Good lord I am jealous of all your eating out adventures.
It’s been a great adventure so far, with many places left to explore. It’s also been awesome supporting the local restaurants. Often very small operations, husband and wife, or kitchen in plain view, similar to lunch shacks you’d find in their respective countries.
I know Elizabeth has sort of a stain on it as a city for visiting, which extends to its opinion on its gastronomy. “Why ever go Elizabeth when you can go Jersey City or Newark?”
Granted, I know restaurants are very often a bad investment, as restaurant owners sometimes lack business savviness, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t great food. Elizabeth having a relatively bad reputation, as well as being crowded with food options, leads to a constant stream of new restaurants opening and others closing.
The food adventures have also been a challenge of expanding horizons and trying new places. Keep in mind that I don’t speak any Spanish at all, so sometimes ordering has been an interesting exchange. Any dishes I know are from Googling/researching the cuisine or the restaurant’s menus.
Also on the subject of the food adventures, my desk at work is becoming something of a trophy case.
Aforementioned Uruguayan bizcochos and cappuccino from Alkazar Bakery.
Uruguayan chivito sandwich I’ve had from La Estancia:
As far as cuisine, Elizabeth is perhaps most known for its vast amount of Colombian restaurants.
Morris Ave. in Elizabeth is famous as being a “Little Colombia,” and in addition to Elizabeth Ave. and the surrounding areas, there are over 20+ Colombian restaurants.
You could find them in many different types:
Fast Food - Restaurants that specialize in burgers, stuffed arepas, etc.
Traditional - Restaurants serving daily specials / typical meals such as soup, an entree, and a fruit shake
Bakeries - Almost all of the Colombian restaurants have a bakery attached, but some are solely bakeries.
I’ve only been to a handful, and have many left to explore… but so far my favorites are:
La Tipica - traditional Colombian lunch shack, perfect for a sit-down meal consisting of their daily specials or an entree off the menu.
They also have the best pan de bono (warm cheese bread) I’ve had in any Colombian place so far.
I usually order a bandeja paisa in Colombian restaurants, their national plate: steak, eggs, chorizo, chiccaron, avocado, plaintains, rice/beans, arepa.
My favorite fast food/casual Colombian restaurant so far is:
Arepas Pues - located in the Elmora neighborhood area, its a small shop that specializes in all sorts of stuffed arepas. They also have the best frozen fruit shakes I’ve had yet.
I still have a few other fast food/casual places to try on my list, such as Cali Burger in Midtown, or Monchy’s Colombian Grill on Morris Ave. Both of them boast the best Colombian-style burger.
Any chance you could get me a to go order of chiccaron?
This is amazing work! Have you run across any exceptional Peruvian ceviche?
To date, the best ceviche I’ve had was prepared by my Peruvian friend’s mom. So it’s a high standard for restaurants to match.
By my count. there are around 20 Peruvian restaurants in all of Elizabeth, and 12 of them are on my list to try. I’ve only been to a few so far, and thus haven’t ordered the ceviche enough to find any standouts to report just yet.
I’ve only ordered it once, at Cebellini, in Uptown Elizabeth, where it was good, but not exceptional.
As expected, a few of the restaurants and menus here are also representative of particular regions of Peru. For example, a restaurant called Machupicchu on Elizabeth Ave., serving Andes regional dishes such as pachamanca.
The restaurants here that originate from the coastal cities of Peru, such as one of my favorites in town, Puro Callao, I’d imagine make the best ceviche. So I’ll be on the lookout.
Elizabeth Ave. is home to “The Market,” branded as the main shopping and restaurant district of Elizabeth.
Connecting the Seaport area to Downtown and spanning about 1 mile long, you’ll find a wide array of shops and more importantly, a multitude of restaurants.
Often on my lunch breaks on sunny days, this is where I stroll and choose my next food adventure. On my Elizabeth food hitlist, 25 restaurants are listed on this very street.
Also on this street, you’ll find a few town staples such as Tommy’s Italian Sausage & Hot Dogs. I know many of this board are all too familiar. And next door, Jerry’s Famous Frankfurters, in an almost Pat’s vs. Geno’s-like rivalry.
I personally consider Tommy’s dogs superior, as well as their other offerings such as their in-house made Italian sausage and thin cut potatoes.
Nearby, and now that the weather is nicer, you’ll also find DiCosmo’s Italian Ice. In business for over 100 years, with daily rotating flavors served until sold out, they’ve mastered the art of Italian ice and a great finish to any meal in town.
Also, if anyone’s curious, this is what a page of my Elizabeth/surrounding area food hitlist looks like.
Hey speaking of Mesoamerican has anybody else tried Fredy Jeremy’s Salavdorean on Newman Springs in Red Bank?
The Desayuno Salvadoreño with pupusas is pretty good. For @seal they have these with chicairron.
It’s next to Butchies so you can get breakfast while you are waiting for your wash and rub.
I went down to Morris Ave. today to try a Colombian spot, called Monchy’s Famous Grill. I was initially attracted to it due to its modern look, flashy menu, and daily specials they post on Facebook.
They have three locations and from what I noticed while there, are extremely popular among the local crowd.
Think of it almost as a Colombian Applebees as far as interior, menu, and service. Giant TV’s surround the inside with nonstop music videos playing, albeit semi-loudly.
The best deal there appears to be ordering their daily special, posted on Facebook, which comes with soup, an entree, and a fruit shake.
I opted instead to order a strawberry/pineapple smoothie, cream of mushroom/chicken soup, and “Monchy’s Famouse Burger.”
The fruit shake was awesome, the soup was really good as well. However, I think I may be giving up on Colombian-style burgers.
Colombian style burgers are a popular street food defined by their plethora of toppings and sauces, and are usually a quite greasy mess. However, despite knowing this, I was a little disappointed in it.
I’m used to Brazilian-style burgers, which are similar, but those are usually well kept together by the bun and are a bit more cohesive. This one basically fell apart after one bite, and the sauce and toppings were a bit overkill.
It was topped with ham, mozzarella, egg, bacon, potato stix, sauteed onions, coleslaw, and a Russian dressing. It kind of felt like eating a messy Big Mac.
The fries were pretty lackluster as well, and even the 3 sauces on the side they gave (wasakaka, pineapple sauce, more Russian dressing) couldn’t save it.
I may come again if I’m ever near Morris Ave., but I believe there are better options elsewhere, such as previously mentioned La Tipica, or Sabor Y Arte on Elizabeth Ave. (which is also closer to me).
As far as my BurgerQuest for best burger in Elizabeth, this leaves me with two feisty contenders: Nugent’s Tavern vs. City Tavern!
Have you tried the El Salvadoreno on Elizabeth Avenue? Haven’t been there in a while, but it used to be a favorite…
I have not yet, though I’ve walked past it a few times.
I read this somewhat quickly, but I didn’t notice anybody mention what I think is one of the best pizza places anywhere, Santillo’s, on South Broad Street in Elizabeth. This is one of my top two pizzas in New Jersey, easily within the top 10 in the United States (towards the front of that list in my opinion), and is worth a trip from anywhere.
Santillo’s is manned by the highly personable artisan baker Al Santillo, who is the grandson of the original owner, and who bakes in a 100+ year old coal oven that has existed since before pizza was invented. Since this was originally a bread bakery, and its grandfathered into a residential area, there are no tables, but you can take your pizza to your car or to a local bar – which is sub-optimal but well worth the inconvenience.
I normally don’t order ceviche just because it ends up being too much of a portion/too repetitive of a dish. I either have to share it with someone, or order it along with another dish.
I had a pretty great one today, ordered extra spicy from King of Subs right off of Elizabeth Ave. It’s a deli that specializes in a variety of subs, as well as traditional Peruvian dishes.
For the ceviche, I wouldn’t say it was truly exceptional, but a great one nonetheless.
Ecuadorian bolon from La Tambora. Giant green plantain dumpling stuffed with beef, chiccaron, chicken and cheese.
WOWSA! I don’t know how you go back to work after these lunches!
The trick is getting most of the work done before lunch .
There’s only two Venezualan restaurants as far as I know in Elizabeth and the surrounding areas. One, I mentioned earlier, Alabrasa Cafe, specializes in fast-food style dishes, such as the fried plantain yoyo in my first post, patacones, arepas, cachapas and more.
The other restaurant, Pizza Market & Arepas, is located off Elizabeth Ave. downtown.
Whereas Alabrasa Cafe has more experimental and fast-food dishes, Pizza Markets’ menu is much more tame and in line with traditional Venezualan dishes such as their national plate, the pabellon criollo (seen below). Shredded beef, rice, beans with cheese, and plantains.
Other items they have on the menu are Italian-inspired pastas, such as a Venezuelan pasticio and a variety of stuffed arepas.
They serve pizza as well, but it appears to me that it’s just to appeal to a wider audience, rather than being of a particular delicacy.
All my meals were good here, but I much prefer Alabrasa Cafe as they offer much more variety and flexibility in their menu.
Combinado Macchupicchu: a mix of ceviche, jalea (fried calamari), and seafood paella from
Machupicchu Restaurant on Elizabeth Ave.
All in all, it was pretty good, but I’ve had better iterations of each dish at different locations around Elizabeth. The best jalea I’ve had yet was at Cebbelini.
If I return here again, I may shy away from seafood and pick from their chicken/beef stew offerings.
The next dish below was roast pork with fried yuuca and tostones from Honduras Restaurant in Midtown. They also make an excellent papusa (thick corn tortilla usually stuffed with cheese and other fillings). I had papusas with cheese and chicharon.