Cuisine in [Elizabeth, NJ]

(David) #81

I’m in. But only if we do it before it gets cold.


Based on @goodparmesan amazing reviews, we stopped at Puro Callao for dinner on our way to the airport a couple of weeks ago. We had Yuca Frita a La Huancaina (fried cassava with Peruvian yellow cream), Arroz Chaufa de Carne (Peruvian Style fried rice with meat) and Bisteak a Lo Pobre (Poor Man Steak). Everything was delicious and we wished we had more people with us to try a wider variety of dishes. There’s only so much you can eat before a 10 hour plane ride.

We’d definitely be up for a crawl!


Glad you got to visit them! Puro Callao’s lomo saltado and ceviche are excellent as well. Though, I can’t say I’ve had a bad meal there. They’re still consistently my favorite Peruvian restaurant in town, having been to a number of them.

The only thing they don’t have on the menu is rotisserie chicken, which I’ve heard La Caravana or Tito’s in Elizabeth makes the best.

@ebchower I’ll check out Paola’s!


Good Peruvian rotisserie chicken is the one thing we can get here (Super Pollo in Brick) plus I often get one of the Peruvian marinades you can buy in some of the larger markets in the area so it wouldn’t be the first on my list to try.

I would love to get up there more often. Each place you write about sounds better than the one before.


Well, as far as a crawl would go: the best route I could come up with would be a 3 mile total loop that goes up Downtown Elizabeth Ave., comes back down the Elizabeth Ave. Riverwalk, and connects back.

Potential places of interest would of course be places where it would be a quick bite, a sample trail being:

1, Starting at the base of Elizabeth Ave., Sweet Clary’s Bakery for Cuban sandwiches/medianoches ($4.25)
2. Moving up toward Elizabeth Ave. for Tommy’s Italian Hot Dogs/Sausages or Jerry’s Hot Dogs next door
3. Picking up a ($1) pastel de nata at one of the many Portuguese bakeries (Oasis/Carloto’s) along the way
4. Getting a Colombian fruit shake ($4) or cheese bread (pandebono) at Sabor Y Arte
5. Looping around the Elizabeth Riverwalk trail
6. Going to DiCosmo’s for Italian Ices

Other quick bite options are:

  • Cheesesteaks at Sacco’s Italian Meat Market

  • Tamals at Velvet Cafe, a small Guatemalan coffee shop on Elizabeth Ave

  • Cuban pizza at La Tostano

  • Various empanadas/pastries such as meat pie puff pastry or guava & cheese pastry from Cuba Bakery

(D) #86

The place where I worked usually ordered pizza from a place called John’s. Another good place for sandwiches is Dara’s caterers. My favorite diner in the area is Tropicana, in Union near Kean University.


Went to Hillside for some Brazilian food today. I’ve mentioned these places earlier in the thread, but stopped by “The Taste of Brazil” for a fast rodizio-style meal of tri-trip, picanha, chicken legs, along with Brazilian chicken salad, maduros, and black beans on the side.

They have a location in Newark as well as Hillside, and they are cafeteria style similar to Sabor in Long Branch. They vary on selection of meats, which tends to be a bit lighter than Sabor, but, for $15 all you can eat, they have a great appeal.

For dessert, I walked up Liberty Ave. to Pao de Mel Bakery, a local Brazilian/Portuguese bakery that has such offerings as brigadeiros (condensed milk chocolate truffle balls), beijinhos (coconut version of brigadeiros), and a variety of breads and sweets such as pao de quiejo (cheese bread).

I went for their pudim de pao, which is a combination of bread pudding and flan made with cheese. It is sweet, creamy, crusty, and totally delectable. They serve it from a giant tray and cut it off in large square slices. It goes quickly.

On the subject of sweets, the other day I returned to my favorite bakery in town, Alkazar, the Uruguayan bizcocho spot.


Obligatory steak post.

Plate from Taste of Brazil in Hillside, NJ:
Picanha, brazilian sausage, a chicken leg, a beef rib under there, okra/broccoli/green beans/cauliflower, and on the bottom is grilled pineapple with cinnamon.

A bistec a lo pobre from Puro Callao:
Seasoned steak, fried egg, plantains, rice, fries.


Currently on the hunt for the best taco joint in town. However, it appears that there is generally not a large Mexican population in Elizabeth, so many of the Mexican restaurants are either Honduran, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, or Colombian run.

This, not necessarily being a bad thing, tends to lead me to believe that I will find qualities in the tacos that I will rule unfavorably in what I’m looking for in the best taco. My list is currently hovering around 7-8 different places to try. I’m pretty much comparing the tacos in quality to that I’ve had in Cali or of IMG in Red Bank, which I believe excels for their al pastor specifically.

The first place I visited was a Colombian/Mexican restaurant called El Charrito Paisa on Elizabeth Ave. They are Colombian-run, and their menu consists of cuisines of both Colombian and Mexican (this due to the cook having experience in Mexican restaurants). I ordered their tacos al pastor (3 tacos for $8.75) and overall was not impressed for a few reasons.

The next taco stop was Elizabeth’s Bakery, also located on Elizabeth Ave. downtown. The front half of the store is a Mexican bakery, and the back half is a counter with a flat top grill, where they cook up a variety of Mexican/Guatemalan dishes. The tacos are $3 a piece, so I opted for 2 pernil and 1 steak, as they didn’t carry al pastor. They were good, but not quite there yet. The quest continues.


Elizabeth Taco Quest 2017 continues. I’ve compiled a list of 14 places in total to try. I’ll be ordering al pastor tacos and rating 1-5 based on the tortilla taste, flavor of seasoning, moistness of pork, & whether it was spit-grilled.

So far I’ve been to:
Elizabeth’s Bakery - 2/5 - $3 per taco
El Charrito Paisa - 2.5/5 - $2.8 per taco
Taqueria Al Pastor - 2/5 - $2.66 per taco
Los Jarritos - 3.5/5 - $2.66

Jarritos is a restaurant found in the Elizabethport area that specializes in Mexican, Honduran, and Salvadoran cuisine.

Although mostly Mexican dining options, you can find baleadas and pupusas as well represented in their menu. Their interior is actually quite spacious and nicely designed for restaurants in the area.

I went with their tacos al pastor and was surprised to find that they were delicious. The sauce was plentiful, the pork was moist, and the onions, cilantro and pineapple were thinly sliced and paired well together with the dish. 3.5/5

Taqueria Al Pastor was also found in the Elizabethport area, on 3rd street, and recently opened. However, I found their tacos pretty blend, dry, and unseasoned. 2/5.


La Cabana on Elizabeth Ave. is the most popular Mexican restaurant in town, with good reason. It is one of the few put together, not too hole-in-the-wall feel restaurants. It has stylish decorations, a roomy interior, as well as an expansive menu. However, I came for the tacos. The tacos al pastor were $7.50 for an order of 3.
They were definitely delicious, but not quite there yet either.

The seasoning was good, the meat itself was juicy, but they were lacking any taste of pineapple and the tortillas themselves weren’t memorable. 3.5/5

However, all was not lost. Soon I came upon a restaurant called La Taqueria, further down on Elizabeth Ave. towards the courthouse and Midtown. Upon entering, it is totally apparent this is a taco shack true and true similar to IMG. Gone are the overly-gaudy decorations, or any attempt at resembling a fancy restaurant.


When you first enter, you’ll pass a big counter and in plain view across, is the grill, where two ladies are perfecting the taco.

They even make the corn tortillas fresh in front of you:ac1aabaa-3626-4fbe-8265-507b4dff3116

The result was 4 tacos for $8 and they were so far the best I’ve had in Elizabeth. The perfect pair of pineapple to marinated pork, and they even included radishes on the side, which is often found in authentic taquerias!



An interactive map of restaurants in Elizabeth to get the idea how many places there are:


Edited the map to have my favorite restaurants listed, a display of all restaurants, etc.:

If you click on the icons of my favorite restaurants, it will give you a short description of my favorite items there along with a link to the corresponding post I’ve made here.


Mapping out all the restaurants (220~) in Elizabeth helps to show its wide representation:

(Retired !) #95

Any chance you could coorelate for national populations of the various countries?

I have the feeling Peru, Salvador and Portugal are proportionally over represented.

Also, is Jerusalem an ethnic group or does this just reflect ambiguity in Palestinian and Israeli cookery?


I would say that they are especially over-represented. Which means somethings gotta give, and explains the closing and opening of restaurants frequently. However, certain cuisines are just more popular than another and have more draw for people of all backgrounds.

I have no doubt that several of the restaurants struggle to make a profit, and are oftentimes serve as more of a familial and friend meeting place.

Jerusalem refers to two restaurants named “Jerusalem Grill, Jerusalem Pizza.” It does reflect Mediterranean ambiguity though.

(Retired !) #97

Jerusalem pizza usually means just cheese and veg (no porky bits).

Jerusalem grill could go either way. Do they have a good Falafel?

@Scubadoo97 or @seal may have some further thoughts.


Haven’t had a chance to visit yet. Online reviews say… yes and no? I’ve so far been to around 75 restaurants/delis/bakeries. My list of places I plan to visit is currently hovering around 100 more.

(Retired !) #99

Do you think all the Columbian places have something to do with their greatest export (snif, snif) and distribution thereof?

I wasn’t aware there were that many Columbians in Jersey. Although I have seen a few while fluking of off the Hook on party boats wearing dental floss bikinis with speakers to match. @corvette_johnny any sightings on your trips?

I was aware of the Salvadorans because a lot of them work at EWR.


I would probably say that the majority are emigrating for the same reason as many other countries first and foremost - economic problems and violence.

Surprisingly Elizabeth and North jersey in general is one of the largest landing locations for Colombian emigrants next to South Florida. Morris Ave in specific in Elizabeth is a ‘Little Colombia’ in some respects, as there are 15+ Colombian restaurants, shops, cafes etc.

I was visiting family in Port St. Lucie not long ago and I came across a Colombian bakery/luncheonette. I talked to the owner and found out he moved from Elizabeth.

On that note, I stopped by a new place in the Elmora neighborhood today, called Colombian Coffee Shop, which serves as a small bakery and cafe. Grabbed a coffee and a pandebono for $2.25.