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Roast beef sandwich at Fiore’s
Stefanie Tuder/Eater

12 Historic Restaurants to Seek Out in Hoboken

Pizza the size of your face, gravy-drenched roast beef sandwiches, and tons of fresh mozzarella await

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Roast beef sandwich at Fiore’s
| Photo by Stefanie Tuder/Eater

Founded in 1849, Hoboken is a city in New Jersey of around 55,000, directly across the Hudson River from the West Village and Chelsea. The name meant “land of the tobacco pipe” to the Lenape people, and indeed pleasure remains a major aspect of the city’s reputation, as demonstrated by its slew of destination bars, clubs, and restaurants, and its entire week of St. Patrick’s Day festivities, including a LepreCon (something like SantaCon).

Hoboken is famously the boyhood home of Frank Sinatra, and the location of engineering school Stevens Institute, which sits on a picturesque bluff overlooking the river. But it’s also a politically progressive city headed by Berkeley-educated Sikh mayor Ravi Bhalla, where plastic bags have already been banned, as I discovered when I tried to take home one of the city’s heroes. These humongous sandwiches represent the city’s signature viand, with Italian food still its most common cuisine.

Come with me now on a culinary tour of Mile Square City.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. M & P Biancamano

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1116 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 795-0274
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Biancomano is one of six famous delis in Hoboken than make their own fresh mozzarella, affectionately known as “mutz” (though you’ll sound foolish using that term if you don’t hail from Hoboken). Eat your hero at the cheery indoor dining area or at the outside tables if weather allows. The list posted above the prep counter — over which humongous salamis and hams hang — runs to 55 hot and cold heroes, priced around $10 each. On your first visit, get one of the lettered cold ones, which feature multiple Italian and Italian-American cold cuts.

Cold hero C: ham, cappicola, salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, and mozzarella

2. Ali Baba

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912 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 653-5319
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Ali Baba, open since 1983, has long been a beacon of Middle Eastern fare right on Hoboken’s main drag. A palm tree mural covers one wall, an oud (similar to a lute) hangs from the ceiling, and an open kitchen allows you to watch kebabs being grilled, bread dips being mashed, and generous platters assembled. Vegetarian pita sandwiches run as little as $5, which is an economic triumph given the comfort of the premises. More expensive lamb entrees and couscouses also available.

Babaganoush platter

3. Benny Tudino's

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622 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 792-4132
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Founded in 1938, Benny Tudino’s is one of Hoboken’s oldest pizzerias. The fixtures inside are well worn, with pizza ovens in front and a wood clad dining room up a few steps in the rear. Tudino’s has survived all these years partly because of a gimmick — its $4 slices are humongous, enough to easily make a big doughy meal, and the cheese flows like a raging stream at winter’s end. Pizzerias often pull this oversized slice trick in Washington DC’s Adams Morgan, but rarely further north.

Now, that’s one giant slice of pizza.

4. Dom's Bakery Grand

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506 Grand St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 653-1948

At one time Hoboken’s most famous baked good was the tomato focaccia, a thick, tomato-drenched flatbread something like a pizza, but also something like a round bread, and one with many potential uses — including just putting it in the oven with some of Hoboken’s famous mozzarella. Descended from a long line of focaccia bakeries, Dom’s is the last one standing, and worth visiting from anywhere in the metropolitan area. Other Italian breads and sometimes pastries also available.

Dom’s legendary focaddia

5. Fiore's House of Quality

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2693, 414 Adams St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 659-1655

This back-streets Italian deli founded in 1913 is perhaps the most famous purveyor of the fabled roast beef and mutz hero, a gravy-drenched sandwich only available on Thursdays and Saturdays. But other days bring other delights, and this being Hoboken, the mozzarella is made fresh in store every day. No seating, but the sandwiches are so good, you won’t have time to sit as you wolf them down.

Roast beef and mozzarella hero

6. Old German Bakery

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332 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 683-8644
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Old German Bakery is not really very old at all, but it has nailed classic European pastries with the emphasis on Teutonic fruit-bearing ones, a few of them savory. The apple strudel comes in individual servings, with a flaky crust and nicely fruity filling. Heavy turnovers encrusted with granular sugar, black forest cakes, crumb cakes, and rye and pumpernickel breads are also highly recommended. Seating provided.

Apple turnover and apple strudel

7. Cucharamama

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233 Clinton St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 420-1700
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The name denotes an Ecuadorian kitchen stirring spoon, and this pan-South American restaurant founded in 2004 offers fare from Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, with the menu anchored by a wood-burning hearth. The bill of fare moves effortless from short dishes, to empanadas, to serrano ham and squash pizzas, to ceviches, to the shish kebabs called anticuchos, with a playful sense of invention animating many of the dishes. Chef Maricel Presilla won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2012.

Shrimp in a panca pepper sauce

8. Halifax

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225 River St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 253-2500
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Specializing in seafood, with plenty of modern American brasserie fare thrown in — such as clam flatbread, New Jersey pear salad, and lamb osso buco served with cheddar grits — Halifax is Hoboken’s most ambitious restaurant. Located in the W Hotel, the dining room offers views of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline beyond. For dessert, don’t miss the freshly fried sweet potato fritters with a maple crème anglaise dipping sauce.

Blue cod in smoked shellfish broth

9. La Isla

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104 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 659-8197
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This splendid Cuban diner — with prices below what you’d expect given the quality of the food and the place’s picturesque ambiance — is among the best Cuban restaurants in the Jersey-side’s stretch of the Hudson sometimes called Little Havana. The pressed sandwiches are a particularly good deal, of which pan con bistec is a local favorite. But also consider the voluminous blue plate specials varying by day, which include the pulled and seasoned pork roast lechon asado.

Lechon asado

10. Satay

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99 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 386-8688
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The days when New York City had a ready supply of good Malaysian restaurants is long gone, and this Hoboken holdover seems like a throwback to that era. The L-shaped interior is compact, clad in bamboo, and extremely comfortable, and a nifty lunch special averaging $8.50 packs them in at lunch. The regular menu is expansive and doesn’t pull its flavor punches, as I found recently when I enjoyed the omnibus meal called nasi lemak, fragrant coconut rice with curry chicken and various condiments. BYOB.

11. Carlo's Bakery

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95 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 659-3671
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This tourist-trap of a bakery is Hoboken’s link with reality TV, since it stars in the show Cake Boss. You’d expect the baked goods to suck, but many are quite good, even if you have to stand in line to get them, and then there’s no place to sit and consume them. The bakery has Italian roots, so things like butter cookies, cannoli, and the custard-filled sfogliatelle — sometimes called a lobster claw — are the things to get.

Cannoli and sfogliatelle

12. Spa Diner

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74 Hudson St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 653-6617

Yes, it looks just like a diner from the ’50s with its Naugahyde booths and twirling bar stools, and the fact that Spa Diner is open 24 hours in the Hoboken neighborhood right next to the transportation hub would be reason enough to visit as the necessity arose. But the food is above most diner fare, the staff friendly and accommodating, and the bewilderingly large menu contains some Jersey flourishes, including this breakfast featuring slices of the legendary Taylor ham, which puts Spam to shame.

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1. M & P Biancamano

1116 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Cold hero C: ham, cappicola, salami, prosciutto, pepperoni, and mozzarella

Biancomano is one of six famous delis in Hoboken than make their own fresh mozzarella, affectionately known as “mutz” (though you’ll sound foolish using that term if you don’t hail from Hoboken). Eat your hero at the cheery indoor dining area or at the outside tables if weather allows. The list posted above the prep counter — over which humongous salamis and hams hang — runs to 55 hot and cold heroes, priced around $10 each. On your first visit, get one of the lettered cold ones, which feature multiple Italian and Italian-American cold cuts.

1116 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

2. Ali Baba

912 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Babaganoush platter

Ali Baba, open since 1983, has long been a beacon of Middle Eastern fare right on Hoboken’s main drag. A palm tree mural covers one wall, an oud (similar to a lute) hangs from the ceiling, and an open kitchen allows you to watch kebabs being grilled, bread dips being mashed, and generous platters assembled. Vegetarian pita sandwiches run as little as $5, which is an economic triumph given the comfort of the premises. More expensive lamb entrees and couscouses also available.

912 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

3. Benny Tudino's

622 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Now, that’s one giant slice of pizza.

Founded in 1938, Benny Tudino’s is one of Hoboken’s oldest pizzerias. The fixtures inside are well worn, with pizza ovens in front and a wood clad dining room up a few steps in the rear. Tudino’s has survived all these years partly because of a gimmick — its $4 slices are humongous, enough to easily make a big doughy meal, and the cheese flows like a raging stream at winter’s end. Pizzerias often pull this oversized slice trick in Washington DC’s Adams Morgan, but rarely further north.

622 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

4. Dom's Bakery Grand

506 Grand St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Dom’s legendary focaddia

At one time Hoboken’s most famous baked good was the tomato focaccia, a thick, tomato-drenched flatbread something like a pizza, but also something like a round bread, and one with many potential uses — including just putting it in the oven with some of Hoboken’s famous mozzarella. Descended from a long line of focaccia bakeries, Dom’s is the last one standing, and worth visiting from anywhere in the metropolitan area. Other Italian breads and sometimes pastries also available.

506 Grand St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

5. Fiore's House of Quality

2693, 414 Adams St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Roast beef and mozzarella hero

This back-streets Italian deli founded in 1913 is perhaps the most famous purveyor of the fabled roast beef and mutz hero, a gravy-drenched sandwich only available on Thursdays and Saturdays. But other days bring other delights, and this being Hoboken, the mozzarella is made fresh in store every day. No seating, but the sandwiches are so good, you won’t have time to sit as you wolf them down.

2693, 414 Adams St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

6. Old German Bakery

332 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Apple turnover and apple strudel

Old German Bakery is not really very old at all, but it has nailed classic European pastries with the emphasis on Teutonic fruit-bearing ones, a few of them savory. The apple strudel comes in individual servings, with a flaky crust and nicely fruity filling. Heavy turnovers encrusted with granular sugar, black forest cakes, crumb cakes, and rye and pumpernickel breads are also highly recommended. Seating provided.

332 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

7. Cucharamama

233 Clinton St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Shrimp in a panca pepper sauce

The name denotes an Ecuadorian kitchen stirring spoon, and this pan-South American restaurant founded in 2004 offers fare from Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, with the menu anchored by a wood-burning hearth. The bill of fare moves effortless from short dishes, to empanadas, to serrano ham and squash pizzas, to ceviches, to the shish kebabs called anticuchos, with a playful sense of invention animating many of the dishes. Chef Maricel Presilla won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2012.

233 Clinton St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

8. Halifax

225 River St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Blue cod in smoked shellfish broth

Specializing in seafood, with plenty of modern American brasserie fare thrown in — such as clam flatbread, New Jersey pear salad, and lamb osso buco served with cheddar grits — Halifax is Hoboken’s most ambitious restaurant. Located in the W Hotel, the dining room offers views of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline beyond. For dessert, don’t miss the freshly fried sweet potato fritters with a maple crème anglaise dipping sauce.

225 River St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

9. La Isla

104 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Lechon asado

This splendid Cuban diner — with prices below what you’d expect given the quality of the food and the place’s picturesque ambiance — is among the best Cuban restaurants in the Jersey-side’s stretch of the Hudson sometimes called Little Havana. The pressed sandwiches are a particularly good deal, of which pan con bistec is a local favorite. But also consider the voluminous blue plate specials varying by day, which include the pulled and seasoned pork roast lechon asado.

104 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

10. Satay

99 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030

The days when New York City had a ready supply of good Malaysian restaurants is long gone, and this Hoboken holdover seems like a throwback to that era. The L-shaped interior is compact, clad in bamboo, and extremely comfortable, and a nifty lunch special averaging $8.50 packs them in at lunch. The regular menu is expansive and doesn’t pull its flavor punches, as I found recently when I enjoyed the omnibus meal called nasi lemak, fragrant coconut rice with curry chicken and various condiments. BYOB.

99 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

11. Carlo's Bakery

95 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Cannoli and sfogliatelle

This tourist-trap of a bakery is Hoboken’s link with reality TV, since it stars in the show Cake Boss. You’d expect the baked goods to suck, but many are quite good, even if you have to stand in line to get them, and then there’s no place to sit and consume them. The bakery has Italian roots, so things like butter cookies, cannoli, and the custard-filled sfogliatelle — sometimes called a lobster claw — are the things to get.

95 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

12. Spa Diner

74 Hudson St, Hoboken, NJ 07030

Yes, it looks just like a diner from the ’50s with its Naugahyde booths and twirling bar stools, and the fact that Spa Diner is open 24 hours in the Hoboken neighborhood right next to the transportation hub would be reason enough to visit as the necessity arose. But the food is above most diner fare, the staff friendly and accommodating, and the bewilderingly large menu contains some Jersey flourishes, including this breakfast featuring slices of the legendary Taylor ham, which puts Spam to shame.

74 Hudson St
Hoboken, NJ 07030

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