New Jersey is a destination in its own right for foodies, and part of its charm is the local food scene in towns all over the state. From fine dining to authentic ethnic cuisine or good old fashioned comfort food, these towns have it all.

FOXTROT MEDIA / Toast City Diner, Asbury Park

ASBURY PARK 

If you head to the boardwalk, you’ll find everything from Neapolitan-style pizza at Porta to carrot cake pancakes and lobster cobb salad at Toast City Diner, which also has locations in Montclair and Red Bank. Brando’s Citi Cucina is an osteria, which means a place where the owner hosts his guests, so the service is as good as the menu options. Centrada Restaurant is known for its Pan-Latin dining experience, a mixture of Tulum, Cuba and Barcelona. Stella Marina, which means “star of the sea,” has escarole bean soup, pappardelle bolognese and red snapper bordetto style, so you’ll feel like your eating at Nonna’s. The restaurants here offer plenty of excuses to come off the hot sand for a bit, or to fill up before a concert at the iconic Stone Pony.

ATLANTIC CITY

There are dozens of amazing restaurants within the casinos and hotels, like Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar in the Tropicana; Gordon Ramsay’s Steak at Harrah’s or Hell’s Kitchen at Caesar’s; or Angeline by Michael Symon at the Borgata. But there are also great restaurants off the strip. Chef Vola’s is a family-style restaurant inside a private residence, making it super-exclusive but super-amazing. The Irish Pub is a great place to relax after sunning or gambling all day. White House Subs, which does have a shop inside Hard Rock Café, has its original location on Arctic Avenue: the giant subs on delicious bread cannot be beat.

BORDENTOWN

There is a mix of fine dining, casual pubs and gourmet treats scattered along Farnsworth Avenue and its side streets. HOB Tavern is the famous local dive bar that has some of the best wings around. Angelo’s Trattoria makes its pasta in house and uses locally sourced ingredients. Angie’s Luncheonette serves breakfast all day from its authentic Mexican menu. Smell the freshly baked bread daily at Hoop House. The Candy Jar by 1892 sells homemade chocolate from its party shop. Turtle Beans Coffee Roasters Co. will satisfy your caffeine fix.

CAPE RESORTS / Ebbitt Room

CAPE MAY 

Victorian homes and pristine beaches make the southern tip of NJ attractive to visitors, but locals know this is where to get the best seafood around. Beach Plum Farm Kitchen supplies fruit and produce to other restaurants from the Cape Resorts group, such as Blue Pig Tavern, Ebbitt Room and Rusty Nail, so you know their food must be good. Almost everything made at Good Earth Organic Eatery can be made gluten free or vegan.

HUGH AT THE JARDIN

Jardin at the Hugh offers Instagram-worthy French cuisine; some seasonal specials use ingredients like bee pollen and sea buckthorn. It’s hard to smell the ocean air without craving seafood, so try the fish market and raw bar selections at Lobster House.

INDIYA INDIAN KITCHEN

COLLINGSWOOD

One may not think of Collingswood when they think of Jersey favorites, but they are mistaken! Hearthside is an attraction of itself, with its wood burning grill and oven. You can watch the cooks tend to the fire before you enjoy a meal with smoky flavor. Indiya Indian Kitchen serves Indian food from the southern region of the country, which foodies may not be familiar with. Sample the menu with a lunch box to go, which includes entrée, soup, korma, channa masala, naan, basmati rice and rice pudding. The Kitchen Consigliere has an old-school Italian feel. Oasis Mexican Grill serves everything from tacos to burritos and quesadillas to tostadas. Sabrina’s Café is open for dinner, but the lines form during the Rom-Com Brunch, where you can order the Bridget Jones Cinnamon Roll Pancakes, When Harry Met Our Chilaquiles or the Crazy, Stupid, Poppyseed Chicken Wrap.

EDISON

Oak Tree Road is dedicated to Indian culture, so there is no shortage of cuisine here. Try the buffet or order off the menu at Moghul Restaurant; there are variations of paneer, biryani, samosa and tikka masala. Try a new twist on pizza at Singas Famous Pizza. Apna Bazar has a food court with Indian snacks and street foods. By the Menlo Park Mall you can find The Cheesecake Factory or Seasons 52. For organic options, head to True Food Kitchen. Tastee Sub Shop is even a presidential favorite! (President Barack Obama stopped by in 2010). Harold’s New York Deli has the largest sandwiches you will ever see – they are like triple deckers on steroids! You’ll need multiple mouths to finish a plate. And at Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, you literally watch as your food passes by! You can order off the menu or grab a plate from the conveyor belt that travels throughout the restaurant.

ERIN DWYER PHOTOGRAPHY / Teaberry’s

FLEMINGTON

Some of the favorites here include Teaberry’s Tea Room, an authentic English tea house inside of a grand Victorian home; Matt’s Red Rooster Grill, serving contemporary American cuisine prepared over a wood fired grill; and the hip Stangl Factory Farmer’s Market.

AARZU MODERN INDIAN BISTRO

FREEHOLD BOROUGH

Between the half-mile long Main Street and its offshoots in the borough, there’s no lack of international cuisine in the area. Sweet Lew’s is a traditional café, serving breakfast and lunch. The best thin-crust pizza is served at Federici’s Family Restaurant, which has been around for 100 years. El Meson Cafe and Tacos TKO are favorites for Mexican food. 618 Restaurant has been named the most romantic restaurant two years in a row for its delicious dishes, newly renovated bar and Insta-worthy cocktails. Roberto’s Freehold Grill is a favorite of Bruce Springsteen, as is Jersey Freeze (the best ice cream is served here, too). Aarzu Modern Indian Bistro and Ramen Nagomi are top spots for locals. A new steakhouse, Charkhol, takes prime cuts of meat and wood fires them. Metropolitan Cafe and American Hotel are known for upscale menus, while The Court Jester Saloon & Eatery is everyone’s favorite local pub. For homecooked-style Italian meals, try Panini Grill or Mateo’s Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant. Don Pepe Peruvian serves traditional dishes like grilled specials, seafood, rice and noodles. Solo Trattoria is complemented in Manalapan by La Lupa, restaurants that pride themselves on authentic Italian food that are managed by a father and son, respectively. Fusha Asian Fusion is a go-to spot for the freshest sushi, while Oyaka Tso is a fun night at the hibachi table.

BLUE EYES RESTAURANT

HOBOKEN

Either along Washington Street or down by the waterfront, you’re sure to find something to your liking. Del Frisco’s Grille is popular with celebrities for its top-notch prime cuts of beef. Tap into your Texan side at House of Que where you can get authentic ribs and pulled pork from a pitmaster. When the antipasto includes sauteed baby artichokes with pistachio, you know the rest of the menu at Blue Eyes Restaurant must be appealing. Sit down at Charrito’s for some fajitas or enchiladas. The Cuban has great fried plantain chips and lobster guacamole for starters, plus a full dinner menu. Bareburger Kitchen + Bar is known for blue bison or spicy elk burgers, plus a selection of specialty salads and plant-based options.

MARITIME PARC / Roasted chicken with broccoli and mushroom spoon bread at Maritime Parc

JERSEY CITY 

Jersey City was recently ranked No. 40 on a list of the best towns for foodies according to WalletHub. And with good reason. With fantastic eateries like Battello and Maritime Parc – and Smorgasburg, the open-air food market – it’s no wonder JC was chosen. From the nationally-praised pizza at Razza Pizza Artigianale to the unique beet and red bean vegetable burger at Mathews Food and Drink, this is a fine food mecca.

ORALE MEXICAN KITCHEN

Pop into Franklin Social for a drink and cauliflower coconut curry. Mamoun’s has tasty falafel, and you should also check Beechwood Café for brunch. Get your Mexican fix with Orale Mexican Kitchen’s Machin, roasted bone marrow topped with crispy pork belly and shredded cabbage. Liberty House in gorgeous Liberty State Park offers Italian appetizers, sushi, a raw bar, a variety of entrees and a chop house selection. Then grab an overstuffed salted caramel chocolate chip cookie from Bang Cookies.

LAMBERTVILLE

There is so much to do – and eat – on the Jersey side of the Delaware River. Lambertville Station Restaurant does the town’s name proud, with its locally-grown and sourced ingredients served inside a 19th-century train station. More Than Q sells smoked meats by the pound, or order a smaller share of wings, chicken thighs, sandwiches and sides. Go home with a bottle of one of their famous sauces. Stop at Full Moon Cafe for breakfast or lunch before you go on your shopping spree in the downtown district. Pop in to Panda Bistro if you want casual Chinese food.

LONG BRANCH

Jersey Shore lovers flock to Long Branch for the famed Pier Village and its beaches, carousel, art galleries, boardwalk games, and events. There are restaurants from every cuisine: Italian, Greek, steak, Mediterrean and more. Try the overstuffed burritos at Pop’s Garage, which moved from Asbury Park’s boardwalk to White Chapel Projects in Long Branch; they will also have a pop-up all summer at North Eats with their food truck. The Robinson Ale House has great craft beer in addition to a full menu of comfort food favorites. Avenue Le Club is the modern answer to a blend of the Parisian brasserie and the luxurious beaches of St. Tropez on the Atlantic Ocean beachfront. Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls are more lowkey, with the seafood coming straight from Saco, Maine; the lobster rolls are mixed with lemon, butter, mayo and some celery, nothing else. When it’s time to cool down, Coney Waffle specializes in its Side Show Shakes, Coney Waffles and full service ice cream choices. Or, The Baked Bear has giant overstuffed ice cream sandwiches.

STAFF PHOTO / Che Pizza in Metuchen

METUCHEN

Main Street in Metuchen has restaurant after restaurant to choose from. Mangia Toscan0 has upscale Italian dining, plus outdoor seating. Che Pizza has an incredible arugula pizza layered with large chunks of mozzarella, shaved parmigiana and tomatoes. The Greek on Main has a lobster gyro, lamburger or fig and goat cheese flatbread. If you want to eat early, Hatch 44 Cafe is the place for brunch. Brewed Awakening has great breakfast and coffee options for caffeine lovers. Beans & Bread (Angie’s Cafe & Bakery) will become your new favorite bakery because of its Dominican flair. Off the main highway, Civile Cucina Italiana has the best mussels marinara, balsamic fried calamari and stuffed rigatoni in the borough. And Sub Place Better has great bread to accompany deli meats for an awesome NJ sandwich.

MONTCLAIR

The downtown area has so many great spots, it’ll be hard to choose where to go. Koreander serves classic Korean rice bowls like bibimbap and bulgogi in a BBQ-type setting. Charm Thai has an exhibition kitchen where you can see pineapple fried rice being made fresh. Marcel Bakery & Kitchen offers Mediterranean food based on a Moroccan Jewish background, which means the shakshuka, with its mushrooms, poached eggs, feta cheese and spices, is top of the list to try. Try the Brazilian steak at Samba. And for amazing Italian food, head to Scala del Nonna, which translates to “steps of the grandmother.”

JOCKEY HOLLOW BAR AND KITCHEN

MORRISTOWN

Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen offers house-made pasta, and other favorites are lobster bisque and a quiche featuring mushrooms, broccoli and fontina. Mehndi is a great place to try Indian food a la carte or via the lunch buffet. Get your Polish dumpling fix at Pierogies House; try the kielbasa, too.

DAVID BURKE HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT / Clothesline Bacon at 1776 in Morristown

1776 by David Burke is beloved for its signature bacon on a clothesline and the crab cake pretzel raft; you can also play virtual sporting games at the TopGolf Swing Suite. There are dozens of burgers on the menu at Committed Pig including the mac & cheese burger.

NEWARK

Newark came in at No. 73 on the WalletHub list for best places to eat. With standout favorites like Mompou Tapas Bar & Restaurant for tapas and Spanish Tavern, there’s so much to taste in this city. The Ironbound district is filled with Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian restos – try rodizio at Brasilia Grill, where you get all-you-can-eat meat and sides brought to your table.

STAFF PHOTO / Cuzin’s Clam Bar

NEW BRUNSWICK

Sure, because of Rutgers, this is a college town, but the restaurants along and off of George Street and Easton Ave serve way more than pizza and wings. Clydz, known for its martinis, serves duck and alligator. Delta’s offers great southern cuisine. Dashen takes a stab at Ethiopian cuisine. Bubble tea at Noodle Gourmet is a hit; the taro flavor resembles cookies and cream. You’re supposed to eat dessert first at Old Man Rafferty’s. Seafood at Cuzin’s Clam Bar, pizza at Panico’s, hummus at Efe’s Mediterrean Grill … the list goes on and on. Salt Seafood and Oyster Bar transforms New Brunswick into the Jersey Shore. Steakhouse 85 is the official steakhouse of Rutgers Athletics so you may be dining next to a future star. And you can’t leave the area without trying one of the famous hot dogs at Destination Dogs or getting an ice cream cone at Thomas Sweet.

TERRA MOMO RESTAURANT GROUP / Mediterra

PRINCETON

Palmer Square is a beautiful area to dine and shop year-round. Mediterra Restaurant and Taverna reflects the multicultural vibe of the town with its eclectic menu, the star of which is paella for two—it’s worth the 30-minute prep wait. There’s also a solid pub scene here—Winberie’s Restaurant & Bar, Alchemist & Barrister Restaurant and Pub, and Yankee Doodle Tap Room at the Nassau Inn all have great craft brews to go along with standout burgers and classics like fish and chips. Princeton Soup and Sandwich Company has lighter but just as filling options. Save room for dessert at Chez Alice Patisserie (or afternoon tea) or artisanal ice cream at the bent spoon.

RED BANK

Red Bank has a mix of fun and fancy in its downtown. JBJ Soul Kitchen was founded by Jon Bon Jovi and lets you eat what you want without paying, though the expectation is you do some community service there. Triumph Brewing Company has small plates and entrees to accompany craft brew selections. Stop at Buona Sera for its chicken cacciatore before you head to the Count Basie Center for the Arts for a show. Red Rock Tap + Grill serves a lamb burger you can eat while overlooking the Navesink River. Sally Boy’s Pizza is a newcomer, making a name for itself with its 16-inch Neighborhood Pie. The Dublin House is one of the best Irish pubs around. Stop by Il Colosseo, where Rome meets Brooklyn, and try the brick oven pizza. The Molly Pitcher Inn offers beautiful views of the Navesink River as you dine on duck empanadas, American sturgeon caviar, quinoa salad or the eponymous chicken pot pie.

RIDGEWOOD

From Indian and Italian to French, Japanese and beyond, you’ll find a variety of cuisines here. Shumi Japanese Cuisine is widely known as one of the best sushi restaurants in NJ. Try Roots Steakhouse for a 6-ounce filet with jumbo shrimp scampi. Bibillia is beloved for its Korean dishes loaded with flavor. Latour specializes in French-inspired foods. Sakura-Bana is a traditional Japanese restaurant, so if you like raw fish the sushi is top-notch, or try cooked entrees like a hot noodle soup or tempura. Parisa Persian Grill will also tickle your tastebuds with the use of coriander, lemon, parsley and fenugreek. Desserts here are aplenty, from exquisite French pastries at Sook to decadent cookies at Cookie Connect and Chip City.

ANJELICA / Angelica’s of Sea Bright

SEA BRIGHT

Anjelica’s Restaurant is well-known down the Shore for its classic Italian cuisine in addition to its family-owned and operated atmosphere. Woody’s Ocean Grille is trendy for its California Coast-meets-the-Southwest flair. Yumi is a Neo-Asian experience, with a diverse menu influenced by the chef’s travels across Asia. 2nd Jetty Seafood serves feel-good seafood with a neighborhood vibe.

KAREN MAYER / Market Fish Crudo at Drifthouse in Sea Bright

Drifthouse by David Burke is an experience: in addition to its custom-made lobster tanks and oyster spas on display in the dining room, there is a market-style seafood case stocked with fresh selections displayed on ice where you can select your own “from-the-sea” seafood. The Rum Runner by Tim McLoone is another special spot that serves lunch, dinner, a la carte Sunday brunch, Wing Night and Oyster Night.

MEERLOO PHOTOGRAPHY / Kyma Greek Cuisine

SOMERVILLE

Savor Restaurant boasts standout eggplant, meatballs and Sambuca shrimp. Origin French Thai has some of the best food around including the Phuket shrimp. Division Café’s classics are a Costa Rican Gallo Pinto dish, arroz con pollo and a carrot sandwich. Da Filippo Autentica Cucina Italiana is as beautiful as its name – and as fancy! Executive Chef Filippo Russolnquire cooks for clients aboard private yachts and jets. Try Kyma for Greek cuisine, Verve for French bistro fare and craft cocktails, Alfonso’s Trattoria or Café Picasso for Italian, or Kuay Tiew Noodles & More for Thai specialties. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse brings a taste of NYC to this side of the Hudson, especially with its filet mignon tacos and New York sirloin.

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