Poll Results Are In: Readers Pick Favorite NJ Restaurants of 2021

The 38th Annual Jersey Choice Restaurant Poll, presented by Buy Rite Wine & Liquor, features 45 dining categories.

The dining room at Morristown's Jockey Hollow.
Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen won in the Wine List category of our 38th Annual Jersey Choice Restaurant Poll. Photo by Laura Moss

The results of our 38th Annual Jersey Choice Restaurant Poll are in, showcasing readers’ picks for their favorite dining spots in New Jersey across 45 categories.

Balloting for the poll, which was presented by Buy Rite Wine & Liquor, took place online throughout the month of February, when restaurants, after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, were into their sixth month of normal operation at full capacity indoors as well as outdoors.

The winning restaurant in each region (North, Central and South Jersey) received the most votes in its category. Ballots from duplicate e-mail or IP addresses were disqualified. Editorial discretion was used when votes were cast for restaurants that, in our judgment, belonged in another category.

We usually add our critics’ picks based on visits made in the spring and summer, but we had to forgo such travel amid the ongoing pandemic and we have eschewed critics’ picks this year.

All qualified ballots sent in by readers were eligible to win our random drawing. The winner will be announced in the December 2021 issue of New Jersey Monthly.

[RELATEDThe 30 Best Restaurants in New Jersey of 2021]

Best of the Best 

Lorena’s · Maplewood (North Jersey)
Stage Left Steak · New Brunswick (Central Jersey)
410 Bank Street · Cape May (South Jersey)

Best New Restaurant

Chutzpah Kitchen · Maplewood (North Jersey)
The Waterfront · Forked River (Central Jersey)
Kuo Social · Robbinsville (South Jersey)

American | New American

Ariane Kitchen & Bar (now closed) · Verona (North Jersey)
B2 Bistro · Multiple locations (Central Jersey)
The Ark Pub & Eatery · Point Pleasant Beach (South Jersey)

Asian Fusion

Ani Ramen · Montclair (North Jersey)
Taka · Asbury Park (Central Jersey)
Xina · Toms River (South Jersey)

Bagels

Hot Bagels Abroad · Bloomfield, Clifton, Montclair, South Orange (North Jersey)
The Bagel Nook · Freehold (Central Jersey)
Baron’s Bagels · Point Pleasant (South Jersey)

Bakery

Calandra’s Bakery · Caldwell, Fairfield, Newark (North Jersey)
Del Ponte’s Bakery · Bradley Beach (Central Jersey)
Mueller’s Bakery · Bay Head (South Jersey)

Bang for the Buck

Anthony’s Cheesecake · Bloomfield (North Jersey)
Old Man Rafferty’s · New Brunswick (Central Jersey)
Surf Taco · Multiple locations (South Jersey)

Bar Scene

Ariane Kitchen & Bar (now closed) · Verona (North Jersey)
Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten · Asbury Park (Central Jersey)
Martell’s Tiki Bar · Point Pleasant (South Jersey)

Barbecue

Mighty Quinn’s · Clifton (North Jersey)
Local Smoke BBQ · Cookstown, Highlands, Neptune City, Red Bank, Seaside Heights (Central Jersey)
Hickory Hog · Point Pleasant (South Jersey)

Beer Selection

Cloverleaf Tavern · Caldwell (North Jersey)
Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten · Asbury Park (Central Jersey)
Crab’s Claw Inn · Lavallette (South Jersey)

Breakfast

Turning Point · Multiple locations (North Jersey)
PJ’s Pancake House · Princeton (Central Jersey)
Chicken or the Egg · Beach Haven  (South Jersey)

Brew Pub

Trap Rock · Berkeley Heights (North Jersey)
Triumph · Princeton (Central Jersey)
Artisan’s · Toms River (South Jersey)

Brunch

Turning Point · Multiple locations (North Jersey)
Molly Pitcher Inn · Red Bank (Central Jersey)
Mad Batter · Cape May (South Jersey)

Burger

Arthur’s Tavern · Morris Plains (North Jersey)
Stage Left Steak · New Brunswick (Central Jersey)
The Ark Pub · Point Pleasant Beach (South Jersey)

Caterer

Calandra’s Italian Market & Deli · Caldwell (North Jersey)
Joe Leone’s · Multiple locations (Central Jersey)
Washington Inn · Cape May (South Jersey)

Chain Restaurant

Cheesecake Factory
Jersey Mike’s Subs
Shake Shack

Cheese Steak

Clover Leaf Tavern · Caldwell (North Jersey)
Hoagie Haven · Princeton (Central Jersey)
White House Subs · Atlantic City (South Jersey)

Chinese

Hunan Taste · Denville (North Jersey)
Kuo Social · Robbinsville (Central Jersey)
Xina · Toms River (South Jersey)

Coffee | Tea Bar

Bluestone Coffee · Montclair (North Jersey)
Rook Coffee Roasters · Multiple locations (Central Jersey)
Lava Java · Lavallette (South Jersey)

Deli (Italian-Style)

Calandra’s Italian Market & Deli · Caldwell (North Jersey)
Dolce & Clemente’s · Robbinsville (Central Jersey)
White House Sub Shop · Atlantic City (South Jersey)

Deli (Kosher-Style) 

Eppes Essen Deli · Livingston (North Jersey)
Harold’s · Edison (Central Jersey)
Irv & Karen’s Hot Pastrami · Brick (South Jersey)

Desserts

Calandra’s Bakery · Caldwell (North Jersey)
Catherine Lombardi · New Brunswick (Central Jersey)
La Scala Italian Pastry Shop · Toms River (South Jersey)

Diner

Prestige Diner · New Providence (North Jersey)
Rainbow Diner Restaurant · Brick (Central Jersey)
Mastoris Diner · Bordentown (South Jersey)

French

Faubourg · Montclair (North Jersey)
Pascal & Sabine · Asbury Park (Central Jersey)
410 Bank Street · Cape May (South Jersey)

German | Austro-Hungarian

Black Forest Inn Stanhope (North Jersey)
Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten Asbury Park (Central Jersey)
Mickey & Minnie’s Inn Egg Harbor City (South Jersey)

Greek

Stamna Taverna · Bloomfield, Little Falls (North Jersey)
Pithari Taverna · Highland Park (Central Jersey)
George’s Place · Cape May (South Jersey)

Hot Dog

Rutt’s Hut · Clifton (North Jersey)
Windmill · Belmar, Long Branch, Red Bank (Central Jersey)
Dawgtown Dogs · Rio Grande (South Jersey)

Ice Cream

Applegate Farm · Montclair (North Jersey)
Hoffman’s · Multiple locations (Central Jersey)
Nicholas Creamery · Atlantic Highlands (South Jersey)

Indian

Brick Lane Curry House · Montclair (North Jersey)
Aarzu · Freehold (Central Jersey)
Aamantran · Toms River (South Jersey)

Italian

Gourmet Cafe · Parsippany (North Jersey)
Catherine Lombardi · New Brunswick (Central Jersey)
Spano’s · Point Pleasant Beach (South Jersey)

Japanese

Ani Ramen · Multiple locations (North Jersey)
Taka · Asbury Park (Central Jersey)
Ikko · Brick (South Jersey)

Latin American | Caribbean

Cuban Pete’s · Montclair (North Jersey)
Barrio Costero · Asbury Park (Central Jersey)
410 Bank Street · Cape May (South Jersey)

Lunch

Calandra’s il Vecchio Cafe · Caldwell (North Jersey)
Turning Point · Multiple locations (Central Jersey)
Blue Pig Tavern · Cape May (South Jersey)

Mexican

Casa Maya · Gillette (North Jersey)
El Meson · Freehold (Central Jersey)
Cinco De Mayo · Toms River (South Jersey)

Middle Eastern | Turkish

Chutzpah Kitchen · Maplewood (North Jersey)
Reyla · Asbury Park (Central Jersey)
Falafel Brothers · Brick (South Jersey)

Pizza

Star Tavern · Orange (North Jersey)
Federici’s · Freehold (Central Jersey)
Denino’s Pizza Place · Aberdeen, Manahawkin, Brick (South Jersey)

Romantic

Faubourg · Montclair (North Jersey)
Catherine Lombardi · New Brunswick (Central Jersey)
Charlie’s of Bay Head · Bay Head (South Jersey)

Seafood

H2Ocean · Cedar Knolls (North Jersey)
Blue Point Grill · Princeton (Central Jersey)
Lobster House · Cape May (South Jersey)

Soup | Salad | Sandwich

Millburn Deli · Millburn, Montclair, Morristown (North Jersey)
Toast · Asbury Park, Montclair, Red Bank (Central Jersey)
Barry’s Do Me a Flavor · Beach Haven (South Jersey)

Southeast Asian | Thai

A Taste of Asia · Chatham (North Jersey)
Bamboo Leaf · Bradley Beach (Central Jersey)
A Little Thai Kitchen · Cherry Hill (South Jersey)

Southern | Soul Food

Sandi’s Soul Food · Morristown (North Jersey)
Rajin Cajun · Belmar (Central Jersey)
Corinne’s Place · Camden (South Jersey)

Spanish | Portuguese 

Don Pepe’s · Newark (North Jersey)
Malaga · Hamilton Township (Central Jersey)
Europa South (now closed) · Point Pleasant Beach (South Jersey)

Steak

Roots Steakhouse · Morristown, Princeton, Ridgewood, Summit (North Jersey)
Stage Left Steak · New Brunswick (Central Jersey)
Prime 13 · Point Pleasant Beach (South Jersey)

Vegetarian

Veggie Heaven · Denville, Montclair, Teaneck (North Jersey)
Good Karma Vegan Café · Red Bank (Central Jersey)
Green Cuisine · Stone Harbor (South Jersey)

Wine List

Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen · Morristown (North Jersey)
Nicholas · Red Bank (Central Jersey)
Washington Inn · Cape May (South Jersey)


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