Jersey Girls Food Tours allows you to feast on the best restaurants in town while not having to try them yourself. JGFT does all the work and we get to try so many samples! While the Best of Downtown is their main tour, I was invited on their special Booze N Brunch Tour sponsored by The Beacon. This tour is similar to the Best of Downtown, but has a little farther reach, being shuttled all over Jersey City from Hamilton Park, to downtown, to Liberty State Park.
JGFT is owned and run by Alessia and Janis who definitely have their food chops coming from very diverse families. They make relationships with the restaurants and you can feel the energy when you walk in to the restaurants.
Join me now as I take you through the culinary tour of the Booze N Brunch.
We started at The Beacon which was such a treat because I have never been inside it. It feels like a compound, which is so cool, and I was invited by the ladies on the trip who live there to get an inside look at their apartments. They love The Beacon because of the preserved art deco design and they happen to collect art deco as well.
We hopped on the shuttle and were taken to Hamilton Park, a gorgeous area of Jersey City situated right next to route 78 extension and the Holland Tunnel, to the west of the Newport Area of Jersey City.
Owned by the brothers who own Hamilton Inn, they wanted to bring something new to Jersey City. So they went to the South and dug into BBQ and smoking techniques. Here, the food was so delicious and the place was so welcoming and homie - Outdoor seating with cute benches and window boxes full of flowers. Inside is like outside came in. The bar has a tin roof so a little tiki feeling, wooden booths, and you can see the kitchen.
We got a full breakfast burrito with the best eggs, rice, and beans I have had in a long time. Pineapple Mimosas were the showcased drink (I had orange juice instead). Alessia wanted to show that they were more than just BBQ and I would suggest trying their desserts. And because they wanted to show off their brisket we got a piece of their 5 wood smoked brisket which will melt in your mouth.
2nd Stop: GP's Restaurant
We then moseyed over to GP's Restaurant. It has been "family owned since 1934. GP's believes that when "classic food is served to customers with genuine care and respect, we create the recipe for a perfect meal." The owner was so friendly and nice and he has an amazing relationship with Alessia as they did the Portraits Project together.
We were served the lemon ricotta pancakes with Vermont maple syrup (OMG!), house-made limoncello, and their chicken milanese sandwich. I love GP's and their small restaurant feel and amazing food.
3rd Stop: Buckey & Bay and Departed Soles
We then had a double stop at 150 Bay St with Bucket & Bay Organic Craft Gelato and Departed Soles Brewery.
At Bucket & Bay we were served 3 different gelati (plural of gelato) - vanilla bean, chocolate, and something with liquor in. The owner Jen explained the difference between gelato and ice cream (gelato is made from milk and ice cream … cream) and the importance of serving good quality product. There wasn't any left in the dishes.
Then at Departed Soles we had a beer that I just drank up and couldn't tell you what it was. They have just started selling their gluten free pumpkin beer with a cinnamon sugar rim, so if you go I would recommend that or the modcup coffee beer! Bucket & Bay also has a modcup gelato and they serve their coffee.
Providing a good tasting gluten-free (and gluten) beer is important to the owner Brian. Brian and his friend Chris had talked about creating a gluten free beer for a long time, but Chris would always tease Brian that he wouldn't leave the family business … funeral home director. When Chris was killed in a car crash on his way to work, Brian got a kick in the tush and made sure he followed through. He and his team create really fun beers that are sold throughout Jersey City and Hoboken and can be purchased by the can to drink at home.
4th Stop: Orale Mexican Kitchen
Next stop was Orale Mexican Kitchen (prounced ora-lay). Everyone in Jersey City loves this place! They do classic food with a twist and expand our palates showcasing traditional Mexican food that we would not normally see on a menu. The owner managed the Rosa Mexicana Restaurants along the east and decided he needed to branch out. They currently have plans to open another location in Weehawken on the border of Hoboken. Here, like at Hamilton Pork, it was a feast! Chips with multiple dips, fish tacos, pork tacos, and I think something else. They also had a delicious frozen margaritas.
Fun Fact: their bartenders are encouraged to come up with fun and different drinks and there is one on the menu that tastes like a lavender gummy bear.
5th Stop: Maritime Parc
Our final stop was a little father away - across the Morris Canal and into Liberty State Park to Maritime Parc. I had never been to either restaurant in Liberty State Park so this was a treat. Besides being a restaurant they are known for their catering because the location is gorgeous. Here, the food never stopped coming. We started with their sunset drink of chardonnay, red wine, and 2 liquors. Then they brought out delicious bread and a plate of pickled veggies, melon, and cheese. Now, I am a little fuzzy if I am missing anything because I went into a food coma but they brought out oysters and peanut pork belly. Then we got crab cakes, lemon ricotta donuts (TO DIE FOR), and fried mashed potatoes.
I had such an amazing time and cant wait to work with Jersey Girl Food Tours. Stay tuned for a Growing in Jersey City Food Tour!
To read about how #JGFT got started and all of their amazing plans check out my article.
Written by Jenna Firshein
Jenna has been living in Jersey City for 7 years and considers herself a townie. Starting in Journal Square and moving to the Heights she is always on the lookout for a new restaurant to try or someone new to meet. On the weekends you can normally find her at one of the Heights events or just taking a walk and shopping local. She has her own blog GrowinginJerseyCity.com where she shares the amazing stories of the people we call neighbors and the awesome places popping up all over Jersey City. Follow her on instagram @growinginjerseycity to follow her adventures.