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A street with pedestrians and cars and many stores and restaurants sloping downward.
Jersey City’s India Square neighborhood slopes down to the Meadowlands.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

23 Restaurants Highlighting Jersey City’s Rich Culinary Diversity

Dosas, Filipino pastries, meat sauce-topped hot dogs, and more

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Jersey City’s India Square neighborhood slopes down to the Meadowlands.
| Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

With a population of around 250,000, Jersey City is the second largest city in New Jersey. It covers a vast area of cliffs and lowlands, hemmed in between the Hackensack and Hudson rivers. It possesses three institutions of higher learning between its borders, and a population that rivals the diversity in Queens. Look for any type of restaurant there, and you’re likely to find it.

A few things that make it unique: India Square, one of the largest South Asian shopping strips in the tristate area, with around 25 restaurants; two competing Filipino neighborhoods with bakeries, cafes, produce stands, and food stores (some linked to chains back in the Philippines); a transplanted hamburger stand that started life at the 1939 World’s Fair; and a handsome historic downtown with a large selection of bars, bistros, and artisanal food producers (not to mention a Krispy Kreme where you can watch the doughnuts being made).

Its reputation as a great culinary destination has remained sadly overshadowed by New York City’s, but hopefully that is changing. Even if you’re not a resident, there are multiple ways to get there by ferry, bus, car, or the PATH subway. And once you arrive, a light rail snakes across the landscape to neighborhoods that might otherwise seem remote. So give Jersey City a try, if you haven’t already.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. White Mana Diner

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470 Tonnele Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07307
(201) 963-1441
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Work your way through the tangle of highway underpasses and overpasses to find this docked flying saucer that was once a kiosk at the 1939 World’s Fair. In 1946, it was put on a flatbed and dragged to the bottom of a hill beneath the Jersey City Heights. The counter inside is as circular as the exterior, and wondrous cheeseburgers (topped with fried onions, ketchup, and dill pickle chips) are cooked up there, along with toasted cheese, fries, onion rings, and sandwiches of an ancient nature. And yes, you can get sandwiches of Taylor ham (aka pork roll), the national meat of New Jersey. If you’re visiting from New York, try one and find out what all the fuss is about.

A round white building by a cluttered roadside. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

2. Bread & Salt

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435 Palisade Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07307
(201) 500-7338
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Pittsburgh’s Rick Easton is the impresario of focaccia at this rare scenester spot in the Heights, which depends on massive ovens for most of its output. Sure, there are pizza-like focaccias, some smeared with good canned tomatoes, some with more elaborate toppings, and there are also cookies, tarts, and other pastries, as well delectable sandwiches made on split focaccias. Many of the sandwiches feature meats roasted in those same ovens, and a mortadella sandwich is nearly always available. Bread & Salt is a quirky and unpredictable establishment that also sells high-quality Italian groceries. For the moment, the place is only open on the weekends for carryout. Check Instagram for current offerings.

A man in an apron with mask and stocking cap leans over a pizza topped with tomatoes. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

3. Golconda Chimney

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806 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 608-0666
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Open for six years now, Golconda Chimney — named after a Hyderabad landmark that was once seat of a sultanate and center for the diamond trade — offers the food of the now high-tech center, including biryanis, Indo-Chinese dishes, tandoori specialties, and street snacks as well as vegetarian and non-vegetarian main options. The kitchen does wonders with goat — roasting, stewing, skewering, currying, and even using the animal’s feet in a goat paya soup. Other menu highlights include battered and fried long green chiles (kutt mirchi), chicken gongura (the sauce flavored with a sour southern leaf), and Malabar fish curry laced with coconut milk that doesn’t hold back on the heat front. This place provides the best semblance of a formal meal in handsome surroundings of any restaurant in India Square.

A variety of red, yellow, and brown dishes against a wooden surface seen from above. Nick Solares/Eater

4. Sri Ganesh’s Dosa House

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809 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 222-3883
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Its blue awning featuring the elephant-headed god, owner Venu Rachuri’s Sri Ganesh’s Dosa House was the second southern Indian restaurant to appear in the neighborhood dubbed India Square in the ’90s, just as the Gujarati dominance of the neighborhood was waning. The menu presents dozens of dosas, the crisp, thin crepes made from a batter of naturally fermented rice and lentils, with a variety of stuffings. But it is also offers other classics from the strictly vegetarian menu, including the spongy dumplings called idly, and the spice-dotted porridge upma, a personal favorite. Place your order at the counter, take a number, and sit down amid the hubbub as your food is prepared to order.

A stunted cone of off-white farina dotted with spices, with red pickle on the side. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

5. Mithaas Jersey City

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795 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 659-8700
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Helmed by Kamal Arora, Mithaas is a vegetarian Indian restaurant that concentrates on the food of the South, with the usual freshly prepared dosas, uttapams, and composed rice casseroles like pongal and bisi bele bath. Every day a thali or two is prepared, the name designating a varied meal of curries, chutneys, dals, and breads served on a round metal tray. But Mithaas doubles as a sweet shop, and glass cases are filled with milk-based treats in a rainbow of colors, some flaunting gold- or silver-leaf decorations. It’s often packed on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but easy to find a seat at other times.

A round metal tray with a variety of colorful dishes in metal cups placed inside it. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

6. Minar Halal Meat

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771 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 216-0222

There’s nothing better than a barbecue in a butcher shop, and that is just what Minar is. In the back, there’s a selection of raw halal chicken and goat, and lots of frozen imported fish from Bangladesh, like hilsa, pomfret, and rohu. In the front of the restaurant stands a wooden shack housing Minar Kabab and Tikka Corner, where food is cooked to order on a charcoal grill. On it sizzle ground lamb and chicken kebabs, available on flatbread or over rice, along with chickens, fish filets, and mutton kebab similarly cooked. Tandoori items find their way into a vertical clay oven, also charcoal-stoked. For barbecued meat lovers, this place shouldn’t be missed.

A charred ground lamb kebab bedded in lettuce sticks out of the end of a flatbread. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

7. Korai Kitchen

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576 Summit Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 721-6566
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Few Bangladeshi restaurants in the metropolitan area are as good as Korai Kitchen. A joint project of the mother-and-daughter team of Nur-E Gulshan Rahman and Nur-E Farhana Rahman brings the curries, pullaos, and bhortas of Bangladesh right to you — the last being spicy vegetable purees based on eggplant, potatoes, or lentils, from a list that changes from time to time. This place doesn’t hold back on using mustard oil, a key ingredient in Bangladeshi cooking that leaves a pleasant burn in the throat, and the menu spotlights the freshwater fish that are another staple of the national cuisine. Check the chalkboard for daily lunch specials, which often run less than $10. The rice pudding — flecked with almonds and pistachios and scented with cardamom — is a sleeper hit.

A pair of plastic tubs on a towel, one made of eggplant, the other of yellow split peas. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

8. Ling Long Xuan

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586c Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 763-6635
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Jersey City’s increasing vitality as a dinner destination can be seen in Ling Long Xuan, which recently moved from Flushing and to Jersey City’s Five Corners neighborhood, right across the street from the elegant William J. Brennan Courthouse. The owner is Dong Xuan and the menu hails from his hometown, the city-state of Tianjin east of Beijing. There’s no better way to learn about that city’s cuisine than ordering the “Tian Jin style wonton soup” — gossamer pork dumplings swim like jellyfish in a pale broth amplified with dried shrimp and cilantro. Dried tofu with hot pepper pork is another triumph with the tofu reading as noodles: broad, firm, and crosshatched.

Wide brown noodles with a grid texture with gnarled pieces of pork and fresh green chiles in gravy. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

9. Boulevard Drinks

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48 Journal Square Plaza
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 656-1855
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Of course, Jersey City has its own iconic hot dog counter, in this case it’s bright yellow and also selling the conventional gritty drinks of NYC institutions like Papaya King. But Jersey dogs don’t come topped with sauerkraut and caramelized canned onions, rather there’s a meaty topping often described as chili, even though it’s really an oniony Greek meat sauce. Currently owned by John Bardis, whose father Speros bought the narrow place in 1962, Boulevard Drinks has actually been around since 1937.

Boulevard Drinks’ all beef franks, with chili on a yellow background Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

10. Morgan Seafood Reasturant

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2801 John F. Kennedy Blvd #1215
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 792-2400
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Jersey City has a handful of Egyptian seafood restaurants exhibiting a cooking style that originated in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria. There are whole fish grilled or fried, depending on the coarseness of the flesh (fine-grained fish do better fried), and served with salad, baba ganoush, fried rice, and french fries. Note: If grilled is chosen, the skin comes out black, and should be pulled off and discarded; don’t worry, the flesh will be super delicious. The menu also includes red-sauced pasta with seafood, and fried squid. Decorated with nautical motifs, Morgan serves incredibly fresh seafood at prices that put Manhattan restaurants to shame. Only two blocks west of Journal Square, and thus easy to get to on the PATH from Manhattan.

A blackened whole fish covered with parsley on a silver salver. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

11. Three Guys from Italy

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2854 John F. Kennedy Blvd
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 792-9565
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Once, this classic Jersey pizzeria was located directly south of the Journal Square PATH station, but gentrification forced it around the corner to John F. Kennedy Boulevard in 2008. The original three guys are long gone, but the cheese slice remains supreme. The menu is way longer even than the average pizzeria; in addition to the pizzas and hot heroes, it offers cheese fries, rigatoni asparagus, escarole and bean soup, calamari salad, and an Italian hot dog topped with sauteed peppers and onions. Don’t miss the garlic knots with their sprightly marinara dipping sauce.

Buns dotted with chopped garlic and parsley, with tomato sauce on the side Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

12. Philippine Bread House

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530 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 659-1753
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Elma Santander, who came from Manila, opened Philippine Bread House in 1979, and it grew into a mini shopping complex in one of the two Filipino neighborhoods in Jersey City (the other is way south in the West Bergen nieghborhood). The prominent red building, seen as you climb the hill toward Journal Square on Newark Avenue, is foremost a bakery. When you step inside, many pastries and breads gleam with the color of ube, a purple yam. In the rear, find a steam table with a daily selection of hot dishes, many featuring pork and fish with the tang of vinegar. Kare kare is a stew of oxtails and green beans thickened with peanut butter, and that’s a good place to start. Desserts include Halo-halo, the Filipino crushed ice dessert, served with a variety of toppings like ube ice cream, sweetened beans, and coconut strips.

Scoop of purple ice cream dotted with colorful jellies. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

13. New Thanh Hoai

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234 10th St
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 918-6599
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If you’re one of those people who gets really hungry while mired in a traffic jam while attempting to escape the city, consider stopping at this excellent Vietnamese restaurant just outside the mouth of the Holland Tunnel. The menu is longer than most and includes all the classics, from a great bowl of pho to pig leg Hue style to the legendary shaking beef (bo luc lac). But seafood is a particular specialty, as seen in the fish presentations like caramelized salmon, whole fried flounder, lemongrass squid, and clams steamed in beer. Full bar available.

A heap of gravied beef cubes glistens on a white plate with onions, peppers, and tomatoes also visible. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

14. Automat Kitchen

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Office Tower, 525 Washington Blvd
Jersey City, NJ 07310
(201) 918-5131
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Inspired by the Horn & Hardart Automats that once populated Manhattan, this place uses a computer system for the placement of orders, but the result is still deposited in doors along one wall. The menu offers 30 or so dishes, most in a comfort food vein via Austin chef-consultant Quirino Silva. The chicken pot pie is exemplary, and so is the charred broccoli side dish, but skip the Texas-style breakfast taco, unless it has been improved since I ate it. This is a place to go for the gimmick, which is not a bad motivation, or while shopping at the Newport Mall.

On the right two rows of gleaming doored window, and on the left a pair of order podiums. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

15. Samakmak Seafood

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772 West Side Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 333-3474
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In common with Morgan Seafood, Samakmak is another of Jersey City’s distinctive Alexandrian restaurants, offering a menu of simply grilled or fried fish in at least a half dozen species per day. The front of the premises is a fish market, but go through the door at the rear to find the restaurant, decorated with a skyline of Alexandria, where you can also choose to carryout. In fact, you can grab your fish in front and carry it to the back to be cooked. Shrimp or calamari, fried or in tomato sauce are also available. For dessert, don’t miss either the kanafa or rice pudding.

A bubbling red sauced casserole filled with shrimp and big rings of calamari. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

16. Pasta Dal Cuore

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527 Jersey Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 332-8505
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While long-running, red-sauce Italian spots like Joe and Pat’s (featured in the Sopranos) and Dante have closed in Jersey City over the last decade, newfangled, more modern places have opened, and Pasta Dal Cuore is one. It was founded by Elena Cartagena, an Italian-Uruguayan, in 2014. Check out the freshly made pastas in the glass case as you enter, but the menu goes way beyond noodles. A meal there might feature a seafood faro salad followed by a chicken cutlet milanesa, but you can also stick with pastas, of which the lasagna shown here is one of the densest and richest in town.

A lush square of lasagna in an orangeish tomato sauce. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

17. Nicole's

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521 Jersey Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 433-8443
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Since 1999 Nicole’s Caribbean has been a prominent feature of the neighborhood just west of the Historic Downtown, its bright yellow awning shining like a beacon. The kitchen makes up about three-quarters of the interior, and there’s not much seating since most customers carry out. From that kitchen fly Guyanese specialties that include a wonderful roti with a range of fillings, the flatbread a dal poori, the primary filling a choice of goat, chicken, shrimp, etc. But also consider asking for a secondary filling like pumpkin or callaloo, balancing your meal. And don’t forget to use the scotch bonnet hot sauce, either put inside or sprinkled on as you eat.

A flatbread with chunks of meat and pureed orange squash visible inside. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

18. City Grill

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140 Monticello Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07304
(201) 333-9800

Just south of McGinley Square lies this restaurant with Chadian owners and caterers, who are capable of whipping up dishes from Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Liberia as well, depending on catering jobs being worked. The menu is often Senegalese, and a friend and I enjoyed an amazing mafe, thick with chunks of lamb in a piquant peanut sauce bobbing with a carrot or two; and a whole porgy incorporated into cheb, which is the national dish of Senegal. Jollof rice is always available.

An antique storefront at night, glowing, with Grill Restaurant stenciled on the window. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

19. Ibby's Falafel

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303 Grove St
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 432-2400
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Owned by Adnan Kwara, a nephew of the Mamoun’s founder Mamoun Chater, Ibby’s has been a real dining resource of the Historic Downtown neighborhood for 25 years. Favorites on a fundamental Lebanese-Syrian menu include lamb shawarma and falafel sandwiches, the latter for which the chickpea orbs are notably fried to order. Vegetarians will do spectacularly here, with a fattoush salad filled with crisp toasted pita, or a platter of baba ganoush and foul — the garlic-stewed fava beans. This remains a budget option in a neighborhood with an upscale restaurant collection.

Out front of the restaurant is a collection of tables with red umbrellas, with a party in the foreground just seating itself. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

20. Razza

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275 Grove St
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 356-9348
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Dan Richter founded Razza Pizza Artiginale right on Grove Street in 2012, destined to become one of the most respected pizzerias on the Eastern seaboard. It looks like a post-Industrial space with its marred but colorful walls, high ceilings, and no-nonsense decor. The pies come out of the wood oven round and puffy, charred here and there, and delectably good in a sour-doughy way, whatever the topping. Those ingredients run from the obvious — fresh mozzarella and the highest quality canned tomatoes — to the more arcane, like orange squash, cream, fermented chile paste, fingerling potatoes, raclette, and hazelnuts, of all things, locally grown and imparting the subtlest of toasty flavors. This place is also big on bread and butter, as well as short dishes in a modern Italian vein. It and Bread and Salt compete for the farinaceous heart of Jersey City.

A round pie with a puffy crust, browned and charred, with plenty of cheese on top. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

21. La Brujeria

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590 Grand St
Jersey City, NJ 07304
(201) 267-6760
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Not long ago a new Mexican restaurant appeared in the back of a gas station on bustling Grand Street, a largely industrial neighborhood of warehouses and factories. The owner and chef of La Brujeria is Mexico City native Roberto Islas, and the menu at this small spot decorated with huge art murals on Mexican themes is a compendium of dishes found in our region, from tacos, tortas, and quesadillas to more ambitious creations like mixiotes. And this is the only place I know of to offer lamb birria, cleverly edging out the Five Boroughs in that regard.

A counter with a prep area behind it; a woman stands there with her back to us as a man in a mask looks quizzically through a doorway to the kitchen. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

22. Restaurante y Panaderia Guatamalteco

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Pacific Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07304
(201) 892-5957
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The double storefront in the bucolic Communipaw neighborhood boasts a bakery on one side and cafe on the other, both open early in the morning. Out of one fly celebratory cakes, elaborately decorated, out of the other Guatemalan classic dishes, including a beautiful abundant ceviche served in a plastic cup containing fish, shrimp, and surimi, dotted with tomatoes in a tart wash and served with tortilla chips. The tamales are fabulous, too, and numerous are the breakfast combos featuring eggs, cheese, plantains, and chorizo. There’s even a Guatemalan take on Chinese chow mein.

A plastic cup filled with seafood and tomatoes seen from above. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

23. Mamak House

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250 NJ-440
Jersey City, NJ 07305
(201) 333-0072
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A rather grand restaurant along the Hackensack River waterfront, with views of Newark across the water, Mamak House offers a deep dive into Malaysian cuisine with a few Chinese and Indonesian flourishes. For an introduction to the cuisine, try nasi lemak, a rice-based dish topped with a dark chicken curry and anchovy relish. Okra with fermented belacan sauce is another highlight, and so is Hokkien char me — thick wheat noodles slicked with a dark fragrant sauce and topped with crisp fried shallots.

Green steamed okra with a sweet fish sauce. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

1. White Mana Diner

470 Tonnele Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07307
A round white building by a cluttered roadside. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Work your way through the tangle of highway underpasses and overpasses to find this docked flying saucer that was once a kiosk at the 1939 World’s Fair. In 1946, it was put on a flatbed and dragged to the bottom of a hill beneath the Jersey City Heights. The counter inside is as circular as the exterior, and wondrous cheeseburgers (topped with fried onions, ketchup, and dill pickle chips) are cooked up there, along with toasted cheese, fries, onion rings, and sandwiches of an ancient nature. And yes, you can get sandwiches of Taylor ham (aka pork roll), the national meat of New Jersey. If you’re visiting from New York, try one and find out what all the fuss is about.

470 Tonnele Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07307

2. Bread & Salt

435 Palisade Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07307
A man in an apron with mask and stocking cap leans over a pizza topped with tomatoes. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pittsburgh’s Rick Easton is the impresario of focaccia at this rare scenester spot in the Heights, which depends on massive ovens for most of its output. Sure, there are pizza-like focaccias, some smeared with good canned tomatoes, some with more elaborate toppings, and there are also cookies, tarts, and other pastries, as well delectable sandwiches made on split focaccias. Many of the sandwiches feature meats roasted in those same ovens, and a mortadella sandwich is nearly always available. Bread & Salt is a quirky and unpredictable establishment that also sells high-quality Italian groceries. For the moment, the place is only open on the weekends for carryout. Check Instagram for current offerings.

435 Palisade Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07307

3. Golconda Chimney

806 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306
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A variety of red, yellow, and brown dishes against a wooden surface seen from above. Nick Solares/Eater

Open for six years now, Golconda Chimney — named after a Hyderabad landmark that was once seat of a sultanate and center for the diamond trade — offers the food of the now high-tech center, including biryanis, Indo-Chinese dishes, tandoori specialties, and street snacks as well as vegetarian and non-vegetarian main options. The kitchen does wonders with goat — roasting, stewing, skewering, currying, and even using the animal’s feet in a goat paya soup. Other menu highlights include battered and fried long green chiles (kutt mirchi), chicken gongura (the sauce flavored with a sour southern leaf), and Malabar fish curry laced with coconut milk that doesn’t hold back on the heat front. This place provides the best semblance of a formal meal in handsome surroundings of any restaurant in India Square.

806 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306

4. Sri Ganesh’s Dosa House

809 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306
A stunted cone of off-white farina dotted with spices, with red pickle on the side. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Its blue awning featuring the elephant-headed god, owner Venu Rachuri’s Sri Ganesh’s Dosa House was the second southern Indian restaurant to appear in the neighborhood dubbed India Square in the ’90s, just as the Gujarati dominance of the neighborhood was waning. The menu presents dozens of dosas, the crisp, thin crepes made from a batter of naturally fermented rice and lentils, with a variety of stuffings. But it is also offers other classics from the strictly vegetarian menu, including the spongy dumplings called idly, and the spice-dotted porridge upma, a personal favorite. Place your order at the counter, take a number, and sit down amid the hubbub as your food is prepared to order.

809 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306

5. Mithaas Jersey City

795 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306
A round metal tray with a variety of colorful dishes in metal cups placed inside it. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Helmed by Kamal Arora, Mithaas is a vegetarian Indian restaurant that concentrates on the food of the South, with the usual freshly prepared dosas, uttapams, and composed rice casseroles like pongal and bisi bele bath. Every day a thali or two is prepared, the name designating a varied meal of curries, chutneys, dals, and breads served on a round metal tray. But Mithaas doubles as a sweet shop, and glass cases are filled with milk-based treats in a rainbow of colors, some flaunting gold- or silver-leaf decorations. It’s often packed on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but easy to find a seat at other times.

795 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306

6. Minar Halal Meat

771 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306
A charred ground lamb kebab bedded in lettuce sticks out of the end of a flatbread. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

There’s nothing better than a barbecue in a butcher shop, and that is just what Minar is. In the back, there’s a selection of raw halal chicken and goat, and lots of frozen imported fish from Bangladesh, like hilsa, pomfret, and rohu. In the front of the restaurant stands a wooden shack housing Minar Kabab and Tikka Corner, where food is cooked to order on a charcoal grill. On it sizzle ground lamb and chicken kebabs, available on flatbread or over rice, along with chickens, fish filets, and mutton kebab similarly cooked. Tandoori items find their way into a vertical clay oven, also charcoal-stoked. For barbecued meat lovers, this place shouldn’t be missed.

771 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306

7. Korai Kitchen

576 Summit Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306
A pair of plastic tubs on a towel, one made of eggplant, the other of yellow split peas. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Few Bangladeshi restaurants in the metropolitan area are as good as Korai Kitchen. A joint project of the mother-and-daughter team of Nur-E Gulshan Rahman and Nur-E Farhana Rahman brings the curries, pullaos, and bhortas of Bangladesh right to you — the last being spicy vegetable purees based on eggplant, potatoes, or lentils, from a list that changes from time to time. This place doesn’t hold back on using mustard oil, a key ingredient in Bangladeshi cooking that leaves a pleasant burn in the throat, and the menu spotlights the freshwater fish that are another staple of the national cuisine. Check the chalkboard for daily lunch specials, which often run less than $10. The rice pudding — flecked with almonds and pistachios and scented with cardamom — is a sleeper hit.

576 Summit Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306

8. Ling Long Xuan

586c Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306
Wide brown noodles with a grid texture with gnarled pieces of pork and fresh green chiles in gravy. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jersey City’s increasing vitality as a dinner destination can be seen in Ling Long Xuan, which recently moved from Flushing and to Jersey City’s Five Corners neighborhood, right across the street from the elegant William J. Brennan Courthouse. The owner is Dong Xuan and the menu hails from his hometown, the city-state of Tianjin east of Beijing. There’s no better way to learn about that city’s cuisine than ordering the “Tian Jin style wonton soup” — gossamer pork dumplings swim like jellyfish in a pale broth amplified with dried shrimp and cilantro. Dried tofu with hot pepper pork is another triumph with the tofu reading as noodles: broad, firm, and crosshatched.

586c Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306

9. Boulevard Drinks

48 Journal Square Plaza, Jersey City, NJ 07306
Boulevard Drinks’ all beef franks, with chili on a yellow background Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Of course, Jersey City has its own iconic hot dog counter, in this case it’s bright yellow and also selling the conventional gritty drinks of NYC institutions like Papaya King. But Jersey dogs don’t come topped with sauerkraut and caramelized canned onions, rather there’s a meaty topping often described as chili, even though it’s really an oniony Greek meat sauce. Currently owned by John Bardis, whose father Speros bought the narrow place in 1962, Boulevard Drinks has actually been around since 1937.

48 Journal Square Plaza
Jersey City, NJ 07306

10. Morgan Seafood Reasturant

2801 John F. Kennedy Blvd #1215, Jersey City, NJ 07306
A blackened whole fish covered with parsley on a silver salver. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Jersey City has a handful of Egyptian seafood restaurants exhibiting a cooking style that originated in the Mediterranean port of Alexandria. There are whole fish grilled or fried, depending on the coarseness of the flesh (fine-grained fish do better fried), and served with salad, baba ganoush, fried rice, and french fries. Note: If grilled is chosen, the skin comes out black, and should be pulled off and discarded; don’t worry, the flesh will be super delicious. The menu also includes red-sauced pasta with seafood, and fried squid. Decorated with nautical motifs, Morgan serves incredibly fresh seafood at prices that put Manhattan restaurants to shame. Only two blocks west of Journal Square, and thus easy to get to on the PATH from Manhattan.

2801 John F. Kennedy Blvd #1215
Jersey City, NJ 07306

11. Three Guys from Italy

2854 John F. Kennedy Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07306
Buns dotted with chopped garlic and parsley, with tomato sauce on the side Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Once, this classic Jersey pizzeria was located directly south of the Journal Square PATH station, but gentrification forced it around the corner to John F. Kennedy Boulevard in 2008. The original three guys are long gone, but the cheese slice remains supreme. The menu is way longer even than the average pizzeria; in addition to the pizzas and hot heroes, it offers cheese fries, rigatoni asparagus, escarole and bean soup, calamari salad, and an Italian hot dog topped with sauteed peppers and onions. Don’t miss the garlic knots with their sprightly marinara dipping sauce.

2854 John F. Kennedy Blvd
Jersey City, NJ 07306

12. Philippine Bread House

530 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306
Scoop of purple ice cream dotted with colorful jellies. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Elma Santander, who came from Manila, opened Philippine Bread House in 1979, and it grew into a mini shopping complex in one of the two Filipino neighborhoods in Jersey City (the other is way south in the West Bergen nieghborhood). The prominent red building, seen as you climb the hill toward Journal Square on Newark Avenue, is foremost a bakery. When you step inside, many pastries and breads gleam with the color of ube, a purple yam. In the rear, find a steam table with a daily selection of hot dishes, many featuring pork and fish with the tang of vinegar. Kare kare is a stew of oxtails and green beans thickened with peanut butter, and that’s a good place to start. Desserts include Halo-halo, the Filipino crushed ice dessert, served with a variety of toppings like ube ice cream, sweetened beans, and coconut strips.

530 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306

13. New Thanh Hoai

234 10th St, Jersey City, NJ 07302
A heap of gravied beef cubes glistens on a white plate with onions, peppers, and tomatoes also visible. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

If you’re one of those people who gets really hungry while mired in a traffic jam while attempting to escape the city, consider stopping at this excellent Vietnamese restaurant just outside the mouth of the Holland Tunnel. The menu is longer than most and includes all the classics, from a great bowl of pho to pig leg Hue style to the legendary shaking beef (bo luc lac). But seafood is a particular specialty, as seen in the fish presentations like caramelized salmon, whole fried flounder, lemongrass squid, and clams steamed in beer. Full bar available.

234 10th St
Jersey City, NJ 07302

14. Automat Kitchen

Office Tower, 525 Washington Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07310
On the right two rows of gleaming doored window, and on the left a pair of order podiums. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Inspired by the Horn & Hardart Automats that once populated Manhattan, this place uses a computer system for the placement of orders, but the result is still deposited in doors along one wall. The menu offers 30 or so dishes, most in a comfort food vein via Austin chef-consultant Quirino Silva. The chicken pot pie is exemplary, and so is the charred broccoli side dish, but skip the Texas-style breakfast taco, unless it has been improved since I ate it. This is a place to go for the gimmick, which is not a bad motivation, or while shopping at the Newport Mall.

Office Tower, 525 Washington Blvd
Jersey City, NJ 07310

15. Samakmak Seafood

772 West Side Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306
A bubbling red sauced casserole filled with shrimp and big rings of calamari. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

In common with Morgan Seafood, Samakmak is another of Jersey City’s distinctive Alexandrian restaurants, offering a menu of simply grilled or fried fish in at least a half dozen species per day. The front of the premises is a fish market, but go through the door at the rear to find the restaurant, decorated with a skyline of Alexandria, where you can also choose to carryout. In fact, you can grab your fish in front and carry it to the back to be cooked. Shrimp or calamari, fried or in tomato sauce are also available. For dessert, don’t miss either the kanafa or rice pudding.

772 West Side Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306

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16. Pasta Dal Cuore

527 Jersey Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302
A lush square of lasagna in an orangeish tomato sauce. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

While long-running, red-sauce Italian spots like Joe and Pat’s (featured in the Sopranos) and Dante have closed in Jersey City over the last decade, newfangled, more modern places have opened, and Pasta Dal Cuore is one. It was founded by Elena Cartagena, an Italian-Uruguayan, in 2014. Check out the freshly made pastas in the glass case as you enter, but the menu goes way beyond noodles. A meal there might feature a seafood faro salad followed by a chicken cutlet milanesa, but you can also stick with pastas, of which the lasagna shown here is one of the densest and richest in town.

527 Jersey Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07302

17. Nicole's

521 Jersey Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302
A flatbread with chunks of meat and pureed orange squash visible inside. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Since 1999 Nicole’s Caribbean has been a prominent feature of the neighborhood just west of the Historic Downtown, its bright yellow awning shining like a beacon. The kitchen makes up about three-quarters of the interior, and there’s not much seating since most customers carry out. From that kitchen fly Guyanese specialties that include a wonderful roti with a range of fillings, the flatbread a dal poori, the primary filling a choice of goat, chicken, shrimp, etc. But also consider asking for a secondary filling like pumpkin or callaloo, balancing your meal. And don’t forget to use the scotch bonnet hot sauce, either put inside or sprinkled on as you eat.

521 Jersey Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07302

18. City Grill

140 Monticello Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07304
An antique storefront at night, glowing, with Grill Restaurant stenciled on the window. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Just south of McGinley Square lies this restaurant with Chadian owners and caterers, who are capable of whipping up dishes from Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Liberia as well, depending on catering jobs being worked. The menu is often Senegalese, and a friend and I enjoyed an amazing mafe, thick with chunks of lamb in a piquant peanut sauce bobbing with a carrot or two; and a whole porgy incorporated into cheb, which is the national dish of Senegal. Jollof rice is always available.

140 Monticello Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07304

19. Ibby's Falafel

303 Grove St, Jersey City, NJ 07302
Out front of the restaurant is a collection of tables with red umbrellas, with a party in the foreground just seating itself. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Owned by Adnan Kwara, a nephew of the Mamoun’s founder Mamoun Chater, Ibby’s has been a real dining resource of the Historic Downtown neighborhood for 25 years. Favorites on a fundamental Lebanese-Syrian menu include lamb shawarma and falafel sandwiches, the latter for which the chickpea orbs are notably fried to order. Vegetarians will do spectacularly here, with a fattoush salad filled with crisp toasted pita, or a platter of baba ganoush and foul — the garlic-stewed fava beans. This remains a budget option in a neighborhood with an upscale restaurant collection.

303 Grove St
Jersey City, NJ 07302

20. Razza

275 Grove St, Jersey City, NJ 07302
A round pie with a puffy crust, browned and charred, with plenty of cheese on top. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Dan Richter founded Razza Pizza Artiginale right on Grove Street in 2012, destined to become one of the most respected pizzerias on the Eastern seaboard. It looks like a post-Industrial space with its marred but colorful walls, high ceilings, and no-nonsense decor. The pies come out of the wood oven round and puffy, charred here and there, and delectably good in a sour-doughy way, whatever the topping. Those ingredients run from the obvious — fresh mozzarella and the highest quality canned tomatoes — to the more arcane, like orange squash, cream, fermented chile paste, fingerling potatoes, raclette, and hazelnuts, of all things, locally grown and imparting the subtlest of toasty flavors. This place is also big on bread and butter, as well as short dishes in a modern Italian vein. It and Bread and Salt compete for the farinaceous heart of Jersey City.

275 Grove St
Jersey City, NJ 07302

21. La Brujeria

590 Grand St, Jersey City, NJ 07304
A counter with a prep area behind it; a woman stands there with her back to us as a man in a mask looks quizzically through a doorway to the kitchen. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Not long ago a new Mexican restaurant appeared in the back of a gas station on bustling Grand Street, a largely industrial neighborhood of warehouses and factories. The owner and chef of La Brujeria is Mexico City native Roberto Islas, and the menu at this small spot decorated with huge art murals on Mexican themes is a compendium of dishes found in our region, from tacos, tortas, and quesadillas to more ambitious creations like mixiotes. And this is the only place I know of to offer lamb birria, cleverly edging out the Five Boroughs in that regard.

590 Grand St
Jersey City, NJ 07304

22. Restaurante y Panaderia Guatamalteco

Pacific Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07304
A plastic cup filled with seafood and tomatoes seen from above. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The double storefront in the bucolic Communipaw neighborhood boasts a bakery on one side and cafe on the other, both open early in the morning. Out of one fly celebratory cakes, elaborately decorated, out of the other Guatemalan classic dishes, including a beautiful abundant ceviche served in a plastic cup containing fish, shrimp, and surimi, dotted with tomatoes in a tart wash and served with tortilla chips. The tamales are fabulous, too, and numerous are the breakfast combos featuring eggs, cheese, plantains, and chorizo. There’s even a Guatemalan take on Chinese chow mein.

Pacific Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07304

23. Mamak House

250 NJ-440, Jersey City, NJ 07305