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A Guide To Loving Jersey City

August 6, 2010 10:18 AM

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(credit: Liberty Science Center)

(credit: Liberty Science Center)

Ever wondered what’s on the OTHER side of the Hudson River? Don’t let visions of an episode of “Jersey Shore” scare you. There really is more to this state than tanning oil, muscles and beer, especially when it comes to downtown Jersey City. It won’t take you as long as you might think to get there: Downtown Jersey City’s plethora of restaurants are just a 10 minute ride from Lower Manhattan.

Attractions

Liberty Science Center

222 Jersey City Boulevard
Jersey City, NJ 07305
(201) 200-1000
www.lsc.org

Reviews & more info

The Liberty Science Center is an expansive science museum with the largest IMAX dome theater in the United States. It also offers a cafe with surprisingly tasty food. Make a day of it by exploring the varied and extensive exhibits – including the largest exhibition of skyscrapers in the world with artifacts from the World Trade Center, an I-Beam walk two stories above the exhibition floor and an earthquake shake room – before beating the summer heat in the air-conditioned theater’s comfy seats before a documentary shot entirely in 3D. Adult ticket $15.75; children’s $11.50. The IMAX theater is $9 for adults and $7 for children.

libertystatepark1 A Guide To Loving Jersey City

The restored railway station at the north end of Liberty State Park housing festivals, concerts and other cultural happenings.

Liberty State Park

Morris Pesin Drive
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-3403
www.libertystatepark.org

Reviews & more info

Teeming with history and offering spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, Liberty State Park is located only 2,000 feet from the Statue of Liberty and offers boat tours to see Lady Liberty herself. Most of the 1,122 acre park is designated as open space with 300 acres developed for public recreation. Ornithology enthusiasts should pack their binoculars as numerous species of birds live here. Bike enthusiasts will love the labyrinth bike paths. At the north end of the park is the restored railway station which houses festivals, concerts and other cultural happenings. Immigrants once processed at Ellis Island purchased tickets at this railroad station, boarding trains en route to their new lives.

Jersey City Museum of Art

350 Montgomery Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 413-0303
www.jerseycitymuseum.org

Reviews & more info

The Jersey City Art Museum exhibits American art dating from the colonial period through the present, placing emphasis on supporting the work of contemporary artists. Works include painting, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, furniture, metals, textiles, maps, industrial objects and ephemera. A walk through this storied building indicates its genesis as part of the Jersey City Free Public Library. The museum offers workshops for adults including life drawing, painting technique and photo art classes.

Hamilton Park

Bordered by 8th and 9th Streets on the north and south, and by Coles and Erie on the east and west

A quiet park surrounded by 19th century brownstone homes, Hamilton Park has recently undergone a renovation that is making it the hub of downtown Jersey City. The 4.5 acre park has two brand-new tennis courts, basketball courts, a modern playground, a dog-run and frequent farmers’ markets. The park was named after Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington. Hamilton was shot and killed in a duel with political rival Aaron Burr in nearby

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Restaurants

Toricos

20 Erie Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 432-9458
www.skinnersloft.com

Reviews & more info

Toricos is a true gem of Jersey City, a mom and pop store with a friendly, down home atmosphere offering fresh, homemade ice cream at reasonable prices. In addition to the standards, Toricos offers more exotic options such as avocado, ginger, mamey (similar to an almond, cherry mix) as well as milkshakes, sundaes and ice cream pints to-go.

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Light Horse Tavern

199 Washington Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302-4527
(201) 946-2028
www.lighthorsetavern.com

Reviews & more info

The restaurant’s title hearkens back to American Gen. Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, who led his men on raids against the British in the Revolutionary War, triumphing in a surprise attack on 400 British soldiers near the location of today’s Light Horse Tavern. The restaurant is more than deserving of the storied title –atmosphere and food are grade A and service is welcoming and efficient, unlike the majority of other upscale restaurants in the neighborhood. Simple wooden tables nestled next to large bay windows give the restaurant an air of comfort and class. Menu items such as butter poached lobster gnocchi and BBQ skirt steak are both familiar and delicious. Average entry plate is $25.

Mario and Pepe

289 Grove Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 860-9688
www.marcoandpepe.com

This chic yet low-key “New American” restaurant in downtown Jersey City offers a foodie-friendly menu with a well-edited wine list. Try a meat and cheese platter loaded with Serrano ham, chorizo and gourmet cheese or a specialty dish such as the grilled lobster scallop burger. Service is slower than is necessary, but the atmosphere is fun and the food is good, when it comes. Entrees range from $14-$25.

Madame Claude Café

364 4th Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 876-8800
www.madameclaudecafe.com

Authentic French restaurant with quaint, homey atmosphere, great service and good food. Some things are done better than others here. For example, the roast duck with port wine reduction sauce is outstanding for dinner, as is the flourless chocolate cake for dessert – but the brunch menu lacks substance and originality. On the brunch/lunch side, about the only items to recommend are the crepes and the spicy lamb sandwich. The outdoor tables, excellent cappuccinos, friendly service and French memorabilia adorning the walls make it worth a visit.

Skinner’s Loft

146 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 915-0600
www.skinnersloft.com

Reviews & more info

A casual place to get a bite to eat with three well-laid out floors, each with its own eclectic architectural elements harkening back to its roots as a historic brownstone home. The food could be described as upscale comfort food: Menu items include fresh berry and mixed green salad, organic French cut chicken breast, barbequed baby back ribs and flat iron steak with garlic-chive fries. Perhaps the most clever facet of this cozy establishment is the upstairs outdoor roof patio, glorious on a warm summer night with a pitcher of beer and a group of friends.

Café Basic

231 8th st
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 656-5900

A quintessential Hamilton Park favorite, Basic offers great sandwiches (the chicken sundried tomato pesto is our favorite), coffee and pastries. Large, fresh cookies can be purchased for under a dollar, and they really hit the spot on a cold, rainy day in the neighborhood. The owners have done a good job with the décor, mixing in details from the historic brownstone the storefront derives from with more modern touches.

Café La Rustique

611 Jersey Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 222-6886

A quintessential Hamilton Park favorite, Basic offers great sandwiches (the chicken sundried tomato pesto is our favorite), coffee and pastries. Large, fresh cookies can be purchased for under a dollar, and they really hit the spot on a cold, rainy day in the neighborhood. The owners have done a good job with the décor, mixing in details from the historic brownstone the storefront derives from with more modern touches.

Bars

Zeppelin Hall Restaurant and Biergarten

88 Grand Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 721-8888
www.zeppelinhall.com

When the massive outdoor patio is open during the summer, we like to think of Zeppelin Hall as Disneyland for adults. Maybe it’s the fact that the space holds up to 500 people at a time, most of them young and attractive and all seated at picnic tables. Apparently all is not perfect in this utopia of the young and single, however, as public disputes over beer, women or both are not uncommon.

Sandbar

11 Luis Munoz Marin Blvd
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 714-5000

Sandbar has an expansive outdoor patio overlooking Manhattan, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and boasts a sand beach. Summertime at the Sandbar is known to be the ‘spot’ with heavyweight DJ appearances and dancing all night. The party is moved indoors as the cold weather blows in with winter. The interior of the bar boasts two separate dance floors, four lounges and a dining area. The crowd is even younger and less mature than at Zeppelin.

Iron Monkey

99 Greene Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 435-5756
www.ironmonkey.com

Reviews & more info

The Iron Monkey has a nice rooftop bar and an extensive beer list, but it can be difficult to get service on the rooftop during the busy summer months. The food is generally sub par for bar food, but you’ll do OK with the mac and cheese and burgers – i.e. the basics. The Iron Monkey is just one block from the Exchange Place Path train, making it a very quick visit from Manhattan.

White Star

230 Brunswick Street
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 653-9234
www.whitestarbar.com

Tucked away on a quiet corner next to Jones Park, the White Star Bar serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. The food isn’t bad for bar food, although not all menu items are rated the same. Locals know the buffalo wings are the signature item, and the mac and cheese makes a pleasing side dish. The breakfast quesadilla tends to be a bit heavy and greasy, but it’s a lot of food for the price. There are several HD TVs, making it a good spot to catch a game.

LITM

140 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 536-5557
www.litm.com

Reviews & more info

A trendy, high-priced but chic hangout, LITM (short for “Love Is The Message” – don’t ask us) offers bar food ranging from a house beet salad to sliders to fried artichokes. While the menu goes beyond the traditional, the food is over salted and lacking in complexity. LITM does showcase some good local art, and is conveniently located two blocks from the Grove Street Path train. $3 Happy Hour mini martinis.

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