As the most populated city in New Jersey, and one of the oldest in America, Newark has accumulated multiple cultural layers over the years, especially when it comes to food. Whatever the neighborhood, be it Seventh Avenue, Fairmount, or Dayton, you can surely find a restaurant that checks all your boxes. Some local restaurants have continuously done so for a lot of people through time, which has secured them a spot in Newark’s Restaurant Hall of Fame.
So, if you ever find yourself in Newark, try to visit at least one of these four outstanding restaurants:
1. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (BBQ):
With eight locations spread out over the cities of New York, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is known as one of the best places in the world to get your fix for classic Southern-style BBQ and beer. Since 2012, it’s been on Market St. in Newark offering top-quality meats served with the restaurant’s original, highly-acclaimed sauces. It’s no wonder why Dinosaur BBQ was named the country’s number one BBQ on Good Morning America.
Aside from its famous barbecued pork and beef cuts, you can also find sandwiches and burgers, as well as sides that pair perfectly with the meats.
You can check out over 1,000 reviews of this restaurant on Yelp to see what the locals really think about it. Whether you’re with your family or your a biker gang, you can always visit Dinosaur BBQ.
2. NICO Kitchen + Bar:
A contemporary American bistro that features Italian classics served gourmet-style, NICO Kitchen + Bar can be found in the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre (NJPAC). That makes it the best restaurant to dine in if you’re looking to fill up before or after seeing a show.
NICO’s executive chef Ryan de Persio’s meticulous creativity sings in every dish that comes out of the kitchen, including the ricotta gnocchi and mascarpone polenta fries. Believe it or not, such dishes can actually be good for you.
Apart from the interior’s soaring ceilings, earthy tones, and dramatic pendant lights, the best thing about NICO’s is that they offer a prix fixe menu for all performance attendees to ensure that their customers never miss show time.
3. Forno’s of Spain:
If you’re looking for a restaurant with a great foreign taste that’s just walking distance from the Newark Penn Station, then Forno’s of Spain is the one for you. Located at 47 Ferry St., this high-end, bustling Spanish restaurant offers delicious seafood and a wide selection of vintage whites and reds – 450 different kinds to be exact. That includes the 2006 Fransola and the 2009 El Pecado.
For over 20 years, Forno’s has been a favorite for both locals and tourists alike, thanks to the cozy wood-walled interior and the outdoor garden that’s perfect for relaxing, if the whether is amiable. Indeed, people also frequent this joint for its food and drinks, such as the must-try authentic seafood paella which is packed full of shrimp and lobster, and its homemade sangria.
Finally, Forno’s employs an attentive and friendly waitstaff that makes sure you don’t starve while waiting for your main course. Once you’re comfortably seated, they offer complimentary bread, balsamic-dressed salad, and some good-old olives. It’s also nice to see its owner, seen on Trip Advisor as ‘Andres R’, diligently replying to both positive and negative reviews online.
4. Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant:
This next item on the list is as part of Newark’s culture as the Newark Bears. Situated in downtown Newark and walking distance from the courthouse is Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant. Founded in 1962 and run by the Brummer family, this restaurant offers traditional Eastern-European delicacies like pickled corned beef, potato pancakes, and hearty soups.
However, it still keeps up with the times by putting dishes on the menu that would attract modern tastes, including chicken fajita wraps, fresh salmon, and gazpacho. They also offer salads, all-day breakfast, and vegetarian meals. With the help of those seemingly straightforward dishes, Hobby’s has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, and the New Jersey Law Journal, among other media outlets in the country.
All these restaurants have well-planted roots in Newark, and although they each have a distinct identity, in their own ways they embody the essence of the city’s culture. Whether it’s through their iconic location or long history, these four restaurants could teach you what Newark is in a single bite of their respective signature dishes.