Jersey City should not be confused with other notorious car-jacking New Jersey areas like Patterson, Elizabeth and Newark. While there are some rougher parts of JC, most of it contains peaceful local working-class neighborhoods with families – as do the other three cities, I’m sure. What separates JC is the commuters from Manhattan, thanks to its three PATH train stations. These commuters demand more of the convenience and diversity of Manhattan. Our friend, Joanna, one such commuter, has been living in JC for 8 years and was nice enough to take us on a tour and introduce us to THREE proud local eateries.
354 Grove Street, Jersey City
Soul Flavors is a Jamaican eatery right on Grove Street with a great menu. All the comfort foods are here: fried chicken, bbq chicken, chicken & dumplings, mac & cheese, ribs, and chicken & waffles, but only on Saturday & Sunday. It’s BYOB so four of us marched in there with the jug size of Carlo Rossi Rosé Zinfandel – pure class all the way. We ordered the jerk chicken, chicken & dumplings, crab cakes, with mac & cheese and mango/carrot slaw as sides. The mini biscuits and corn bread as starters are a must. Everything was down-home good and satisfying, although no one expected the weather to be so warm, as it was one of the first hot days of the season. Luckily, the Carlo cooled us off and we had a blast. I would definitely return on a weekend for chicken & waffle brunch.
Brownstone Diner and Pancake Factory
426 Jersey Avenue, Jersey City
I usually don’t include diners in this blog since my other blog, Diner Cakes, is solely devoted to the subject, but this diner is exceptional – and in Jersey. We had two of their specialty pancake wraps: Country Breakfast Wrap = Scrambled eggs, pork sausage, potatoes and american chz rolled into a large pancake and Downtown Pancake Wrap = Scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and sour cream stuffed into an over-sized pancake. They were delicious, especially the Downtown whose creaminess perfectly balanced the doughy pancakes. Considering that the Brownstone’s motto is “need pancakes!”, we also tried the German with apple compote and the and the Honky Tonk with peanut butter chunks and bananas, which were of course very good. While we only had pancakes (and grits), you could just tell that the other items on the book-size menu were going to be interesting and delicious. This place is a great find, and if you don’t believe me, you can ask Guy Fieri, because he visited here on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
No pics, but check out the video clips.
236 Grove Street, Jersey City
It’s easy to miss this little converted house on the corner, but you’d be skipping out on some great, cheap authentic Mexican food. Taqueria Downtown offers all the standards: tacos, tamales, tortas, enchiladas, as well as a weekend brunch. The decor is East Village kitch with old books and I even saw the old 1970’s white handheld football video game I used to have. Order at the counter and they bring the food over in the dining area or back patio. We had awesome fish tacos ($3 each!) and pork tamales ($2.50 each!). The fish, probably tillapia, was pan fried and moist with all the authentic toppings. The tamales were rich and smoky. If this place was across the East River from Manhattan, we’d be here weekly… at least.