This thread is a beast! I would be a tanker if I lived near this place and chowed down everyday.
Came to work early today to catch breakfast in town.
Once where the Olympia diner stood, found on the side of US 1 in Elizabeth, now stands Urban Griddle.
Totally renovated and having opened its doors not too long ago, its caused quite a stir in town.
Known as a rustic, hip, breakfast and brunch locale, it’s really the only one of its kind in Elizabeth.
Urban Griddle has an eclectic menu with inventive and creative spins on breakfast and brunch items.
Things such as waffle sliders with chicken sausage, candied bacon, maple pork belly and grit cakes, matcha and cake batter pancakes, or even “Jersey” egg rolls with taylor ham, egg, and cheese.
They also serve breakfast cocktails as well such as blood mary’s with bacon or rum cold brews, etc.
It is easily the most successful breakfast/lunch spot in town, as it has its own parking lot and generally is packed during peak hours.
It has an extremely high presence on review sites such as yelp, where it has over 300+ reviews and near 5 stars.
But, and this is a big but, I just have never been impressed with it.
I love that it is exists. The rustic interior, the blackboard written specials, the inventive menu items.
Unfortunately, everything I’ve ordered has had ambition, but fell short on flavor.
I could be crazy, but I’ve frequented multiple times, and have never really been blown away, sadly.
The pork belly tasted bland and unseasoned, the grit cakes just not quite there. I’ve had their pancakes, their waffle sliders, their chicken sausage and home fries.
Everything just feels like it is mashed together on a plate, and the combination is what is making the dish special, rather than the quality of its ingredients.
Perhaps I am hyper-critical, but if I feel like I can easily prepare the dish or even make it at home better, then I believe there needs improvement.
Lol. Isn’t that why we’re all here? I’ve been loving your reports.
As a reference, is there a breakfast place you like in NJ? Can you compare Urban Griddle to it?
Places like Urban Griddle are of a particular niche following the “brunch craze.” Probably can be easily described as an “avocado toast” establishment and are not open for dinner.
I’d say that it’s of similar inventiveness in menu and decor, but of lower quality food than Cardinal Provisions in Asbury Park or the Corner in Montclair, which I’d rank among my favorite breakfast spots.
Since Urban Griddle also serves alcohol, it’s in the same vein as places in NJ that serve Sunday brunches, such as Old Man Rafferty’s in New Brunswick.
Local to me, I do like Comfi in Old Bridge quite a bit, though it tends to get pretty busy. Although they don’t run new menu items or specials very often, they have a pretty expansive and creative menu. Both the savory and sweet items are pretty excellent, are of large portion, and great price.
I’m a fan of Broad Street Diner, in Keyport, for breakfast. They usually run good weekend breakfast specials, one being my profile picture on this site.
Taylor Swift Ham, yes please!
Speaking of our heroine:
Sounds exactly like the shit I fucking hate. I’ve had this experience at so many highly rated “hip” places doing “ambitious” things. You nailed it with the toast thing.
Funny you mention Cardinal Provisions, because my first (and probably last) visit there was atrocious.
Tried a few things and everything pretty much sucked. Fucking 8 bucks for a piece of toast with some bullshit on it that wasn’t even that good (rose + ricotta). Chicken on Waffle is like 16 bucks and won’t even fill you up. Well it might have if I had finished the dish. The waffle was a complete and utter failure, the waffles having the consistency of old gum and absolutely nothing on the plate being particularly tasty.
I’m generally not a huge breakfast person, but my favorite Sunday brunch is a good 'ol Indian buffet.
I’m stunned. Really. I think Cardinal does a great job overall and I’m especially fond of the chicken and waffles!! I totally get that you/others may not go for their menu items or pricing, but I find the quality of their food to be consistently excellent.
They’ve def expanded (small takeout place in Manasquan+more catering) but I’ve seen at least one of the owners in the when I’ve been there lately.
Another of my maxim’s for you:
Any day is a good day for the all you can eat Indian buffet !
It also rhymes, sorta…
Yeah I was really excited to try it, it’s a shame that I got a bad waffle. I mean there was something really wrong with the waffle I got. Unfortunately I kept eating it instead of sending it back. I told them about the problem and they took 20% off the item so… yay?
But honestly I don’t think I’d be raving about it even if the waffle was right. Nothing in there really struck me as being particularly delicious, and it’s just not enough food for 18 bucks. All you get is a waffle and like 2 chicken finger sized chickens. Add just 1 egg and it’s 20 bucks. I mean that’s like fancy dining pricing. For the same money, you can walk down the street to Clancy’s and get like a 20 oz prime rib with 3 courses. For 10 bucks more you can get three courses at a place like Nicholas. I realize I must sound like a horrible grumpy cheap skate but the value just wasn’t there for me.
@VikingKaj that’s some sick rhyming, actually. You should trademark that.
Sadly, since I started this thread, 2 of the restaurants mentioned have already closed.
The Venezuelan fast food shack mentioned in the very first post (Alabrasa Cafe) and a Brazilian lunch spot in Hillside (Sandubao Lanches).
An unfortunate reality of the restaurant business, that many of them struggle to turn a profit, is hyper-evident in Elizabeth due to a plethora of reasons.
New restaurants have sprouted up as well, of course, since I’ve began documenting Elizabeth’s restaurants.
Today, I went to the only other Venezuelan restaurant in town, Pizza Market & Arepas. I ordered their menu item “Venezuela sampler #2,” which for $13 comes with 3 mini cachapas (cornmeal and cheese pancakes), 3 tequenos (their version of golden brown fried mozzarella sticks), 3 mini empanadas, and 3 arepas with chicken, beef, and cheese. It also comes with a side of guasacaca sauce!
A good way to turn a large fortune into a small one is to open your own restaurant.
I think there’s also just a problem of a cultural/language gap. I’ve seen hilariously bad restaurant ventures in town that are doomed from the start.
A new restaurant serving Mexican/Honduran called Parisos just opened up next door to their #1 competitor, a popular and known Mexican restaurant in town, La Cabana.
There’s a restaurant midtown that’s been open a few weeks that doesn’t even have a name or a sign.
It’s as if they did 0 research and the whole business is just kept together on hopes and prayers. Granted, it’s not a tourism town, so much of the business is of local community/family/friends.
Pleased to have found what I consider the best Cuban bakery and deli in town.
Called Sweet Clary’s Bakery, tucked away on a side street downtown.
Had a delicious media noche for $4.25.
Daaaammmmn that looks good!
ROAD TRIP !!!
The first wave of Italian immigrants in Elizabeth certainly left their mark on the city, and in it still stands a few establishments, where they can be found in Peterstown or “The Burg,” the Italian/American neighborhood downtown.
Some of those places are:
DiCosmo’s Italian Ice: in business since 1915, making arguably some of the best ice around.
Vice article has a good write-up that discusses DiCosmo’s Italian Ice and its history: https://munchies.vice.com/en_us/article/8qke9x/the-best-italian-ice-is-frozen-in-time?utm_campaign=sharebutton
In addition, Centanni’s Meat Market, found on 2nd Ave., since 1929, has been the go-to Italian butcher shop from homemade Italian sausage to veal cutlets and more.
I stumbled into a spot known as Sacco’s Meat Market the other day, which from the outside appeared to be another Italian butcher shop that’s been open for 70+ years. There was a chalkboard sign outside that said “Best steak sandwich in NJ.”
Upon walking in, it felt like I was in an episode of the Soprano’s. There was a long table in the center with the owner and several guys discussing sports. I inquired about the best steak sandwich and received a foot-long cheesesteak on fresh bread with hot peppers and onions, fresh sliced American cheese for $10. It was delicious and holds a fire to any other cheesesteak I’ve had.
Other spots mentioned before in this thread:
Santillo’s Pizza, known for his 20-foot deep cavernous brick oven pizza and one of the best Sicilian pies around.
Spirito’s, a “red sauce” Italian Restaurant known for their raviolis, veal parm, and pizzas.
Tommy’s Italian Sausage & Hot Dogs,the best Italian hot dog around, served in pizza bread with peppers, onions, and thin sliced potatoes.
Sounds like we may need to plan a day-long crawl in Elizabeth!!
I worked in Elizabeth for a number of years. +1 for Tommy’s, Jerry’s and Santillos. My go to place for a sub was Paola’s deli. 320 S 5th St. White Rose in Linden for a Taylor Ham, egg and cheese.