When the weather outside is, we’ll say less than warm, curling up with your favorite comfort food can be oh so delightful. Whether it’s a juicy loaded cheeseburger, a creamy bowl of mac n cheese, or a warm brownie topped with ice cream, some foods just make you feel a sense of happiness, relaxation, and connection. And honestly, a good hearty meal can make you feel calm and cared for on the inside. Even though comfort food preferences vary from person to person, there are a few traditional staples that Hoboken restaurants are absolutely nailing. Read on for where to find some of the best comfort food in Hoboken.
The History of the Term ‘Comfort Food’
The term ‘comfort food’ is defined as food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value and is many times characterized by its high caloric nature. The word “comfort food” has been around since the 1960s but didn’t start gaining popularity until the 1970s, when The Washington Post referred to one of their featured holiday recipes as comfort food. Around that time, Liza Minnelli was one of the first and most glamorous actresses to coin the modern usage of the word in an interview, using it to describe her craving for a hamburger. While the phrase hasn’t been around for too long, the craving for comfort food is a feeling we’ve all experienced. Whether it’s from a dish your grandma used to whip up or the to-go burger at your favorite restaurant. Sometimes these meals are comforting just because they’re something that you grew up eating, or simply because eating it brings you memories of something truly happy.
Types of Comfort Food
Comfort food is always evolving. A wide range of dishes can qualify as comfort food, but typically they fall into three categories:
- Physical comfort foods — this includes those foods that are healthy for both your body and mind, that taste good, and make you feel happy.
- Nostalgic comfort foods — these bring back memories of your childhood, your loved ones, your hometown, or any happy memories. For instance, your grandma’s signature recipes growing up.
- The “guilty pleasures“ — this includes indulgent foods on the heavy side that you love for their delicious taste that can help relieve stress (but might also make you feel a bit guilty when you eat them).
Some of the most popular comfort foods include fried foods, burgers, pasta, mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, soups, desserts, and of course, the quintessential American comfort food that we have no shortage of here in the Mile Square — pizza!
Where to Get Comfort Food
Whatever you’re craving, we’ve rounded up a few of the many restaurants in Hoboken serving the most over-the-top, drool-worthy, comfort food dishes. Below are just a few of our favorite comfort foods that soothe the soul with hearty portions, and lots (and lots) of cheese.
The Mac + Cheese Burger from The Ainsworth | 310 Sinatra Drive
(Photo credit: @theainsworth)
This full bar and restaurant, which also has locations in NYC and Vegas, features a loungey vibe and unique twists on some classic comfort food and drinks. And while the menu includes a number of unique burger choices, we’ve perpetually got our eye on the Mac + Cheese Burger, which features a juicy beef patty topped with perfectly crispy but somehow also creamy panko-crusted mac + cheese, all on a fresh sesame seed bun.
Bread Pudding from Antique Bar + Bakery | 122 Willow Avenue
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The seasonal menu at this downtown hot spot varies in its menu options, but when it comes to a staple dessert, the Antique Bread Pudding is something you’ll be thinking about for days to come. It’s perfectly crusted on the outside with a softer interior, and the caramel drizzle on top is quite literally the icing on the cake. Even people who aren’t typically bread pudding fans absolutely rave about this dessert.
Steak + Mashed Potatoes from Dino + Harry’s | 163 14th Street
The steakhouse has been named one of the top restaurants in the state year over year for a reason — the steak selection is top-notch from high-quality port house cuts to NY strips and filet mignon. With 14 sides to choose from, we can’t help but reach for the rich, buttery, and creamy mashed potatoes or three cheese truffle gnocchi – both which go hand in hand all too perfectly with the savory flavors of your tender steak.
Cinnamon Rolls from The Hive | 1000 Park Avenue
(Photo credit: @hellofromthehive)
Run, don’t walk to buy the big, very fluffy, delicious, gooey cinnamon rolls from this uptown Hoboken favorite coffee shop. Since they debuted in January of this year, The Hive’s cinnamon rolls have become a huge hit in Hoboken (seriously, we’re talking lines out the door and sold out well before noon) — and all for good reason. The dough is made of bread flour and the filling consists of brown sugar, cinnamon, and lots of butter. Topped off with cream cheese frosting and powdered sugar, these cinnabuns are warm, comforting and and one of our favorite ways to indulge.
The Shepards Pie from Carpe Diem | 1405 Grand Street
The Shepherd’s Pie is such a comfort food and it’s one of our favorite menu items that can be found at this beloved uptown gem. This traditional Irish dish at Carpe Diem is filled with ground beef, peas, carrots, and mashed potatoes on top. You can never go wrong with meat and potatoes on a cozy evening by the fire, that’s for sure.
Spaghetti Carbonara from Il Tavolo di Palmisano | 700 Clinton Street
We promise that the dining experience at Il Tavolo is just as awesome as its charming aesthetic. We are huge fans of the carbonara here — a classic Italian dish that is executed oh so well and does not disappoint. We recommend pairing the food with a drink — there’s a large wine + cocktail menu that features creative + delicious drinks.
Tri-Color Gnocchi from Leo’s Grandevous | #A, 200 Grand Street
(Photo credit: @leosgrandevous)
While it’s hard to pick a favorite dish from this Hoboken establishment, their drool-worthy plate of tri-color gnocchi with pesto, Pomodoro, and alfredo sauce is a top choice. Plus, it doesn’t get much more comforting than potato-based pasta.
Vodka Chicken Parm from Johnny Pepperoni | 219 11th Street #4323
(Photo credit: @johnnypepps)
Three words: vodka chicken parm. Johnny Pepperoni is full of charm — with its wood tables, red metal chairs, and black + white tiled floor, there’s something equally nostalgic and modern about dining here. While you can’t go wrong with pizza, our personal favorite is the vodka chicken parm. It is as full of flavor as it is silky and indulgent. This is a BYOB spot, ideal for bringing along a favorite wine to pair with these yummy Italian eats.
French Onion Soup Dumplings from The Madison Bar + Grill | 1316 Washington Street
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For a twist on an ultra-savory classic, check out The Madison’s French Onion Soup Dumplings. The dumplings are made with provolone and gruyere cheese. The cheesy dish makes for the perfect lunch dish during the cold season.
Grilled Cheese + Tomato Soup from The Madison Bar + Grill | 1316 Washington Street
Thick-cut bacon, an heirloom tomato, cheddar on Texas toast, with a side of fries, and a bowl of tomato bisque. The sandwich itself could stand alone as a great meal but the side of tomato bisque is the key. The grilled cheese/tomato soup combination is a common one but the bisque served with the sandwich is delightful. Be sure to get a dip in for every bite.
Ramen from Muteki Ramen | 533 Washington Street
(Photo credit: @mutekiramen)
When it comes to warm and comforting, it doesn’t get much better than this traditional Japanese noodle soup. With over 20 years of experience in Japanese tapas-style food, Muteki Ramen serves some of the best Japanese ramen and comfort food in Hoboken and Jersey City. Consisting of Chinese wheat noodles served in a meat or fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork, nori, menma, and scallions.
Empanadas from La Casa | 54 Newark Street
Hot, flaky, crispy, and cooked to perfection, the empanadas offered at this Latin restaurant always make us feel good inside. Choose from the standard chicken, spinach and cheese, or a sweet treat with guava and the smoothness of cream cheese for a delicious satisfying treat.
Vodka Chicken Parm from Margherita’s | 740 Washington Street
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Located at 740 Washington Street, Margherita’s isn’t just known for its slices of pizza. Margherita’s serves everything from iconic Italian pasta dishes like cavatelli and broccoli and seafood like lobster ravioli and seafood Margherita. We especially can’t get enough of their vodka chicken parm.
Corn Pudding + Sides from House of ‘Que | 340 Sinatra Drive
Southern comfort food is exactly what you’ll find with a visit to Texas-style barbecue joint House of ‘Que. Aside from the tender, juicy, smoky, barbeque-loaded meat, we can’t get enough of the Cornbread Pudding side dish. With its sweet pieces of sweet corn and creamy pudding, it’s like a side and dessert all in one.
Wonton Soup from Keming | 1006 Washington Street
(Photo credit: @keminghoboken)
This uptown Chinese restaurant offers traditional and elevated dishes in a snug atmosphere. Our go-to take-out order is a big, warm, comforting bowl of wonton soup (although the dumplings and general tso’s are close seconds).
Cheese Fries from Moran’s | 501 Garden Street
Any dish that is oozing with short rib gravy is perfectly fine in our book and the cheese fries at Moran’s are worth indulging in. The Irish Poutine which is made up of hand-cut fries and served with short rib curry sauce and topped with sharp Irish cheddar is enough to have us running to this midtown hidden gem.
Chicken + Waffles at Tosti Cafe + Kitchen | 1024 Washington Street
(Photo credit: @tosti_cafe)
Step into this colorful cafe to experience creative cuisine and welcoming vibes. The chicken and waffles here are available for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and the dish is unlike anything you’ve encountered. Tosti’s take on the classic has soy-ginger marinated fried chicken served on a waffle, accompanied by homemade Peruvian green sauce.
Mac N Cheese from The Stewed Cow | 400 Adams Street
This neighborhood favorite boasts not one but two different Mac N Cheese dishes that are oh-so-cheesy, savory, and downright comforting. First up is their Buffalo Mac N cheese — Crispy chicken tossed in buffalo sauce, topped with blue cheese crumbles and scallions. Next, try their Pulled Pork Mac n Cheese — original mac n cheese topped with house-smoked pulled pork.
Pizza + Meatballs from Tenth Street Pasta + Pizza | 1000 Willow Avenue
For square pizza lovers out there, diners absolutely love the classic square pie here. Though it isn’t featured in the name, we personally think the most epic dish on the menu is the naked meatballs. The meatballs are served with whipped ricotta, Italian long hot pepper, roasted garlic, and fresh rosemary — it’s simple, it’s classic, it’s awesome. This is also a BYOB establishment.
Donuts + Challah French Toast at Anthony David’s | 953 Bloomfield Street
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This BYO spot on 10th and Bloomfield has numerous must-have delicacies, but the absolute standout dessert is definitely the warm doughnuts. Choose from Nutella-drizzled or bourbon-glazed, or go halfsies with a choice of both on the plate. You really can’t go wrong. From their brunch spread, we can’t help but order the thick-sliced, challah french toast, complete with toasted coconut butter from Anthony David’s when we need some extra warmth and comfort. Also on the dessert menu is fried bananas and pumpkin bread pudding which is sure to warm you up with its bourbon glaze and vanilla gelato on top.
Carbonara from Sorellina | 1036 Washington Street
The ‘Chitarra Alla Carbonara’ delivers on bacony, peppery, cheesy, eggy, and slightly salty. You’re supposed to share it with the table, but we’ll leave that up to you.
Gnocchi from Cafe Michelina | 423 Bloomfield Street
(Photo credit: @cafemichelina)
Everything is homemade at this rustic BYOB, family-owned Italian restaurant. And we adamantly point you to the vodka sauce. The gnocchi with vodka sauce topped with burrata and fresh herbs is absolutely magnificent and, as we like to say, tastes like heaven.
Nutella Pizza from Otto Strada | 743 Park Ave
For those feeling extra indulgent, Otto Strada offers a Nutella pizza for dessert, decorated with chocolate chips and hazelnuts. In case you’re unsure, yes, it’s incredible.
French Onion Soup from Elysian Café | 1001 Washington Street
This modern French bistro serves the classics and we especially can’t get enough of their French onion soup. Perfectly warm, savory, satisfying, and extra cheesy.
Cacio e Pepe or Truffle Carbonara from Anthony David’s | 953 Bloomfield Street
(Photo credit: @anthonydavids_)
This spot has some delish dishes featuring fresh + pillowy pasta. The truffle carbonara sports cavatelli pasta, a poached egg, pancetta, English peas, and pecorino — and it does not disappoint. We’re also big fans of the Cacio e Pepe + English peas, which hits the ideal level of richness without being too heavy. HG pro tip: Anthony David’s only accepts cashless payments.
Ice Cream Sundaes from Thomas’ Ice Cream Cafe | 214 Jefferson Street
(Photo credit: @thomasicecreamcafe)
This one-of-a-kind spot is a homemade artisanal ice cream shop that also serves homemade pizza and flatbread. With gluten-free cones and old-fashioned soda floats as well as homemade, freshly baked toppings and mix-ins, this is a great stop for a comforting meal with a delicious finish.
No Forks Given | 115 Brunswick Street, Jersey City
Although not technically located in Hoboken, this is definitely worth the drive to Jersey City. No Forks Given is a food truck that was on the road for five years before opening up a permanent storefront in downtown JC in June 2023. No Forks Given serves up all things comfort food — including several kinds of fried chicken sandwiches, cheesesteaks, regular sandwiches, salads, and fries. There’s also a special kids’ menu for the little ones.