| The Jersey City-Lovin' Crew | Tempting Tastebuds with Jersey City Eats
It wasn't long after we moved to Jersey City that I discovered Jersey City Eats. We love to eat, so a blog that tips off all the food Jersey City has to offer was bound to catch my attention, and quickly. It immediately became one of my go-to reads and resources, helping me to discover the depth of the culinary scene in our new city. What I love most about the food scene in Jersey City is that it's still minimal. You won't find ten restaurants on every block, nor tens of hundreds of restaurants serving the same type of food, but the few we are blessed with (I'm talking 20-30 solid restaurants) are so extremely good. When we have a craving, it's satiated here, authentically, locally and nutritiously (most of the time) and usually, I have Leslie to thank for those discoveries.
Leslie writes Jersey City Eats, and is seemingly omniscient and omnipresent when it comes to what cuisine is here, what is leaving and what is coming in. I asked her how the hell she manages to stay so 'in the know,' to which she responded, "An obscene amount of time on Twitter. Seriously.
There's more to it than that - I read a lot of message boards, I take pretty frequent walks around Jersey City looking for new places or checking on places under construction, I subscribe to the email blasts from pretty much all the neighborhood associations, from PR companies and from restaurants, but really, Twitter is such a great source of information about all things Jersey City. There's a pretty active community on there."
She's right. (Don't get me started on my how-amazing-Twitter-is soapbox, but I've accomplished a lot with it through the years. I digress. How surprising.)
As I celebrate those who love Jersey City most and shout it from the rooftops the loudest (The JC-Lovin' Crew, that is), I asked Leslie if she'd let me peer behind the curtain. Or pull up a seat at the virtual table, if you will. And thankfully, she did. Here's what Leslie had to say about Jersey City Eats... and the eats of Jersey City.
BURBS + a BBQ: How long have you lived in Jersey City?
Jersey City Eats: Coming up on 8 years!
B+aBBQ: At what point did you recognize a foodie community worth commenting on, and think about starting Jersey City Eats?
JCEats: When I first moved here, there were definitely a lot of great neighborhood places to eat, but for the most part, finding them was kind of trial and error - which is actually a great method that I love - but I kept on wondering what else might be out there there that I just didn't know about. Then Thirty Acres came along. That was a major game changer for food in Jersey City and for the attention that was being paid to it. On top of that, an overall younger and more food/restaurant conscious population and the flourishing farmer's markets made it really clear that there was definitely a foodie community in the works. But no one was writing about it. So I decided I wanted to. I was tired of not having any information, beyond the odd restaurant review, of what was happening with the food scene in my city. It's not that there wasn't always a lot here, it's just there was no place to really find out about it. Hence, JC Eats.
B+aBBQ: Thank goodness you did! Are you a chef, a foodie, or just a woman with your finger on the pulse of the culinary scene?
JC Eats: Ha, I'd hardly say I have my finger on the pulse of the culinary scene or any scene for that matter. I've just always had an interest in food and cooking. I loved (and still love) to cook and play around with ingredients and recipes. When I first moved to the east coast from California, I was pretty taken aback by the difference in cuisine and in food culture which definitely spurred my interest and I began paying more attention to the culinary world. I also had a roommate, one of my closest friends, who has always been an extremely adventurous eater and paid a lot of attention to restaurant and food news which really helped bring out and develop my own interests to start including restaurants, chefs, new trends, etc. I've also always been a big reader, enjoyed writing, enjoyed photography, and have studied and done some social media and copy-writing work so it felt like turning these interests into a food blog was a pretty natural step.
B+aBBQ: How have you seen the culinary scene in Jersey City grow?
JC Eats: It's grown in every possible way I can think of. As I mentioned, I really feel that Thirty Acres acted as an impetus to a lot of that change, but Jersey City was ready for it and continues to welcome and allow for more and more change and development, most of it good.
I think, in general, people right now care more about their food - where it comes from, what's in it, the authenticity - and that is certainly reflected around Jersey City. There's been huge expansion to the market scene and most places around here have also changed to accommodate that, and have begun to cater to a crowd that wants local, seasonal menus. That's been a big change over the past year or two - I see restaurants changing their menus really frequently, far more than they used to.
Expectations have certainly gone up and restaurants have striven to meet that. Food trucks have become a much bigger thing which was long overdue. There's a lot more trend-following and also just more overall growth - new places are moving in constantly and I don't think that's going to change.
B+aBBQ: There are so many restaurants coming in, so fast! What is your favorite new (as in the past six months) restaurant or establishment in Jersey City?
JC Eats: Currently, the Kitchen at Grove Station. I've been really impressed with the food, the space, and the ambiance. Close second is dullboy.
B+aBBQ: Dammit, if I don't make it to dullboy soon... It's tippity top of my list. So looking ahead, what are you most excited about when it comes to the foodie scene in Jersey City?
JC Eats: The growth we're seeing is absolutely fantastic so I'm really excited about that, but what I'm finding the most thrilling at the moment, and what I foresee really being a great and creative area of activity going forward, are all these pop-up dinners and specialty chefs. You know, things like Livestock at LITM every Sunday, Bone-In with their paleo delivery service, things like the dinner that Busy Bee Organics, Bone In, and Whealth JC did, the dinners EIGHTY Mag has been doing at restaurants around town - all of that is so exciting to see. There have been so many community-oriented ventures and I really love the collaboration and creativity.
B+aBBQ: I couldn't agree more! I think I'm most in love with the supportive collaborative community that is building here, and that most certainly extends to restaurants and local business. Are you able to choose an absolute favorite restaurant in Jersey City?
JC Eats: In all honesty, I don't have a real answer to this. Everything is circumstantial for me. I would say that I trust Thirty Acres implicitly. I know they will consistently provide a truly great and exciting meal. But if I think about where I'm most likely to bring out-of-towners which I consider a good benchmark, it would be Razza. Relaxed vibe, but quality food.
B+aBBQ: I feel strangely satisfied and validated that those are also two of our favs. So, obviously my last question has to be a doozy (and a bit morbid). Taking your previous response up a notch, if you were facing your last meal and it had to be found in Jersey City, what would it be and from where?
JC Eats: I actually spend a fair amount of time thinking about this, so I can embrace the morbidity!
I'd probably keep it pretty simple. Meat and cheese from Satis Bistro - but like all of it. They have a really wonderful variety of excellent charcuterie and cheese and I like the idea of some variety in a last meal. Then to be followed by an absurd amount of ice cream from Milk Sugar Love. If I had to pick only one - it would be Milk Sugar Love. I'm completely comfortable with the idea of having my last meal be ice cream, especially such good ice cream.
B+aBBQ: If it makes you feel any better, I wholeheartedly approve. And, note to self, need to add Satis Bistro to the Date Night list.
Leslie has tons in the works when it comes to the future of JC Eats, and a patient, steady approach to attacking it all. She's planning a couple new recurring features, one of which will hopefully involve her readers, and neighborhood round-ups. But her primary focus right now is exploring other areas of Jersey City. We've had so much going on in downtown, it's been hard to take the time to focus on what else is out there, but truthfully, there's so much to explore and eat in the other Jersey City neighborhoods, and she's out to get it.
I will stay tuned, and continue to follow her lead. If you're new to Jersey City, or an old-timer, I recommend you do the same!
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