New Jersey has a rich history of cultural diversity, and it is reflected in the food served at the more than 25,000 restaurants in the state. We did our research, filled our bellies, and found some hidden gems to satisfy your tastebuds. If you’re looking for foodie paradises, look no further than these four towns: Ridgewood, Montclair, New Brunswick, and Asbury Park. Have a look at our top picks guaranteed to satisfy the most discerning of palates.
Bergen County is renowned for its great restaurants, incredible shops, and top-tier schools. Living at The Dayton, you’re within a few minutes’ walk to these incredible spots. Many eateries in Ridgewood are BYOB, so be sure to check thier websites before you go.
Offering well-balanced, distinctive, and seasonably appropriate Italian food, Felina is a big draw in Ridgewood. Felina is one of the few restaurants in Ridgewood with a liquor license and they make good use of it by offering an impressive wine and spirits list from small batch wine makers and distillers from all around the world. We can’t pick a favorite dish because they’re all truly exceptional, but you should definitely leave room for the olive oil cake dessert!
This elegant, candlelit restaurant offers French cuisine with an American twist. Latour is BYOB, so be sure you bring along your favorite Provençal rosé to pair with the fresh duck breast, served with a stunning apricot sauce. Be sure you check their social media, as they sometimes do a prix fixe menu to showcase the talents of their kitchen.
Montclair, in Essex County, has long been a hot spot for delicious food. Known for its diversity in cuisine, you’ll never run short of a new, fun place to try for dinner. If you’re living at Oakes Pond at Bloomfield, you’ll be pleased to know that you’re a ten-minute drive away from these delicious picks.
Hunan Taste Montclair is a chic, upscale BYOB restaurant offering traditional Chinese favorites (their Denville location has a full bar). This family-owned and operated eatery has been around since 1986 in Denville before opening a location in Montclair in 2016. We can’t speak highly enough of the vibe, service, and food, especially the spicy tangerine scallops.
If you’re looking for fun, Samba Restaurant has it in spades. From the rustic décor, warm lighting, brightly colored windows, and impeccably curated menu, you’ll find yourself transported to someone’s hometown kitchen in gorgeous Brazil. They are certified gluten-free and offer a generous vegetarian menu with several vegan offerings. Inclusivity is key at Samba. A crowd favorite is the Camarão Na Morgana, with two kinds of squash, shrimp, herbs, and parmesan cheese.
New Brunswick has fantastic public transportation, is home to Rutgers University – one of the top 65 universities in the United States – and, you guessed it, has some of the most interesting restaurants in Middlesex County. Both restaurants we’re highlighting are within a few minutes of The Frederick, our newest construction in nearby Highland Park, and only a twenty-minute drive from London Terrace in nearby Old Bridge.
We’ll start with one of the coolest places in town, Destination Dogs. No, this isn’t a spot where you can get gourmet dog treats. It’s a place where you can get gourmet hot dogs. You read that right – gourmet hot dogs. They have vegan and vegetarian options available in addition to a full bar, so this is a place where everyone can find something delicious. Our favorite? The Guten Dog, inspired by traditional German beer halls.
Easily the best ramen in Central Jersey is Ramen Nagomi. Their Pork Floss Baos are the things dreams are made of, and we can’t speak highly enough of the Burnt Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen. Reservations are recommended here, as it’s a favorite among locals. If you don’t mind a drive, there’s also a location in Freehold, NJ.
You didn’t think we’d leave out the darling of the Jersey Shore, did you? Asbury Park has had quite a resurgence in the past decade. There are so many incredible restaurants in this tiny town that we could do an entire series on it. For now, we’ll focus on a couple hidden gems, both of which are BYOB. These restaurants are only a short ten-minute drive from Middlebrook at Monmouth.
If you’re looking for great BBQ, look no further than Mutiny BBQ. They create delicious, authentic, small batch BBQ, incorporating Texas, Memphis, Carolina, Kansas City, and Louisiana flavors into their food. Grab some pulled pork, brisket, or smoked turkey (not to be missed), but don’t leave out the cornbread casserole and house-made pickles – two standout side dishes among some heavy hitters.
Ada’s Gojjo used to be in Long Branch but made the move to Asbury Park a few years ago – in fact, it’s just across the street from Mutiny BBQ. They serve up a combination of Ethiopian and Dominican food and, man, do they do it well. From empanadas to a Cubano to Ye Siga Tibes – a traditional Ethiopian beef dish with onions, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes served on a homemade injera – you’re sure to find something delicious and exciting at Ada’s.
Some other favorites that we recommend are The Black Forest Inn in Stanhope – a traditional German restaurant, Stone and Rail in Glen Rock – a gastropub with an exceptional craft beer menu, Federici’s in Freehold – a family-owned Italian restaurant that has been drawing a crowd since 1921, and Bahr’s Landing in Highlands – a no-frills, dockside, seafood staple for over 100 years. We’re always on the hunt for a great new (or old!) restaurant.