While outdoor dining in New Jersey has become the norm in 2020, eating inside at a 25% capacity is now possible. If you’re ready to eat indoors at a restaurant again, check out the 20 spots on this guide. Want to order dinner to your house, or sit on a socially distant patio or sidewalk? Our delivery and outdoor seating guides to Jersey City and Hoboken have you covered.
We’d happily eat a bake with jerk chicken inside fried dough, or curry goat with roti from Harry’s Daughter no matter where they were served. But the fact that you can get them in a plant-filled space with egg-shaped swings and cocktail mugs shaped like Easter Island heads while live reggae plays in the background makes this Caribbean spot in Bergen-Lafayette one of our favorite places to hang out in Jersey City.
Short of some scenario involving your dog dressed as Jean Valjean, Madame Claude Bis is about as close to Paris as you can get right now. Walk past the live jazz and French pop on the outdoor patio, and head down the stairs into an underground bistro where chalkboard signs listing the nightly specials hang on the brick walls. Pair some escargots or coq au vin with something from the great French wine list, before ending the night with a digestif and housemade crème brûlée.
On the distressed brick walls inside Augustino’s, there are old mirrors, customized Devils jerseys gifted from the team, and pictures of The Hoboken Four, which included the owner’s father until he was replaced by Frank Sinatra. It’s charming and ideal for date night, but it’s not just the decor that makes it a Hoboken classic. It’s also the huge portions of Italian food, like gnocchi bolognese and pork chops braised in vinegar and hot peppers, which you can order at tables inside or on their new sidewalk patio out front.
Like the Milky Way or a healthy relationship, it’s tough to know how great the Manhattan Skyline is from the inside. Jersey City doesn’t have that issue, and like Battello, there are a bunch of places with outdoor patios that have great views of the city. But few, if any, have views as nice as you’ll find at this high-end Italian spot, especially when sitting inside. It’s at the end of a pier on the Hudson River, and the airy space and big windows provide unobstructed views of the whole west side of Manhattan. Make a reservation through their website for dinner or weekend brunch, and know that they have live music every Thursday through Saturday from 7-10pm.
Kitchen Step is from the same chef as Battello, and they both serve the same great bacon cheeseburger topped with onion compote, but Kitchen Step doesn’t wow you at first glance. Instead, it shows that it’s equally, if not more impressive by what it sends out of the kitchen, like root vegetable curry with crispy sushi rice, and short rib Bordelaise with carrot cavatelli. Like on their outdoor patio, indoor seating is first come, first served for dinner and weekend brunch.
After months of nervously comparing weather apps on the way to restaurants, Laico’s provides some welcome relief. That goes for their tent and hanging light-covered outdoor space, as well as the tables and bar seats inside. Call this classic Italian spot in Greenville to make a reservation under either roof, and enjoy linguini with clam sauce or a pork chop with vinegar peppers without stressing about a 15% chance of showers.
Sushi By Bou
While car hoods and any patch of grass that happens to be in the sun get the job done, those non-traditional dining setups are really more function over form. For a much more enjoyable outside-the-box layout, head to Sushi By Bou. Walk through a secret door inside Ani Ramen, and you’ll find yourself in a room that looks like a parlor room inside a wellness retreat. Along with a plush couch, bamboo walls, and hanging flowers, there’s an eight-seat sushi bar. Make a reservation for up to four of the seats, and order a cocktail from the bar designed like a Japanese street cart before sitting down for the 60-minute, 12-course omakase for $50.
If the idea of a speakeasy isn’t, well, speaking to you, then you’ll also be very happy taking a seat at Ani Ramen before going through the secret door in the back. After hosting charitable pop-ups for about six months, they’re back to serving spicy miso ramen, various types of bao buns, and a big selection of whiskey indoors and outside on their patio.
In the highly likely event that you’re a fan of great Italian wines and housemade pastas, you should know about Sorellina. You should know that they’re open for lunch and dinner every day, and that they take reservations for indoor seating, and for tables on their big outdoor patio that’s full of plants and flowers.
From partitions to plastic igloos, places are trying lots of different tactics to make people feel like they have their own dining spaces. 15 Fox Place does it better than just about anyone else, and they barely need to try. That’s because this Italian-American spot is in a residential house in Journal Square, and most tables are located in totally separate rooms. Along with the house and enclosed back garden, everything about this place makes you feel like you’re at a friend’s dinner party, like the BYOB policy, and the prix-fixe setup with no menu and a borderline-egregious amount of food.
Mathews Food & Drink
In a lot of ways, brunch and dinner are pretty similar. They both start with drinks you wish were a bit less sweet, they both end with someone saying “dessert was a good choice,” and in between, they both involve a hot honey fried chicken sandwich. Well, at least that last part should be the case at Mathew’s, which is now accepting reservations by phone for groups of six or more indoors and on their tent-covered patio.
Uncle Momo is a few doors down from Razza, and they also serve good pizzas with unusual toppings. But the two spots differ in a few key ways. First, Razza is currently only offering a takeout window with seat-yourself tables out front, while Uncle Momo has indoor and outdoor seating. Second, Uncle Momo isn’t a pizza spot - it’s a Lebanese restaurant, so the crust is pita, and the toppings include things like ground lamb or lemon-marinated chicken. Order a couple of those for the table, along with chicken tagine or lamb kebabs, and don’t forget to BYOB.
With waterfront views of the Manhattan skyline, the outdoor patio at this BBQ spot always has some of the best views in Hoboken. But there are a couple ways to make the scenery at an indoor table similarly impressive. First, go when you want to be surrounded by sports on TV, and second, make sure there’s a five-pound bucket of 48-hour smoked wings, or a couple orders of brisket in the foreground.
You can’t go wrong with your seating choice at Broa. Sit outside, and you might get live music, and inside you’ll be surrounded by Portuguese street signs and the smell of octopus or housemade sausage grilling a few feet away. Either way, you’ll get delicious Portuguese food, very friendly servers, and a BYOB policy.
If you didn’t make it to this American spot in the 10 weeks or so that it was open before the shutdown, go try an oyster mushroom po’ boy or quail and waffle with venison sausage on their outdoor patio. You can also get a table inside for brunch or dinner, or make a reservation for their attic bar, where they offer tickets for 90-minute cocktail tastings in a space that looks like a church’s library.
This Austro-Hungarian beer garden serves more than 70 different beers, including about 20 on tap that are available in one-liter steins. Whether you go during Oktoberfest, when you’re likely to see lederhosen and live music, or any other time of year, you should probably make sure to balance the massive beers out with some food, like wiener schnitzel or sausage platters. And if there are sports you’re interested in watching, there’s a good chance they’ll be playing on the big screens inside and on the big outdoor patio.
Like Hamilton Pork next door, a BBQ spot from the same people, Hamilton Inn is offering outdoor, as well as walk-in-only indoor seating every day. There are only a fraction of the usual number of tables in the wood-clad dining room, and there are partitions between ones that are still there, but some things about this American spot will feel familiar, like great burgers and wings, along with $1 oysters until 10pm on Wednesdays.
This classic American spot isn’t currently offering brunch, and while that makes your Sunday mornings considerably more difficult than they already are, you can still go for dinner any night except Monday. Make a reservation for a table on the private back deck, or inside the century-old converted brownstone on Washington Street, and eat some BBQ pork empanadas, housemade gnocchi pomodoro, and apple strudel that’s sitting in a pool of dulce de leche.
Porta offers four different types of reservations - sidewalk seating on Newark Ave, rooftop tables, rooftop bar seating for groups of two, and indoor dining. No matter which one you choose, you’ll have access to Neapolitan-style pizza, great cocktails, and sports on TV.
Hudson Hall, a beer garden a couple blocks from the Grove Street Path Station, is serving its roughly 20 draft beers every day on its string light-covered patio, as well as inside its big, industrial space. Try some IPAs from New Jersey or witbiers from Maine while eating pastrami egg rolls and smoked meats, and watching sports on the multiple big screens.