Hoboken, NJ: Food & Drink Guide

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“What are some of your favorite restaurants in Hoboken?” and “Where should I go out or get a drink” are both frequently asked questions that I’m always eager to answer. I’ve lived in Hoboken, New Jersey for almost 5 years – so to say I’ve eaten my way through the so-called square mile city is an understatement.

The Square Mile City

Hoboken has an interesting dynamic when it comes to demographics – it’s made up of  “old-timers,” who moved there during or after World War II and never left, but has essentially been taken over by young professionals (over 50% of employed residents work in Manhattan and the majority of residents are under 40 and single). Inflated apartment rent in Manhattan forced 20/30 somethings to Hoboken – and then expensive costs of buying property in Hoboken pushes them to the suburbs once they reach the family-starting/home-buying age. This means most residents know Hoboken is temporary, likely the last place they’ll live before they have kids – probably partially responsible for it’s reputation as a heavy drinking town.

Aside from that reputation, Hoboken has a really interesting history and takes tons of pride in the fact it’s the founding place of baseball, the birthplace of Frank Sinatra, and has some of the best homemade mozzarella you’ll ever have 🙂 Speaking of mozzarella… Let’s get to the point of this post. Food.

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Food & Drink

I listed them based on genre/type and gave some notes and favorite dishes & drinks for each one. I put an asterisks* in front of my top recommendations, and a dollar sign$ in front of ones to consider for special occasions, but maybe stay away from if you’re trying to be budget-conscious}

Italian: 

  • *$Anthony David’s: BYO. Amazing Italian. Not cheap. This is the place to bring your parents when they visit 😉
  • *Otto Strada: BYO. This is our date night spot. We love it. The menu isn’t huge, but they always have great specials. Tough to get into because it’s small, but the wait is never as long as they say it is. Favorites: The meatballs and the seafood stew.
  • Sorellina: Not BYO. Really great pasta and great location, especially when sitting outside in the warmer months. Favorites: charcuterie plate, mushroom pasta (only if you love mushrooms)
  • $Grand Vin: Not BYO. Wine bar, cool atmosphere, kind of pricey. Favorites: The steak and the chicken
  • Margaritas: BYO. Old school family owned Italian. Hard to go wrong here. Favorites: cavetelli with broccoli and the eggplant
  • Leo’s: BYO. Also an old-school family owned place. Favorites: Any pasta
  • Grimaldi’s: Not BYO. Great pizza, dine-in or take-out.

Sushi: 

  • Sushi Lounge: Not BYO. Best to dine in, good vibe, great service and great drink list. Favorites: Lycee martini, shishito peppers, crab mango roll.
  • *Illuzion: BYO. Not the best service but the sushi is great. Favorites: Rock shrimp and the clown roll
  • Robingi: BYO. Better for a group than date night because it gets pretty loud in there and it’s always so so dark.
  • Precious: BYO. We Usually do take-out or delivery from here, but you can dine-in. They have Chinese food and sushi. We like their Chinese better, but their sushi isn’t bad! Favorites: Chicken and broccoli and won ton soup.

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Mexican: 

  • Cadillac Cantina: Not BYO. Good location right near the Path, prime for people watching if you get a spot outside. I’ve been here a ton & have had mixed experiences, but most of them have been good. Go for $2 Taco Tuesdays! Favorites: All of their tacos are delicious – especially the chicken and the veggie.
  • Charrtito’s: BYO in both the downtown and uptown location. Really good Mexican, fun vibe. Bring tequila and they’ll make margarita’s for you! Favorites: guacamole and shrimp fajitas 

Cuban & Latin: 

  • *La Isla: Downtown location is BYO, uptown location has a full-bar. Really delicious, great service. Favorites: papa rellena to start is a must, ‘camarones enchilados o al ajillo’ (garlic shrimp), and pollo al Aaillo con espinaca (garlic chicken with spinach)
  • $The Cuban: Not BYO. Great Cuban meals and cocktails. Love to go when there’s live music. Favorites: great guacamole, mojitos, and fresh fish specials 
  • Cucharamama: BYO. Authentic Latin tapas, usually has a wait since it’s a small spot. Favorites: They usually have good specials, but I loved the free-range chicken.

American: 

  • *Ainsworth: Not BYO. Go-to for good “bar food” and good atmosphere. Right on the water, they open up all the windows when it’s nice. Favorites: tuna tacos, watermelon sangria.
  • Brass Rail: Not BYO. Great for bottomless brunch, but also a good option for dinner. Favorites: steak and eggs for brunch, grilled shrimp Caesar, 
  • Elysian: Not BYO. Really cute place with an antique garden vibe – great to sit outside for brunch. I’ve heard it’s good for dinner too but I’ve only been for brunch/lunch! 
  • $Amanda’s: Not BYO. A bit fancier and more expensive, great unique dishes and wine list. Good occasion place – my parents brought me here for my birthday one year. 
  • Jack & Co: Not BYO. Our go-to since it’s super close to our apartment. Casual but trendy, elevated bar food. Favorites: wings, tuna tostadas
  • Zach’s: Not BYO. Wednesday is half price wine night for any bottle of wine. That’s all I have to say about that 🙂
  • City Bistro: Not BYO. Upscale American bar food – 3 levels, the top floor is an open rooftop that gets crowded whenever it’s nice.
  • $Del Friscos: Not BYO. Upscale, a bit ‘classier’ than surrounding bars – right on the water. 
  • $Stingray Oyster Lounge: Not BYO. Osyters and small plates. Expensive, but really good quality seafood. Favorites: West coast oysters.
  • *House of Q (BBQ): Not BYO. Authentic Austin style BBQ, really cool setting with picnic tables, open windows with a city view. Every Friday they have dueling pianos which is really fun. Favorites: Brisket and ribs. And they’re sweet corn bread pudding.
  • 10th & Willow: Not BYO. Have to put this on here because it comes up a lot in Google search when searching good restaurants, but I don’t love it. We’ve given it 3 tries and each time, there’s something wrong with the food, the service is terrible, etc. Can’t recommend this one.
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Wicked Wolf

Bar Food:

  • Texas Arizona: Pretty good bar food, in a convenient location (right next to the Path). Favorites: Nachos and wings. 
  • One Republic: Tries a little hard to be trendy/chic, but the bar food is pretty good.
  • Wicked Wolf: It gets crazy here during football season, but they really have great bar food. Favorites: Wings.
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La Bouche Cafe

Casual/Quick Lunch:

  • La Bouche Cafe: Super cute place to sit outside and people watch on a nice day. Always love all their salads and sandwiches.
  • Lisa’s Italian Deli:  Sandwiches, wraps, salads, subs, meatballs, soups, chicken parm, eggplant parm – you name it. There are a few dine-in seats, but we always do take-out. Favorites: Turkey sub and broccoli rabe.
  • Luca Brasi:  Similar to Lisa’s – it’s a one-stop shop if you’re craving an Italian lunch.
  • Frankie and Ava’s: Quick Italian subs & to-go lunches.
  • Honeygrow: Noodles! Whatever type of noodles you want, customized with veggies, protein, and sauce. Favorite: Ginger garlic bowl with chicken

Bagels: 

  • JP’s Bagel Express:  Conveniently located near the Path, they’re super quick and have great bagels. Favorite: Chicken salad on a bagel with lettuce, tomato, mustard.
  • O’Bagel: Newer to Hoboken, this place always has a line. Their bagels are huge and delicious. Favorite: Pork roll, egg, and cheese.
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Turning Point

Breakfast/Brunch/Coffee:

  • Turning Point: There are a few of these in NJ – they always leave us super full and happy. Interesting menu with tons of salt and sweet dishes. Favorite: Lobster eggs benedict.
  • Stacks: Typical breakfast place. Closest thing to a diner in Hoboken.
  • Elysian: Not BYO. Really cute atmosphere with an antique garden vibe – great to sit outside for brunch.
  • Brass Rail: Not BYO. They have bottomless brunch options that aren’t too pricey considering the amount of food and drink you get.
  • $Halifax: Not BYO. Part of the W Hotel, great place to go for a special occasion. It has a modern ambiance and is right on the water.
  • BWE Cafe: I love this place. Relaxed, calm vibe with really great coffee (not much to offer in terms of food except for some pastries). Good place to bring your computer & get some work done. Favorites: When I used to drink coffee I was obsessed with their fall latte, unfortunately only available in the fall.
  • Bluestone Lane: Australian coffee shop with a cool vibe and creative food options. Favorites: Matcha latte, avocado toast and the peanut butter, banana, and honey toast.
  • Empire Coffee & Tea: An overwhelming amount of flavor options and tons of beans you can buy to make coffee at home. Not much to offer in terms of food except for some muffins, biscotti, and snacks. Favorite: When I used to be a fan of sweet coffee, I’d go for the Butterfinger Latte
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Empire Coffee & Tea

Drinks

*Have to preface that I honestly don’t really go out in Hoboken. If I do anything late at night, chances are I’m in the city. And even that’s rare. I’m a grandma. That being said, here are a few I’ve been to:

  • *Pier 13: Only open in the Summer months, it’s the closest thing Hoboken has to a beach. It’s right on the Husdon River, overlooking NYC. They don’t serve food, but there are often food trucks parked right outside. They have tons of drink options – the frose (frozen rose) is refreshing, but strong! Also note it closes at 11.
  • Madison’s: Typical bar, good music, sloppy late-night scene.
  • McSwiggans: Same as above, but tends to skew younger.
  • Mills Tavern: Good spot to meet friends after dinner for beers.
  • The Shannon: Super sloppy, young crowd, always want to leave the moment I walk in. But I mean, some people are into it.
  • Willie McBrides: I like that this bar is big, so even though it gets crowded, it never feels really cramped. There’s a big open area in the back where they sometimes have live music, which is fun.

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