Essex County has some of the best food in the New Jersey and New Jersey has some of the best food in the country. Although some of the best bagels and pizza hail from NJ, we also, shockingly, have some amazing ramen, pancakes, sushi, and doughnuts.
With towns such as Montclair, Millburn, and Newark in the mix, Essex County stands out in comparison to other NJ counties. That being said, you should most definitely make an effort to try all the best eateries that hail from Essex County.
1. Montclair Bread Company
Perhaps one of the most well-known Essex County establishments, Montclair Bread Company is uber popular for a reason. Located in a Montclair side street, this tiny café-esque bakery is home to some amazing doughnuts such as Nutella Stuffed, Tres Leches, Fruity Pebbles, as well as a ton of seasonal varieties. Be prepared, though, as the lines at Montclair Bread Company are typically long, so get there early.
2. Millburn Delicatessen
Millburn Delicatessen is also one of North Jersey’s most well known and loved establishments. And for a good reason: Millburn Deli is home to some of the best sandwiches ever. Make an effort to head over there and grab yourself a Griller #8 and homemade iced tea.
3. Ani Ramen House
Wait, what? Good ramen in North Jersey? Who knew. Ani Ramen House in Montclair is killing the ramen game, just ask the New York Times. I suggest getting the #1 Ramen and some shrimp tempura buns. Trust me.
4. Honey’s Kitchen
Located in a tiny house on an unassuming side road, Honey’s Kitchen does not look like your typical brunch place. Luckily, people somehow discovered Honey’s, and for that, I am forever grateful. Some of their best dishes include the Challah French Toast and Greek Salad.
The Italian influence in New Jersey is real, and it does not discriminate when it comes to gelato. The Nutella, cannoli, and chocolate raspberry gelato are stellar, but I won’t judge if you get their ice cream. Because, of course, it’s really good too.
As its name suggest, Toast is the perfect place for breakfast. Start out your morning with Nutella-stuffed french toast, red velvet pancakes, or a hearty omelette.
7. Inspiration Roll
Don’t feel like traveling to New York City for a sushi burrito? I get it. Sushi burritos are popping up everywhere and Inspiration Roll has one of the best. But if sushi isn’t your thing, they also have some pretty great ramen.
All-vegan restaurants are pretty rare to come by, especially in the suburbs of North Jersey. But, lo and behold, Positivitea exists. Complete with vegan burgers, sandwiches, waffles, and doughnuts, Positivitea is a true gem for anyone with a completely plant-based diet.
9. Cupcakes by Carousel
Sometimes, you just crave a good cupcake. When these cravings come along, head on over to Cupcakes by Carousel. Some of my favorites include The Elvis, s’mores, and chocolate peanut butter. But can you really go wrong with any flavor cupcake?
10. Village Trattoria
Village Trattoria delivers a unique twist on your favorite comfort food, pizza. If you ever get bored of normal pizza, just head here and try a chicken finger and french fry, tortellini, or chicken bacon ranch pizza. There will be no regrets.
11. Original Pancake House
Famous for their pancakes (obviously), Original Pancake is another North Jersey must go to. I suggest the apple pancake, Dutch Baby, or coconut pancakes. But, seriously, anything on their menu is delicious.
12. Asalt & Buttery
Asalt & Buttery is the place to go to satisfy your sweet tooth. Opt for a couple of macarons or a decadent s’mores tart whenever your sweet tooth starts acting up.
This restaurant is a millennial day dream: Instagram-worthy floors, food, tables, and coffee. Because, you know, if you don’t post a picture to Instagram, did it actually happen? Brunch is kind of Raymond’s thing, so lines are unavoidable most of the time, but it’s worth it. Once you take a bite of their french bread french toast, you won’t even remember the thirty minutes you just waited.
14. Sweet Basil’s Cafe
Strawberry mascarpone french toast, tiramisu pancakes, and a “Benny bar” are just a few of the items that you will find on Sweet Basil’s Cafe. Plus, they have a great variety of items for vegans and vegetarians. Spend your next weekend in Livingston for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Mancinni’s is one of Montclair’s best hidden gems, which is good for you because that means none of Montclair’s notorious restaurant lines. Pizza is a New Jersey staple, and Mancinni’s makes it pretty damn well. Next time you’re in Montclair and need somewhere to eat, Mancinni’s is your place. Grab a kale salad and classic pie and you’re good to go.
16. Green Point Juicery
Green Point Juicery is definitely a gem, since good juice and smoothie spots are pretty hard to find outside of major cities. They use super fresh fruits and vegetables, have juices to go, and even stock local honey. If you’re on a health kick, or just craving a fresh juice, Green Point Juicery is definitely a good idea.
17. Arturo’s Osteria and Pizzeria
Located in the heart of Maplewood, NJ, Arturo’s seems like your typical neighborhood restaurants. But it is home to some of Essex County’s finest pizza. Lines are common here, and for a good reason. The ricotta crostini and Margherita pizza are a must.
18. The Squirrel and the Bee
The Squirrel and the Bee is the go to spot for anybody who is gluten-free. Don’t be scared by the term “grainless bakery.” Gluten-free foods can be good and this bakery is the perfect example. Acai bowls, cakes, pies, and doughnuts are just a few of the amazing menu items at The Squirrel and the Bee.
19. The Pie Store
The Pie Store is a Montclair bakery that specializes in sweet & savory British pies, as well as imported British groceries. The apple, banoffee, and and chicken tikka pies are all noteworthy and delicious.
20. Cuban Pete’s
Cuban Pete’s serves up some amazing Cuban food in a super authentic environment. Seriously, you will feel like you’re on a tropical vacation while eating here. The non-alcoholic sangrias are to die for along with the empanadas and Cuban sandwiches.
21. Fat Fish Taco
Almost brand new to the area, Fat Fish Taco is still somewhat of a hidden gem. But I doubt it will last that way for long because they are cooking up some great tacos and nachos. I promise the Fat Fish Taco will satisfy all your Mexican food cravings.
22. Anthony’s Cheesecake
Who needs the Cheesecake Factory when you can get the cheesecake from Anthony’s? A small hole-in-the-wall type restaurant/bakery, Anthony’s Cheesecake is worth a visit, even if you’re not from Essex County. Cheesecake may be their speciality, but they make some mean food, including waffle sliders.
23. The Corner
The Corner is an Instagrammer’s heaven: mason jar drinks, gourmet coffee, and avocado toast, obviously. This place is fresh, aesthetically pleasing, and has great tasting food. What else could you want?
24. Dough Artisan Pizza
Dough is just another pizza place that affirms the fact New Jersey rules the pizza game. This place has good pizza and that’s all you really need to know.
Going into Holsten’s is like stepping into a time machine to the ’50s. Famous for being featured in the Soprano’s series finally, Holsten’s is an old-school ice cream joint. Stop in, sit in Tony’s booth, and order a really good milkshake.
26. PF Market
PF Market is unique in that it is a restaurant and a local fish market. Pretty cool for North Jersey. Order yourself lobster mac and cheese or some seafood risotto for a damn good meal.
27. Uncle Momo
The nice thing about New Jersey food is that it is super diverse. Uncle Momo is a Lebanese restaurant located right on Bloomfield Ave that dishes out some incredible Mediterranean food. You don’t want to miss out on their chicken kebabs and shakshuka.
What seems like a casual Italian take-out place, Forte’s actually has a pretty awesome sit-down menu with great food. Some of my favorites include their pasta fagioli soup and basically any pasta dish.
29. Taqueria Las Mexicanas
Taqueria Las Mexicanas makes some of the most authentic Mexican food in all of North Jersey. Get four tacos for only $6-8, grab a Jarritos soda and make a meal of it.
30. Le Salbuen Cafe Market
Montclair houses a ton of cute, urban cafes and Le Salbuen is no exception. With a fresh and super loca menu, Le Salbuen is the perfect fit for any vegan or vegetarian, along with any meat-lover.
New Jersey most definitely has its fair share of sushi restaurants, but Ocha stands out above the rest. With items like sushi pizza and banana tempura rolls, Ocha is a Asian food game-changer.
32. The Able Baker
The Able Baker is a bakery tucked away in Maplewood Village. Although known for their scones, nearly all their baked goods are exceptional. Add on the amazing vibes and store aesthetic, and you’ve got yourself a new favorite bakery in Essex County.
33. Ritz Diner
Diners are a New Jersey classic, and The Ritz is an Essex County staple, just ask around. Order yourself the famous Marian salad and see what New Jersey diners are all about.
34. Chestnut Street Cafe
If you couldn’t already tell, North Jersey does breakfast like nobody else. Obviously, Chestnut Street Cafe follows the trend of amazing New Jersey breakfast food.
35. Mishmish Coffee and Food
Mishmish prides itself in sourcing local foods with a Mediterranean flare. The chefs here create authentic Mediterranean dishes that are delicious and beautifully prepared.
36. Cucina Calandra
Italian food is what New Jersey people do best and Calandra’s does not disappoint. Order some pizza or pasta, or both. Id don’t judge. And don’t forget to head to their bakery right next store to pick up some cannoli for the ride home.
37. El Matador Mexican Restaurant
El Matador is old school, hardcore Mexican food. Ditch the Chipotle for a night and try El Matador out. What are you waiting for?
38. Bluestone Coffee Co.
Good food, good vibes, even better coffee. If you want to cheat on Starbucks and support your local coffee shop, go to Bluestone Coffee Shop ASAP.
39. The Star Tavern
This place makes really really good thin crust pizza. With the perfect amount of crust and crunch, this is your only destination for thin crust pizza in Essex County.
40. Kohr’s Frozen Custard
Although usually a Jersey Shore delicacy, Kohr’s recently opened an output in Fairfield, New Jersey. With summer just around the corner, Kohr’s is the perfect place to go when you don’t feel like sitting in the shore traffic but still want some of the best frozen custard around.
41. Plum on Park
It’s not every day that you get to dine in what essentially a purple train car with really good food. The vibes in this place are stellar. But don’t just take my word. Find out for yourself and head to Plum on Park for your next brunch date.
42. Mark and Julie’s
Can you ever go wrong with homemade ice cream? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Make sure to bring cash though since it is cash-only.
43. Red Eye Cafe
Red Eye Cafe does everything well: breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. Plus, really great baked goods. Just look at that s’mores cookie and try not to drool.
44. Nasto’s Ice Cream Co.
Rich, creamy, delicious ice cream. That’s really are there is to Nasto’s Ice Cream Co. Get yours in a cup, cone, or cookie if you’re feeling adventurous.
45. Groov Cafe and Juice Bar
Groove Cafe and Juice Bar is the hipster daydream. With occasional live music, healthy food, and good juice, Groov is another one of Montclair’s best eating establishments.
46. The Salad House
The Salad House is always a fresh, clean, affordable dinner and lunch option. Ask anyone in Essex Couty where the best salads are and this will be their answer.
47. Rock’n’ Joe
Rock’n’ Joe has one of the best cups of coffee in Essex County, if not the best. With locations in Millburn and Caldwell, Rock’n’ Joe is practically convenient to any Essex County citizen.
48. Emack and Bolio’s
Probably the most Instagram-worthy ice cream place ever. Emack and Bolio’s are famous for their crazy ice cream cones with toppings like fruit loops, Rice Krispies, and cake pieces.
49. Jerusalem Restaurant
Good Israeli food is pretty hard to find in general, let alone in New Jersey. Yet Jerusalem Restaurant somehow does it with life-changing falafel, hummus, and Israeli salad.
50. Central Burger
Central Burger makes a mean burger, obviously, and some pretty great milkshakes. Flavors of milkshakes include apple jacks, s’mores, fruity pebbles, and coco puffs and about a dozen kinds of burgers are served.