New Jersey’s Best Sandwich? @ Hamburgão – Kearny, NJ
Keeping tabs on New Jersey’s best ethnic food is my excuse to sample all kinds of dishes across the Garden State. Like always, 2012 was an excellent year for ethnic eating in Jersey. I definitely ate my fill – from Main Street, Paterson to Edison’s Oak Tree Road; from German food in the Skylands to Mexican down the Shore - and then some. Many restaurants made it onto the EthnicNJ map for the first time. Thanks to everyone who has visited, contributed and commented, EthnicNJ.com now features 750 of New Jersey’s best ethnic restaurants. Keep the tips coming and EthnicNJ will keep searching out the best food New Jersey has to offer.
Ceviche Trio @ El Marino – Dover, NJ
Among the places I visited this year, a few meals stand out from rest. These are my ten most memorable meals of 2012. The common thread is good food, but that’s usually just part of the story. Each meal on this list brought together food, people and surroundings for an unforgettable food experience.
Happy New Year New Jersey! May 2013 bring you plenty of Jersey food memories like these.
Taco al Pastor @ Taquería La Valentina – Long Branch, NJ
10. Hamburgão Beef @ Hamburgão - Kearny, NJ
After picking up some tasty Argentinian empanadas at nearby Stella’s, my wife and I stopped here for lunch and experienced one of the most amazing, over-the-top sandwiches in all of Jersey.
9. Ceviche Trio @ El Marino - Dover, NJ
Who would have guessed that the best Peruvian ceviche this side of Lima is in Morris County?
8. BBQ Chicken from The Wood Pit - Montclair, NJ
The ribs and brisket were so good here that we ordered two big trays of meat for our oldest daughter’s Sweet Sixteen party. Turns out the chopped BBQ Chicken, slathered with North Carolina flavors, is even better!
“Mealies” @ Charlie’s Pool Room – Alpha, NJ”
7. Tapas @ Olé Olé Foods – Belleville, NJ
This Spanish fine food importer opens its warehouse to the public on the first Saturday of every month in the Spring. Sample Serrano ham, Manchego cheese, and homemade chorizo. The gregarious proprietor, Conrad, may pour you some wine while you shop and snack.
6. Taco al Pastor @ Taquería La Valentina - Long Branch, NJ
The simplicity of the single taco I ate on my first visit was disarming and delicious. La Valentina became my favorite Mexican restaurant in New Jersey and a featured spot in my article for Edible Jersey magazine.
Grilled Meats @ Al Helal – Paterson, NJ
5. Grilled Lamb Chop and Sausages @ Al-Helal - Paterson , NJ
The centerpiece of my Ethnic Food Tour of Paterson, NJ with Mayor Domenick Stampone of Haledon and and Jersey Bites founder Deborah Smith, Al-Helal offered a glimpse of the rich Middle Eastern fare available in Passaic County.
Leitao Bairrada @ Casa Do Leitao – Elizabeth, NJ
4. ”Mealies” @ Charlie’s Pool Room - Alpha, NJ
With my teenage son along for the ride, I stepped into 85 years of backstory, ate two very good hot dogs, and spent a fascinating hour with the Fencz brothers.
Perfect pizza @ DeLucia’s – Raritan, NJ
3. Pizza @ DeLucia’s - Raritan, NJ
My favorite pizza – half cheese, half sausage – tasted even better when my youngest daughter agreed with her dad, as eight year old girls often do, that it was the best pizza she had ever had.
2. Leitão from Casa do Leitão - Elizabeth, NJ
Before launching EthnicNJ.com, I never would have found a source for Portuguese whole roast suckling pig. Arriving at our friends’ backyard dinner this summer with a pig in a box made quite an impression, especially after tasting the paper-thin, crispy skin and melt-in-your-mouth pork.
Pork Ramen @ Mitsuwa – Edgewater, NJ
1. Miso Roasted Pork Ramen @ Mitsuwa Marketplace - Edgewater, NJ
On a cold January Saturday, the whole family ventured to this Japanese supermarket food court in Bergen County, where we enjoyed the most satisfying bowls of steaming broth, meat, vegetables and noodles, contentedly slurping it all up. Happiness is a hot bowl of soup.
The devastating impact of this week’s historic storm is now apparent to all New Jerseyans, from Bergen to Cape May, from Trenton to Point Pleasant. Many of us without power are just now catching glimpses of the images of destruction. I know that neighbors are helping neighbors. Everyone in Jersey will lift each other up, and many others will lend a hand.
Prayers for those lost, praise for first responders and strength to all. Storms pass. New Jersey will recover.
“Sandy, the aurora is rising behind us. This pier lights our carnival life forever.” - Bruce Springsteen
NJ Recovery Resources
FEMA disaster assistance: 1-800-621-3362. Find open shelters by texting SHELTER and a zip code to 43362 (4FEMA).
NJ Office of Emergency Management Alerts and Recovery Help and Advice.
To find a Red Cross shelter, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit: http://app.redcross.org/nss-app/.
American Red Cross.
The FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, 732-918-2600.
FoodBank of South Jersey, 856-662-4884.
Community FoodBank of New Jersey, 908-355-FOOD.
Table to Table: Food donations from restaurants and professional food establishments in Bergen, Passaic, Hudson and Essex counties, 201-444-5500 or 201-887-7839.
Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund set up by Governor Chris Christie and First Lady Mary Pat Christie.
Immediate Supplies for NJ EMS and FIRE Departments affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Jersey Cares. Coordinating volunteer opportunities.
Rebuild Hoboken Relief Fund.
Robin Hood Relief Fund – Recipient of funds raised through the 12 12 12 Concert for Sandy Relief.
PSE&G: 1-800-436-7734, @PSEGdelivers
JCP&L: 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) or 1-800-545-7738, @JCP_L
AC Electric: 1-800-833-7476, @ACElecConnect
Rockland Electric Company: 1-877-434-4100, @ORUConnect
Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative: 1-877-504-6463
Vineland Municipal Utilities: 1-856-794-4280
EthnicNJ.com has a new look!
Check out the new logo, design and features that make it easier to find the best ethnic food in New Jersey. Filter the EthnicNJ map by cuisine, by county, or just show the best food close by. With over 700 restaurants serving some fifty different cuisines, EthnicNJ has all the information you need to find and eat New Jersey’s best ethnic food.
Here you will find:
Along with a map to get you there, a review if EthnicNJ has visited, and links to the information we found helpful.
In the two years since EthnicNJ launched, our readership has grown dramatically. Thank you to everyone who has visited, contributed and commented, helping us find and map hundreds of New Jersey’s best ethnic restaurants. Keep the tips coming. If there’s an ethnic gem in your neighborhood, let us know about it.
Thanks for visitng EthnicNJ.
Christopher Columbus Drive – Jersey City
There are spots in Jersey where the local food scene is so incredibly diverse it makes you appreciate living here even more. One of these Garden State ethnic food oases is Downtown Jersey City. Walk fifteen minutes in any direction from the Grove Street Path Station and you’ll see dozens of restaurants, which isn’t so unusual for a city of almost 250,000 people, but the number of different cuisines and quality of the food you can find certainly is. (more…)
The Paterson Farmers Market
New Jersey’s third largest city – founded in 1792 by Alexander Hamilton, birthplace of comedian Lou Costello, inspiration for poet William Carlos Williams, and high school stomping grounds of NJ Giants’ star Victor Cruz – has always been a city of immigrants. Irish, Germans and Jews since the 1800s; Italians and Eastern Europeans since the early 1900s; Syrians, Lebanese, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Central and South Americans, Africans and South Asians in the decades since; all call the Silk City home.
In other words, Paterson is New Jersey in a nutshell: lots of different people living close together; perfect conditions for really good food. With some of the Garden State’s largest Peruvian, Dominican, and Turkish populations , you can find a different ethnic restaurant on practically every corner. (more…)
I’ve noticed a few things scouring the state for New Jersey’s best ethnic food. No matter the cuisine, the best ethnic restaurants tend to share some common features. Here are 10 things to look for:
Las Banderas – Summit, NJ
1. A wall mural
After gazing at Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano on the wall of The Banderas in Summit, NJ, contemplating Macchu Picchu at Misty’s in West Orange, and avoiding Pancho Villa’s stare at El Rancho in Orange, it dawned on me that floor to ceiling, hand-painted murals are a reliable sign of good ethnic food, especially Latin American food.
2. Large families
Large groups with grandparents and young children are always a good sign at an ethnic restaurant. If you bring the whole family, the food must be good.
Sunny Palace – East Brunswick, NJ
3. A fish tank
Without fail, my favorite Asian restaurants feature impressive fish tanks. I’m not sure why, but it’s a good sign for good food.
4. A foreign language
A no-brainer, but authentic ethnic food usually means owners, chefs, servers and many customers speak the language. If no one at your favorite Szechuan spot understands Mandarin, you’re probably not eating the best Dan Dan Noodles. If the chef speaks Spanish and the family at the next table is speaking Spanish, you’re off to a good start for Peruvian food. If all you hear is English, hopefully there’s a foreign language on the menu. Not speaking the language can make ordering an adventure, but isn’t that part of the fun?
Chengdu 1 – Cedar Grove, NJ
5. Strange things on the menu
If there are things on the menu you never thought you’d eat, you’re usually in for a treat. Go ahead, order the tripe, or the pig’s feet, or the jellyfish. You’ll be glad you did.
Whether it’s a Filipino game show, Mexican telenovelas, or a European football match, there’s often a TV on at the best ethnic restaurants. A community gathering place means good food.
Try the Hot Sauce!
7. Mysterious condiments
Mexican “salsa” outsells ketchup, mustard and mayo in the United States, but our taste for sauces is incredibly narrow compared to the world’s cuisines. Put a squirt of Sriracha on your fried rice, add some piri piri to your shrimp, or spoon on some of that unnamed mixture from the glass jar in the middle of the table. If you like the food, try the sauce.
8. Owners who talk to customers
The best ethnic restaurants are family-owned. If the food is good, the owner, who might also be the chef, will work the dining room with pride.
9. A strip mall location
New Jersey’s best ethnic restaurants are found all over – in downtown storefronts and in residential neighborhoods, but nothing signals good, cheap ethnic eats more than a highway strip mall location. You might drive right by Jimmy Buff’s (Route 10) or Abhiruchi (Route 27) without noticing them, but ethnic food fans know where they are.
Jimmy Buff’s – East Hanover, NJ
10. A New Jersey address
If you’re eating the best food you’ve ever tasted, you’re probably at an ethnic restaurant in New Jersey. How do you find New Jersey’s best ethnic food? Use the map at EthnicNJ.com, of course.