle and not touch anyone. Decent place but far from 'ther best" at either category. Cuban Pete's ? Another joke, it's basically a kids place and for 'girls night out', no serious diner goes there. Mexican ,Tinga ...what !!
                                Two places where Montclair is actually better than what was chosen is the Italian Deli, (Belgiovivi's) and bakery( Nicola's). For the most part toss out Montclair voting, decent places but it's ballot stuffing.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: bifpocaroba

                                  Bif, I'd love to know where you find a better burger in Montclair than the one being served at Next Door! No tone behind that, but I certainly haven't found one.

                                  ETA: MGZ, re: your comment below, we also have to remember that those are the reader's choices, and the Editor's picks are also included. Still, I do agree that NJM is all about boosting their ad revenue.

                                  1. re: Curlz

                                    Hi Curlz, To be honest I love the Tierney's burger, always have. Maybe it's that I pretty much grew up on it. I also think Pal's in WO is better. I have had the Next Door just once maybe I missed something I'll give it another try because people seem to love it. I think The Avenue Bistro in Verona's "bistro Burger" is awesome and as are Frank Anthony's (Verona) and Calandras (Caldwell).

                                2. The poll, like many types of things we see in print, or through other media,* is fundamentally just a disguised advertising tool. The results are jaded by restaurants "stuffing the ballot boxes" (I once had an old Jersey City pol tell me his party's mantra - "Vote early and Vote often!")* and it's never surprising how many of their advertisers do very well. I mean a lot of the inconsistencies you guys have pointed out should suggest something weird going on, no?

                                  * I was basically suggesting that it's worth thinking about this with TV shows like Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives (I think I got that order right).

                                  ** It reminds me of how Major League Baseball teams hand out reams of All-Star ballots as soon as June draws to a close.

                                  1. What shows the ridiculousness of these polls is they frequently include places that have been closed for more than a year. I don't know if it's true of this one this year, but it has in the past.

                                    1. I wish they listed the actual number of votes for each restaurant -- because I suspect that some of the anomalies are because the numbers for some of the categories are low.

                                      Edit: I think it's ridiculous that they list Nicholas as sometimes in Red Bank and sometimes in Middletown. And Nicholas in Red Bank is sometimes Central and sometimes South Jersey. Nobody in South Jersey would consider Red Bank as South Jersey! (I'm 6 miles from Nicholas, and hardly in South Jersey.)

                                      28 Replies
                                      1. re: drongo

                                        I dunno. I don't agree with it but there are a sizable number of folks up north that consider anything below the Driscoll Bridge to be South Jersey...

                                        1. re: equal_Mark

                                          Yes, you're right... so perhaps NJ Monthly should publish a map showing how they define North, Central, and South. Maybe they did and I missed it?

                                          1. re: equal_Mark

                                            The Driscoll means crossing into North Jersey to me - the air's different on the other side of that Bridge.

                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              If you were to just draw 2 lines, delimiting NJ into N, S, and C, it would be reasonable to draw one at the Driscoll, or perhaps a bit north at around 78, and one right around Toms River.

                                              The North/South thing, if you ignore central, seems to be a bit more confusing. Either way it's a state of mind.

                                              1. re: tommy

                                                Here is another way to look at this, not necessarily the right way :)

                                                The geographic center of New Jersey is 5 miles southeast of Trenton. Using that fact then everything north of I 195 is "north Jersey" and everything south of I 195 is "south Jersey". Of course that assumes there is no "central jersey".

                                                1. re: tom246

                                                  By the same logic everything east of that is eastern jersey and everything west is western jersey. You might find some issues with those definitions, though. :)

                                                  Although I'm completely comfortable with 195 being the dividing point of north/south, considering Asbury Park as north jersey doesn't do much good. I think that's why we need 3 regions.

                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                    At least that geographic center is fact and not in someone's imagination. One of those questions where you will likely get a dozen different answers from as many people.

                                                    Having Asbury Park in north jersey may not seem right to you but might make sense to the resident living in Stone Harbor :)

                                                    1. re: tom246

                                                      Stone Harbor? Where's that, Delaware or something? :)

                                                      I think geographic centers don't help much with respect to these definitions. I'm not talking about imagination here, I'm talking about looking at the state and dividing it into three equal-sized (north-to-south) sections, with a dash of cultural aspect as well.

                                                    2. re: tommy

                                                      Did you lose Central Jersey? :-)

                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                        But Asbury Park has Porta...and if I can call that North Jersey, I'll feel like it's even closer! :-)

                                                    3. re: tommy

                                                      I've always considered Central NJ to be between Rt. 78 and Rt. 195

                                                2. re: drongo

                                                  I agree with you about their (not) showing the number of votes. I'd love to know that X restaurant got X% of the X# of votes cast--because sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one who voted for, say, Denville Dairy for best ice cream in NNJ!

                                                  1. re: Curlz

                                                    I will make it easy.... once you start getting eagles fans, then you are in South Jersey LOL

                                                  2. re: drongo

                                                    FWIW, the issue is that Nicholas is technically in Middletown but uses a Red Bank zip. Middletown is so big their post offices can't handle the volume. You might know that already though : )

                                                    1. re: corvette johnny

                                                      It's not uncommon in Jersey for zip codes to ignore municipal boundaries; I guess it dates from when they were assigned more on the basis of the nearest/oldest Post Office.

                                                      1. re: Mr. Bingley

                                                        Wow, I think I started this North, Central, South debate by accident. The point was that the NJ Monthly poll played with the geography to fit their needs. You can't put Asbury Park in Central NJ then Belmar in South NJ the same category as they did in "Bang for the Buck," and you can't switch towns and locations for a single restaurant (Nicholas), regardless of the mailing address or the map.
                                                        NJ Monthly could have worked harder to be accurate instead of literally blurring lines to accommodate for a weak list.

                                                        1. re: aklein

                                                          You mean, like, actually done some reporting?

                                                          Perish the thought!

                                                            1. re: aklein

                                                              I agree. Please help this naive transplanted NY'er. Where is South Jersey and what is central NJ? Looking at a map Belmar is Central but some consider it South. Others consider anything south of the Raritan Bridge South Jersey. This could get heated!

                                                              1. re: angelo04

                                                                There is no formal definition. No sense it getting too wrapped up in it.

                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                  "Central Jersey" is where you hear both "taylor ham" and "pork roll" used interchangeably, as North Jersey is "Taylor Ham" country and South Jersey is "Pork roll" land. :)

                                                                  1. re: Mr. Bingley

                                                                    And there are both Phillies and Yankees fans on the same block.

                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                      A strange place, this "central jersey."

                                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                                        To my myopic brain, NJ would be better cut into North Jersey (above the Driscoll), South Jersey, and that strip east of the Parkway running from the tip of Sandy Hook to the end of Long Beach Island - The Shore.

                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                          I agree that the shore does have its own unique identity. But does it not extend south of LBI?

                                                                          I can't get behind Rutgers being in South Jersey though. We'll never sort this out.

                                                                          1. re: tommy

                                                                            No way New Brunswick is South Jersey - just listen to the accent.

                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                              If they root for the Eagles, Phillies or the Flyers they are in South Jersey. Everyone else is in North Jersey, Central Jersey or the Shore. New Jersey is to large to divide into just North and South.