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Dec 4, 2012 09:50 PM

6 Months of Terrible Food Since Relocating to Rahway, NJ

Ok, so I relocated from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Rahway, NJ about 6 months ago. I settled down and started giving local fare a chance. I have been horribly disappointed with every restaurant I have been to in New Jersey thus far. I have ended up taking the train to Manhattan when I want to eat out this past month.

So, my plea. Where in a 15 mile radius of Rahway can I get some really good food? At this point, I am not even asking for specific types of cuisine. I need my reliable chowhounders to disprove my notion that New Jersey pollution has destroyed all of its citizens palates.

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  1. New Brunswick, Westfield are within 15 minutes drive or by train - and there are a handful to 10 restaurants that are worth checking out. That's where I'd start.

    Woodbridge which is but 5 minutes away - JJ Bitings brewery or Mie Thai for reputable Thai. I also happen to love Ill Castillo for formal Italian dining.

    Lou Cas in Edison (#27/Parsonage Rd) is very very good. You could also try Metuchen as well.

    What places have you tried? It would help fellow CH'ers respond with some viable alternatives.

    All is not lost, but you need a Garmin and some advice. Now, tell us what you're looking for - and maybe Manhattan is where you need to go, but I have to tell you, that even in Middlesex County (even though Rahway is in Union), there are hidden gems.

    Let's hear a little more from you.....

    23 Replies
    1. re: JustJake

      Ok, so places I have been to since arrival that I have not liked or thought were on par with the reviews.

      Nancy's Town House - very popular but overrated

      The Waiting Room - god awful, but I still end up there for a beer for the Dolphin's games

      Cubanu - $20 entrees for Cuban food? Highway robbery. I didn't even eat there but there is no such thing as stuffy Cuban food

      Michelino's - Best pizza I've had so far in NJ but I imagine there has to be much better. $20 for a thin pie leads me astray.

      Stuff Yer Face - They had a great beer that is very hard to come by in Florida so I respect them for that. Their wings were ok.

      Beana's - the first restaurant I've ever walked out of it was so terrible. I don't feel like ranting about that now.

      Jose Teja's - between this and Beana's it's very clear that New Jersey has never seen a Mexican

      Harold's Deli - all show and large portions, lacking on the execution and quality

      White Castle - just because we don't have them in the Southeast but now I know why you need to be extremely stoned to enjoy it.

      I have been to a couple other places but I can't recall their names or their location. Therefore they were forgettable.

      1. re: skuzzy

        Judging whether NJ has seen a Mexican by Jose Teja's is like judging it by Taco Bell. There are plenty of authentic Mexican places around. Aberdeen has Pancho Villa's, Keyport has El Pollo y La Oaxaquena, and New Brunswick has Costa Chica, Cinco de Mayo, and probably a bunch of others.

        And who judges restaurants by White Castle anyway?

        1. re: eleeper

          I was asked where I had been and I felt that White Castle was a novelty for me so I added it.

          1. re: skuzzy

            I'm with you on this one; going to New Jersey and not eating White Castle is like going down South and not eating at Waffle House.

            That being said, you are surrounded by incredible food and I can't believe you've missed it. Luckily, you have some wonderful suggestions.

        2. re: skuzzy

          Go to El Encuentro Centro Americano in Morristown and tell them that NJ has never seen any Latinos.

          1. re: tamerlanenj

            I like the reference to Timur but I didn't say Latinos, I said Mexicans which is a specific subset.

            Aside from that, I used two really unauthentic places to make that statement and from my perspective at this point that is what I see. The purpose of this post was for someone to disprove that by providing an authentic Mexican restaurant in the Central New Jersey area so that I can change my tune.

            1. re: skuzzy

              LA Estacion in Morristown is very good.

              1. re: tamerlanenj

                I just read the Yelp reviews and based on the menu items people are ordering and some people flat out saying "this place is run by Caucasians" makes me extremely weary. But this thread is slowly leading me to believe I have a new business venture upcoming.

                1. re: skuzzy

                  Funny, since it's owned and founded by Raul Silva, a Mexican.

              2. re: skuzzy

                I understand your longing for authentic Mexican food, having spent several years in TX Best I have found in NJ is Casa Maya in Gillette. They also have a location in Old Bridge, however I have only been to the Gillette location.

                1. re: PuniceaRana

                  I want to see a place where it just says TACO and I can simply expect that only onions, cilantro, and maybe queso blanco or crema is on it and it is double wrapped in a corn tortilla no questions asked. I know I am asking for a lot.

                  1. re: skuzzy

                    Since you've gotten a number of rec's outside your relocation, location-consider the small town of Keyport for authentic tacos. Several Mexican-owned take out joints have opened up there. All hit the taco nail on the head at very responsible prices. Same thing in the town of Red Bank. Mexican run is your best bet.

                    1. re: skuzzy

                      Skuzzy, I get them (tacos) just like that in Bound Brook (Joyce's Taquira) and Asbury Park (the little bakery/luncheonette on Main St just beyond Asbury Ave). Cheap, delicious and the only way to have a taco. And NO, you're not asking for a lot.


                      1. re: skuzzy

                        You need to check out 10th Avenue Burrito in Belmar, then!

                        1. re: Curlz

                          No. AVOID 10th Ave Burrito. It is terrible.

                        2. re: skuzzy

                          Surprised nobody has mentioned Senor Peppers (do NOT be put off by the name) in Redbank - tho RB's "little Mexico" was mentioned. They have the tacos you want. Kind of place where all the workers roll in at the end of the day with 2 cases of beer (a BYO - another hidden NJ advantage) and chow down. Everything is excellent and cheap (and great jukebox). Also, finally somebody mentioned Emma's in Cranford which is consistently, pie after delicious pie, some of the best genuine wood oven, thin crust pizza I have eaten in my long life (including all 5 boroughs). I've lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn and these two are just a couple of examples of why I'd rather go out for chow in NJ (+ parking lots, no hipsters, less vermin, etc). It's out there.

                        3. re: PuniceaRana

                          I agree, this menu looks more authentic than any other recommendations so far.

                            1. re: arpad

                              Yes, you are correct, the other location is in High Bridge. I should have not relied on my memory and actually checked their website!

                            2. re: PuniceaRana

                              Need to point out that the other Casa Maya location is in High Bridge, not Old Bridge. Big difference. High Bridge is in Hunterdon County, a fair trek from Rahway.

                              Added in Edit: Whoops, how did I miss arpad's comment!

                              1. re: PuniceaRana

                                I grew up in Gillette. When I was a kid (we're talking 40 years ago!), there was a convenience store called Cracker Barrel where Casa Maya is now. That area is actually known as Meyersville. I lived there briefly as well.

                          1. re: skuzzy

                            "... New Jersey has never seen a Mexican."

                            Actually 60% to 70% of restaurant kitchens in the NYC tri-state area are mostly, if not fully staffed be Mexicans of Pueblan decent. Find the communities where they live and there will be excellent taquerias on every other corner. I am familiar with these areas in Monmouth County where there are likely over a dozen good places, and can only guess there should be sizable Mexican communities near Rahway...

                            1. re: skuzzy

                              Try D'italia! I believe it's in Woodbridge but it's right off of saint George's avenue by the Boston market. It's a little difficult to find because it's in a small complex but once you get there you'll discover great prices and delicious food.

                          2. What did you think of Patria in Rahway? What did you think of The Railhouse in Rahway?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: coldbeer

                              I have walked by The Rail House numerous times but I still haven't been. I will definitely give it a try if you recommend it.

                                1. re: coldbeer

                                  We ended up going to Patria's. I ordered the Paella which is obviously not traditional for Peruvian cuisine and it was mediocre at best. The seafood was overcooked and it was pretty pricey for what you received. The only redeeming factor was the broth infused rice which had some flavor. My major complaint is with what my girlfriend ordered. She ordered the short ribs in a pea puree. The short rib should melt like butter with the touch of a fork but unfortunately she had to ask for a steak knife. That is how tough it was. Not to mention it was exceptionally expensive for what it was.

                                  The ambiance was the best part of the place. Someone invested some dollars into it and it was pretty well executed.

                            2. Oak Tree Road in Iselin is easily within 15 miles; have you tried any of the Indian restaurants along there? Keum Ho Jung in Edison is also recommended. Depending on where you are in Rahway, Shanghai Bun and West Lake in Aberdeen may also be within 15 miles.

                              1. The original comment has been removed
                                1. D&R Deli in Rahway makes good solid subs with Boars Head Meat. And their specials can get pretty interesting.

                                  Just Plain Dave's in Westfield is a great restaurant for Diner Style Food with a Twist.

                                  Steakzillas in Woodbridge for Cheesesteaks.

                                  Great Grease and onion burgers and neon yellow cheese fries- White Rose System

                                  Jose Tejas in Woodbridge for solid Tex-Mex

                                  Shannon Rose in Woodbridge for Pretty good Irish style / bar food.

                                  Baguette Delight in Edison for Bahn-mi (I've been only once and impressed, pretty good reviews on here).

                                  1. re: coldsolderjoint

                                    I have to disagree with Jose Teja's. I thought it was pretty terrible foodwise. The vibe was ok. 1.5 hour wait for a table.

                                    1. re: skuzzy

                                      Jose Teja's has gone seriously downhill. They changed their cocktail mix much to customers dismay and the menu items are being prepared differently than even a year ago. We noticed a major change and a change in service vibe and stopped going.

                                    2. re: coldsolderjoint

                                      Steakzillas and Baguette Delite sound up my alley.

                                      Down south, I could buy Boar's Head from the supermarket and I always felt that I can make a Boar's Head sandwich/sub myself with almost equal results unless they bake their own bread.

                                      1. re: coldsolderjoint

                                        I just went to Baguette Delite and grabbed some BBQ pork bahn mis and a couple meatball ones for a change-up. The place is great. An off the road hole in the wall with a small seating area. The place was pretty busy and the kitchen was busting their ass right in front of you trying to meet the demand.

                                        The bahn mi itself is great and at $5 its a steal. It definitely contends with the bahn mis I've had in San Francisco and Little Vietnam in Orlando. The fact that it had no head cheese or pate takes away a little bit of authenticity but since I strongly dislike both, it was great that I didn't have to ask for it without.

                                        I would recommend this place to anyone. Crisp clean ingredients and flavor at fast food prices. Thanks for spreading the word.

                                      2. Actually, I like a wide variety of food but I did look at my posts last night and they ended up being about pizza or lobbying for La Spada's (no affiliation).

                                        I enjoy a wide variety of food. If anyone can recommend a straight off the boat from Israel schwarma place, authentic Thai, authentic Mexican, authentic Peruvian/Colombian, authentic Cuban food, a good pizza place outside of what I listed in the previous post, a really good Deli (Harold's was recommended to me but it fell short), authentic Indian food, a great Bahn Mi, a really good Med/Greek restaurant, and the list goes on.

                                      3. Skuzzy the first question is why in the heck would you leave beautiful Ft. Lauderdale to move to Rahway NJ. I mean no offense I grew up in the area so I can say without malice the place is best known for a prison !!!!

                                        Anyway I'm going to say this....your taste buds are probably frozen from the lack of Florida Sun and need time to thaw before they can appreciate Jersey dining.

                                        I will +1 Il Costillo's in Woodbridge and Lu Cas of Edison/Metuchen.

                                        I will add......Civilies BYOB Metuchen......&.....La Griglia Kennilworth.........also although I have not been there I have heard nothing but excellent things about Blvd 572(?) or something similar to that in Kennilworth also about a half mile past La Griglia.

                                        Good luck !!!

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                          Ha! I left Fort Lauderdale because my girlfriend is going to UMDNJ and I was forced into this pit of despair. I am exaggerating but from my limited experience so far the food is as bad as the roads.

                                          1. re: skuzzy

                                            I moved from that area 20 years ago so my intimate knowledge of places is limited these days. The places I recommended to you are fine dining and fairly pricey....but as they say you will get what you pay for.

                                            As far as more moderate with decent food I would say the Houlihans on Rt. 1 not to far for Jose Teja's might be a good spot for you to try. For Indian food there are a lot of options in the Islin section of Woodbridge near Oak Tree road. Newark NJ has a large Portuguesse population with many good places to try there.....just BE CAREFUL mapquest or use navigation carefully you don't want to make a wrong turn or two. Also remember NJ is the Diner capital of the world and some hidden treasures can be found at some of them.

                                            Sorry I'm not of more help.

                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                              For a chain, Houlihan's is one of the more solid ones. Their Thai Chile wings are my favorite wings. Get them with extra sriracha sauce

                                              Their small plates are also good.

                                              1. re: MarlboroMan

                                                I have been spending many nights at my parents house in Lakewood to help with my ailing mom. This has brought me to the Houlihan's on Rt. 70 in Lakewood fairly often simply because it is a half mile from where they live. I'm actually starting to get impressed with the place/quality of food. They have a "decent" prime rib Thur-Sat. and as you stated their wings are excellent. (although I prefer sauce's on the side) They have an Ahi Tuna salad which is fantastic and many of their other entree's are solid as well. It doesn't have that pre-packaged/made micro wave heated taste or consistency that many chains like them seem to have.

                                                Oh and they have creme brulee' for desert!! And it's good!!!!!

                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                  I like the ahi tuna appetizer (offered small or large portion) at the Bonefish Grill topped off by a pomm martini (with frozen grapes) even better.

                                                2. re: MarlboroMan

                                                  Agreed. Houihan's salads are good, and I recently tried the fried pickle appetizer, which was done completely differently than anywhere else I have had them, and was delicious.