I’m taking a bit of a break from vacation blogging to catch up on some things I’ve done this year. (Yes, I’ve done things other than reminisce about Boracay and Japan LOL.) It’s been a busy year, full of adventure, and full of changes. One of the major changes was that we moved to Forest Hills, in Queens. But not before briefly considering moving to Jersey City.
To familiarize myself with the area, I went for a walk there with my friend Kim, and then with Mike, and I discovered that I loved it there, and probably would have moved there if it hadn’t been so hard to find the perfect apartment. That is how nice it is. I had an easier time finding an apartment in New York City, you guys.
Here are a few things we found in Jersey City, all of which are either off the Journal Square or Grove st. PATH train stops:
1. Plenty of delicious Filipino food.
Kim and I had “brunch” at the Filipino chain restaurant Max’s (which you can’t find in NYC) and had the following:
Longsilog – A platter of pork sausage, egg/s, and garlic fried rice. This is common Filipino breakfast fare.
Kare-kare – Ox-tail peanut stew
Max’s famous fried chicken – No breading, but has crispy, tasty skin and tender, flavorful meat.
We also went to Philippine Bread House, where Kim got a sampling of Filipino pastries, and I got my sister (and myself) some ensaymada, pan de coco, and ube bread (to die for if you like ube). I almost moved two blocks away from this, but sadly it just wasn’t in the cards.
2. A surprising amount of large graffiti and murals, some of which were lame, some just plain weird, and some of which were very good.
3. Beautiful ruins.
4. Plenty of great stores. I liked the vintage store “Another Man’s Treasure” in particular.
5. Beautiful old townhouses.
I found a few great cafes to hang out at, but my favorite was probably Madame Claude Cafe.
This cafe has excellent crepes, particularly the one with lamb sausage in it called La Marocaine. And it’s BYOB, so you bring a bottle of wine or beer with you, or if you’re us, mini bottles of Baileys so you can make coffee with Irish cream.
The place is small but charming, and has a decent amount of seating. And they do have outdoor seating for when the weather is good.
6. Plenty of Great Restaurants
I was rather confused about where to eat when I planned a walk with Kim because of how many exciting choices there were. We eventually went with Talde, an “Asian-American” restaurant owned by Filipino-American chef Dale Talde, who once competed on Top Chef. I didn’t have an inkling of the chef’s Filipino heritage until I saw the sun logo at the entrance, and immediately thought of the Philippine flag. Of course, upon seeing that the menu had ($21!) Filipino BBQ and San Miguel beer in it, my suspicions were somewhat confirmed.
We went in at 6pm without reservations and we were immediately seated. The restaurant got a LOT busier a few minutes after we were seated, so I would suggest going around that time if you don’t want to make reservations.
I ordered the “navy grog” (el dorado rum, honey syrup, lime and grapefruit juices), mostly because I wanted to be able to text Mike that “I’m drinking GROG. YAR!”, and Kim ordered something delicious I’ve forgotten the name of.
Kim and I split a few appetizers. First we had the tuna tartar spring rolls, which were confusing, interesting, and delicious. The outside of the rolls were very crispy, and yet the tuna inside was cool and raw, as you would expect from tartar. The dish was also pleasantly spicy. Somehow the different textures and the ponzu sauce all came together to make a delightful appetizer.
Next we had the kung pao chicken wings with buttermilk ranch dressing. This was good (I would eat it again), but probably the most boring item we ordered.
For our third appetizer, we had the yuzu guacamole with crispy rice and la quercia ham. I would have renamed this “crispy ham and guacamole sushi” if it were me. Again I was very impressed with the textures in this dish. The crispy rice was dipped in a delicious sauce and a good contrast to the ham and guacamole.
There were plenty of bars to choose from as well, and we eventually went with two popular ones.
One was Abbey’s Pub, which used to be known for also being a hookah lounge until hookahs were banned from bars in New Jersey. I remember it being mostly empty aside from a few locals, the proprietor being very friendly, and the noise level being conducive to Kim and I having one of our now common bar talks. Of course, we went in the middle of the afternoon so, I wouldn’t actually know how it is at night when normal people go out drinking. ;P
We chose LITM to end our walk because it had the unique advantage of being a bar and art gallery combo, and we’d been disappointed to find a few of the galleries on our supposed “art-walk” were closed that day.
At this point, we’d already had irish coffee with our crepes, drinks at Talde, and a few beers at Abbey’s so finding this art work was entirely appropriate to the situation:
There were several other interesting pieces as well.
I had an Irish hot chocolate (because OF COURSE), and a butterscotch hot chocolate, because it somehow made me think of Harry Potter. Yes my drinks are completely girly and I embrace that fact.
Kim had a few Session beers, which are apparently hard to find and therefore surprising to find in Jersey City. This was probably one of the most pleasant bar experiences I’ve ever had. I’m not sure whether it was because I drank ALL THINGS CHOCOLATE, because of the interesting art, or because we were so early we got the best table in the house. One of our seats was against a bay window overlooking the street, so we also did plenty of people watching.
Our last stop was at the pier at the Exchange place station, where we got a gorgeous view of the downtown Manhattan skyline. It was a fantastic end to one of the best walks I’ve ever had. Don’t hesitate to come to Jersey City, you guys. The people are friendly, the food is good, and you can get seated without a reservation and not have to wait two hours.