Walk around Jersey City for a little while, and you’ll realize pretty quickly that it isn’t like the West Village or Williamsburg. That’s clear from the abundance of Devils fans, the lack of tourists, and the subway system that actually runs on time - but it’s also not just a neighborhood. It’s a huge city that stretches the length of a 10K from Greenville in the south up to The Heights in the north.
Not only is there a lot of ground to cover in terms of geography, but more importantly (for our purposes), there are a ton of places to eat. As with any city this big and diverse, there are some great spots that are worth a Path ride or a 10K run to get to, and many more that you wouldn’t need to check out even if you lived next door. In other words, you need to know where to look. If you’re reading this, then you’re looking in the right place. Here are the 20 best restaurants in Jersey City.
Razza is to Jersey City what The Eiffel Tower is to Paris, Diagon Alley is to London, or Britney Spears is to Kentwood, Louisiana. It’s the first thing people mention when talking about the city, and it draws crowds from all over the world. In the case of Razza, the draw is some of the very best pizza we’ve ever had.
If the line of people stretching out the door isn’t a giveaway, you’ll realize Andrea isn’t an ordinary Italian deli as soon as you’re through the door. The small space in The Heights is filled with the aromas from hanging herbs, and fresh meats and mozzarella behind the counter. And the subs don’t disappoint. There are only five options - three with deli meats and two with tuna - and our favorite is the combo. The meats, fresh mozzarella, and crunchy, chewy bread are all in perfect proportion. It’s one of the best sandwiches anywhere around NYC.
There are egg-shaped swings and cocktails served in mugs that look like Easter Island heads, but the island-theme at this Caribbean spot in Bergen-Lafayette doesn’t feel forced. That’s partially because the strong drinks, reggae on the speakers, and everyday Happy Hour keep it relaxed, and also because they’re not trying to make up for forgettable food. Everything from bakes - sandwiches with jerk chicken or short rib inside fried dough - at brunch, to the curry goat with roti at dinner, would be fantastic no matter where it was served.
Stanislas Wawrinka has won three tennis grand slams, and will go down in history as an all-time great. But ask anyone to name one Swiss tennis player, and the only response you’ll ever get is Roger Federer. Bread And Salt feels Stan’s pain, because even though they serve some truly excellent pizza and small plates, it still lives in Razza’s shadow. Nonetheless, this BYOB slice spot in The Heights isn’t just the second-best pizza place in Jersey City, it’s the second-best restaurant - and it’s a must-visit no matter where you live.
We really like the original Domodomo in Greenwich Village, but because there are so many high-quality sushi spots in Manhattan, it only gets a fraction of the attention it deserves. In Jersey City, it stands out. They offer a big selection of nigiri sushi and hot dishes, but you should focus your attention on handrolls, like our favorite that’s packed with tender, buttery lobster. Use this for date night or a sit-down lunch, when you can get five handrolls for $23 (hospitality included).
When you’ve had enough “wintry mix” forecasts and 4pm sunsets, stroll along the stretch of Newark Avenue that’s decorated with wreaths and closed to foot traffic, sit at the bar at Ani Ramen, and sip some Japanese whiskey while sticking your face into the rising steam from a bowl of spicy miso ramen.
15 Fox Place isn’t like having dinner in someone’s home - it is having dinner in someone’s home. Well, the owners don’t live upstairs anymore - but every room in this house on a residential street in Journal Square is still decorated with wedding pictures and family mementos. The food is Italian-American, and while the courses on the $95 set menu change nightly, you can expect a lot of filling, family-style dishes. After around five appetizers of things like polenta arrabbiata and eggplant stuffed with fontinella, there are a couple pastas followed by entrees like chicken roulade, and then desserts. It wouldn’t be worth $95 if it were served in a typical restaurant, but the BYO policy and unusual space make it a fun option for unique dates or group dinners.
Like lots of other counter-service falafel spots, Ibby’s is a good option when you get home late from work, or when you realize that your dinner consisted of two mozzarella sticks and four vodka sodas. But Ibby’s isn’t just an inexpensive, filling takeout spot. The wraps and platters have combinations of spices and textures that wouldn’t be out of place at an expensive, sit-down meal. But we’re not complaining that the crispy falafel and nicely charred chicken shawarma both cost less than $8.
The fact that Korai Kitchen only offers an all-you-can-eat buffet has its pros and cons. On the plus side, the Bangledeshi food at this BYO spot in Journal Square is fantastic, and for $15 at lunch or $20 at dinner, you can get seconds or fifths of things like curry goat that falls off the bone, vegetarian bhorthas that soak up all of the rich sauces on your plate, and pistachio bread pudding that’s worth a visit on its own. The only downside is that by the time you throw in the towel, any plans you might have had for later in the night will be swapped out for chamomile tea and reruns of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
No offense to New Jersey, but even the few spots that are right on the water in Manhattan are just looking out on, well, New Jersey. The waterfront in Jersey City, on the other hand, has unimpeded views of the Manhattan skyline, and no place has a better vantage point than Battello. That makes this Italian-leaning spot popular for private events and business dinners, but if you’re not looking to commit to mushroom-crusted wagyu or $36 scallops, it’s also an impressive place to meet someone for drinks and an excellent burger at the bar.
Kitchen Step is from the same chef as Battello, but besides the great burger topped with onion compote and bacon, it doesn’t have much in common with that special occasion Italian spot on the water. The food here is seasonal American, like celery root lasagna and baked chicken with chive oil, and rather than a place to celebrate wedding parties, the narrow space here should be used for brunch or weeknight dates. And it’s one of your best options in the area for both of those situations thanks to food like seared scallops with lobster-harissa sauce, and seasonal cocktails like the “not chocolate” with mezcal and dark chocolate consommé.
You’ll pause in the entranceway to Broa for a couple minutes before entering. It’s not that you’ll be so blown away by the smell of grilled seafood, the Portuguese street signs, or the occasional live music in the backyard. It’s just that the only place to find the nightly menu is on a chalkboard next to the doorway. But even if you just ask the friendly servers at this BYO Portuguese spot to bring out whatever they recommend, you’ll get things like meaty crab fritters with garlic aioli, housemade sausage, or piri-piri quail - and you’ll be very pleased.
La Taqueria Downtown serves strong margaritas and the area’s best Mexican food in a low-ceilinged space where you’ll want to spend hours ordering rounds of drinks and tacos while listening to The Beatles on the speakers. The only catch is that everyone else wants to spend a few hours here as well, so waits can be as bad as they are at Razza up the street.
Corto is like a communal pool, or a neighbor who’s always willing to dogsit when you’re away. It’s a neighborhood amenity you’re grateful to have. This BYO Italian spot, which feels like someone’s living room, works for pretty much any type of casual weeknight dinner, and because the menu constantly changes, you can come once a week without getting bored. The rigatoni with pancetta or the malfadini with speck should always be on your table, but you can’t go wrong with any of the housemade pastas.
The chicken biryani here has a rice-to-meat ratio of shoppers-to-checkout lines at Whole Foods, but we’re not complaining. The heavily spiced rice, which you should make even richer and spicier by adding yogurt and chili-peanut sauces, is very enjoyable on its own. The pieces of tender, juicy boneless chicken hidden are fantastic, and that’s only one of the 15 types of biryani at this bright, casual spot in India Square, so come with a bunch of people and get a few to share.
White Mana opened at the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, and it feels like it probably hasn’t changed much since it moved to The Heights in 1946. The 24/7, cash-only diner has a bunch of stools centered around a griddle where one guy flattens hamburgers that cost $1.30 each. They’re just a little bigger than sliders, so even if you get a couple bacon double cheeseburgers, you’ll still have room for a side of cheese fries. And because they don’t seem to have changed their prices a whole lot since debuting as “the diner of the future” at the World’s Fair, all of that will cost you less than $10.
Even if Low Fidelity didn’t serve food, you’d still have a good time here playing cornhole while day drinking in the backyard, or sipping on a cocktail made with Cognac, scotch, and sherry at the bar until 3am. But the Detroit-style pizza, with light airy crust covered in perfectly burnt cheese, is fantastic. This is one of our favorite places to hang out with a group in The Heights.
Citi Grill has a couple small tables, but this West African spot in McGinley Square is best used as a delivery option when you want something with more complex spices than a plain slice with red pepper flakes. Our favorite dish is the salty, extremely tender michoui lamb that’s served on the bone with a side of plantains that melt when you bite into them. But no matter what you order, you’re going to get a lot of food for around $15.
There are a lot of great spots to eat in India Square, including restaurants specializing in Goan, Hyderabadi, and vegetarian southern Indian food. Rasoi focuses on dishes from northern India, and it’s our favorite place in the area for group dinners. Get a few orders of puri (puffed bread the size of rugby balls), and a bunch of shareable entrees, like the tender, deeply spiced lamb rogan josh or a platter of various meats and vegetables cooked in a tandoori oven.
If you’re mapping out a one-day itinerary of places you must eat in Jersey City, this ice cream spot in Hamilton Park (there’s also a location in The Heights) needs to be on it. The flavors change often, but along with the usual suspects, you’ll find delicious, experimental options like brown sugar oatmeal and rosemary toffee pine nut. And if you leave without trying an ice cream sandwich here, you’re doing it wrong.