Jersey City’s popularity is on the rise. Before we know it, it’ll be teeming with hipsters, so we have to take advantage of its spacious bars, lack of lines and proximity to Manhattan as much as we can. To tell you how to properly enjoy it, I’ve brought in my friend Deena, a New Jerseyan herself and one who believes in this place more than anyone I know.
I love my life as an Almost New Yorker but it can be a challenge sometimes. I live on the forbidden “other side of the river” in the dreaded NEW JERSEY. Over here we’re always on the defensive with our New Yorker friends. While Jersey Shore: Family Vacation basically tied our reputation to a cement block and threw it into the Hudson, I’m over here pointing out all the reasons we’re clearly more worthy of the 5th borough status than Staten Island. One of my favorite points to make is that we have Jersey City. Let me tell you, this little city is fan-freakin-tastic. You can be here in just a couple extra stops on the PATH (New Jersey’s version of the subway) and find tons of trendy bars and restaurants that could give your favorite LES spots a run for their money. If you don’t believe me, read on and I’ll tell you about some of my all-time favorite places to grab a few drinks and a bite to eat with my NYC friends. I wholeheartedly believe I’ll have you convinced and set for a night out that will have you and your friends fist pumping in the dirty Jerz!
Corgi Spirits at the Jersey City Distillery
How to get there: From NYC, take the PATH towards Journal Square to Grove Street and then request an Uber.
On the way there in an Uber with Mary in Manhattan herself, I was truly unsure if I was unknowingly bringing us to get murdered. This spot is located in a warehouse covered in brightly colored murals with food trucks parked out front amongst a bunch of other less attractive warehouses surrounded by barbed wire. It made it all the more interesting when we stepped inside. This place looked like a modern take on an old style bar and study with big leather chairs and wood and metal everywhere. You could see right into the distillery where the magic happens, the creation of delicious gin and vodka. If they’re not too busy, they’ll tour you around, and even if they are, the welcoming bartender will give you a lesson at the bar on their distilling process. A tasting is only $5 and you can try their one and only vodka and three gins that change with the seasons. Fun fact: they make the only Earl Grey-infused gin in the US and it just so happens it’s used in my favorite cocktail at the Rooftop at Exchange Place.
The Rooftop at Exchange Place
How to get there: From NYC, Take the PATH towards Journal Square to Exchange Place.
For an impressive summer location definitely check out this brand new new rooftop bar. This place is as classy as it gets. Before you even get to the roof, it’s a jaw-dropper. You take a glass elevator up the side of the Hyatt Hotel that has 180 degree views to die for. The bar is spacious and comfy with lounge-style seating, a DJ spinning everything from Bruno Mars to The Backstreet Boys, a gas fire pit, an outdoor bar on the patio, and yes, with its waterfront location, more stunning selfie-worthy views of Manhattan you can only get when you come to Jersey. If the ambiance doesn’t blow you away the high quality cocktails at low prices will. At an average of $12 per cocktail, I felt like I was getting a steal compared to other places of the same caliber over in NYC. My personal favorite was Hudson Tea that used the local Corgi Earl Grey Gin, honey, and bitters. The appetizers are great too. I highly recommend the burrata and the tuna and beet tartare. Yummmmm. *to note, we enjoyed complimentary drinks here as part of a media event.
How to get there: From NYC, Take the PATH towards Journal Square to Grove Street.
If you’re looking for deliciously ‘grammable drinks and a place that makes you feel like you’re on a tropical vacation without the hassle of packing, head to this little spot off the beaten PATH (pun 100% intended). From the street, you may not even notice it, but when you walk in, it’s popping! If you want to stay for dinner, there’s often a wait but squeeze in at the bar, throw on a lei, and enjoy some of their cocktails served up in fun glasses with whimsical garnishes. Try Captain Cook’s Curse and Smoldering Bastard for the best flavors (and pics.) If you go with a big group, go for one of their large format drinks! There’s one called In the Navy that comes in a small metal row boat and is served ON FIRE. So impressive. Also, literally every food item is better than the next. They describe it as Asian American and serve it tapas style so GET IT ALL. But if you’re not rich enough to do that, at least get the hamachi tartare and the avocado fried rice like I did!
South House Bar and Restaurant
How to get there: Take the PATH towards Journal Square to Grove Street.
The Pedestrian Plaza at Grove Street is overflowing with fantastic bars just asking to be hopped. But if I had to pick a favorite, this place would be it. As its name implies, this bar has some Texan flair with a touch of Southern hospitality. When you walk in, it looks like a pretty normal bar except it’s huge! There’s tons of room, no matter how deep you roll. The main floor is spacious and has some high top tables to hang out with your friends. The true gem is when you walk down to the basement level. The staircase isn’t super evident but you’ll notice people trickling over to it. Once downstairs you’ll discover another bar and tons of games including foosball, shuffleboard, pool, and darts. It will provide entertainment for hours for all your friends. If it weren’t for all the space, you’d probably forget you were in New Jersey!
Mary & I at South House – they do a great job decorating during the holidays
Let us know how your Jersey City adventure goes and share some spots to add to the list! Comment below with questions and hear back from Deena!