How do you plan for a Formula 1 Grand Prix that has been on and off the official calendar for a few years now without any conceivable hope that it will actually ever happen? By scouting out decent foodie experiences in the area for the race that may just become the highlight of the F1 circus one year!
We all acknowledge that the NYC skyline will be the selling point of the race being staged on the New Jersey side of the Hudson river. And you can easily cross the bridge or one of the few tunnels to dine in the city, but that’s $14 bux in tolls alone not to mention the inevitably high parking bill. Even parking on the Jersey side and spending $10 on public transport to get somewhere isn’t the most convenient thing. So let’s focus on the best that New Jersey has to offer. And with my 20+ years living here in the Northeastern part of the state just minutes from where the race “would” one day take place, I’m sure I can recommend a few of my favorite places.
I decided not to do a Top 10 list because that isn’t descriptive enough. Not accurately anyway. Top 10 of what? If you like sushi but hate BBQ would my higher ranking of an American restaurant over a Japanese joint seem fair to you? Probably not. So I’d rather present my choices in a “Best-of” format. The best sushi option, best BBQ, best Thai, Mexican, Korean, etc.
So without any further delay, here are my favorite restaurants you should definitely check out when in town for the Grand Prix of the Americas at Port Imperial in Weehawken and West New York, NJ:
Cubby’s BBQ – Hackensack, NJ cubbysbarbeque.com/ famous for their ribs, steak and burgers, my favorite is their house BBQ sauce and anything that goes with it. The ribs are pricey at $25 a rack but well worth it. The deluxe burgers come with a generous portion of fries which can be smothered in absolutely delicious gravy.
Seafood Gourmet – Maywood, NJ seafood-gourmet.com/ famous for their fresh seafood counter at the front and a tiny dining area in the back. My favorite is the New England Clam Chowder which they sell by the Quart. Not the cheapest seafood place but definitely the tastiest in the area.
White Manna – Hackensack, NJ wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Manna famous for their little burger sliders. Made in front of you while you wait in a cozy little diner, with seats surrounding the cooking area. The strong smell of onions whafting in the air. Authentically Jerzey place for sure. Have a bunch of them.
Pollo Mario Steak House & Seafood – Hackensack, NJ www.pollosmario.net/ this is a chain restaurant with another convenient location just about a mile from the proposed circuit on i495 in Union, NJ leading out of the Lincoln Tunnel/New York City. Amazing selection of grilled meats, fantastic rotisserie chicken and seafood served with traditional rice and beans. Yumm!
Casual Habana – Hackensack, NJ www.casualhabanacafe.com/ famous for its Ropa Vieja and the Cubanos and that’s what I tend to order. I’ve tried other items, but my favorite are the classics and they are absolutely delicious. Another store is opening in New Milford, NJ
Cosmo’s Salumeria – Hackensack, NJ famous for his cold cuts, but the little deli gets crowded in the lunch time when everyone orders sandwiches to go. My favorite is the #2 Prosciutto with Mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar on crunchy Italian bread. Goes really well with a bottle of Stewart’s Root Beer which Cosmo sells.
Roman’s Pizza – New Milford, NJ www.romanpizzarestaurant.com/ I don’t like their pizza, but the Calzone’s and Strombolli are outstanding. Get they with the extra marinara sauce and grab a bottle of Boylan’s Creme Soda to wash it down. Excellent combination of amazing flavors.
Kumo Japanese Cuisine – Ridgewood, NJ kumo55.com/ famous for their three roll lunch specials when you pay cash. But even when dining in, the sushi is made to order, using very fresh ingredients and the taste is outstanding. Great decor inside and the green tea will warm up your soul while you wait.
Tabboule Fine Lebanese Cuisine – Ridgewood, NJ www.tabboule.com/ I started going to this place because they participated in the Frequent Flyer dining program where I got miles for every dine, but unlike other places I keep coming back because the food is actually great. Fresh ingredients, made to order, a little pricey but very very good Middle Eastern food.
Penang Malaysain & Thai Cuisine – Lodi, NJ this is a chain that specializes in Malaysian, Singaporean and Thai food, but despite being a chain it is outstanding. Food is a bit pricey but properly prepared and very authentic tasting. Portions are good and the selection is awesome.
Pancho’s Burritos – New Milford, NJ www.panchosburritosnj.com/ the most authentic of Mexican tasting places I’ve come across in New Jersey. A little pricey but the food is great. They use fresh ingredients, and fairly large portions. My favorites depend on the mood, but the tacos, burritos and chimichangas are really, really good. Get a bottle of Jarritos there too.
Segovia Steakhouse & Seafood – Moonachie, NJ www.segoviarestaurant.com/ we go to this restaurant to celebrate birthdays and special occasions with the family. The sit down atmosphere is excellent and their catering is awesome too when you feel like ordering a few trays to serve at your own house party. They do meat well. They do seafood well. The lobsters are outstanding. The little hot bread they serve at the start of the meal is outstanding. The sangria is outstanding. Like a lot!
Iberia Peninsula Restaurant – Newark, NJ www.iberiarestaurants.com/ we used to go to this place a lot more often when I studied in Newark. But they take advantage of the large Spanish and Portuguese population living in the Ironbound district of Newark to prepare outstanding Spanish and Iberian food. Their massive trays of mixed seafood with yellow rice is to die for. Highly recommend.
Bangkok Garden – Hackensack, NJ www.bangkokgarden-nj.com/ the most authentic of anything from Thailand I have ever come across in New Jersey. The dining area is nicely decorated in traditional Thai decor but the food is simply outstanding. A little pricey but well worth it. My favorites are basic red curry dishes or Pad Thai. Their little egg rolls are really good, and the orange peel sauce is fantastic. They do spicy well.
Lisa’s Mediterranean Cuisine – Ridgewood, NJ famous for it’s home cooked style dishes, this is an excellent restaurant to bring your friends and family and spend the evening together in the heart of the Village of Ridgewood. My favorite dish would have to be the lamb kebob served with the really fresh salad… all the dips that accompany various meat dishes are amazing!
If you agree or disagree with the choices above, or if there are some obvious options I missed, please do share your comments below.
I will do a separate post of my favorite foodie places in NYC later.
PS. this list will be periodically updated as new places appear and old places unfortunately go out of business (like one of my favorite local Brazilian Rodizio places)