Home>Travel inspiration>AFAR Advisor>Restaurants + Cafés

For NYC Lovers, Jersey City Is a Must

share this article
flipboard
The NYC skyline from Liberty State Park in Jersey City 

Photo by Keren Vered l Finally Home JC 

The NYC skyline from Liberty State Park in Jersey City 

The Perfect Half-Day or Night From NYC

Article continues below advertisement

share this article
flipboard

The night before I moved to London—after a decade of living in New York City—I took the PATH train to Jersey City to try what my friend Julie Morganand New York Times food critic Pete Wells—called the best pizza in NYC. 

We sat down and ordered several pizzas, but it was the Jersey Girl, made with New Jersey tomatoes and mozzarella; and the Zucca, with summer squash and ricotta, which made me seriously reconsider the move to London. Razza and all its accolades is helping to drive new visitors over the Hudson River, but it’s just a start. I wished I had spent more time in Jersey City, enjoying the cinematic views of New York, the locally owned restaurants, and the public art and murals on the streets.

Residents like Josh Alexander, a luxury travel advisor with Pro Travel (2019 recipient of Virtuoso’s Most Admired Advisor award), are fiercely proud. “Since moving here in 2003, I’ve seen it transform from a predominantly transient neighborhood to one where people want to have families,” he says. “With four PATH stations and two ferry routes, it’s close to NYC without the crazy hustle and bustle.”  

It’s easy to see why people are moving to Jersey City for the commute—it’s a seven-minute ride to the World Trade Center—and more affordable real estate. But is it worth visiting and sending your clients to visit? For those who have been to NYC a lot and claim to know it well, the answer is absolutely. You feel the spirit of a new urban center emerging, one that doesn’t yet have a Duane Reade on every corner. 

My friend Julie travels the world as a makeup artist for people like Giada de Laurentiis and Chelsea Handler, and she has an uncanny sense of knowing exactly where to send people. So I asked her for her Jersey City guide. “I love Jersey City because there is a slightly gritty feel of bygone mafia stories but also the feel of Disney’s ‘It’s a Small World,’” she says. 

Only in Jersey City 

Go for a waterfront walk in Jersey City, and take in the energy and view of NYC without having your feet fully in the concrete jungle. 

Visit the huge Colgate Clock, a beacon of Jersey City. 

Rent a city bike or walk over the footbridge on Jersey Ave to see the Statue of Liberty from Liberty State Park. Stop for a snack at Liberty House restaurant. Ride a bike to the “top” of Jersey City for another spectacular view at Riverview Park. Stroll down pedestrian-only Newark Avenue. 

Article continues below advertisement

If you are visiting with children, you can’t miss the Liberty Science Center. And you can visit Newport Sand Beach with kids (or a date), and relax in the Adirondack chairs from sunrise to sunset. 

Art and Music

Jersey City has incredible public art, and you’ll see magnificent murals everywhere. Artist Dylon Egon is based in Jersey City, and you can find his work around town. Norman Kirby is a local artist well-known for fence art. Mana Contemporary is an expansive arts center, with two other locations in Chicago and Miami. 

For music, try Monday jazz nights at Brightside Tavern or catch a show at White Eagle Hall (look up at the magnificent stained glass while you listen). Groove on Grove is an outdoor weekly music event every Wednesday when it’s warm, just as you come out of the PATH station. 

Shopping 

Love Locked is my go-to for gifts and cards for everyone. Go vintage shopping at Another Man’s Treasure—it is like stepping onto a Hollywood movie set. Kanibal & Co. has a lot of great products made in Jersey City. Vivi Girl shop is one-stop shopping for women’s clothing. For babies and kids, Hazel Baby stocks high-quality, organic, sustainable clothing. 

Jersey City is known for its public art and murals.

The Jersey City Restaurant List 

Worth-the-wait pizza: Razza has the most incredible pizza. At 4:30 p.m. the line wraps from Grove around to Montgomery Street. You can also take it to go and, weather-permitting, sit on the stairs at City Hall and chow down Italian-style.

(Josh Alexander also recommends Porta: “It’s an offshoot of the original in Asbury Park with amazing wood-burning pizzas and live music.”) 

Breakfast and brunch: Jump-start your day at Sam a.m., known for their breakfast. For brunch, Mathews is great especially if you like smoked salmon. In an emerging neighborhood, Mordis Sandwich Shop is a great choice. I also love Pecararo Bakery for the mortadella and mozzarella sandwich. At night, I walk by and see bakers busy at work. 

For lunch: Latham House, a quick walk from the Grove Street PATH station, has generous portions and great homemade desserts. (Try not to stop at the Krispy Kreme first.) Also recommended: the cheeseburger at White Star and the turkey burger and crab cake at Luna

Dining on the water: Check out the newly renovated Battello on the pier in Newport neighborhood, Maritime Parc, and Surf City

A piece of Jersey City history: It’s worth the 15-minute taxi ride from downtown to Laicos for the veal parmesan. Other classic spots include Barge Inn and Renato’s

For date night: Third and Vine for good vibes, Archer for a dark and cozy ambience and great cocktails, and Kitchen Step because there are great dishes to share and lots of tables for two inside and out. 

Article continues below advertisement

For a celebration night: Edward’s Steakhouse for lamb chops and filet sliders, or martinis and steak. 

Perfect for celebrations: Edward’s Steakhouse

Fun, global-inspired meals: Harry’s Daughter, with Caribbean island vibes and pub-style food and cocktails has the nicest owners. It’s a cheap taxi ride from the heart of downtown. La Cote takes you to the south of France and Broa Cafe has great Portuguese food. 

Tacos: “Taqueria has the best tacos I’ve had outside of Mexico,” says Alexander. “They have two locations, one with an outdoor patio.”

Vegetarian eats: Petshop is a hip spot with a wine bar downstairs.

Trustworthy sushi: I don’t eat at many places when it comes to sushi. I like to know the owner and where our finned friends are coming from. Honshu is the only spot in Jersey City that I trust  to take my tastebuds to Japan.

Wallet-friendly eats: My brother lived in Jersey City for 10 years, and to this day, Ibby’s Falafel is his first stop when he comes to visit me.  

Hunting for great coffee: I’m a cappuccino hunter who has spent a lot of time in Italy for work, and I have to admit that I haven’t found a place that I dream of waking up for every morning. Until then, I do like Hidden Grounds, Choc O Pain, and 9 Bar. 

For spirits: Corgi Spirits is a new special spot to sip in Jersey City. They have tastings, tours, and a nice lounge. 

Beer and brews: Hudson Hall has a grandiose space, Würstbar is the best for sausage and beer, and Healy’s Tavern for a cold beer.

For a breathtaking view of NYC with your cocktail: Head to the RoofTop at Exchange Place bar at the Hyatt. For winter, the Terrace one level down is enclosed by glass.

Birthday cake and sweetsMonteleone’s Bakery is the spot in Jersey City. Don’t leave without a few lobster claws to devour in the car. There is great ice cream at Bucket & Bay or Milk Sugar Love. Brooklyn favorite Ample Hills also has an outpost. Plus, “Torico just celebrated their 50th anniversary last year and they’ve been in the same location since the ’60s,” adds Alexander.

If you do end up moving to Jersey City . . .

Food shopping is best done Parisian-style in Jersey City, by shopping often for fresh produce. Whole Foods is coming, but I love the Fish Stand, Van Hook Cheese Shop, Darke Pines butcher shop, and Cool Vines’ two locations for cheese and wine. It’s also a great spot to pick up a house gift. 

Alexander also praises the weekly farmers’ markets from April to October in Paulus Hook, Grove Street Promenade, Van Vorst Park, and Hamilton Park. 

>> Next: What Does “Wellness” Actually Mean In the Travel Industry? 

more from afar