What we ate in 2021: South Jersey restaurants, food shops you must visit and what to order (2022)

If the first year of the pandemic taught us anything, it was that take-out broke up the monotony of staying home, while alsohelping to keep some of our favorite restaurants in business.

The second year gave many of us a bit more freedom to return to our most loved cafes and restaurants, even if some of uschose to avail ourselves of patios and decks rather than eat inside.

And while our social calendars were a bit more active in 2021, most of usstill found ourselves home much more often, and grateful when we were served a great meal that made alasting impression.

Birria tacos, date-wrapped figs, pulled pork poutine, espresso martinis ... these were just some of the food trends that bubbled up in 2021.

From a spicy chicken sandwichto a gourmet pizzaserved speak-easy style, here are some of the Best Things We Ate This Year:

Special occasions that don't disappoint

What we ate in 2021: South Jersey restaurants, food shops you must visit and what to order (1)

My year was filled with wonderful food. Great meals on getaways to New Hope and Cape May, Lancaster, Pennsylvania,and Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Fresh veggies from or backyard garden and the Collingswood farmers market.

And more than a few memorable meals at South Jersey and Philadelphia restaurants.

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My favorite food memory of 2021 was sitting on the sidewalk outside IndeBlue in Queens Village, celebrating my son Luca's 15th birthday. We've never really gotten over this beloved Indian restaurant leaving Collingswood, so we decided to hop the river and pay a visit. From the first bite of warm garlic naan to the last crumb of dessert, it was like a homecoming.

My favorite dish was theMalai Kofta Khubani,paneer served withapricots in a cashew cream with cardamom.

What we ate in 2021: South Jersey restaurants, food shops you must visit and what to order (2)

This fall, as we did last year, my husband I chose to celebrate our anniversary at Valente's Cucina in Haddonfield.

While we loved every morsel of our meal, and we ordered a lot of food, my favorite was the Tomahawk Steak served with rosemary and garlic butter. I do not order steak out often, and I certainly picked the right place and occasion to do it, as it actually outshined my very tasty dessert.

Go: IndeBlue,205 S.13th St., Philadelphia.(215) 545-4633 orwww.indebluerestaurant.com

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Go:Valente's Cucina,7 Kings Ct, Haddonfield.(856) 298-1937 orwww.valentescucina.com

— Tammy Paolino

Tell them Todd sent you

Some of South Jersey's best pizzas are served in an unlikely setting —a drab alley behind The Farm & Fisherman Tavern in Cherry Hill.

Take-out customers who wait in their cars after ordering online can choose from a range of gourmet pies that emerge from BackDoor Pizza, which operates through the rear entrance of the Route 70 farm-to forkrestaurant.

What we ate in 2021: South Jersey restaurants, food shops you must visit and what to order (3)

Pies are made-to-order and handed to customers out the back door.

One of my favorites: Vodka, Hold the Tonic. It's a flavorful and colorful blend of mozzarella, vodka sauce and pesto.

Remember to planahead, says chef-partner Todd Fuller, because BackDoorPizza often sells out.

Go: BackDoor Pizza, the rear of Farm & Fisherman Tavern,1438 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill. Order online atwww.backdoor-pizza.com/

— Jim Walsh

Taste of Pakistan, with lollipops

Moving 1,000 or so miles away from home, I knew I would miss (and crave) my mother’s classic Pakistani dishes. So, when the Pakistani restaurant Karachi Kafe opened in Voorhees, I made sure to head down there and check it out.

My first thought walking into the restaurant designed with bright colors and traditional Pakistani décor was that my parents would love the place.

Instantly, I felt at home with the aunties and uncles chatting away in Urdu while dining.

What we ate in 2021: South Jersey restaurants, food shops you must visit and what to order (4)

Then came the food! The chicken lollipop paired with the Zinger burger was the perfect way cure to my homesickness.

With a red, flavorful sauce that stains your hands, the chicken lollipop appetizer offers a spicy and oily start to your meal.

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For the main meal, the Zinger burger has crunchy fried chicken with cheese and creamy sauce nestled between two toasted buns. The burger is served on a mini cart with a side of fries and sauces drizzled on top.

To end the meal, I recommend getting a piping hot cup of Kashmiri chai (pink tea) to sip along with the Shahi Kheer dessert (rice pudding).

The two dishes and the ambiance have me coming back every time, especially when I miss home.

Go: Karachi Kafe,2999 E Evesham Road, 856-676-7728;karachikafe.com

Hira Qureshi

Shrimp, scallops and flounder, oh my

What we ate in 2021: South Jersey restaurants, food shops you must visit and what to order (5)

Several of my family members and I drove over to Point Pleasant Beach this summer for a few hours with the goal of going to The Shrimp Box since we had heard about the restaurant.

It took about an hour to get from Point Pleasant from Burlington County.

We sat inside and, thankfully, it was very spacious in there. We comfortably spread out and took our time perusing the menu.

I ordered the fried trio of shrimp, scallops and flounder. It also came broiled, but I chose to walk on the wild side that day (smile). The meal included a side of mixed vegetables and a baked potato. It cost $26 and was a generous portion of food.

It was an excellent meal and well worth the hour drive. I guess that’s easy for me to say since I looked out the window the whole time and snapped photos and took video snippets.

The restaurant was scheduled to closeDec. 12 for the season, so you'll have to wait until they reopen if you want to try it.

What we ate in 2021: South Jersey restaurants, food shops you must visit and what to order (6)

One of the best drinks I had this year was a French Toast martini from Robin’s Nest Restaurant in Mount Holly. Yes, it was dessert in a glass. Tasty, smooth and a nice accompaniment with Sunday brunch. It includes Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire whiskey, vanilla vodka and RumChata and costs $12.50.

Go: The Shrimp Box and Outside the Box Patio Bar, 75 Inlet Drive, Point Pleasant Beach, 732-899-1637;theshrimpbox.com/; Robin’s Nest Restaurant, 2 Washington Street, Mount Holly, 609-261-6149;robinsnestmountholly.com/

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Celeste E. Whittaker

The right blend at Cinder Bar

Happy food, happy birthday

I headed to Cinder Bar in Clarkesboro for a birthday dinner with a friend. I settled, for the main course, on an Alabama Burger, a new item. Really tasty.

It’s built out a meat blend of chuck, brisket, and short ribs with a chili rub, set on a toasted brioche roll. Alabama white barbeque sauce, candied bacon, arugula, frisee, wild mushrooms, and white cheddar cheese round it out. At $18, still a treat.

Dessert was a Fig & Honey Brown Butter Cake, served in a hot, hot skillet. The cake was made with white fig, yellow raisins, cranberries, bourbon honey, and vanilla mousse for $8.

Go: Cinder Bar, 119 Berkley Road, Clarksboro. Visitcinderbar.com/

– Joe Smith

Match made in Heaven

Ice cream and waffles are a match made in Heaven — everyone knows that. But Lick Ice Cream in Swedesboro takes the humble, delicious waffle up a notch.

Actually, they swap out those notches for bubbles — big, fat, warm batter bubbles that envelope their ice cream and toppings. On a date night while our daughter was at a sleepover, my husband and I enjoyed tapas atBLK SHP. But we saved room for dessert at Lick, just a few feet away.

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Lick's bubble-wrapped ice cream combinations are big enough to share, although as we dove into our customized conical creation, I knew I could easily have devoured the whole thing myself. Menu options include takes on s'mores, apple pie, Fruity Pebbles cereal, peanut butter cups, fudgy-wudgies and more.

Resolve to make Lick a stop on your summer ice cream itinerary. They're closed for the winter season, but check theirInstagramandFacebookpages for updates.

— Phaedra Trethan

Go: Lick Ice Cream, 1301 Kings Highway, Swedesboro. Call856-467-3058 or visithttps://lick.business.site/orwww.facebook.com/lickicecreamNJ/for updates.

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Black Friday Tea Time

It was Black Friday.I’d been driving around South Jersey interviewingshoppers since7:30a.m.,and I’d just filed mystoryabout the day’s proceedings.Since I was in the area, I swung by downtown Haddonfield to do some holiday shopping of my own.While I didn’t find any gifts — my family is hard to buy for — I did findoneofthe most uniqueteas I’ve evertasted.

In search of something warmand not wanting to drink coffeeafter 4:30 p.m., I walked into The Spice and Tea Exchangeon Kings Highway. I orderedacup of ginger berry citrus herbal tea, one of their seasonal flavors,and,after waiting for it to steep, paid, got in my car and headed home.

Once it cooled, I took a sip andsaid, "Whoa,that’s good” out loud tono one butmyself.I'm used to generic black tea with honey, so when the first notes weren’t sweet but sour and umami, I knew I’d found something special.It wastart, almostsavoryand made me hungry,which wasn’t an issue since I had Thanksgiving leftovers at home.

The tea made agreat way to end a long, cold day.Get a cup in-person or ordera bag online before it's gone!

Go:The Spice and Tea Exchange,103 Kings Hwy E, Haddonfield,856-375-2068 or visithttps://www.spiceandtea.com/.

— Aedy Miller

Like mom's, only better (sorry)

What we ate in 2021: South Jersey restaurants, food shops you must visit and what to order (7)

The love journalists have for tacos is well established. We will go out of our way to find tortilla-wrapped tastiness in every town we visit. And some of the more decadent and/or exotic tacos we’ve found have been featured in previous roundups. But, sometimes a hangry editor just wants a good ol’-fashioned Americanized taco —or three —to get through the day.

Luckily, TacocaT (read it backward) just off of Ventnor Avenue in Margate is only a five-minute ride from my home. And this uber-popular beachside mainstay doesn’t disappoint with its Americana taco. It’s a simple taco of seasoned ground beef, lettuce and a blend of Monterey jack and cheddar cheese on corn or flour soft tortilla or a hard shell.

Now, don’t get it twisted; TacocaT also features an impressive selection of more-than-standard tacos – the octopus taco and the angry shrimp taco are worth the visit – but if you’re looking for a traditional wish-mom-woulda-made-it-this-good taco, don’t overlook the Americana. (And if you buy three, you get a free side; I prefer the rice and beans)

Go: TacocaT is at 8 S. Essex Ave, Margate. Visithttps://tacocatsouthjersey.com/

— Jerry Staas-Haught

New twists on tacos

Birria tacos tops my list for a favorite new food in 2021. I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about a new taco movement gaining popularity on Instagram and TikTok.

What we ate in 2021: South Jersey restaurants, food shops you must visit and what to order (8)

How could you possible make the taco better? It all sounded absurd to me until I tried my first one at Julio’s on Main in Vineland. A toasty, caramelized taco with slowly cooked,extra tender brisket, gooey cheese, cilantro and onions.

And the kicker to it all? It's meant to be dipped in a bowl of consomé. Simply delicious.

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Go: 1370 S.Main Road, Vineland, 856-563-8226; juliosonmain.com

— Adam Monacelli

FAQs

What food is New Jersey best known for? ›

Pork Roll. This might be New Jersey's most iconic food. Created by John Taylor back in 1856, this pork-based meat product is typically sliced and pan-fried or grilled, then used in a breakfast sandwich with eggs and cheese (but it's not limited to breakfast—we've seen it used in everything from burgers to ice cream!).

What is the most famous restaurant in NJ? ›

HARPOON WILLY'S. If you live anywhere at or near the Jersey Shore, you've been to Harpoon Willy's, and you've probably loved it. It should definitely be in the conversation for the most famous restaurant in the state.

What food is the Jersey shore known for? ›

10 Iconic Boardwalk Foods You Have To Try at the Jersey Shore
  • Kohr Brothers frozen custard. Photo: Michelangelo DeSantis/Shutterstock. ...
  • Curley's fries. Photo: Curley's Fries/Facebook. ...
  • Bob's Fresh Lemonade. Photo: Bob's Fresh Lemonade/Facebook. ...
  • Fudge and salt water taffy. ...
  • Fried shrimp. ...
  • TLC's Polish water ice. ...
  • Hot dogs. ...
  • Caramel corn.
29 Mar 2021

Can you eat in NJ restaurants? ›

Bars and restaurants may open in New Jersey. Social distancing and masking is not required in most indoor or outdoor spaces, and there are no capacity limits for businesses or worksites open to the public.

What is the top snack in New Jersey? ›

The Oreo cookie is the snack we reach for the most in New Jersey, according to Zippia.com, an employment resource website. Zippia relied on Google Trends research to determine what each state likes to snack on best.

What things are only in New Jersey? ›

You may not know however that the following 10 interesting things exist only in New Jersey.
  • A monument to a Martian landing site. ...
  • A beach community consisting entirely of tents. ...
  • The mysterious tripod rock. ...
  • A fully intact WWII bunker on the beach. ...
  • The fourth largest clock in the world. ...
  • The worlds largest model railroad.
20 Aug 2015

Does NJ have any Michelin star restaurants? ›

Bohemia remains the only restaurant in Jersey to hold a Michelin-star.

Where is pasta ramen NJ? ›

The address is 6 S. Fullerton Ave., the former home of Villalobos.

What is a famous restaurant in Paris? ›

1. Le Fouquet's. Open since 1899, the historic Le Fouquet's is a legendary spot in Paris, and famous for hosting the post-dinner celebrations of the César Awards ceremony for the last 40 years.

Why is the water so cold NJ? ›

The winds that are the source of the hot air have helped churn the near-shore waters all along the Jersey and Delaware coasts, with cold lower layers routing the warm waters on the surface, Crowley said.

Do you need to be vaccinated to eat in NJ? ›

Latest vaccine news in New Jersey

Individuals will have to demonstrate proof of vaccination to enter bars, restaurants, entertainment venues, public office buildings, gyms, bowling alleys, conference centers and most other establishments. The mandate applies to anyone five years old and older.

Do you need proof of vaccine in NJ? ›

Because the statutes and rules do not permit an employer to verify an employee's vaccination status in NJIIS, employers should have employees submit vaccination documentation for verification.

Do restaurant employees have to wear masks in NJ? ›

Masks are not required for most indoor workplaces, however businesses should encourage unvaccinated employees, customers, and guests to wear masks. If masks or gloves are required by employers, businesses are encouraged to provide them to employees.

What is the most popular drink in New Jersey? ›

New Jersey: Jäger-bombs

New Jersey doesn't have a true official cocktail or state drink, but college students across the state (especially along its iconic Jersey Shore) know their way around Jäger-bombs.

What restaurants did Guy Fieri visit in New Jersey? ›

Every New Jersey Restaurant Featured On 'Diners, Drive-Ins, And Dives'
  • White Manna - Hackensack, NJ. ...
  • Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory- Jersey City, NJ. ...
  • Tick Tock Diner- Clifton, NJ. ...
  • Skylark Diner & Lounge- Edison, NJ. ...
  • La Isla- Hoboken, NJ. ...
  • Johnny Prince's Bayway Diner- Linden, NJ. ...
  • Hightstown Diner- Hightstown, NJ.
23 Jun 2022

What is New Jersey State snack? ›

New Jersey: Saltwater taffy.

How do you talk like someone in New Jersey? ›

How to Have a Jersey Accent - YouTube

What is NJ known for dessert? ›

Favorite? Glossy, red, and sweet, candied apples, also known as jelly apples, were invented in New Jersey in 1908, when William Kolb, a candy maker from Newark, made a syrup with melted sugar, red coloring agent, and cinnamon flavoring. He dipped some apples into the syrup and placed them on his shop's window display.

What movie stars live in NJ? ›

Other famous people that live in New Jersey include Joe Pesci and Tracy Morgan. Many New Jersey celebrities live in Alpine or Colts Neck.
...
Celebrities Who Live in New Jersey
  • Bruce Springsteen. ...
  • Lil' Kim. ...
  • Chris Rock. ...
  • Tracy Morgan. ...
  • Stephen Colbert. ...
  • Jon Bon Jovi. ...
  • Joe Pesci. ...
  • Missy Elliott.

How many 5 star restaurants are there? ›

How many restaurants in the world have Michelin stars? Across the world there are a total of 2,817 Michelin star restaurants.

What restaurant has most Michelin stars? ›

Now it is Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester and Le Louis XV that tend to be the most well-known – and the most awarded, with each boasting the maximum three Michelin stars. Le Louis XV also holds the title of the first restaurant to ever achieve such an accolade.

What does Michelin tires have to do with food? ›

Michelin began publishing its “Red Guide” in 1900, when both cars and food tourism were novel luxuries. Its creators hoped that a guidebook offering information about hotels, restaurants, and roadways would lead people to drive more—and buy more Michelin tires.

Do you tip in Paris France? ›

You won't need to calculate a tip. As opposed to the U.S., where most waiters make their living from tips, servers in Paris are paid a living wage. And since service is already included in the price, no one is expecting you to tack on an additional 15 to 25 percent at the end of the meal.

What are 2 things that you shouldn't do when you're eating in France? ›

Things you should NEVER do when dining in France
  • Don't ask for more food.
  • Don't get your steak well done.
  • Don't put your bread on the plate.
  • Don't put butter on the bread.
  • Don't drink anything but wine or water with dinner.
  • Cut into cheese correctly (or let someone else do it)
  • Don't cut up the lettuce.
28 Mar 2017

Do you tip in France? ›

Tipping in Restaurants and Cafés

You are not required to tip waiters/waitresses. A 15% service fee is automatically included in ALL cafés, restaurants, bars, etc. as part of the price of each item (not on top of the total). Servers in France get salaries, paid vacations, health care, and living wages.

How warm is the ocean in New Jersey? ›

Today's Belmar sea temperature is 70 °F.

Why is beach water so cold? ›

Blame it on the wind

In the open ocean and along the shoreline, wind mixes the water around and brings water from the bottom of the ocean, which is cold and nutrient-rich, to the surface of the ocean.

What is the ocean temperature in Seaside Park New Jersey? ›

Today's Seaside Park sea temperature is 70 °F.

Does Wildwood NJ have a boardwalk? ›

The Wildwoods' award-winning Boardwalk features 38 blocks packed end to end with shops, waterparks, eateries, entertainment and amusement piers with over 100 rides and attractions.

Is Wildwood Crest a dry town? ›

It is a dry town, where alcohol cannot be sold, affirmed by the results of a referendum held in 1940. Wildwood Crest joins Cape May Point and Ocean City among municipalities in Cape May restricting the sale of alcohol. Adjoining Wildwood allows the sale of alcohol, including at bars on its boardwalk.

What time does Seaside Heights Boardwalk open? ›

Boardwalk is open at 6am the businesses start opening at 9am.

Does Ocean City NJ have a boardwalk? ›

From miniature golf to renting a surfboard to hitting the arcade, our Boardwalk is well known for the variety of amusements, including our world famous park on the pier. When visiting Ocean City, patronizing our many attractions and amusements is an absolute must!

What is New Jersey's state food? ›

New Jersey's unofficial state sandwich, Taylor ham/pork roll, egg and cheese on a hard roll, delivers calories and goodness in equal measure.

What is unique to New Jersey? ›

New Jersey is home to more diners than any other state. Atlantic City is home to the world's longest boardwalk. Cape May, New Jersey is the oldest seaside resort in the United States. During the Revolutionary War, more battles were fought in New Jersey than any other state.

Why is New Jersey known for diners? ›

"Diners filled that need—and our location between New York and Philadelphia along with this road network through New Jersey becomes part of the reason why there were so many." This was true from diners' earliest days in the 1910s and 1920s, at the time of the rise of the automobile and an improved road network to ...

What seafood is NJ known for? ›

New Jersey is one of the leading suppliers of surf clams and ocean quahogs to both the nation and the world. Ocean quahogs and surf clams are used in processed products such as chowders, sauces, dips and breaded clam strips.

What is the most popular drink in New Jersey? ›

New Jersey: Jäger-bombs

New Jersey doesn't have a true official cocktail or state drink, but college students across the state (especially along its iconic Jersey Shore) know their way around Jäger-bombs.

What candy is NJ known for? ›

Smarties is among several iconic candy brands that were born and bred in New Jersey. The most famous candy brand calling the Garden State home is arguably M&M's, which made their debut in Newark exactly 80 years ago, in a factory at 285 Badger Avenue.

What is NJ known for dessert? ›

Favorite? Glossy, red, and sweet, candied apples, also known as jelly apples, were invented in New Jersey in 1908, when William Kolb, a candy maker from Newark, made a syrup with melted sugar, red coloring agent, and cinnamon flavoring. He dipped some apples into the syrup and placed them on his shop's window display.

What is South Jersey known for? ›

South Jersey is the home of the legendary Jersey Devil, also known as "Leeds Devil". Although several people throughout history have reported sightings of the iconic creature, its existence remains a legend.

What is the oldest town in NJ? ›

Bergen, founded in 1660, was New Jersey's first permanent European settlement. In 1664 the Dutch lost New Netherlands when the British took control of the land and added it to their colonies.

Who is the most famous person from NJ? ›

Top 10 Famous people from New Jersey
  • Grover Cleveland. Grover Cleveland – Wikipedia. ...
  • Frank Sinatra. Frank Sinatra 1957 – Wikipedia. ...
  • Whitney Houston. Whitney Houston – Wikipedia. ...
  • Merly Streep. Meryl Streep – Wikipedia. ...
  • Shaquille O' Neal. Shaquille O'Neal – Wikipedia. ...
  • John Travolta. ...
  • Martha Stewart.
19 Jan 2022

What city has the best diners? ›

1. Tops Diner in East Newark, NJ. Jersey might as well be known as the Land of Diners, considering how many top-notch ones dot the state. Of all of them, Tops is a statewide legend, its shinily retro steel exterior calling in eaters like a beacon seven days a week.

What is the diner capital of the world? ›

The diner capital of the world? New Jersey is the spiritual home of the American diner, with more diners than in any other state.

What is the state sandwich of NJ? ›

1. The Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese sandwich is designated as the New Jersey State Sandwich.

What day is the best day to buy fresh fish? ›

Shop on the busiest days if you want the most variety.

However, if you are in the market for more specific species (e.g., Opah, sardines, Mahi) or the widest selection of fresh whole fish, your best bet is usually Thursday through Sunday.

Is there shrimp in NJ? ›

Palaemonetes spp.: Grass shrimp, also known as shore shrimp; one of three species living in the NJ area.

What fish is local in NJ? ›

  • Smallmouth Bass. Largemouth Bass.
  • Striped Bass Hybrid. Pickerel.
  • Yellow Perch. Northern Pike.
  • Catfish. Muskellunge.
  • Channel Catfish. Crappie.
  • Carp. Trout.

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