New Jersey is often overshadowed by New York City and Philadelphia when it comes to excellent food options, but as anyone who lives in the Garden State knows, we have some of the most amazing restaurants here due in large part to our plentiful farmland and bountiful produce. All areas of NJ have great places to eat but Open Table singled out these 22 places as the most quintessentially New Jersey.
Of course many will argue that some truly great NJ restaurants were left off this list. For example, Turtle and the Wolf in Montclair, helmed by chef Lauren Hirschberg, earned a spot on New Jersey Monthly’s list and should not be overlooked. And our own New Jersey Family readers would have picked one of their Bucket List spots, Agricola, to make this list.
Are any of your favorites on the list, or which ones were left off? Thankfully, this is one delicious debate we’re happy to let continue!
The Saddle River Inn (Saddle River)
“Housed in a restored 18th century barn, chef and owner Jamie Knott ensures that the menu nods to the classic, pastoral setting while still feeling fresh,” says Open Table.
American fare regularly sees international influences, such as the maple-chipotle glaze on the precisely roasted chicken, or the addition of mint chimichurri to a plate of Colorado lamb chops. The restaurant is BYOB, so pick out a special bottle to bring with you to round out the meal.
Hunan Taste (Danville/Montclair)
The restaurant resembles an ancient Chinese pagoda but “everyone is here for the food: melt-in-your-mouth soup dumplings, mapo tofu, and spicy twice-cooked Sichuan pork are just a few of the items on the restaurant’s large menu that combines harder-to-find regional dishes and Chinese-American favorites,” says Open Table.
La Isla (Hoboken)
This place brings “a taste of Havana to downtown Hoboken,” says Open Table. Although they’ve expanded the menu, you can still find classics such as “croqueta de jamon (ham croquettes), empanadas, and of course, a Cubano sandwich.”
“Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike leave Mesob satisfied,” says Open Table. “the restaurant’s large menu of Ethiopian dishes has something for everyone.”
“Located in a former bank, Felina’s space is as rich in detail as the Italian dishes on the restaurant’s menu,” says Open Table.
Forno’s of Spain (Newark)
“This longtime spot excels at seafood dishes, such as the wide variety of paellas and Spanish classics such as simply grilled octopus doused with olive oil and paprika, all served in an old-school dining room against a backdrop of white table cloths,” says Open Table.
“At Mehndi, diners can choose from well-done standards such as an assortment of clay-oven baked dishes and a variety of biryanis, but look closely for the harder-to-find dishes that make the restaurant special, such as khattal masala, a jackfruit and ginger curry or beetroot tikki, an appetizer of fritters made from beets, potato, and homemade cheese,” says Open Table.
“Here, diners can find timeless dishes such as clams casino alongside creative preparations such as braised short ribs with an Asian-inspired glaze, roasted apples, and sticky rice,” says Open Table.
Jockey Hollow (Morristown)
“No matter whether you’re stopping by for a tray of oysters, the excellent burger, or a five- course tasting menu, the long reflecting pool, stunning marble building, and meticulously groomed grounds will transport you in a way few restaurants can,” says Open Table.
Razza (Jersey City)
“…owner Dan Richer makes very, very, very good pizza,” says Open Table. “His secret lies in the naturally leavened, flavorful dough, and a roster of toppings that takes full advantage of New Jersey’s farms.”
Lambertville Station (Lambertville)
“Housed in the old 19th century train station that inspires its name, Lambertville Station is both an inn and American restaurant complex that offers a few dining experiences in one: the more upscale Lambertville Station Restaurant, The Wine Cellar for wine and snacks, The Pub for cocktails, and the Canal Side Bar for al fresco drinks and casual fare,” says Open Table.
The Frog & The Peach (New Brunswick)
Owner and chef Bruce Lefebvre has “doubled down on ingredient-driven American cuisine, with a penchant for wild game evident in dishes such as elk carpaccio, served with a preserved egg yolk and a dressing of cassis, juniper, and maple topped with pickled shallots,” says Open Table.
Delta’s (New Brunswick)
“During the weekdays, locals congregate in the dining room for comfort food classics such as smothered pork chops and baked macaroni and cheese,” says Open Table. “But the weekends are the time to visit, when the restaurant’s popular brunch is accompanied by live music featuring a rotating cast of DJs and jazz bands.”
“Taking inspiration from all of the world, Mistral’s menu is hard to categorize — and it’s that variety that keeps diners coming back to the restaurant’s bright, wood-filled dining room,” says Open Table.
Semolina (Red Bank)
“Leaning heavily on New Jersey’s farms and fisheries, the menu at Semolina has a distinct sense of place,” says Open Table.
Jersey Shore/South Jersey
Grand Tavern (Neptune)
“Always ask about the daily specials, which have recently included fried artichokes served in a pool of briny bottarga cream, or a grilled pork chop on top of a stew of escarole and beans that’s packed with garlic and preserved lemon,” says Open Table.
La Cita (Cherry Hill)
“Diners can sample cochinita pibil, a spicy pork dish from the Yucatan, or Veracruz-style red snapper cooked with onions, tomatoes, capers, olives, and chiles,” says Open Table.
For the rest of the list, check out Open Table.