Carteret seems to be nothing more than a town most pass by on the turnpike, it’s filled with strip malls and highways, it’s wedged between the bigger names Woodbridge, Rahway, and Linden, and the lesser known Port Reading, Avenel, and Colonia.
On the way home one day, after having passed by several Punjabi butchers/groceries and a Sikh temple, and a now out of business Indian catering hall, it appeared there was a large North Indian population here, so I went looking for the restaurants on several trips.
Lately I’ve been frequenting Khalsa Sweet House, a vegetarian sweets, snack, and lunch spot. Khalsa is great for their chaats and samosas, chole bhature with a killer chana masala, and even their saag is made fresh. Some dishes, like their dal tadka or bhindi masala are just ok. The daily lunch is often a good deal, as well, served with yogurt, two veg, and roti or naan.
Their mithai / sweets can range from very good to pretty good, depending on freshness. (The most recently made and fresh are typically left out of the cooler on the counter). The sweets are best before a holiday weekend, although it will typically mean long queues.
There’s a Colombian bakery, Hornitos, in the same plaza, with great empanadas, a surprisingly spicy sauce that accompanies them, and fresh brewed coffee.
At first I couldn’t seem to find non-veg Punjabi restaurants, and it’s because many are instead replaced by Halal Guys/NY Fried Chicken Pizza type places to present themselves to a wider audience. (Jefriz Chicken and Pizza is a common one in Carteret with two locations).
But I digress, there’s another strip mall in West Carteret, with an Indian Grocery that makes fresh roti and parathas that are great, next to another sweet spot (Gurunanak Food LLC), and Halal Spot, which also has a location in Old Bridge on Route 18.
Halal Spot is great, which at first looks like another halal guys-esque chicken and rice platter spot, but they also have a variety of tandoor items and curries to choose from. I tried their chicken sikh kabob and a lamb kabob, and both were great.
Places of interest in Carteret:
Khalsa Sweet House - mentioned above, great veg Punjabi spot
Oliveiras da Serra - Portuguese Bar and Restaurant - havent tried
Halal Spot - named above, non-veg halal cart style with typical North Indian dishes and tandoori items, also have location in Old Bridge
Unnamed grocery that sells rotis, parathas, and curries to-go (refridgerated) in the plaza with Halal spot
La Esquina Del Sabor Restaurant - Peruvian, haven’t tried