photo credit: Emily Schindler
Megan Ixim is a fat activist, social media manager, branding consultant, entrepreneur, and proud Jersey City transplant of five years by way of Sussex County, New Jersey. Her popular Instagram showcases her love of eating local—much of her activism is focuses on supporting all of the small businesses that make Jersey City a multicultural hub. As a daughter of immigrants with Guatemalan, Irish, and Indigenous heritage and being raised by her Taiwanese step-family, Ixim feels a strong affinity for the cultural richness, myriad food options from various cultures, and the communal spirit of a city ranked among the most diverse in America.
Ixim centers her work around inclusivity, sustainability, and creating access. She works closely with BIPOC-owned businesses such as Tarot by Judy and Tails on Trails—a Latina-owned dog-walking and pet-sitting company—to punch up their social media and branding. “I am just a woman trying to change the world, one post at a time,” she says.
Ixim also co-founded PlusThrift JC, a plus-size thrift shop made to help close the clothing size gap between standard and plus sizes in Hudson County. Once the pandemic subsides, she plans to put on more pop-up events for her clothing business.
photo credit: Megan Ixim at Pinwheel Garden in Jersey City. Photo: Emily Schindler
Growing up, she had a special affection for foods that affirmed her own diverse heritage and brought comfort. “My mother makes a traditional Guatemalan oxtail soup,” she adds, “and that was something that we would eat for Christmas that was always really comforting and wonderful. I also used to be at sleepaway camp for most of the summer, and when I would come home, I would have a nice, large lasagna waiting for me.”
When Ixim first moved to JC on a whim after quitting a high-paying corporate job in the Midwest, she started working as a bartender at White Star Bar. “I started talking to customers and regulars at White Star about [and how] one of my passions was dogs,” says Ixim, “which is something that gave me a lot of joy. I realized that I wanted to start a pet-sitting and dog-walking business.” After she launched the business, her clientele grew by leaps and bounds. She also started working with See Spot Rescued. Within six months, she was fully self-employed.
Ixim says her neighborhood of Bergen-Lafayette perfectly illustrates Jersey City’s convivial and collaborative vibe. Her neighbors frequently commit random acts of kindness, such as clearing her porch and sidewalk during every snowstorm. “I don’t think I would have found the success and support I have here in Jersey City anywhere else,” says Ixim. “It truly is a place where people want to see you succeed and you give your support back tenfold.”
Putting down roots in JC has motivated Ixim to explore her neighborhood and beyond for the best local restaurants and dishes, and she’s more than happy to share her favorites.
Megan Ixim’s Favorite Spots in Jersey City
What Ixim loves most about Corto, an Italian staple located in The Heights, is the restaurant’s comforting atmosphere, and her go-to dish—”the freshest octopus in town. I think this is the only place in Jersey City where you should order octopus,” she says. It’s imperative to end the meal with choices from their daily dessert menu, which Ixim likens to those at a Sunday dinner at your Italian grandma’s house. She enthusiastically recommends trying one of their olive oil cakes if available. Although Corto is a great BYOB place for a solo dinner date, Ixim suggests bringing a large group to eat family style.
A callback to Ixim’s Taiwanese upbringing and convenient to her neck of the woods, Pinwheel Garden is a fusion restaurant offering unique takes on Asian and Western classics. She likes the Italian- and Indian-inspired pasta bolognese, but her favorite is “the best scallion pancakes [outside of] Taiwan,” dipped in the coconut curry.
Madame Claude’s is Ixim’s favorite French establishment for first dates. This bistro is where you should go for steak frites, fruit tarts, and oysters, which she claims are “the best to touch her lips.” Pair your plates with the “La Vie En Rose” cocktail, the perfect combo of rose and lychee in a glass.
Right around the corner from Madame Claude’s is this hidden underground tiki bar with a creative cocktail list. Ixim’s drink of choice is “Missed the Boat,” a mix of tropical fruits, ginger, cinnamon, and rum created by bartender (and Ixim’s friend) Dan Olivo. Ixim also loves their pork belly bao buns paired with hummus and baked feta in hot pita bread. Don’t forget to try their cornbread, which will keep you steady round after round.
Whealth Kitchen is a quintessential sandwich shop in Journal Square. The restaurant works with farmers in New Jersey and New York to incorporate fresh produce into their meals and convenient weekly meal kits (they’re only doing the kits plus grab-and-go food for now). In particular, Ixim applauds the owners for their commitment to “making sure that people have great quality food at a cost that is actually manageable.”