There are far too many tourists who eat solely in one of Newark's many hotels. Not to say that a good club sandwich doesn't have its place, but there is a culinary world that awaits outside of a room service menu. Out of all the restaurants in any city, 10Best narrows the options to those places with the most appeal and the best reputations. We offer carefully vetted selections to let you explore Newark dining on your own. In the real world.
Traditional Portuguese food can be found at McWhorter Barbeque or Adega Grill, with seafood so fresh you will swear the ocean is just around the corner. Or try sushi that fuses French concepts with Japanese techniques at the amazing Sushi House 21. If you still have room in your stomach, indulge in a traditional deli experience at Hobby's Delicatessen, with sandwiches so stuffed, you may find it difficult to fit your whole mouth around one. During Devils' or Nets' home games, you can stay here, right until game time, preparing your soul for glory or heartbreak, one meat-filled bite at a time.
Even if you are just in Newark for a layover, you deserve to eat well. These 10Best choices will do your belly right.
The spread at this casual Brazilian restaurant is guaranteed to take on and handle even the biggest appetites. To whet your palate, the gigantic salad bar features fresh, tasty tidbits like aurgula, palm hearts and olives. For those unaccustomed to the churrascaria concept, the dining experience takes a deliciously exciting turn, starting with a seafood buffet that features specialties like grilled cod and shrimp in yucca sauce. Don't get carried away there, though – the rodízio selection, which is brought by your table, includes tenderloin, ribs, sausage, lamb, pork and chicken! For cocktails, try the delicious Brazilian Caipirinha to start. (973-589-8682)
So you want a place to grab a quick and easy meal. Something that will fill you up and not require that you wear a tie. Likely you will find yourself swayed by one of the fast food giants, but in New Jersey near Penn Station, McWhorter BBQ is a much better bet. Traditional Portuguese chicken is rotated on a charcoal exposed rotisserie. The result is the crispiest skin and a flavourful interior that encourages you to eat almost all of the super sized portion. Less than $10 will grant you more than one meal. It seems to be the place for New Jersey cops to have a bite, so you have never been safer. (973-344-2633)
Aguilas de Mexico Restaurant
Aguilas de Mexico has no website, no WiFi and no alcohol. How can they get away with this? Because their food is absolutely excellent. Steak and chicken tacos are so good, you might forget that you are there to eat and not to inhale. Four tacos come in each order, along with green salsa (hot) and red salsa (for hot sauce experts). You can get the food delivered with a minimum $20 order or sit in the bare-bones restaurant and eat your weight in guacamole. If you are someone who thinks that Taco Bell's tacos are just fine, you need to go here to get schooled. (973-732-4168)
Whether you are eating on your own or with a crowd, Pic-Nic Bar & Restaurant is interested in making it happen. With lots of space and hospitality, it is easy to dive into their rich sauces, rice dishes in heavy iron pots and crispy sausage. In short, a meal at Pic-Nic is a tasty experience. With brick-lined walls and rare European wines, you will swear you have stepped into quaint, old-world Portugal. The to-go menu is substantial, offering whole pork ribs and 32 ounce skirt steaks for the heartiest of appetites. Whether you stay awhile or eat at home, the BBQ, surf and turf and sangria are not easily forgotten. (973-481-3646)
Creating your own sandwich or salad is a lot more exciting when you are out of the confines of your own kitchen. This is the idea behind Harvest Table, along with fresh food that goes the extra mile (like when the staff runs out to your car if you can't find free parking). Vegetarian chili is the perfect warming tool on a cold winter's day, with hearty, stew-like chunks of fresh vegetables, beans and spices topped with cheddar cheese. Healthy burgers can be made with turkey, salmon or portobello mushrooms and a hearty side salad. If you have room left over, the killer triple chocolate brownies are a good way to balance out all the health. (973-494-8183)
Have you had any Basque cuisine lately? Us neither. Basque cuisine includes meat and fish that is cooked over hot coals, sheep's cheese and tapas style small plates. Casa Vasca is the place to go if you decide you would like to be more adventurous when it comes to your culinary life. This adventure will end happily, as Basque cuisine is rich and flavourful and somehow familiar. Popular dishes at Casa Vasca include wonderfully presented seafood fare and succulent meat dishes. If you are on the verge of a cold, you must indulge in the garlic soup, which cures all ails. Finish off the evening with a nice sweet port. (973-465-1350)
Fornos of Spain
This casual spot is popular in Newark for their house-made sangria and authentic Spanish cuisine. With an old-school feeling, the staff is interested in learning your name. If you return, you can test their memories. Now open for over 20 years, Fornos of Spain always offers generous portions served by an attentive waitstaff. This includes the complimentary olives, warm bread and balsamic-dressed salad to start. The wood-walled dining room adds comfort and intimacy. There is also an outdoor garden (when weather permits) for relaxing with drinks and conversation. Seafood paella is a must, piled high with fresh lobster and shrimp. (973-589-4767)
Hobby's Delicatessen and Restaurant
If you are a person who likes a sandwich that is more meat than bread, then Hobby's Delicatessen and Restaurant in Newark is for you. Open since 1962, old-fashioned and delicious practices have been maintained, like corned beef pickled in huge stainless steel vats. Highly acclaimed sandwiches have many filling options, from pastrami to brisket to house-cured tongue (don't knock it until you have tried it). Matzoh ball soup or clam chowder are both good ways to kick off your eating extravaganza if you believe that you can conquer one of their "sangwiches" no problem. They do have salads, but most people keep their greens to the pickle on the side. (973-623-0410)
Sushi House 21
Chef Nelson Yip is a sushi artist. His sashimi may come rolled like a rose, and the presentation of his food at Sushi House 21 is almost as good as the flavours. The giant menu includes everything you might crave from a Japanese restaurant, as well as the aptly named "Yummy roll" with grilled salmon, black pepper, asparagus and cucumber. Even though it is named "Sushi House" it has far more choices than sushi alone, with spicy seaweed salad, pork belly confit and chilean seabass, to name a few. Nelson lived in Montreal, so you will note the French influence in his food. Incredibly unique. (973-991-0067)
Adega Grill Restaurant
This attractive restaurant, whose interior features stone fireplaces and archways, wrought iron gates, and walls painted in earthy yellows, is one of the best reasons to venture out to Ironbound. Fabulous Portuguese and Spanish cuisine and wine are the restaurant's specialties (its name, after all, is Portuguese for "wine cellar"), and most of the top dishes focus on fresh fish, seafood or organic meats. The retro-inspired lounge area, meanwhile, is a cool place to hang out, enjoy drinks and make a little conversation. Sangria comes in many of the colours of the rainbow. Dinner specials are sizeable and in many cases could be split by two people. (973-589-8830)
About Courtney Sunday
Courtney Sunday lived in Canterbury, England and Luzern, Switzerland before returning to Toronto in 2010. Yoga teaching and freelance writing became her full-time professions, as she learned the true meaning of the statement: "If you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life."
Courtney now divides her time between Philadelphia and Toronto. She loves the cafe culture of both cities and the ever-expanding group of foodies. When not leading small yoga teacher trainings around the globe she explores her cities by foot: www.courtneysunday.com, @Omathomeyoga.
Read more about Courtney Sunday here.
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