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The best of Jersey City
Want to see what’s buzzing in JC? You may already be hip to the amazing Jersey City bars and Jersey City restaurants, but the area offers so much more. Check out the list below for serious street art, verdant parks, sweet views, killer music venues and much more. You’ll see why the city is having a moment in no time.
Just a hop, skip and a jump away from downtown Manhattan, there are plenty of things to do in Jersey City. Sitting right on the Hudson, the bustling enclave has also become a culinary hub in its own right, complete with waterfront restaurants and bars, fine-dining restaurants and a critically acclaimed pizza joint slinging pies that (gasp) rival those across the river. Thirsty for more? Don't miss the best Jersey City bars.
Jersey City is having a serious moment. Need proof? Check out this list of worth-the-trip watering holes. While you’re here, be sure to consult the best Jersey City restaurants to pad that stomach and our list of the top things to do in Jersey City too. Happy drinking, all!
RECOMMENDED: Best Jersey City reastaurants and Jersey City bars WTF is it?New York City has the beloved bacon-egg-and-cheese. To the west, its funkier neighbor’s morning sandwich includes egg, cheese and an enigmatic pig product whose toothsome texture on the meat Venn diagram falls where bologna and summer sausage overlap. Basically, it’s “processed pork” mixed with spices, then sugar-cured and smoked. Every red-blooded New Jerseyan loves its splendidly salty but slightly tangy taste. So, where’s the beef, so to speak? Locals argue about what to call it—“Taylor ham” or “pork roll”? While the invention of this mystery meat is unknown (apparently, Revolutionary War soldiers ate it), John Taylor—who live in the Trenton area in the mid-1800s—popularized his as “Taylor’s Prepared Ham.” But the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 forced a name change to “Taylor’s Pork Roll” because the product could no longer be marketed as “ham.” Somehow both names are still in heavy use. In 2016, when NJ.com surveyed the state’s 565 municipalities about the proper nomenclature, Team Pork Roll (38,185 votes) edged out Team Taylor Ham (32,395). We’ve seen friends tussle over the correct name. What the hell do I call it once I get to Jersey City?The pork-roll converts live in southern Jersey, which includes the Trenton area, whereas northern New Jerseyans still call it Taylor ham. Jersey City’s hottest bagel spot, Wonder Bagel, has “Taylor ham” on its chalkboard, you can add “Taylor ham” to your French Toast at the Brownstone Diner, and dullboy serves Brussels sprouts with shrimp, Korean chili and—you guessed it—“Taylor ham.” Okay, so Taylor ham it is. Not so fucking fast. We asked a Trenton-area native who has spent the past decade in Jersey City for an official ruling. “I refrain from eating a pork roll at any place that calls it ‘Taylor ham’ out of respect,” says Jeff Ashbock. “Somehow, ‘Taylor ham’ became the Kleenex of salted meats. Many places that list Taylor ham on their menus are using other brands, such as Case’s Pork Roll or Trenton Pork Roll. There’s not much city pride where I’m from anymore. Sure, we have the ‘Trenton makes, the world takes’ bridge to boast about, but now what is it that Trenton manufactures that the world is clawing for? My only answer is pork roll, not Taylor ham.” So, to stop the cultural obfuscation of Trenton’s fine swine delicacy, we should all call it a pork roll.
The tide has turned in the Hudson River. While 10 years ago “bridge and tunnel” meant the trashy party people from New Jersey coming into Manhattan, New Yorkers are now heading to downtown Jersey City for their entertainment fix. Let’s face it: Most neighborhoods in Manhattan have priced out budding artists and DIY spaces (see: every cool NYC nabe ever), and just to the west, Jersey City has become the area’s new cultural incubator. Compound that with Jersey City’s transformation over the past few decades from the dirty-water wasteland that served as a setting for the end of Sid and Nancy to a metropolis with its own gleaming skyline. Then, add in the burgeoning, electric nightlife scene, which has been cultivated by Steven Fulop, who assumed the office of mayor while still in his 30s. At this moment, Jersey City is one of the hippest places in the world. Speaking of the mayor, we sat down with him at a cool cocktail spot called the Archer. We ordered off the drinks menu; Fulop got a beer. “We tried to keep the cool, gritty feel and the authenticity of Jersey City, but, at the same time, we tried to build a business community and attract nightlife here that works for people,” said Fulop. “I think that we are at a point today to have a good Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Tuesday night out in Jersey City. Proximity-wise, we are as close to Manhattan as Park Slope or Brooklyn Heights; once you get over the stigma of Jersey, you are in the second inning of a nine-inning game. The city is still growing and changing. Some people find things in the eighth inning and they’ve already missed it—don’t miss this. We have an energy that you can’t replicate or manufacture.” If the mayor himself is just a beer-drinking regular guy with a vision, the people behind the restaurants, bars, shops and events are just as real and enthusiastic. Jersey City was named the most diverse city in the country by WalletHub, which empirically confirms the vibrancy of the culture that we’ve been immersed in there—it’s a true melting pot of rad folks. For this, our guide to Jersey City, we asked our editors, readers, friends and JC residents we met out on the town for recs. A few said, “Please don’t tell everybody about my favorite spot and blow it up,” one person even called us a narc, but most were welcoming and overjoyed to have you share in their experiences. We tailored most of our picks around the downtown neighborhood, within easy walking distance of the Grove Street PATH station. While you’re soaking up the incredible cocktails and culture of Jersey City, remember the chill vibe is all about the people. As our bartender Tim O’Connell, at Lucky 7 Tavern (yes, we visited each recommendation so we could confidently endorse them in the following pages), said about Jersey City and the allure of its community, “I came here knowing no one. Now, everyone I know, I know from here.” RECOMMENDED: Best Jersey City restaurants, Jersey City bars and Taylor ham vs pork roll Mural artist's website here.
Just across the river from Tribeca, New York, these Jersey City Airbnb rentals make a surprisingly convenient (and affordable) choice for a trip to New York City. These apartments can be much cheaper than luxury hotels in NYC, and they’re still not far from the top New York attractions. And contrary to what some New Yorkers would have you believe, Jersey City has plenty of nice places to offer, including excellent Jersey City restaurants and bars, and a plethora of fun things to do. So next time you plan a trip to NYC, forget the best hotels in Manhattan and save some cash by staying just across the Hudson River in one of these Jersey City Airbnb rentals. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best Jersey City hotels
Jersey City—and Jersey City hotels— are probably not on too many bucket lists of vacation destinations. While it has a vibrancy and historical appeal all of its own, the chances are you’re looking to stay here for these reasons: 1. you’re on a business trip; 2. you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to Manhattan room rates; 3. you’re waiting it out for an early-morning flight from Newark; or 4. you’re stopping over for a game at MetLife Stadium. Might we suggest another reason—the best goddamn view of Manhattan you’ll ever see! Plus, it’s a short commute over the Hudson to explore the best Manhattan restaurants and the best Broadway shows. Whatever the reason for being here, JC offers a variety of different properties, rooms and rates worth checking out.