Best Dining Towns – Flemington/Frenchtown

Best Dining Towns NJ Flemington Frenchtown - NJ Monthly - The Best of Jersey

At one end of the wonderfully scenic Route 12 is Frenchtown, a tiny town of 1,488 people that lies beside the Delaware River, and at the other is Flemington, best known for its many shopping outlets—and also as the site of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping trial. The two towns also boast some outstanding eateries.

Flemington’s place in history was assured in 1935 with the trial of Richard Hauptmann, who was ultimately convicted of killing Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s baby son. Reporters who covered the trial stayed and ate at the 1878 Union Hotel, which hasn’t changed much since then. With its vintage decor and food that suits the surroundings, this landmark deserves a look by any visitor to Flemington.

Flemington’s best restaurant is Matt’s Red Rooster, just across the road from the Flemington Fur resale shop. Situated in a charmingly restored house with an open kitchen, Matt’s offers American food at fair prices that make it worth a trip. Il Mulino’s delicious Italian food and friendly service make it another good dining choice. Other recommended restaurants are located near the Flemington Circle just outside the center of town. The Kitchen Expo Plaza (formerly the Dansk Plaza) is home to the California Grill, where you can get a good light meal of pizza or soup and a creative salad. The Ramada Inn at the junction of routes 31 and 202 has a pleasant Italian restaurant called Mangia Bene, and on the other side of the same junction is Jake’s Restaurant, a casual steak house and burger restaurant.

In town, Teresa’s Gourmet Deli & Café is a gratifying lunchtime option. If you’re traveling with children, don’t miss Frankly My Dear—A Hot Dog Emporium, where hot dogs, homemade soups, and corn bread are served indoors and outside on the porch by waitstaff dressed in Civil War attire. For ice cream, Cold Stone Creamery offers a wide variety of flavors and blend-ins (including candy), and the staff will sing for you if you offer a tip.

If you’re shopping at Turntable Junction, the Canterbury Corner English Tea House is good for a light lunch. At Bakers Treat Café and Catering, an offshoot of the eatery in Lambertville, you can get sandwiches, pastries, and fresh salads for lunch; hot oatmeal if you’re an early bird; and takeout entrées that are perfect if your shopping expedition ends close to dinnertime.

As you head from Flemington toward Frenchtown, consider a stop at Rita’s Real Italian Ices for a frozen dessert—custard and gelato are available as well as Italian ice. If you’re looking for something more substantial along Route 12, try China Buffet or Marinelli’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant, which sells pizza and other typical Italian dishes. Another good choice for Italian is Café Maria Ristorante and Pizzeria, which also features creative salads topped with sushi-grade tuna or scallops and lobster. If it’s a burger you desire, head to Canyon Creek Grill, just before you reach Frenchtown.

If you succeed at arriving in Frenchtown hungry, head straight for Frenchtown Inn, the best restaurant in this small town. Located on the banks of the Delaware River, all the dining is inside in this charming old inn that serves sophisticated French food at a suitably steep price. There is also a more casual Grill Room. Although the Frenchtown Inn is not a residential hotel, the National Hotel on the outskirts of town does rent rooms. Its restaurant, Lila, offers decent American cuisine but slow service. Race Street Café is a minuscule restaurant nearby with small tables—definitely not wheelchair-accessible—but an inventive menu of very good American cuisine, including Roquefort and walnut pasta salad, Long Island duckling, and vegetable ravioli. Cocina Del Sol, which serves lunch and dinner, specializes in California-style Mexican food. If it’s a river view you want, the Bridge Cafe has outdoor tables overlooking the Delaware, and all the food is homemade, including desserts.

Breakfast and lunch are served at the Frenchtown Café, and Greco’s Market Caffe and Restaurant serves breakfast all day long (or try one of the panini sandwiches). For a good cup of coffee and dessert, try Buck’s Ice Cream & Espresso Bar. For a tiny town, Frenchtown has a lot to offer the hungry.

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