Our Favorite Downtowns: Hoboken

With vibrant cafes and stunning views of the Manhattan skyline, Hoboken sets the bar high for all other Jersey downtowns.

Elysian Cafe in downtown Hoboken.
Elysian Cafe in downtown Hoboken is a hip boite.
Photo by Laura Moss

The Mile Square City sets the bar for all other Jersey downtowns—particularly the urban kind. Then again, not every town overlooks the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline. Washington Street, the main thoroughfare, is blessed with wide sidewalks to accommodate the foot traffic generated by its cafés, bars, restaurants and shops. It’s a vibrant and stimulating place to stroll; even better is the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, a linear park along the river.

“You can enjoy a wonderful meal on Washington Street and minutes later be in a tranquil, expansive green space with the most breathtaking views of Manhattan,” says Daniel Gans, CEO of Hoboken Brownstone Company. Runners, bikers, skateboarders, sunbathers and strolling families use the Walkway, which is also the venue for free movies, art exhibitions and other cultural attractions.

WHERE TO EAT: Frank Sinatra’s hometown has plenty of authentic Italian food, including Anthony David’s and Trattoria Saporito; artisanal pizza shop Dozzino; and delis like Vito’s, Biancamano’s and Fiore’s. Piccolo’s has the best cheese steak. South American and Latin is well represented by Cucharamama (a NJM Top 25 led by Beard Award winner Maricel Presilla) and its Cuban sister, Presilla’s Zafra. Speaking of Cuban, La Isla recently opened a second location. Elysian Cafe is a hip boite, Bareburger an upscale burger chain. Schnackenberg’s is renowned for its killer doughnuts and carrot cake. Then there’s French-inspired patisserie Choc O Pain; Love and Yogurt; family-owned Lepore’s Homemade Chocolates; and media favorite Carlo’s Bakery. Coffee shops abound, including family-run bwè kafe, which spotlights Haitian coffee beans and art.

WHERE TO SHOP: Check out funky boutiques and small chains like Anthology, Dor L’Dor, Dear Hannah, and the contemporary/vintage Mint Market. There’s a pretty, two-story outpost of the regional chain Anthropologie. Luxe Face and Body offers treatments and an array of curated beauty products.

DON’T MISS: The riverfront W Hoboken hotel, for cocktails or dining with a sparkly Manhattan view. The Mile Square Theatre, which will soon move into a new West Hoboken venue. The Hoboken Historical Museum is home to an expansive collection of artifacts detailing Hoboken’s history. The Hoboken Cove Boathouse at Maxwell Place offers free public kayaking.

THEN AGAIN: Parking is notoriously tight, so consider mass transit. The PATH train conveniently deposits you at the south end of Washington Street.

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