Announcing the Winners of Our 37th Annual Jersey Choice Restaurant Poll

Readers chose their top dining destinations for 2020.

Faubourg Photo by Paul Bartholomew

The results of our 37th Annual Jersey Choice Restaurant Poll are in. Balloting took place online throughout the month of February, at a time when restaurants were still operating normally. The winning restaurant in each region—North (N), Central (C) and South (S)—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 own critics’ picks based on visits made in the spring and summer, but we had to forgo such travel amid the pandemic, as well as acknowledge that many restaurants were closed or offering scaled-down menus. So we have eschewed critics’ picks this year. All qualified ballots were eligible to win our random drawing. The winner will be announced in next month’s issue of New Jersey Monthly.

[RELATED: The 30 Best Restaurants in New Jersey]

Best of the Best

N: Lorena’s, Maplewood
C: Nicholas, Red Bank
S: Lobster House, Cape May

Best New Restaurant

N: Faubourg, Montclair
C: Butcher’s Block, Long Branch
S: Riv’s Toms River Hub, Toms River

American | New American

N: Ariane Kitchen & Bar, Verona
C: Nicholas, Red Bank
S: Chef Mike’s ABG, Seaside Park

Asian Fusion

N: Ani Ramen, Montclair
C: Teak, Red Bank
S: Buddakan, Atlantic City


N: Hot Bagels Abroad; Bloomfield, Clifton, Montclair, South Orange
C: The Bagel Nook, Freehold
S: Baron’s Bagels, Point Pleasant


N: Calandra’s; Caldwell, Fairfield, Newark
C: Flaky Tart, Atlantic Highlands
S: Mueller’s Bakery, Bay Head

Bang for the Buck

N: Anthony’s Cheesecake, Bloomfield
C: Old Man Rafferty’s, New Brunswick
C, S: Surf Taco, Multiple locations

Bar Scene

N: Ariane Kitchen & Bar, Verona
C: Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, Asbury Park
S: Martell’s Tiki Bar, Point Pleasant


N: Mighty Quinn’s, Clifton
C, S: Local Smoke BBQ; Cookstown, Highlands, Neptune City, Red Bank, Seaside Heights
S: Hickory Hog, Point Pleasant

Beer Selection

N: Cloverleaf Tavern, Caldwell
C: Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, Asbury Park
S: Crab’s Claw Inn, Lavallette


N, C, S: Turning Point, Multiple locations
C: Buttered Biscuit, Bradley Beach
S: Lava Java House, Lavallette

Brew Pub

N: Trap Rock, Berkeley Heights
C: Triumph, Princeton
S: Artisan’s, Toms River


N: Anthony’s Cheesecake, Bloomfield
C: Molly Pitcher Inn, Red Bank
S: Mad Batter, Cape May


N: Arthur’s Tavern, Morris Plains
C: Stage Left Steak, New Brunswick
S: Frankie’s, Point Pleasant Beach


N: Brownstone House, Paterson
C: Brennan’s Delicatessen, Rumson
S: Washington Inn, Cape May

Chain Restaurant 

Cheesecake Factory
Bonefish Grill

Cheese Steak

N: Galloping Hill Inn, Union
C: Hoagie Haven, Princeton
S: White House Subs, Atlantic City


N: Hunan Taste, Denville
C: Peking Pavilion, Manalapan
S: Xina, Toms River

Coffee | Tea Bar

N: Mulberry House, Westfield
C: Rook Coffee Roasters, Multiple locations
S: Lava Java, Lavallette

Deli (Italian-Style)

N: Calandra’s, Caldwell
C: Joe Leone’s, Point Pleasant Beach, Sea Girt
S: White House Sub Shop, Atlantic City

Deli (Kosher Style)

N: Deli King, Clark
C: Harold’s, Edison
S: Wolfie’s, Toms River


N: Calandra’s, Caldwell
C: The Bent Spoon, Princeton
S: La Scala Italian Pastry Shop, Toms River


N: Prestige Diner, New Providence
C: Skylark Diner & Lounge, Edison
S: Mastoris Diner, Bordentown


N: Chez Catherine, Westfield
C: Pascal & Sabine, Asbury Park
S: 410 Bank Street, Cape May

German | Austro-Hungarian

N: Black Forest Inn, Stanhope
C: Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, Asbury Park
S: Mickey & Minnie’s Inn, Egg Harbor City


N: Stamna Taverna; Bloomfield, Little Falls
C: Kyma Greek Cuisine, Highland Park
S: George’s Place, Cape May

Hot Dog

N: Rutt’s Hut, Clifton
C: Windmill; Belmar, Long Branch, Red Bank
C, S: Hot Dog Tommy’s, Cape May

Ice Cream

N: Applegate Farm, Montclair
C: Bent Spoon, Princeton
S: Kohr’s Frozen Custard, Seaside Heights


N: Brick Lane Curry House, Montclair
C: Aarzu, Freehold
S: Aamantran, Toms River


N: Cucina Calandra, Fairfield
C: Catherine Lombardi, New Brunswick
S: Spano’s, Point Pleasant Beach


N: Ani Ramen House, Multiple Locations
C: Taka, Asbury Park
S: Xina, Toms River

Latin American | Caribbean

N: Cuban Pete’s, Montclair
C: Barrio Costero, Asbury Park
S: 410 Bank Street, Cape May


N: Calandra’s Il Vecchio Cafe, Caldwell
N, C, S: Turning Point, Multiple locations
S: Blue Pig Tavern, Cape May


N: Red Cadillac, Union
C: Juanito’s, Red Bank
S: Cinco De Mayo, Toms River

Middle Eastern | Turkish

N: Jackie & Son, South Orange
C: Reyla, Asbury Park
S: Falafel Brothers, Brick


N: Star Tavern, Orange
C: Pete & Elda’s/Carmen’s, Neptune
S: Manco & Manco, Ocean City


N: Highlawn Pavilion, West Orange
C: Nicholas, Red Bank
S: Chef Mike’s ABG, Seaside Park


N: H2Ocean, Cedar Knolls
C: Blue Point Grill, Princeton
S: Lobster House, Cape May

Soup | Salad | Sandwich

N: Millburn Deli, Millburn
C: Frank’s Deli & Restaurant, Asbury Park
S: Barry’s Do Me a Flavor, Beach Haven

Southeast Asian | Thai

N: A Taste of Asia, Chatham
C: Origin French Thai, Somerville
S: Buddakan, Atlantic City

Southern | Soul Food

N: Sandi’s Soul Food, Morristown
C: Drew’s Bayshore Bistro, Keyport
S: Corinne’s Place, Camden

Spanish | Portuguese

N: Fornos of Spain, Newark
C: Tapastre, Somerville
S: Europa South, Point Pleasant Beach


N, C: Roots Steakhouse; Morristown, Princeton, Ridgewood, Summit
C: Stage Left Steak, New Brunswick
S: Prime 13, Point Pleasant Beach


N: Veggie Heaven; Denville, Montclair, Teaneck
C: Good Karma Vegan Café, Red Bank
S: Green Cuisine, Stone Harbor

Wine List

N: Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas, Clifton
C: Nicholas, Red Bank
S: Artisan’s Italian Restaurant and Brewery, Toms River

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