Your knowledge base is insane, @goodparmesan ! Thx so much for sharing all of your intel with us!
The line-up isn’t particularly too impressive to me, but there are some good ones nevertheless and others I’ve wanted to try. I feel like it’s my duty to attend
The best of the bunch seem to be Valenca Restaurant and Torna a Sorrento, although there is still a good representation of many cuisines (Colombian, Uruguayan, Cuban, Portuguese, Italian, Peruvian, Haitian, Brazilian, American, Mexican, Mediterranean).
La Caravana is a tiny shack off 2nd St in the Elizabethport area. They make arguably the best Peruvian rotisserie chicken (pollo a la brasa) in Elizabeth.
It’s a bit pricier than other places in the area ($17) for a whole rotisserie chicken, but it’s worth it. It comes with a huge tray of either rice or fries, a side salad, and homemade aji verde sauce & mayo.
In addition, they also have a full a la carte menu with typical Peruvian dishes such as lomo saltado & chaufa, but a bulk of their business is their rotisserie chicken for takeout.
Manolo’s is a famous local spot found in the Elizabethport section of E-town, near the start of Elizabeth Avenue.
Open for 30 years, Manolo’s has served as the meeting place of many business lunches, political functions, and catered events. Their menu reflects that of Spanish, Portuguese and Mediterranean influence.
Street parking is free in this part of town, but no need to worry as Manolo’s has their own private parking lot.
Upon entering you pass through the bar area to the narrow, but spacious dining room. The restaurant is well decorated and has a very a rustic interior and style. The restaurant was even seen in the first episode of The Sopranos.
Manolo’s changes their menu seasonally and are open for both lunch and dinner.
Their bread is fresh, served warm with a bruschetta (tomato, garlic, mixed vegetables) that is to die for.
Their garlic shrimp appetizer is very rich, with a mild spice to it and of great portion.
Manolo’s excels the most in their sauces that they cook with, and that many plates come with.
Off their seasonal lunch menu I ordered their chicken breast, stuffed with goat cheese, with roasted corn and peppers on the side. It was served in a parisienne-esque brown sauce that was exquisite.
I skipped dessert, but they have several great options and I’ve heard that their lemon cake is amazing.
North Avenue Bakery, not to be confused by its next door partner North Avenue Luncheonette, is a busy Portuguese bakery located in the North End area of Elizabeth. They offer indoor and outdoor seating, but most importantly delicious Portuguese and Brazilian baked goods.
They serve likely the greatest pastel de natas in Elizabeth, the famous Portuguese egg custard tart. They even serve them in a variety of styles, including lemon meringue, dulce de leche covered, or traditional.
You can find assorted Portuguese bread, pao de queijo, cinnamon sugar bread twists, cream custard buns, and much more.
Various Uruguayan style pizza photos from Elizabeth. (La Estancia and Pizzeria Montevideo):
Alkazar Bakery, the Uruguayan/Argentinian cafe for a mini chaja pastry, a “canon” stuffed pastry with cream, and a cappuccino:
Picarones (Peruvian sweet potato/squash donuts with a cinnamon maple sauce) from Sudaka:
Sorry to see that one of my favorite restaurants, Puro Callao, closed their doors. It was certainly my favorite Peruvian spot in town, but thus is the business.
Damn I’m going to be out of town but I would have loved to check out the Taste of Elizabeth thing. And that garlic shrimp looks KILLER!
Overall the Taste of Elizabeth was a fun event and worth the price of admission ($35). There were 19 restaurants/food vendors to choose from (4 places were a no-show), as well as basically free unlimited alcohol from several other booths (sangria, margaritas, mixed drinks, shots, wine, beer).
I found most of the food items pretty average in quality, as is to be expected of a catered affair such as this.
The stand-outs to me were:
Valenca (Portuguese) serving shrimp in garlic and picadinho.
Torna Sorrento (Italian) serving zucchini, chicken francais, and meatballs.
First Republic (Haitian) serving chicken croquettes, jasmine rice, and a spicy pumpkin soup.
Some of the food seen in no order: mini reuben sandwiches, goat cheese and fig sandwich, pork belly and grits, pulled pork, mac n cheese, meatballs, chicken francais, spicy pumpkin haitian soup, etc.
There were plenty of other dishes that I didn’t photograph, but overall it was a good time and I will likely attend it annually.
A recent meal from a solid Elizabeth Ecuadorian restaurant, La Tambora. I take it that they are reasonably successful as they have a location in Jersey City and recently opened another one in Bayonne.
Bolon de mixto - green plantain dumpling with cheese and chicharon:
Ecuadorian-style ceviche de pescado (personally I prefer Peruvian-style):
Speaking of Peruvian-style ceviche, my current favorite in town is from King of Subs, a small local spot found on 3rd Ave. off downtown Elizabeth Ave.
Originally opening as just a sub and sandwich shop, specializing with over 100 different variations of subs, they have shifted their offerings to reflect the local community.
They now have a full a la carte Peruvian menu as well as daily specials. They make an excellent ceviche de pescado as well as many other traditional Peruvian dishes.
And for dessert, an obligatory post of bizcochos from Alkazar Bakery:
There are currently only 3 Ecuadorian restaurants to my knowledge in Elizabeth, following one closing down:
El Nuevo Latino - On Morris Ave.
Hispanic BBQ - on Elizabeth Ave. near Courthouse
La Tambora - towards the middle of Elizabeth Ave.
My previous post mentioned La Tambora, and while I enjoyed my food there, I was never super impressed. My current and new favorite is Hispanic BBQ, which is located directly across the street from the courthouse off of Elizabeth Ave.
Their menu is reflective mostly of Ecuadorian cuisine, but they also carry Peruvian and Colombian items (bandeja paisa) as well. Besides the fact that Ecuadorian and Peruvian cuisine share similarities as well, such as variations of ceviche and chaufa.
Because Ecuador has a diverse terrain like Peru, the dishes are diverse as well. Typical dishes include rice and beans, of course. There are tripe dishes, goat stews, roast pork, corn cakes (yapingachos), bolon (green fried plantain dumplings), steak dishes, fish dishes, ceviche, chaufa, etc. etc.
Their national plate is the “bandera,” meaning flag, which is a dish that encompasses all of the terrain of Ecuador. The dish typically has tripe or pork, goat stew, and shrimp.
For $7, you can get the bolon de bistec (bolon de verde con bistec). A green plantain dumpling with cheese, served with steak, eggs, peppers, and rice on the side. An absurdly cost-effective deal!
I got their ceviche de pescado as well, which is served in a soup bowl with tomato, cilantro, onion, spices, and lime juice. It was delicious and very refreshing, although, I still think I prefer Peruvian-style ceviche.
Tricolory is a restaurant and cafe located on 2nd Ave., directly parallel to Elizabeth Ave. It’s easy to miss. but definitely not worth missing.
It is an Ecuadorian restaurant at heart, but its extensive menu also carries items of Colombian and Peruvian cuisine. The vast majority of locals, as with most lunch spots in the area, come solely for the daily lunch special. This includes a soup and entree and varies daily.
I, however, went to investigate the menu for some typical Ecuadorian dishes. I inquired about bolones, the green fried plantain balls, but were told they were only available on the weekend. I considered ordering their ceviche, but found the price a tad high. The menu is quite extensive in options, due to the multiple cuisines served.
I settled on the Llapinggacho (or Yapingacho) which, for only $11.50 comes with steak, egg, maduros, potato corn cakes (which the dish is named for), mote, salad, and a sausage. I found it to be quite filling, delicious, and well worth the price.
The restaurant itself has quite a nice interior. Well-designed, deceptively spacious, with a counter area for seating as well. They have a Vitamix blender, which tends to be a good sign of success as well as a sign that they make great fruit smoothies and shakes.
Here’s a photo of a couple hot dogs from Tommy’s Italian Sausage taken in the nearby waterfront park.
In preparation for my upcoming trip to Portugal, I’ve been frequenting a variety of Portuguese cafes to build up a tolerance to espresso. On my search, I came across 2nd St. in Elizabeth in the seaport area.
It’s a Little Portugal of sorts, with the Portugal Sports Association and several restaurants and cafes within close proximity of one another. One of those places is Legacy Cafe:
Legacy Cafe is a small, newly renovated Portuguese cafe and bakery and being located smack dab in the middle of the Portuguese Sports Club, a Brazilian restaurant, a Portuguese bar and grill, AND a churrasqueria, you know that you’re in the right place.
The interior is extremely homey and well-decorated, with Portugal photos and coffee-inspired artwork. There is plenty of seating and I found the cafe to be extremely clean and inviting.
The display in front has various pastries. I saw pastel de natas, mini pao de quiejos, muffins, and eclairs on my trip. In addition, they have a menu offering breakfast and lunch items.
Their pastel de nata is INTENSE. Intense flavor, perfectly flaky crust. I may consider theirs to be either the best in town, or tied with North Ave. Bakery.
As far as the espresso, a single will run you $1.50, and it is both strong and smooth. Perfect pick-me-up!
Although a few of my favorite restaurants have closed since the start of this thread, some have sprouted up in their place. My favorite Peruvian restaurant, Puro Callao, closed, but across from the street is now Puerto Peruano.
So far I’ve tried their ceviche and lomo saltado. The ceviche was excellent and one of the bests in town I’ve had. The lomo was good, though not as good as what I’ve had.
A short summary:
Puerto Peruano is a newly opened family-owned Peruvian restaurant found in the Seaport area of Elizabeth on 1st St.
Restaurants regularly open and close in this area, as there is a less touristic aspect of foot traffic compared to downtown.
Upon walking in, there’s a strong aromatic smell of hot Peruvian dishes, either lomo saltado, or chaufa. There were several tables occupied by locals for lunch when I arrived.
The architecture of the restaurant is a tad strange, although homely in its decorations, the restaurant being split in two halves by walls. The service was extremely friendly and attentive, full of smiles.
The menu consists of seafood dishes (stewed and steamed fish, breaded, jalea, ceviche, soups, etc.) as well as other typical Peruvian dishes such as saltado, chaufa, bistec a lo pobre, and more, excluding pollo a la brasa. In addition, they have a whiteboard with daily specials.
I went with the ceviche de pescado as well as a cup of chicha morada. The chicha was excellent with strong sweet flavor, topped with fruit.
The ceviche was of great portion ($13), a nice crunchy but cooked fish taste, balanced by the lime and onions. It came with corn and a steamed sweet potato on the side, as is typical. It was served in a shallow fish-shaped dish, allowing ease of drinking the leche de tigre.
As you can see in the picture of the ceviche, there is much attention paid to the variety of spices and herbs to the dish. The fact that the dish is very green, and there are fine chopped hot peppers are good signs!
Portugal BBQ is a no-frills Portuguese churrasqueira located on Clark St., right off Second St. in the seaport area of Elizabeth.
It’s found on a short expanse of other Portuguese bars, the Portuguese sports association, a cafe, and even a Portuguese seafood market.
What you’ll find they lack in decor they make up in flavor and price effiency. You can get a giant plate of chicken, ribs, rices, and fries for only $10 and that’s just a half order. I can only imagine the full order is served in a giant tray.
The chicken and ribs are well seasoned with a hint of hot sauce as well as topped with pickled vegetables. Their menu also includes seafood as well as a variety of items you’d expect, such as picanha.
The service is fast and friendly and the food is cost-effective and delicious… what more can you ask for?
I’ve still been out eating - just haven’t been posting as much! I’ve been posting photos on instagram, for those who use that! https://www.instagram.com/severalbears/
Happy to report that Taqueria Brenda Lee has returned to Elizabeth Ave.
(867 Elizabeth Ave.)
Taqueria Brenda Lee is already a famous street-style taco shack, with several successful locations in the Passaic and Paterson area.
A taqueria true and true, that is the only item on their menu here in Elizabeth, unlike other Taqueria Brenda Lee locations which offer tostadas and tortas.
When you walk-in you can see the entire kitchen and working area in front of the counter. The menu is hugely printed overhead. The staff speaks English as well if you have questions.
The menu consists of a ton of interesting and flavorful cuts such as carnitas, cabeza, lengua, bistec, suadero, oreja, and more like sesos (beef brain). With everything (con todo) comes cilantro and onions. I wish they had al pastor regularly, but from my understanding it’s only served on the weekend.
Each order is of 4 tacos for $8 and is served with radishes, cucumbers, and a choice of their sauces. Their spicy green sauce is delicious and made with jalapeños and avocados (but it is VERY spicy) and their red sauce made of chile de arbol.
North Avenue Bakery is a busy Portuguese bakery located in the North End area of Elizabeth. The set-up is incredibly accurate to bakeries you’d find in Portugal.
They also have a luncheonette next door.
They serve delicious pastel de natas, the famous Portuguese egg custard tart. They even serve them in a variety of styles, including lemon meringue or dulce de leche covered.
You can find assorted Portuguese breads, pao de queijo, cinnamon sugar bread twists, cream custard buns, and much more.
Finally! I can say I have been to just one of the glorious places in your personal food journey!
The fresh pastries here are very good. We are big fans of egg custard cups.
One of our fav places for the custard cups is in Los Angeles at a bakery/ restaurant named, Porto’s.