This week's JC Eater is a long-time Jersey City resident who gets some of her favorite neighborhood dishes at the local farmers' market.
What's your name?
Where in Jersey City do you live?
I live on the West Side, right near Lincoln Park.
Do you have a favorite non-food spot/area in Jersey City?
Lincoln Park, of course! In particular, I really like the western part, which is very quiet and makes you feel like you’re not in the city anymore.
Do you follow a specific dietary lifestyle?
I am vegan. I call myself a “don’t ask, don’t tell vegan” because I tend to just make reasonable guesses/assumptions (or ask very basic questions) as to whether or not food I’m eating out is vegan, rather than grill the restaurant on every ingredient in every dish.
What are your favorite places to eat in your neighborhood?
There aren’t too many places in my neighborhood to eat that work for vegans. Our neighborhood has a very strong Filipino and Latino influence, and both of those cuisines are very meat-heavy. There is an awesome falafel truck at Communipaw and West Side, and Pompeii Pizza will make us a cheeseless pizza that’s pretty good!
But the best food for vegans in the neighborhood is at the Farmers Market at Lincoln Park (Sundays in the summer/early fall). This year, House of Gains has been bringing bahn mi sandwiches made from jackfruit (vegan, if you opt out of the mayo) – and they are spicy and excellent. Squeeze’d has smoothies made with an almond milk and coconut water base, and they’re at the market every other week. Lastly, Cayena Colombian has a vegan hot dog option, which is a nice touch.
What are your favorite places to eat in Jersey City overall?
Little India (Newark Ave btn JFK and Tonnele Ave) is heaven for vegans. There is a sizable Jain community in JC, and so the restaurants there are used to accommodating people with restrictive diets. My go-tos are Sapathagiri and Chutneys, both of which label on the menu very clearly what is vegan and not – and both are fantastic and cheap! But there are many great places on Newark Ave, including some that are hybrid Chinese-Indian. There’s also a bakery that has tons of sweets available, and they label the ingredients clearly which is very helpful.
Noodlefan in Journal Square (also the Heights) is really good and has veggie meat options!
Is there a particular dish in Jersey City that's your favorite or that you find yourself recommending over and over?
I love to take out-of-towners to the buffets in Little India, so they can try a little of everything. I bring people who are big meat-eaters to Rasoi’s weekend buffet (they also have a liquor license, which is rare for the neighborhood), but just about all the restaurants have some kind of buffet at some point during the week, and the schedules constantly change. You also can’t really go wrong with a gigantic dosa from Sapathagiri or Chutneys.
(dosa from Chutneys)
What kind of restaurant would you love to see in Jersey City that isn't here already?
ETHIOPIAN. Years ago, there was an amazing Ethiopian place in McGinley Square, but it has long since closed.