Surprise! Jersey City

Across the Hudson River from Manhattan sits Jersey City — hip and relaxed, taking the long view. This astonishing little city is proof of art’s power to renew and restore.

Cultural Revival

The first thing you see when you emerge from the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) train is The Jersey City Wave by Shepard Fairey, 150 ft. mural symbolizing the city’s economic and creative renaissance. “Public art enriches people’s lives,” says Fairey. Yes.Chefs, designers and entrepreneurs are upcycling, revitalizing, and re-imagining this ambitious little city. From what’s on the wall to what’s on your plate, Jersey City is enjoying a creative rebirth fueled by art, affordability and livability. My sparkling and savvy sister Seeky lives here — of course.

We head for the TapHaus, a waterfront gastro-pub with panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline, a vast array of brews “on deck,” and world-class truffle fries. Why resist? We savor a flight of Delirium Tremes, La Fin du Monde, Brooklyn Lager, and Lagunita.  As the fragile early moon rises, we’re still sipping local, deep into Jersey Devil IPA.

We chuckle at the names. We savor the fries. Life’s good in Jersey City.

Melting Pot

Since its early days as an Ellis Island hub, this multicultural mecca boasts culinary influences from India, Italy, the Philippines, Cuba, Egypt, Mexico and more. New Jersey noodle queen, Ani Ramen, will soon be joining the colorful lineup. Our fave Hell’s Kitchen go-to, Two Boots Pizza, has an offbeat outpost here — don’t miss the Boss Hague pizza, named for Jersey City’s roaring-twenties mayor. Fresh herbs, briny clams, smoky ham, and provolone combine for a flavorful homage to the melting pot that is Jersey City.


With New York City rents reaching absurd heights, housing remains accessible here thanks in part to a marketing campaign called Across the River, enticing New Yorkers priced out of Park Slope. A 10-minute PATH commute puts Manhattan within easy reach.

Sip. Savor. Repeat.

Jersey City is gentrifying and urban sophistication is on the rise. From landmark Colgate Clock to the Powerhouse Arts District, tempting things are happening here. Dying for a master class in Deep Dark Chocolate?  Try Bucket & Bay, the self-proclaimed “small batch made from scratch” artisanal gelato maker offering tastings, classes, and pairings. For authentic old-school homemade ice-cream deliciousness, my nephew Cody prefers Torico. Jersey City has a decadent, dreamy treat for everyone.

663bba211e626510e592432f293a334a60d6c370Mamma Mia

Whether you’re a red-sauce-and-meatballs traditionalist or churrasco and curry fan, Jersey City has an upscale or down-home restaurant for you. Coffee shops and bakeries like ooh-la-la Chocopain Boulangerie thrive here, balancing the hipster vibe while supporting the local economy. Yum.

Location, Location

Enjoy a promenade through Van Vorst Park, a quiet urban oasis that reminds me of Washington Square Park. Surrounded by stately brownstones, I imagine sharing a park bench with Henry James — literary time-travel. Little Van Vorst is a gem, a historic oasis with meandering gardens, summer concerts, Yoga, Shakespeare in the Park, farmers’ market and film series.

Stop to admire the funkadelic City Hall, a Victorian classic. She’s still a grand dame to me.

Jersey City’s surprising amount of green space includes Liberty State Park, a thousand-acre oasis in the center of town. Skip the winding NYC queues and inhale the fresh air and local history on the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island ferries, nearby.

Blinded Me With Science

My nephew Cody is an awesome tour guide. He directs us to his favorite spot, the Liberty Science Center, super cool, with hands-on activities in several sprawling exhibition spaces. The live animal collection has over 100 species. There’s a giant aquarium with enormous creepy fish. Don’t miss the tornado wind machine and endless gift shop.

We  savor some very scientific Dippin’ Dots, something new to me. Cody explains that they’re tiny beads of cryogenically frozen ice cream — minus-320ºF, to be precise. We learn that this is NOT the ice cream that the astronauts eat; theirs is freeze-dried. Okay. From reclining cushy seats in the IMAX theater, we enjoy A Beautiful Planet — a vertiginous film about space travel that makes babies cry and grownups feel wobbly. But Cody and his kid-cohort are in the groove.

We will return to this surprising little city on the Hudson — count on it.  •

About Epicurious Travelers

Ms. Margolis-Pineo created to showcase her published work and ongoing food-travel adventures. Based in Portland, Maine, she travels frequently both in her home state and north to Montreal, her favorite North American city. Although she refuses to use the word "foodie," she has an abiding interest in food and wine. Ms. Margolis-Pineo's background as a designer gives her site an edge in the oversaturated blogosphere. New contacts, "likes," subscribers and content are always welcome!
This entry was posted in Art and Culture, East Coast Travel, New York City, Off-the-beaten-track, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Surprise! Jersey City

  1. Mark says:

    Sounds nice, I would consider spending time there.

  2. Sarah Marsh says:


    I am going to share this with everyone I know. Love it! And Cody-roo featured–wow. He will love that.

    Thanks so much–I am SO happy you also love this big little city that we call home.

    Still sick. Cannot believe I am still super sick. YUUUUUUUCK. My goal? Better by beebtime. 100%.

    huge hugs xoxoxo

    On Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 8:14 AM, wrote:

    > Epicurious Travelers posted: “Across the Hudson River from Manhattan sits > Jersey City — hip and relaxed, taking the long view. This astonishing > little city is proof of art’s power of art to renew and restore. Cultural > Revival The first thing you see when you emerge from the Port Autho” >

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