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Living in Downtown Jersey City

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An unofficial guide to Jersey Fucking City!

I’m writing this article after 9 months of living in the downtown area of Jersey City. I hope this will help current and newcomers to the neighborhood discover more about their amazing neighborhood, and perhaps aid potential future residents to get sense of how it is like to live here.

Before we begin.. Let’s be clear: this is not by any means a comprehensive guide to Downtown Jersey City nor a comparison with other neighborhoods — I find those are usually highly biased anyway. Put simply, I chose to live here as it presents a good balance encompassing most of the things I like: a neighborhood that can be both vibrant and relaxed and that has everything I need for my daily life within walking distance; an easy and short commute to many cool places in Manhattan, and lastly but not least a reasonable rent.

Downtown Jersey City is a small part of Jersey City that stays closer to Manhattan. In Jersey the subway is called the Path and from the Grove Street Station you can get to the amazing WTC station (also called the Oculus) in Manhattan in less than 15 minutes!

Jersey City’s Best restaurants

This is my favorite section on this article by far, so I made it the first 😎. Feel free to scroll down to other sections of interest about the city if you care about commute or things to do/see more.

Jersey City has some really nice restaurants that can match, if not surpass, Manhattan’s ones in many aspects .

Razza

Photo credit: NYT

NYT wrote an article on Razza called: Is New York’s Best Pizza in New Jersey? Razza makes their own bread and butter, which are delicious! If you’re crazy for pizza you have to go there, no matter where you live! Currently the place has gotten so hype, that your best chance for finding a table is going as early as 7 PM.

Location: 275 Grove St, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/kYD7Ts1Cra32

La Taqueria Downtown

La Taqueria Downtown has what I consider the best Tacos in Jersey City. A Mexican friend of mine consider Taqueria Viva Mexico to be better tasting and more authentic, so check that one as well!

Location: 236 Grove St, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/ve6bxJgXEeN2

Broa Cafe

This one you can take my word for it as I’m an expat from Portugal! Broa Cafe (the name seems to imply it is a cafe, but it is really a restaurant) is as good as it gets when it comes to the real Portuguese Tasca ambience and food! This place serves Portuguese tapas why better than anything you’ll find elsewhere in New York.

Location: 297 Grove St, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/2MvqGepre442

Ani Ramen

Without a doubt the best Ramen place in town! The atmosphere, the food, the music, the service — everything checks out! If you’re looking for something more low key and less expensive check out Miso Ramen which is close by and also very good.

Location: 218 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/yJ5wKGhSU2A2

Left Bank Burger

A neighborhood is not worth living in without a good Burger place to go to, and Left Bank Burger is that place in Jersey City. Besides the tasty burgers you’ll also find a good selection of beer and draft beer here!

Location: 194 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/vjVtj8UzcAy

Wonder Bagels

There are more than a couple of bagel places in JC, but none can rival Wonder Bagels. This is the reason you’ll see a line at the door here every weekend. These hand rolled bagels go down really well in the morning together with their freshly squeezed orange juice.

Location: 517 Jersey Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/s5TtcRcSxs12

Best Cafes in Jersey City

I won’t dwell on the details of what makes each of the following cafes worth checking out as I did on the restaurants above. They all have their unique vibe and make great coffee, If you’re like me you’ll be someone who has coffee regularly enough and likes to vary. I honestly couldn’t decide which one I like the best of these selection, so try them all and find for yourself 😉.

By the way, you can work from your laptop on every one of these places! ✌️

Dames Cafe

(This place is cash only!)

Location: 581 Jersey Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/K2FTxnoiwLz

LACKAWANNA COFFEE

Location: 295 Grove St, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/Tu5HXriXBHU2

WORD

This is a book store, that also has a caffe inside.

Location: 123 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/wY9LZwvisEq

The Warehouse Cafe

Location: 140 Bay St, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/HzMFH3yzUGG2

Vogue Café

Location: 177 York St, Jersey City, NJ 07302, USA

Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/Bic9exUWDMR2

Community activities

There’s plenty of stuff happening in the city, specially as the weather starts to improve. The Grove station area is where most of it takes place. There’s farmer’s market every Monday and Thursday from May to December, and record sale’s weekends every now and then as you come out of the station. Besides that, there’s also a live band playing on Thursdays.

As you walk north from the Grove station you’ll find Newark Ave’s green street — a portion of the street that is permanently closed to road traffic. And let me tell you, I absolutely love this place 😄! In the summer as soon as the evening approaches you’ll find a lot of street music performers, kids playing and groups of friends enjoying a good time sharing a box of pizza they just got from any of the 3 pizzerias in that street alone. The street has chairs, tables and even sun umbrellas that are maintained by the city and provided at no cost for everyone to enjoy!

Newark Ave’s green street

Hamilton Park

Hamilton Park is the biggest park in downtown Jersey City itself. It has basketball and tennis courts that you can use for a small fee. It is a great place for taking your kids and has a big dog park too.

There’s also a farmers market that takes place here in the warmer months, although I rarely would visit it as the one on Grove was more convenient for me.

In the summer Hamilton Park also has free outdoor cinema! 🎉📽

Night Scene

The green street Newark Ave’s portion is a central point for a lot of the bars and restaurants so as the evening turns into night it transforms into the first stop for partying. You’ll wanna check out Porta’s rooftop, Skinner’s Loft and LITM. As you head towards the end of the end of green street you’ll find Barcade, the franchised arcade machine bar/restaurant that you’ll also find in East Village or Williamsburg. Walk a 2 min more north and you also find Pet Shop, a bar that usually has a more mature crowd and where you can watch indie and rock live music in the basement.

If cocktails are you thing, check out Talde, an Asian fusion restaurant with a great selection of drinks, and dullboy.

The commute

WTC Station in Manhattan is less than a 15 min ride away from the Grove Path station

My idea of a nice commute is one I don’t need to change subway lines, preferably lasts as short time as possible and has trains running frequently. With that in mind, generally speaking everywhere that Path has stops at is a convenient and easy place to get too. When it comes to Manhattan you’ll find the commute to West Village, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, FiDi and Lower East can be done without changing to the NYC subway. All of those places are reachable in 30 minutes or less — except on the weekends, on those the Path goes trough Hoboken and run less frequently. Getting to Hoboken which is another great neighborhood for restaurants and bars, usually takes about 15 min or less, even though it might need you to change Path lines (depends on the day).

The Path — a slightly better and less hated version of the subway system in greater NYC.

In Jersey City alone you’ll find 2 Path stations, Grove and Exchange. Grove is where the restaurants and bars are at, it is the lively area of downtown. Exchange is pretty much a mirror of Manhattan’s Financial District, mostly high rise buildings which are owned by big corporations. Although technically speaking not a part of Downtown Jersey City, the Path also stops at Newport which is still pretty close and deserves a mention. It is by the Newport Centre, which has a decent selection of clothing and convenience stores some known stores such as Macy’s, JCPenny and most importantly for me the AMC Theater which features 11 screens. Oh, and before I forget! You should check the entrance to the Path on Exchange which has this retro/futuristic feel to it.

Exchange Path Station entrance

Citi Bikes

Jersey City is part of the ever expanding grid of Citi Bikes which are pretty convenient for going around town fast or to take a ride near the river while you enjoy the view and the fresh air. It is definitely worth making a annual subscription which cost around 160 dollars, since it is part of the same network as NYC and therefore you can use the bikes there too with it.

Citi Bike station next to Grove

Jersey City has plenty of bike stations, you can check the map of the whole grid here: https://member.citibikenyc.com/map/

Scenic view of Manhattan

I find the Exchange area pretty much boring for the most part, as I mentioned before it is mainly composed by high rise buildings — offices for financial corporations, luxury housing, hotels — boring stuff. But it is worth going to Exchange once in a while for the view of Manhattan. I find it most interesting at night, when the streets are quiet and the only a handful of people you’ll find there are the ones interested on contemplating the view. There’s nothing quite like going there on a summer night to relax. I sometime sit there for a while on the boardwalk, seeing all the lights and hearing the sounds of the city at a distance.

Liberty State Park

Equally impressive is the Liberty State Park, which is separated from downtown by a water canal. You can get there by a short boat ride from the south portion of Paulus Hook, the southern most part of downtown JC. You can find more info about the ferry here: http://www.libertylandingferry.com/

You can also go by land around the canal, I find it is a long walk but easily done by bicycle (or car, obviously).

The Park houses a couple of interesting landmarks such as the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial and the The Historic CRRNJ Train Terminal. The open green fields and the view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty are added bonus. During the summer these fields become the stage for outdoor concerts sponsored by the city :).

View of Manhattan skyline from the Liberty State Park
Free outdoor concert at Liberty State Park

Street Art

Jersey City Street Art is literally everywhere you look! I love living in a place with a distinct sense of personality, and Street Art expresses just that, while at the same time helps define what a place is.

There’s a big warehouse on Erie St just past the road that goes into the Holland Tunnel than has dozens of cool street art works!
Some of the works are huge in size, and you need to take a step back to fully enjoy them
The truth is out there..

Final notes

Wow! Did you read the whole thing!? Or maybe you skipped a few parts? That’s fine, I sometimes do the same 😅

If this article was useful to you in any way give it a clap. I don’t get money for it, but I get a nice summarized email about it from time to time and the idea that I helped someone makes me happy.

Feel free to leave comments as well.

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