Welcome to my guide for to the best restaurants in Jersey City Heights.
This area, generally referred to as simply “The Heights” is a diverse neighborhood that has experienced significant gentrification in recent years. As young professionals either became priced out of Hoboken or saw an opportunity to buy homes at a much lower price point, they began moving up the cliff. And they brought disposable income and a desire for more restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
While the main business district is along Central Avenue, many of the newest and best restaurants in Jersey City Heights have sprung up several blocks to the east, closer to Palisade Ave and Hoboken.
From a cafe that serves Roman style pizza, to an Italian sandwich shop, and even a cafe with some west African influences, here are the best restaurants in Jersey City Heights.
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Where is Jersey City Heights?
Jersey City Heights is an area of Jersey City that lies to the west of Hoboken. It is typically referred to as “the Heights” as it is an elevated area separated from Hoboken by a hill or cliff (depending on the area).
Unlike downtown Jersey City, there aren’t any PATH train stations for convenient access to Manhattan. To get to the Heights from Manhattan, most people would either take a bus from Port Authority or take the PATH to Journal Square and then a bus from there.
The Heights is generally a working-class neighborhood with 2 or 3 story residential buildings, and no hi-rises. And while more and more Caucasians have been moving into the area, it is still 43% Hispanic and thus you will find many grocery stores and restaurants that cater to this demographic.
Best Restaurants in Jersey City Heights
If I had to choose the single best restaurant in Jersey City Heights, it is Corto. And it’s up there with a few others as one of my favorite restaurants in Hudson County.
This Italian gem opened in 2018 and has a charming backyard patio for outdoor dining. While once a secret to just Jersey City locals, people from Hoboken now make the trek up the cliff to come here.
Try one of the many homemade pasta dishes or their renowned Angry Chicken. This is chicken simmered in Chianti for 3 hours with tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, and chilies and has been a staple on their menu since the day they opened.
Due to the small size and popularity, reservations are recommended. And it is important to note that Corto is BYOB, so bring a bottle or two of wine.
The Franklin is a captivating Italian eatery in Jersey City Heights, where Chef Jamie Ramirez showcases fresh pasta in dishes like the Cacio e Pepe and Lamb Ragu Pappardelle. Non pasta delights include a braised short rib and the inventive Franklin burger topped with guacamole, burrata, and chorizo. The octopus appetizer featuring brown butter and Chile de Árbol, is one of my favorites. Please note that the Franklin is a BYOB restaurant.
But while the dinner menu has an Italian focus, breakfast (weekdays) and brunch (weekends) offer a delightful array of eggs Benedict, sweet treats like brioche French toast with mascarpone butter, and fluffy ricotta pancakes. But honestly, it’s the touch of Mexican that includes huevos rancheros and even more so the chilaquiles that makes this one of my favorite brunch restaurants in Jersey City.
Nestled just of JFK Boulevard in a residential neighborhood of the Heights, The Hutton is more than just a bar—it’s a haven for food and sports enthusiasts.
Steeped in history as a former speakeasy, its interior ambiance pays tribute to the past with exposed brick and original bar elements. It’s the kind of place that you will feel equally comfortable with a beer or glass of wine. While the outdoor patio boasts flat-screen TVs that make it an ideal spot for Sunday football.
The menu delights with what I think are the best wings in the Heights (can be made with cauliflower as well), pork buns, and even a sweet potato tamale. The skirt steak, pastas, and seafood choice make this a place worthy of a date night dinner.
But my pick for the best lunch in the Jersey City Heights is the fried chicken naan sandwich made with street corn, arugula, and cheddar cheese sauce.
Weekend brunch is also worth a visit.
The Best Pizza
Bread & Salt
Bread & Salt is where pizza aficionados and foodies gather for an extraordinary treat. Open only on Fridays through Sundays, this takeout-only spot crafts Romana-style pizzas that transport you straight to Campo de’ Fiori. The Pizza Rossa (no cheese) and Pizza Mozzarella tantalize with their simple yet exquisite flavors. And the Focaccia with tomato and green olives is simply amazing.
But that’s not all – explore their array of Italian pastries, like the heavenly bomboloni and crostatas. Fortunately, Bread & Salt has shifted to an efficient online shop, offering pantry items, sandwiches, and signature pies for pickup or walk-up service.
What to Order at Bread & Salt:
- Roman style Pizza Rossa or Pizza Mozzarella
- Focaccia: with tomato and green olives
Jersey City is blessed to have two great pizza spots and two great cocktail bars all nearby. And Low Fidelity is both those things. To make it simple, Low Fidelity is the best place to come for Detroit style pizza and cocktails.
Detroit style pizza is a square pie that is baked in a sheet pan and the sauce is ladled on top of the cheese. But they also have white pizzas (no sauce) and even a pretty damn good pesto pizza. Make sure you order at least one pizza if it’s your first time here.
But if you are fortunate enough to frequent this place, then you might want to expand into the salads, appetizers, and sandwiches.
The beer menu has hipster favorites like Miller High Life and Narragansett, but also serves selections from small breweries like Maine Beer Co, Allagash, and others. But it’s likely you’ll find something on the cocktail menu to satisfy you.
What to Order at Low Fidelity:
- Motor City Detroit Style Pizza: curend pepperoni, smoked pepperoni, mozzarella, marinara, and a side of hot honey
Breakfast & Brunch
Healthy and delicious meals take center stage at The Cliff, a restaurant with a focus on vegan and vegetarian dishes with unprocessed ingredients. But there are some meat options, plus an Icelandic cod burger that I highly recommend.
This cafe serves only breakfast and lunch, featuring homemade smoothies, fresh-pressed juices, and options like brioche French toast topped with berries, almonds, coconut, and mascarpone. Options like the avocado toast and the breakfast burrito with potatoes and black beans can be made using tofu scramble rather than eggs. Or they also have buffalo cauliflower tacos, a quinoa wrap, and a vegan burger.
Whether dining in or grabbing a healthy meal to-go, The Cliff offers a delightful haven for those seeking a vegan restaurant with nourishing eats. It’s a kid friendly cafe, and the backyard only adds to the warm atmosphere.
Griot Cafe is an all-day cafe with Afro-Caribbean influences that celebrate diverse cultural cuisines. In parts of West Africa a Griot is someone who may be a historian, storyteller, or musician. And in Haiti, a griot is a beloved dish made with simmered pork shoulder. Since the owners come from Kenya, Senegal, and Haiti, this was a perfect name to tell their story through food. And the namesake Griot Sandwich served with guacamole and slaw on a plantain is absolutely the best thing to order here.
But the light and pillowy Kenyan beignets are also a must try, and you’ll typically see them on nearly every table of diners in the cafe. Additionally, the Kenyan Samosas and Haitian turnovers filled with beef, chicken, fish, or vegetables are tasty treats.
There are of course many other breakfast delights, including avocado toast, creole chicken and waffles, or more typical American dishes that include eggs and pancakes.
If you are a coffee connoisseur, then you can find cold brew on tap. Or better yet, try the Gri-Oat Latte, a delightful mix of double espresso, oat milk, honey, and coconut.
What to Order at Griot Cafe:
- Griot Sandwich: Simmered pork shoulder, guacamole, and slaw on a plantain
- Kenyan Beignets: With or without chocolate
- Creole Chicken & Waffles
Best Bars in Jersey City Heights
Fox & Crow
Fox & Crow is a vibrant Pub and Parlour in Jersey City Heights that exudes eclectic charm. The eye-catching graffiti on the exterior opens into the pub with a small bar and some booth seating.
The beer menu is small but decent selection that typically includes some microbrews, ciders, and at least one sour or Gose. But really, Fox & Crow is one of the two best cocktail bars in the Heights, so the cocktail menu is where I suggest starting. Dining is a casual experience with burgers, sandwiches, and bar food.
But the not-quite-secret room is really what makes this bar a gem. You might not even know it’s there until you see people occasionally heading to the back of the pub and then disappearing.
Because past the bathrooms and through a somewhat non-descript door lies the Parlour. This is where they host live music that can include rock, jazz, or even bluegrass or other event such as comedy nights.
The Corkscrew Bar
Corkscrew Bar in Jersey City Heights has been around for over 40 years and is a true neighborhood bar. You’ll find many of the same customers there after work or on the weekends.
With free WiFi and many flat screen TVs, it’s one of the best bars to go for Sunday football games or even your fantasy football draft.
While the menu is largely bar type food (wings, fries, etc), the burgers made with Pat LaFrieda short-rib blend patties are the thing to get. The SmokeHouse Burger, adorned with cheddar cheese, smoked onions, sriracha aioli, moonshine BBQ sauce, and bacon, is my personal favorite. Or you can build your own.
In addition to the burgers, it’s the rotating menu of local beers that keep me coming back. While the specific beers change, you’ll generally find a selection from local breweries like 902 Brewing (Jersey City, NJ), Bolero (Carlstadt, NJ), and Ghost Hawk (Clifton, NJ) on tap.
What to Order at Corkscrew Bar:
- Pat LaFrieda Burgers
- Rotating tap of local beers
Paulie’s Brickhouse on Central Ave is the ultimate outdoor spot in Jersey City. The rooftop bar has stunning views of Jersey City, Hoboken, and the Manhattan skyline beyond.
Downstairs has a sports bar feel, with plenty of TVs, wings and burgers. It’s a great spot for football games and UFC matches. The brick oven pizzas are creatively named after Jersey City’s landmarks and neighborhoods. But it’s the chicken parm sandwich made on the oven baked bread, that is my go-to. The bread is thin and similar to pita bread and makes these sandwiches unique.
The brunch menu includes favorites like avocado toast, a Brickhouse burger, buttermilk pancakes, and a carbonara pizza with mozzarella, roasted potatoes, bacon, and fried eggs.
An Institution Since the 1939 World's Fair
White Mana Diner
White Manna Diner in Jersey City Heights is a timeless gem, famous for its iconic burgers and fries. Originally built for the 1939 World’s Fair as the Diner of the Future, Louis Bridges bought the structure a few years later and relocated it to Jersey City. This cash-only joint offers quick counter service, making it a go-to spot to satisfy cravings any time of day (though White Mana is no longer open 24 hours).
While the menu also features steak sandwiches, hot dogs, and breakfast options, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t order any of those. Because the burgers remain the star attraction, drawing diners from near and far.
While White Manna has appeared on nearly every show on the Food Network, these burgers are not for everyone. The burgers are very thin and about as far from gourmet as you can get. But there’s something about this place that has made it iconic and a staple of New Jersey almost as much as pork roll.
There is a second location in Hackensack. The name for both locations was actually White Manna (spelled with two Ns) but someone repairing the sign in the 1980’s lost one of the Ns and ever since the Jersey City location has operated as White Mana while Hackensack goes by White Manna.
The Best Coffee Shops
Froth on Franklin
Nestled in Jersey City Heights since 2017, Froth on Franklin Coffee and Espresso Bar impresses with their superb coffee creations, friendly atmosphere, and delicious pastries.
Locally roasted by Kobrick Coffee Co, these beans might make the best hot or iced coffee and lattes in town. This coffee shop also offers artisanal loose leaf teas, affogatos, and a seasonal drink menu.
Set in a charming Italianate-style building from the 1870s, this neighborhood cafe exudes warmth and passion, with owners Al and Maria’s dedication to quality coffee and service shining through every cup. The only problem is that because of the small space, they don’t want customers sitting and working on laptops for very long.
Lil' Dove Cafe
Lil’ Dove Cafe delights with its Intelligentsia coffee and a menu that offers a variety of pastries, avocado toast, bagels and lox, empanadas, and of course classic breakfast sandwiches made with pork roll.
Non-coffee drinkers can enjoy an assortment of teas and a range of refreshing cold-pressed juices. The cafe boasts a charming indoor seating area and a sunny outdoor space, making it a perfect spot for a relaxing brunch experience.
Additionally, visitors can explore their gift shop, which offers a range of fun items like shirts, mugs, socks, candles, and more. This coffee shop has good WiFi and is popular for remote working.
A Sandwich Shop with Fresh Mozzarella
Veloce Specialty Sandwiches
Finally, you don’t have to walk down to Fiore’s or Vito’s for good sandwiches anymore. I still suggest making that walk FYI, I’m just saying there’s now a closer alternative.
Veloce Specialty Sandwiches is offering up some high-quality Italian-influenced sandwiches with homemade fresh mozzarella made daily.
Its menu of thirteen cold and four hot sandwiches are served on fresh bread from Elio’s Bakery & Deli. The menu also includes salads, pasta dishes, and sides like crispy chicken nuggets with Veloce sauce. But generally, the sandwiches are the thing to order.
Notably, the chicken vodka parm sandwich has gained recognition, earning a spot in NJ.com’s 50 New Jersey Dishes you need to eat in 2023. But I’m partial to sandwich #3, chicken cutlet with fresh mozzarella, broccoli rabe, roasted peppers, and balsamic.
Latin American Restaurants
When I lived here in the Heights, the Corkscrew was the only place on this list that existed. But the flood of construction and new residents with disposable income has created demand for new restaurants. And some others, like the Lincoln Inn, have since shuttered and new buildings have been built in their place.
But the Heights is still home to many immigrants, especially from Latin American countries and so I suggest trying places that cater to these communities as well. You can find many of these restaurants on Central Avenue. Most won’t serve alcohol, but they are a great opportunity to try new cuisines and support local business owners. La Concha serves Dominican cuisine, with a selection of daily specials ready to go in a steam tray. The Beef stew (Carne Guisada) and Pernil (roast pork) are generally available every day, and I would have at least one of these items every single week I lived nearby.
A few doors down, El Sabroso specializes in Puerto Rican food, but also has dishes from other Caribbean countries. And I would stop for tacos from Taqueria Restaurant Oaxaca a decade before I moved to Mexico for a year and learned about the cuisine other than tacos. Finally, further up near the Union City border is Rumba’s Cafe, which offers up great Cuban and other Latin food.
None of these will earn a Michelin star, but you meet people who have been part of the community for a lot longer than customers of the newer restaurants. And you might just hear some stories about the good old days.