The office crowd in Jersey City’s waterfront district might be tempted to leave packed lunches at home now that there’s District Kitchen, a trendy, new food hall opened in late-March that serves everything from craft burgers to wood-fired pizza to ramen to Belgian waffles.
Located in the sprawling Harborside Atrium building, the 230-seat District Kitchen is meant to feed the area’s growing number of office workers and condo dwellers: Outside, cranes soar and the New York Waterway ferry terminal, NJ Transit Hudson-Bergen Light Rail stop and Exchange Place PATH train are all within easy walking distance. Also right outside District Kitchen’s door? The Jersey City waterfront’s unparalleled, sweeping views of downtown Manhattan.
In fact, District Kitchen’s black-and-white tiled floors and glossy brass fixtures don’t look too dissimilar from a food hall directly across the river, Hudson Eats, inside Manhattan’s Brookfield Place, or many of the other food hall concepts that have popped up across New York City and New Jersey, such as Bell Works in Holmdel.
Though unlike many other food halls’ chain eateries, District Kitchen’s 13 vendors (listed below) are all local Jersey City businesses, including established favorites experimenting with a food hall concept to festival and food truck fixtures setting up their first brick-and-mortar locations. Modcup Coffee has been a staple in the burgeoning food scene in the Jersey City Heights; Left Bank Burger Bar, Ani Ramen and Tidal Poke already have thriving restaurants in downtown; Canteen To Go is a casual extension of Canteen Desi Dhaba in the Journal Square neighborhood. Vegan eatery Salt + Seed, formerly a pop-up, and popular food truck Angry Archies are among the vendors now running their first stationary outposts.
District Kitchen comes from developer Mack-Cali Realty Corp., whose footprint currently spans 4.3 million square feet along the Jersey City waterfront. When the real estate giant moved its headquarters to Harborside from Edison in 2016, CEO Michael DeMarco admits they found there really weren’t many exciting food options. After bringing in food trucks and hosting food festivals proved to be extremely popular, they felt the need for something more permanent, while also continuing to support local food businesses. “We love that the vendors are Jersey City based,” DeMarco says, “it gives us an opportunity to support our local community, which is supremely important to us.”
These handpicked vendors join Harborside’s other dining options, Southeast Asian-inspired Piggyback Bar from Top Chef alumna Leah Cohen and the seasonal Lutze Biergarten, which will serve beer, wine and cocktails at District Kitchen’s bar counter.
The food hall concept is agreeing with Ani Ramen owner Luck Sarabhayavanija, who notes the District Kitchen outpost serves many regulars from the downtown location who can now frequent Ani for a convenient work lunch. “We love that they approached us and other local Jersey City restaurants,” many of whom he counts as good friends, “and not just New York concepts.” Plus, Sarabhayavanija gets a kick out of seeing “coworkers slurp down a bowl of ramen while sitting across from a coworker who’s having a burger or crushing a pizza pie. It’s the cafeteria you wish you had in high school!”
District Kitchen is currently open weekdays 7am to 7pm, though Mack-Cali’s DeMarco says there’s potential for expanded and weekend hours in the future. The food hall has plans to host community events such as comedy nights, movie nights and private events in the 12,750-square-foot space.
Planning a lunch outing? Here’s a list of all 13 vendors, listed alphabetically:
Hip ramen spot with a downtown Jersey City location, as well as in Montclair and Summit. Besides ramen, find donburi bowls, bao buns, and other traditional Japanese izakaya small plates.
Longtime local food truck known for its crab cake sandwich and lobster roll.
Banana pudding in a range of flavors, from cookies and cream to matcha to Nutella.
Made-to-order sweet and savory crepes and waffles, plus soups, salads, and sandwiches.
Casual outpost of Jersey City Indian restaurant Canteen Desi Dhaba serving Mughlai dishes.
Mediterranean and Turkish hand rolled and stuffed flatbread wraps.
Modern Korean-street food fusion, all topped with housemade kimchi.
Craft burgers with decadent toppings.
Grab-and-go rolls, soups and salads.
Longtime Jersey City-based cafe and coffee roaster.
Half a dozen Naples-style wood-fired pizzas, cooked in 90 seconds.
Formerly a fixture at area farmers markets and food events, vegan salads, sandwiches, desserts, and plant-based specialties.
Hawaiian inspired poke bowls with build-your-own options.