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Where to Eat and Drink in Downtown Jersey City

Don’t count out this underrated dining destination

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In the last five years, downtown Jersey City has exploded with diverse restaurants, helped along by lower costs and the rezoning of main drag Newark Avenue into a partially pedestrian-only street lined with restaurants and bars.

Here now, a guide to the best of them, including old-school Italian, James Beard-nominated pizza, Asian fusion from a celebrity chef, and several speakeasies.

Note: This map is arranged geographically, from West to East.

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99 Ranch Market

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The newest entrant to downtown Jersey City just opened in late April and has been long-anticipated. Walking inside the California grocery chain is like entering Asian food heaven. The sheer number of obscure ingredients available here is mind-blowing, but for dining purposes, head straight to the food court in the front of the store. There, you’ll find boba tea, ramen, dim sum, a bakery, and buffet stir-fry dishes, all for very reasonable prices.

Madame Claude Bis

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Madame Claude Bis has been serving up traditional French bistro fare alongside live jazz since 2002. It recently relocated to a larger space, allowing more flexibility with the food and the purchase of a coveted liquor license.

Cellar 335

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While the name is more wine bar, Cellar 335 is straight-up tiki with food that spans the globe like spicy cornbread, hamachi tartare, and avocado fried rice. The space is a little scattered, with its dated black leather tufted banquettes and red touches alongside a more modern living wall and local street art, but the playful cocktails and tasty food are reasons enough to return.

Second Street Bakery

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No more than five people can pack into this tiny deli/bakery that has been around for almost 100 years. Longtime locals — usually Jersey City police officers, firefighters, or other neighborhood workers who have been stopping by for years — go for the filling and relatively inexpensive Italian sub sandwiches. Don’t miss the loaves of meat-stuffed bread, or the cinnamon dessert variety, though. Cash only.

Second Street Bakery Stefanie Tuder

Renatos

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Fine, Renato’s isn’t in downtown Jersey City — but it gets an honorable mention for being a classic. Run by the same family since 1963, Renato’s looks like an unassuming pizza joint from its front door on Central Avenue in the Heights. But if you walk through, or enter from the street behind, you’ll find a more upscale dining room serving traditional New Jersey Italian-American red sauce fare. Families celebrating communions, couples on dates, and family dinners comprise the clientele, who are there for excellent versions of chicken parmesan, rigatoni with sausage and mushrooms, pork chops Murphy, and more.

Renato’s Stefanie Tuder

Antique Pecoraro Bakery

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Originally open for 35 years in Hoboken (it’s now under new ownership), Antique Bakery took over Pecoraro in JC in 2016, bringing its breads (everything from sesame to pepperoni- and mozzarella-stuffed), mini pizzas, and Italian sandwiches and cookies with it. It was an institution over in Hoboken — garnering fans such as Frank Sinatra — and the quality is no less here in Jersey City.

Antique Pecoraro Bakery Stefanie Tuder

Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory

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Known to the rest of America because of Guy Fieri’s Triple D drive-by, Brownstone to Jersey City residents is just the local diner. The family-owned restaurant gets a lot of press for its pancake wraps, but the rest of the non-gimmicky menu is the smarter order. There are 27 varieties of pancakes on the menu, plus every other food group imaginable. It’s your standard NJ diner, but with a bigger emphasis on the quality of the food, which inspires lines out the door every weekend.

Monmouth Street Deli

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This no-frills Italian deli has been around for 30 years and has held on through Jersey City’s rapid gentrification. That’s because here you’ll find affordable Italian comfort food classics that haven’t changed one bit — sandwiches such as chicken cutlet with eggplant, mozzarella, marinara sauce, and grated cheese ($8.75) or soppressata with smoked mozzarella, roasted peppers, and balsamic vinegar ($7.50). Plus, a hot bar rotates daily with entrees that run the gamut from meatball parmigiana to chicken Francese to sausage, potatoes, and onions (all $7.25).

Monmouth Street Deli Stefanie Tuder

Wonder Bagels

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Wonder Bagel is the only bagel game in town, but it’s a good one at that. Bagels are baked all day on premises, and just like any good bagel shop, there’s an endless variety of flavors and cream cheeses. But unlike NYC bagelries, this proud NJ business has the cult favorite local tradition of Taylor ham. Beware of extra-long lines on the weekends.

Wonder Bagel Stefanie Tuder

Würstbar

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Sausage and beer dominate the menu at this buzzy German gastropub. There’s no less than 19 varieties of sausages and hot dogs (plus 70 beers and 38 ciders), ranging from a simple, street-style dog to a duck sausage with fig mustard, arugula, goat cheese, and honey. Poutine rounds out the men, which leans toward stomach-lining drinking fare.

Pasta Dal Cuore

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Opened in 2014 by a Jersey City native, Pasta Dal Cuore is both restaurant and shop, providing pastas and sauces made daily for takeaway or dining in. On the menu, raviolis swap out, with flavors like cannellini bean and sundried tomato or beef short rib, while pastas include linguini, pappardelle, fettuccine, and more. BYOB.

Pasta Dal Cuore Stefanie Tuder

Buon Appetito

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Sometimes you just need pasta vodka, and when that’s the case, Buon Appetito has you covered. Don’t expect the most mind-blowing Italian food you’ve ever had, but an above-average plate of chicken parmigiana or a standard pizza, delivered to your door, will do just fine.

Left Bank Burger Bar

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Left Bank is just a bar with great burgers, no more, no less. Most of the “signature” options can get a little too crazy — the “Ghostface Killer” has an espresso-rubbed patty, ghost pepper jam, smoked gouda, sweet potato bacon tots, red onions, and mustard barbecue sauce — but if you stick to the plainer patties, you’ll have the very American experience of top-notch burgers with some beer in a rowdy bar.

The Archer

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The Archer may be the most Manhattan-feeling of any Jersey City bar, with its craft cocktails and housemade charcuterie. Sip boozy classics with a duck burger in the warm wood-filled, dimly-lit space, and feel right at home.

Taqueria Downtown

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Ask any youngish local for a favorite Jersey City restaurant and Taqueria will be the answer. The no-frills taqueria is always crowded, whether people are crammed into the chaotically-decorated space, or spilling onto the sizeable patio out back during warmer months. Either way, tacos ($3.75 each) are the obviously popular order here, though you can’t go wrong with a torta or plato, either.

NYC chef Dale Talde transplanted his Brooklyn hit across the Hudson River, bringing his laidback Asian fusion style to downtown JC. The menu combines flavors from the Philippines (Talde’s heritage), Korea, Thailand, China, Japan, and more on a menu that comes together to make sense. This 144-seat location is much more sprawling than the original, with industrial touches that hark back to its police station days, and plenty of loud hip hop to fill the space. Don’t miss Miss Wong’s, the “secret” speakeasy downstairs that often turns into a dance party on weekends.

Neapolitan pizza from a James Beard Award-nominated chef is the name of the game here. Chef-owner Dan Richer has landed a semi-finalist spot for the last two years as Best Chef Mid-Atlantic for his devotion to bread. At Razza, that translates to puffy pies with simple, local ingredients. Beware that the restaurant can run out of dough some nights, so come early.

The menu changes daily at this sibling Portuguese collaboration. Upstairs, the sister runs a home goods and accessories shop, while downstairs her brother cooks traditional Portuguese using local ingredients. Dishes could include chorizo bread, chickpea salad, grilled sardines, squid stew, and more, all in a charming, basement setting. BYOB.

Mathews Food & Drink

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Charleston was the inspiration for this light and bright — and very on-trend — restaurant and bar. There are obviously Southern dishes like deviled eggs and sweet corn fritters on the menu, but there’s also a firmly updated take, such as with the vegan coconut Carolina rice. Owner Mat Kopec (White Star Bar) recruited One if by Land, Two if by Sea chef John Mecca to help execute what is admittedly a concept inspired by “the theater of a Keith McNally restaurant” and “Danny Meyer hospitality.”

Short Grain

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This Asian cafe is pitch perfect for Instagramming with its pretty interior and colorful fare. But unlike some places, the food here is also great IRL, whether you just need a matcha latte or some Counter Culture coffee and a Balthazar croissant, or something heartier like the pork belly sandwich.

Órale! Mexican Kitchen

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Street food gets an ultra-hip setting — graffiti-ed walls, neon lights, and bright colors — at Orale, where locals go for Mexican food and a raucous scene. There are plenty of easygoing tacos and guacamole to pair with a myriad of margaritas, and a very lively bar scene. It all adds up to make this an especially great place for groups.

Grand Sichuan

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Every New York neighborhood needs a go-to Chinese spot, and Grand Sichuan is downtown Jersey City’s. There are all the classic American favorites — beef with broccoli, orange chicken, lo mein — but the far more interesting dishes lie on the Sichuan side of the menu. Mapo tofu and dan dan noodles are options, or you can veer toward pickled pepper with frog, spicy rabbit in a hot pot, or dry and sauteed pig intestine with pepper. It’s worth branching out. The Pepto pink interior is plenty comfortable for dining in, while takeout and delivery are always available.

Edward's Steakhouse

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There’s nothing hip about Edward’s, and that’s ideal. It lives up to its steakhouse name with a variety of beef cuts, plus the other entrees like sesame-crusted tuna and roasted chicken that pander to the non-steak lovers. Sure, this isn’t the absolute best steak you’ve ever had — but it’s excellent enough.

Golden Cicada

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There sadly aren’t many dive bars in Jersey City, so Golden Cicada plays a critical role. Luckily, this one has plenty of personality, with cheap beer, a ritual of hazing newcomers with baijiu shots, and rowdy karaoke. Owner Terry Tan opened the bar in the ’80s and has survived a fight with the state, which wanted to develop on the land.

Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato Co

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It’s all about unique, creamy gelatos here, made from grass-fed cow milk trucked in from an Amish farm in Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. That precious milk is the base for unusual flavors such as purple sticky rice, mango smoked cardamom, pineapple cilantro, rose latte, and tarragon. Then there are the alcohol-infused options, like the Black Label vanilla (infused with Johnny Walker). You could just come here for those — or you can stay for a while thanks to the free Wi-Fi, Choc-O-Pain pastries, and ModCup coffee (both JC companies). Don’t miss the outstanding affogato.

99 Ranch Market

The newest entrant to downtown Jersey City just opened in late April and has been long-anticipated. Walking inside the California grocery chain is like entering Asian food heaven. The sheer number of obscure ingredients available here is mind-blowing, but for dining purposes, head straight to the food court in the front of the store. There, you’ll find boba tea, ramen, dim sum, a bakery, and buffet stir-fry dishes, all for very reasonable prices.

Madame Claude Bis

Madame Claude Bis has been serving up traditional French bistro fare alongside live jazz since 2002. It recently relocated to a larger space, allowing more flexibility with the food and the purchase of a coveted liquor license.

Cellar 335

While the name is more wine bar, Cellar 335 is straight-up tiki with food that spans the globe like spicy cornbread, hamachi tartare, and avocado fried rice. The space is a little scattered, with its dated black leather tufted banquettes and red touches alongside a more modern living wall and local street art, but the playful cocktails and tasty food are reasons enough to return.

Second Street Bakery

No more than five people can pack into this tiny deli/bakery that has been around for almost 100 years. Longtime locals — usually Jersey City police officers, firefighters, or other neighborhood workers who have been stopping by for years — go for the filling and relatively inexpensive Italian sub sandwiches. Don’t miss the loaves of meat-stuffed bread, or the cinnamon dessert variety, though. Cash only.

Second Street Bakery Stefanie Tuder

Renatos

Fine, Renato’s isn’t in downtown Jersey City — but it gets an honorable mention for being a classic. Run by the same family since 1963, Renato’s looks like an unassuming pizza joint from its front door on Central Avenue in the Heights. But if you walk through, or enter from the street behind, you’ll find a more upscale dining room serving traditional New Jersey Italian-American red sauce fare. Families celebrating communions, couples on dates, and family dinners comprise the clientele, who are there for excellent versions of chicken parmesan, rigatoni with sausage and mushrooms, pork chops Murphy, and more.

Renato’s Stefanie Tuder

Antique Pecoraro Bakery

Originally open for 35 years in Hoboken (it’s now under new ownership), Antique Bakery took over Pecoraro in JC in 2016, bringing its breads (everything from sesame to pepperoni- and mozzarella-stuffed), mini pizzas, and Italian sandwiches and cookies with it. It was an institution over in Hoboken — garnering fans such as Frank Sinatra — and the quality is no less here in Jersey City.

Antique Pecoraro Bakery Stefanie Tuder

Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory

Known to the rest of America because of Guy Fieri’s Triple D drive-by, Brownstone to Jersey City residents is just the local diner. The family-owned restaurant gets a lot of press for its pancake wraps, but the rest of the non-gimmicky menu is the smarter order. There are 27 varieties of pancakes on the menu, plus every other food group imaginable. It’s your standard NJ diner, but with a bigger emphasis on the quality of the food, which inspires lines out the door every weekend.

Monmouth Street Deli

This no-frills Italian deli has been around for 30 years and has held on through Jersey City’s rapid gentrification. That’s because here you’ll find affordable Italian comfort food classics that haven’t changed one bit — sandwiches such as chicken cutlet with eggplant, mozzarella, marinara sauce, and grated cheese ($8.75) or soppressata with smoked mozzarella, roasted peppers, and balsamic vinegar ($7.50). Plus, a hot bar rotates daily with entrees that run the gamut from meatball parmigiana to chicken Francese to sausage, potatoes, and onions (all $7.25).

Monmouth Street Deli Stefanie Tuder

Wonder Bagels

Wonder Bagel is the only bagel game in town, but it’s a good one at that. Bagels are baked all day on premises, and just like any good bagel shop, there’s an endless variety of flavors and cream cheeses. But unlike NYC bagelries, this proud NJ business has the cult favorite local tradition of Taylor ham. Beware of extra-long lines on the weekends.

Wonder Bagel Stefanie Tuder

Würstbar

Sausage and beer dominate the menu at this buzzy German gastropub. There’s no less than 19 varieties of sausages and hot dogs (plus 70 beers and 38 ciders), ranging from a simple, street-style dog to a duck sausage with fig mustard, arugula, goat cheese, and honey. Poutine rounds out the men, which leans toward stomach-lining drinking fare.

Pasta Dal Cuore

Opened in 2014 by a Jersey City native, Pasta Dal Cuore is both restaurant and shop, providing pastas and sauces made daily for takeaway or dining in. On the menu, raviolis swap out, with flavors like cannellini bean and sundried tomato or beef short rib, while pastas include linguini, pappardelle, fettuccine, and more. BYOB.

Pasta Dal Cuore Stefanie Tuder

Buon Appetito

Sometimes you just need pasta vodka, and when that’s the case, Buon Appetito has you covered. Don’t expect the most mind-blowing Italian food you’ve ever had, but an above-average plate of chicken parmigiana or a standard pizza, delivered to your door, will do just fine.

Left Bank Burger Bar

Left Bank is just a bar with great burgers, no more, no less. Most of the “signature” options can get a little too crazy — the “Ghostface Killer” has an espresso-rubbed patty, ghost pepper jam, smoked gouda, sweet potato bacon tots, red onions, and mustard barbecue sauce — but if you stick to the plainer patties, you’ll have the very American experience of top-notch burgers with some beer in a rowdy bar.

The Archer

The Archer may be the most Manhattan-feeling of any Jersey City bar, with its craft cocktails and housemade charcuterie. Sip boozy classics with a duck burger in the warm wood-filled, dimly-lit space, and feel right at home.

Taqueria Downtown

Ask any youngish local for a favorite Jersey City restaurant and Taqueria will be the answer. The no-frills taqueria is always crowded, whether people are crammed into the chaotically-decorated space, or spilling onto the sizeable patio out back during warmer months. Either way, tacos ($3.75 each) are the obviously popular order here, though you can’t go wrong with a torta or plato, either.

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Talde

NYC chef Dale Talde transplanted his Brooklyn hit across the Hudson River, bringing his laidback Asian fusion style to downtown JC. The menu combines flavors from the Philippines (Talde’s heritage), Korea, Thailand, China, Japan, and more on a menu that comes together to make sense. This 144-seat location is much more sprawling than the original, with industrial touches that hark back to its police station days, and plenty of loud hip hop to fill the space. Don’t miss Miss Wong’s, the “secret” speakeasy downstairs that often turns into a dance party on weekends.

Razza

Neapolitan pizza from a James Beard Award-nominated chef is the name of the game here. Chef-owner Dan Richer has landed a semi-finalist spot for the last two years as Best Chef Mid-Atlantic for his devotion to bread. At Razza, that translates to puffy pies with simple, local ingredients. Beware that the restaurant can run out of dough some nights, so come early.

Broa

The menu changes daily at this sibling Portuguese collaboration. Upstairs, the sister runs a home goods and accessories shop, while downstairs her brother cooks traditional Portuguese using local ingredients. Dishes could include chorizo bread, chickpea salad, grilled sardines, squid stew, and more, all in a charming, basement setting. BYOB.

Mathews Food & Drink

Charleston was the inspiration for this light and bright — and very on-trend — restaurant and bar. There are obviously Southern dishes like deviled eggs and sweet corn fritters on the menu, but there’s also a firmly updated take, such as with the vegan coconut Carolina rice. Owner Mat Kopec (White Star Bar) recruited One if by Land, Two if by Sea chef John Mecca to help execute what is admittedly a concept inspired by “the theater of a Keith McNally restaurant” and “Danny Meyer hospitality.”