Incredible NOLA style bakery and bistro in the emerging Wire Rope District just south of downtown. Well worth checking out!
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Incredible NOLA style bakery and bistro in the emerging Wire Rope District just south of downtown. Well worth checking out!
We’ve always admired Trenton Coffee House & Roasters (THCR), starting when it consisted of a bicycle-pulled trailer. Now that it’s moved into a spacious and attractive location on Cass Street, it’s a fabulous addition to the Trenton scene, and a “must experience” stop. You may discover the best cup of coffee you’re ever had!
This is a classic NJ diner with a full menu and great specials. If you like diners, worth checking out.
Located on Main St (206) in Lawrenceville, mid-way between Princeton and Trenton, Fedora delivers reliably good breakfasts, lunches, and dinners (its “hat trick”) at prices that will seem like a bargain once you experience its quality.
There must be a dozen decent Guatemalan restaurants in town, yet somehow RL manages to be among the best. Maybe it’s the friendly, family atmosphere. Or maybe its the food: presentation is just OK, but the portions are huge, prices are low, and the flavor is outstanding.
Johnny’s has been operating at the same location since the early 1970s. He makes the best Trenton Pork Roll sandwich in town.
128 West State Street Café is an elegant, little, post-modern eatery that serves freshly-made espresso drinks, and a limited menu of impeccably prepared breakfast and lunch foods. It’s open for breakfast and lunch, from 7 AM to 4 PM, targeting the downtown and statehouse crowd.
El Sazon is a friendly, Dominican restaurant located in one of my favorite dining spaces in Trenton: the former “Filling Station” at 501 Division St. The food is other worldly. It’s run superbly by a single family: Gloria is the chef, while her 40-something daughter, Mildred, waits tables, and her kid-sister Lily works both the … Continue reading Subtle Sazon-ing
Michael’s is a decent diner that supports a very good salad bar. If you enjoy salad bars, you can get a great salad and a good, filling, fresh-cooked meal for not a lot of money. It’s open 7 days, early and late. NJ diners, collectively, should be a national institution. Where else can you get … Continue reading East meets Mid-West
OK, I admit to loving dives. Especially ones like this where the sensibilities of the owner, even wacky ones, are plain to see. It reminds me of the places I used to eat growing up, from a time when most restaurants were owner operated, and McDonald’s were found only in California. In Manhattan, you might … Continue reading Squirreled Away
Diner food, diner prices, better quality. Just across the bridge in Morrisville: open 7 days for breakfast and lunch (7-3).
Sometimes, you need to escape to something over-priced, pretentious, and utterly scrumptious. And on those days, you’d better get in the car and go to Brick Farm Market.
Brick Farm Market is located in the Malek Chevrolet Building (a 1930’s brick auto-repair shop) in the center of Hopewell. It is about a 30 minute drive from Trenton. A beautifully renovated establishment, they are part farm market (from their sister farm, Double Brook Farm), part bakery, part coffee shop, part butcher, part cheese shop, and part deli. It’s a little bit like walking into the cafe shop of a Whole Foods, only the food is superior, the ambiance is nicer, and the prices are (believe it or not) slightly higher. Is it worth it? Occasionally.
Updated June 2016 Chencha y Chole (“C y C”) opened in June of 2015 in a distinctive, triangular shaped storefront at the intersection of Cass and S. Broad. Over the past year we’ve eaten there many times. It’s consistently good: and it’s become one of our favorite Latino restaurants in town. C y C is … Continue reading Mountain out of a Mole de Pollo
City Deli is a somewhat misleading name for a small restaurant near the statehouse that is serving up an ambitious, home-cooked, vegetarian-friendly menu. If you’re a carnivore, don’t let the veggie-friendly tag get in the way: you’ll find plenty to eat, too. Indeed the menu is astonishingly broad, ranging from the best salad bar in … Continue reading Deli-cate Offerings
There’s a few terms you must understand in order to properly appreciate NJ Weedman’s Joint, the utterly bizarre (but truly delicious) new restaurant that has opened directly across the street from Trenton’s City Hall. Consider these to be essential vocabulary for the straight-edged: NJWeedman: The name (and Twitter handle) of “celebrity stoner” and marijuana rights activist … Continue reading Weed and Feed
If you like to drink your coffee in a hip, buzzing cafe, then you may need to head over to Princeton. There, you’ll find one of our favorite coffee shops, Small World Coffee. Small World is a Princeton fixture (in fact, there are actually two of them, one on Nassau and one on Witherspoon, though … Continue reading It’s a Small World
The rechristened Broad Street Diner is a superb place to get breakfast. Frankly, I haven’t tried their dinner foods, but if it’s as good as their breakfasts, it will be great.
Once upon a time, Trenton housed a very well-regarded Bagel Shop on South Broad Street, run by the entrepreneurial TC Nelson (now the proprietor of Trenton Social). Since the closing of that shop in 2003, downtown Trenton has been bagel-less. Sure, you can get bagels at one of any number of Dunkin’ Donuts franchises–but those … Continue reading The Bagels Are Back
Crown Fried Chicken is the dive that you expect it to be–or maybe even more so. There are two greasy tables in the corner, but most of the traffic here is take-out. The interior is dominated by a massive menu that wraps around the entire counter–and doesn’t mention falafel at all. (Eventually we did see a small sign in a far corner of the room that mentioned the falafel, but only after we’d eaten.) If you know to ask for it, they’ll happily dish up some falafel for you–and it’s pretty darn good.
Your host, waitress, manager, cook, bus-boy, and dishwasher at Casa Lupita is Alicia, a charming Mexican woman who speaks fluent English. The menu is a little inconsistent, but the best of her food is superb, home cooked Mexican. Casa Lupita also serves some of the best, home-made salsas in town.
If you’re looking for a friendly diner to have a leisurely breakfast in downtown Trenton, look no further than Sunrise Luncheonette. This modest cafe has humble decor and decent food, but its chief selling point is the relaxed atmosphere. Step inside, and you’ll instantly feel like you’re a regular returning to a favorite joint, welcomed by the owner and greeted by your (new) friends.
If Roots has a guiding philosophy in their cuisine, it seems to be delicious, elegant, comfort. They serve food you want to eat, cooked to perfection and served exquisitely. Their ramen warms the soul, the vegetarian version served with a spectacularly poached egg, soft and pliable white with an oozing yolk, filling the bowl with tongue-coating richness. The dim sum and greens are astonishing little bowls of flavor and delight–with care and precision even in the plating of the smallest items. We’ve sampled many of the noodles (including the street noodles, the drunken noodle, and the pad thai) and they are superb. The sushi is served with perfectly seasoned rice and elegant care. The soups are rich and belly-warming, with waves of flavor that wash over your tongue. Even the house-made kimchi is astonishing. The only disappointments so far have been in the dim sum section of the menu–we loved the Shanghai buns, but the bean curd and vegetable dumplings were only middling, as were the soup dumplings (good, but we expect more layers in the flavor of a soup dumpling).
Thomasena’s offers neo-soul food and sandwiches for lunch every day of the week, and for dinner W-Su. If you can wait until 9 AM, you can also pick up a hot breakfast. Some food is served “cafeteria style” from a steam table, and some is prepared to order in the kitchen. I particularly like their jerk chicken, and the Mac & Cheese is, well, heavenly.
Owner Lavalle Williams runs the Downtown Deli with an eye to detail. He’s there almost all the time. The women behind the counter make up a nice sandwich from fresh, high quality cold cuts. Service is fast, even at peak lunch rush. Prices aren’t particularly cheap, but they’re not unreasonable for the quality
In the heart of Lawrenceville (about 15 minutes from downtown Trenton), you’ll find WildFlour, an utterly charming bakery/cafe. Set in a beautiful old house, the bakery features a small service area for ordering pastries, cookies, breads, cakes, scones, etc, as well as a simply gorgeous cafe dining area, tastefully decorated and with beautiful natural light. They have everything that you could possibly want from a bakery (from gorgeous cakes to brazilian cheese puffs), and the cafe boasts a menu of crepes, salads, and sandwiches that’ll make you feel like you’re in Paris. What’s the catch? Everything, absolutely everything, is 100% gluten-free (and vegetarian).
But here’s the trick… depending on what you order, you might not notice that it’s gluten-free. I would put their danishes, cookies, cinnamon rolls, and knishes (oh, the knishes!) against any other bakery’s–they are simply among the best I’ve ever had. The danishes are flaky and decadent, I particularly recommend the nutella danish which is so lush it ought to be illegal. The cookies have just the right blend of browned crumble and buttery softness. The cinnamon rolls are unforgettable, delightfully dense, not too sweet, and with a nutty caramelization on top. And the knishes… you will swoon over these knishes! Light and airy, they are the perfect bite with an exquisite flavor that’ll transport you to a bygone era. They come in two flavors (potato and spinach with caramelized onion) and are only served on weekends or by special order.
The revived Warren Street–Trenton’s own “restaurant row”– used to host a wonderful coffee shop, Cafe Ole. This year, Cafe Ole shut down their walk-in restaurant, functioning solely as a catering business now. Ever since that closing, we’ve been lacking a place to go for a quiet morning cup of coffee downtown–somewhere that wasn’t a diner or a restaurant, but had a coffee shop feel to it. Now there’s a new kid on the block, the E. Front Cafe. Technically not on Warren Street, E. Front Cafe is is right around the corner (appropriately on East Front Street). The cafe provides a humble and cozy coffee shop vibe, a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown life. With a remarkably friendly staff, and an eclectic menu at “Trenton prices” (i.e., significantly less inexpensive than comparable joints in our neighboring towns), it’s a welcome addition to the Warren Street family.
E Front Street 2The best thing about E. Front Cafe is the atmosphere. It’s an quirky mix of tables and booths and odd little trays on wheels, along with scattered phrases written on the walls, a giant American flag, and a hand-written menu on white board. But there’s something delightful about it, and if you find yourself sitting by the window, you’ll enjoy your breakfast or lunch by a warm (though artificial) fireplace. It’s a nice touch.
The Food Court at the Capital Center is a great (hidden away) place downtown to sit down and get out of the weather, and maybe even buy some food. It’s nearly charming, with tall ceilings, tiled floors, and comfortable chairs. If you need to kill a couple of hours between appointments, you can buy a cup of coffee or a sandwich, and be quite cozy while you work on your tablet or laptop. No one will bother you.
The modest shop is run by Abdul, an Afghan native who has had restaurants in Pennsylvania for the last 30 years. He previously operated his Jahan across the street, in what is now a tobacco shop, he later moved to Langhorne, and now he’s back. It’s a clean but very casual place, and in my visits they’ve seemed to cater to a reasonably large take-out crowd. There are a handful of stools by the window and maybe 6 small tables that seat 3-4. In the back, underneath a giant TV that is on too often and too loud is a traditional floor rug and pillows. You order at the counter, but if you’re eating in, Abdul or one of his relatives will bring out your meal for you and bus the table appropriately. Sure, the plates have chips in them and the atmosphere couldn’t be more casual. But once you take a bite, you won’t care.
Tapas. We love ’em. It’s just a fun way to eat… sharing plates and sampling lots of different, usually highly flavored foods. But they’re hard to find in this area. Crispaninos delivers tapas at a quality which ranges from good to superb. Given that this is an inexpensive little restaurant in a Ewing strip mall (in a converted dance studio), it’s shockingly good. The best of it rivals tapas you’ll find in high-end joints. And the decor is actually lovely. Highly recommended for carnivores (not so good for vegetarians).
La Parrilla (grill, in Spanish), is one of the City’s newest Guatemalan restaurants, the city’s most vibrant (and increasingly most competitive) segment. Located in what used to be a tomato pie restaurant, La Parrilla emphasizes grilled meats and seafood.
Set in an unassuming shopping complex just a few blocks away from historic downtown New Hope, this casual restaurant is a vegetarian’s heaven, and an omnivore’s delight. With a 100% vegan menu (that means nothing that had a mother, and no dairy or eggs either!), Sprig &Vine offers a wide-ranging menu of gourmet delights, and for prices far superior to what you would find for comparable food in NYC or Philly.
Don’t let the name fool you, La Chapinita offers a full Guatemalan menu. Order off the menu to get wonderful, fresh-cooked food at incredibly reasonable prices. Located where Papas Tomato Pies used to call home.
Ila Mae’s is a neo-soul restaurant that opened in the winter of 2013 in a charming storefront on the 300 block of Market Street. The menu is eclectic and slightly quirky. Sandwiches are generally featured: most come on a whole wheat torpedo roll or a wrap. There are many vegetarian options, and many meat sandwiches that feature vegetable fillings as well. There is an fairly extensive selection of fish (flounder, tilapia, salmon, whiting) served in sandwiches or dinner entrees.
Opposite the Mercer County Court House(s) on the 200 Block of S. Broad, LexiLu serves a brisk trade of lawyers, clerks, guards, and jurors from the courthouse, plus a smattering of Mill Hill residents and others passing through.
Mariachi Grill (not to be confused with El Mariachi) serves Tres Leches, a fabulous dessert made from sponge cake and traditionally three different kinds of milk: whole, condensed, and evaporated (plus a whipped cream topping). It’s the best I’ve ever had. And I love Tres Leches. For me, there’s no more to be said.
Mastoris is one of those places that doesn’t seem possible when you first go there. First of all, it’s impossibly huge… the website claims they serve up to 2,800 people per day, and certainly the facility is large enough. Second, when you sit down, your waitress will bring you a plate piled high with two loaves of sweet bread, one each of cinnamon and cheese. Don’t eat too much bread, though, since the portions on your order, when it arrives, will be huge.
Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of great breakfast in Trenton. Sure there are some diners and other assorted options, but finding a place that goes beyond the breakfast basics (eggs, pancakes, omelettes, bacon) is rare. That’s what makes Cafe 72 unique. Despite it’s casual luncheonette atmosphere and bargain prices, it is aiming to higher culinary heights (if not always achieving them). What are we talking about? Think Belgian waffles filled with sun-dried figs and topped with blueberry chutney and cannoli cream, “cajun” shrimp and grits with onions and an egg, or portobello mushroom towers with sliced tomato, poached eggs, provolone, and basil hollandaise (pictured here). The menu is supplemented by a variety of specials; on a recent visit we sampled the fresh ricotta donuts with blueberry chutney (and boy were they fresh).
Mi Tierra is another of the many outstanding Guatemalan restaurants in the City of Trenton, serving its burgeoning Latino population. Mi Tierra stands apart because: 1) the food is well prepared, perhaps half a notch better than typical and 2) the decor is better than most. While not fancy by any means, it’s a pleasant place to eat, and the service is friendly.
What sets Jireh apart is its extensive Pupusa menu. Pupusas are stuffed, grilled, home-made tortillas. They originated in El Salvador, but are popular in Guatemala, and increasingly found in Trenton restauarants. They are fantastic.