With the many changes we have all had to make within our lives during this pandemic, there are a few things in which we were not forced to entirely abandon— a good meal. Restrictions are set in place in order to keep us safe from one another while also making sure to keep life somewhat normal for some. Without business, there are many local restaurants who have not been able to stay open throughout this pandemic, so supporting these businesses and continuing to spend money is essential.
Personally, I have chosen to continue to eat out every week or two in order to keep some normalcy circulating throughout my life. There are many ways in which we can practice safety and respect for one another and still enjoy a nice meal out. For example, you can make sure to wear a mask when not sitting at your socially distanced table, limit your trips to the restroom, sanitize your area before sitting and limit your tables to less than four guests. Remember, we’re all in this together.
Pre-COVID, my most favorite thing to do was search new and upcoming restaurants in my area because I am definitely a foodie and a great big sucker for craft cocktails. In light of this love I have for trying local food spots, I have decided to round up my most favorite restaurants for a good breakfast, brunch or dinner. These are in no particular order.
New York Favorites:
668 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036
We had dinner and cocktails here for our 3rd year anniversary and wow, the food was amazing. Here you will find Mexican styled food. The vibe is modern and classy, making it perfect for any type of celebration. I ordered the Jalapeño Margarita, Octopus and the Crème Brulee.
Jue Lan Club
49 W 20th St, New York, NY 10011
I visited here for brunch and cocktails with a few friends and had a great time. The outdoor/indoor aesthetic makes it perfect for the most Instagram worthy shot. Here you will see modern Chinese food with a bit of glam, also perfect for large groups who are looking to share plates. I ordered the Lychee Martini, Crispy Rock Shrimp Tempura and Jue Lan Special Fried Rice.
While We Were Young
183 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014
The cutest white marble and pink couch aesthetic. This restaurant is top notch, so be prepared to make a reservation about two weeks in advance. Here you will find new American cuisine with stylish cocktails. I ordered the “If You’re a Bird, I’m a Bird” Cocktail, Burrata Starter, “While We Were Young” Burger and subbed the normal fries for Truffle Fries.
174 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012
This place has girl’s night out written all over it. This restaurant offers an all-over pink vibe inspired by 1980’s design. Here you will find Italian cuisine in a brunch favored menu. I ordered the Violetta Cocktail and Grilled Octopus.
One If by Land, Two If by Sea
17 Barrow St, New York, NY 10014
Extremely pricey but 100% worth it. We visited this restaurant for our one-year anniversary, and it blew our minds. First off, if you’re searching for the most romantic, candle-lit dinner in NYC—this is it. You will definitely spend a good buck here, but we enjoyed every second of it. Here you will find upscale American cuisine and the service is impeccable.
377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013
One of Tribeca’s most popular hit. Here you will find rustic Italian cuisine in a lively, dimmed light atmosphere. Perfect for an everyday dinner where you’re planning last minute but need a good eat. I ordered the Gin & Brusco cocktail and Pan Roasted Sea Scallops.
New Jersey Favorites:
200 Park Ave, Fort Lee, NJ 07024
One of our favorites for an upscaled date night. Here you are going to find splurge-worthy American-styled cuisine. The ambiance is to die for with an outstanding outdoor seating area with a large fire-pit and gorgeous decoration. This is definitely the place to be if you’re celebrating anything special or just want to have a fancy dinner. I ordered their famous Champagne Dreams cocktail with rose (be prepared to splurge because this drink is $45), Octopus and Chorizo Kebabs, Prime Skirt Steak with an extra side of Sweet Plantains.
333 Washington St, Hoboken, NJ 07030
This is our go-to-spot whenever we don’t feel like thinking about what we want to eat. Here you will find authentic Cuban styled dishes in a candle-lit romantic setting. Each time we visit, we always order the same dish which is the Churrasco (the side salad it comes with is to die for) because it's that good. Pictured above.
Office Tavern Grill
32-34 Chestnut St, Ridgewood, NJ 07450
A super casual place to visit on football Sunday, however, definitely worth the visit. I am a Cider fanatic and will try every cider there is possible. This restaurant has a blood orange cider that is absolutely tasteful. Not to mention, their brick oven pizza is off the charts. I ordered the Pepperoni Pizza—they are not cheap with the pepperoni and toast it just enough so that the meat is nice and crispy, and the cheese basically melts in your mouth. Such a cheap and perfect find.
710 Newark Pompton Turnpike, Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
I visited here about two weeks ago with a few girlfriends and it was the perfect spot for holiday inspired cocktails. The atmosphere is super friendly and family-oriented, but the restaurant is known for their Fall inspired cocktails which range from apple cider margaritas to pumpkin spiced toddy’s. I ordered the Fig Martini and Cobb Salad. You can also get a good mulled wine here as well.
144 NJ-4, Paramus, NJ 07652
The ambiance is absolutely stunning. This is a great restaurant to host either a large, elegant gathering or intimate dinner for two. Here you will find upscale American eats with Asian-inspired cocktails. The prices are not cheap, so be prepared to spend a good penny. I ordered the Fried Calamari, Hanger Steak and homemade ricotta beignets. They are currently closed due to COVID, but will reopen in the next few months.