Home Best of Guides Where to Eat in Montclair: A Day Trip Guide

Where to Eat in Montclair: A Day Trip Guide

by Victoria Marie Moyeno
Attain Medspa
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Just a short drive from Hoboken is a cultural hub with amazing restaurants from all around the world — Montclair. Montclair is bustling with delicious food and culture. From classic American bistros to authentic Caribbean experiences and delectable bakeries, there’s something for everyone in this NJ town with its robust food scene. Here are some of Montclair’s best eateries to check out ASAP.

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Cocina Candela {706 Bloomfield Avenue}

cocina candela montclair

Cocina Candela is a slice of la Isla de Encanta right in the heart of Montclair. Tucked into the middle of the sidewalk is a Puerto Rican restaurant serving up native dishes with the island’s very own salsa music setting the mood. The outdoor dining space is framed with tropical plants and the tables are centered with a coqui {a frog species native to Puerto Rico}. Inside, the warm colors and cultural art provide an authentic experience. 

The stars of the brunch menu are the jibarito plantain sandwich {skirt steak, lettuce, tomato, black garlic aioli on fried plantains}, the buttermilk pancakes, and the Puerto Rican benedict {trifongo, roasted pork, poached eggs, and pique hollandaise}. If you’re visiting for dinner, come hungry as the portions are large. There are several meat and seafood dishes. The chuleta cancan entree comes with a Berkshire pork chop, chicharron, rib meat, sweet plantains, rice, and beans. Of course, it wouldn’t be a true Caribbean restaurant without fresh tropical juices. 

Laboratorio Kitchen {615 Bloomfield Street}

{Photo credit: @laboratoriokitchen}

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Harborside Sport + Spine

Chef James De Sito took his love for his grandmother’s cooking and turned it into his passion, contemporary American cuisine. At the Laboratorio, it’s all about fine dining. The outdoor dining area is peaceful, and the tropical mural adds colorful flair to the experience. The presentation is just as amazing as the food itself. For appetizers, opt for the veal and beef meatball, house-made ravioli, or mussels. Here, seafood dominates the menu. Dishes like the Idaho rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon, day boat scallops, and prime NY strip, make for great choices. Additionally, there are delicious pasta, salad, and dessert options. Vegan and vegetarian options can be made available upon request. For those who like to sample a little bit of everything, the “small plates” menu is available Tuesday through Thursday. 

CARS: Sandwiches + Shakes {150 Valley Road}

CARS sandwiches Montclair

Zap Fitness

{Photo credit: @eatcars}

At CARS, there are only two things you need to know about the sandwiches — they’re Jersey-style and overstuffed. The interior of this shop is like walking into a 1950s diner with an auto shop theme. Yellow and purple neon signs read “CARS sandwiches and shakes,” metal finishings give it an industrial touch, and the wallpaper depicts fries, burgers, and shakes adding to the playfulness of the shop. The uniquely-designed sandwiches are what keep people going back for more. Go all out and opt for sandwiches like the Fat Tony{chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, fries, and marinara sauce}, Fat Falafel {vegetarian falafel, fried pickle spears, tomatoes, lettuce, and hummus}, or the Fat Mo {chicken fingers, mac n’ cheese bites, onion rings, fries, and sriracha mayo}. The burger and chicken sandwich options are just as impressive. 

Kai Yang {345 Bloomfield Avenue}

Kai Yang Montclair

{Photo credit: @kaiyangnj}

Chef and owner, Sheree Sarabhayavanija is no stranger to running a sought-after restaurant. She runs another two restaurants in addition to this Thai favorite. The beautiful interior design was inspired by Thailand’s rich culture. Tapestries decorate the walls, colorful floral tables, bright yellow chairs, and a large buddha stationed in the front of the restaurant create a unique experience. The restaurant was named after a Bangkok street food favorite, grilled chicken. The organic chicken served at Kai Yang is rotisserie grilled and accompanied by traditional papaya salad, sticky rice side, and of course, dipping sauces with variations that include pork or beef. The crispy shrimp rolls, Thai dumplings, coconut chicken soup, and pandan are must-tries. Naturally, authentic pad thai and other noodle or rice dishes are available. 

Cuban Pete’s {428 Bloomfield Avenue}

cuban petes montclair dining

{Photo credit: @cuban_petes_restaurant}

Think vacation in Havana — salsa music playing, palm trees lining the walls, live performances, vibrant colors, and authentic Cuban food. The outdoor dining area will transport you to a tropical oasis. This BYOB spot is a go-to for all celebrations. Bring a dry wine or rum and Cuban Pete’s has all the sangria and mojito mixers anyone could want. Here, you get the bang for your buck with large portions and affordable prices. Known for the tapas, opt for the empanadas, garlic shrimp, chicharron de pollo {crispy chicken lollipops with mojo sauce}, masitas de puerco {bite size crispy pork}, or platanos rellenos {stuffed plantain with ground beef and white cheese}. For entrees, Cuban classics like ropa vieja {shredded beef, rice, and fried plantains}, or churrasco {marinated skirt steak, rice, and fried plantains}, are always a hit. There are no reservations and weekends tend to be busier. 

Vesta Chocolate {598 Valley Road Suite 2}

vesta chocolate Montclair

{Photo credit: @vestachocolate}

Brought to you by a husband and wife team Roger and Julia, Vesta is a bean-to-bonbon craft chocolate factory and café. The chocolate is first made from organic cacao beans from various origins with unrefined and organic Panela sugar, then it is used to make bonbons, baked goods, spreads, bars, and more. Vesta is a unique artisanal chocolate-making house where French techniques meet the true definition of chocolate in Latin America where cacao originated. The presentation and design of the chocolates are almost too beautiful to eat. There are bonbons, cacao salted brownies, sea salt chocolate chip cookies, vegan chocolate bars, ginger granola, brownies, chocolate spreads, truffles, and it doesn’t stop there. They’ve created a “Feel Good Cacao Zen Garden” that comes complete with healing stones, faux rocks, mini gardening tools, sage, and cacao. The “Caffe Cacao Night Time Scrub” is loaded with antioxidants, along with caffeine to exfoliate and rejuvenate skin. Outdoor dining, take-out, and delivery are available.

The Corner {115 Grove Street}

the corner Montclair

{Photo credit: @thecornermontclair}

This gourmet cafe and juice bar has epic retro vibes. Leather booths, pastel crown molding, art deco wall art, and a pink neon sign that reads “good vibes only,” is only a taste of the experience at this gem. The charm of the interior flows into the outdoor space with the same vibrant colors and a framed plant wall. The in-house pastry menu includes cafe classics like croissants, biscuits, baguettes, and scones. The homemade granola parfait with Greek yogurt and dried fruit with toasted nuts is the perfect light-weight snack. Breakfast sandwiches and platters are served with a twist. The menu is complete with salads, soups, and desserts. If you need more convincing, the burgers, crispy chicken, and street corn are just as tasty as the brunch options. 

Good Plans Cafe {22 Lackawanna Plaza}

good plans cafe montclair

{Photo credit: @goodplanscafe}

A vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, plant-based haven, this cafe is serving up delicious, healthier versions of classic American dishes. This charming shop has warm earth tones, lively flowers, and a calming outdoor seating area. Here the pizzas are the most popular item on the menu. The classic pie is plant-based, gluten-free, and keto/paleo-friendly. Other pizza options are pesto and cheese with mushrooms. There’s only one burger on the menu but when it’s this good, it’s the only option you need. The black bean burger is made with chickpea, black beans, onion, Himalayan salt, garlic, tomato, mushroom, and greens. The brunch menu features avocado toast, mushroom toast, tuna salad toast, egg salad chickpea toast, and more. The cafe is complete with a full list of coffee options, and specialty drinks like mushroom cacao reishi, heart beet latte, and pomegranate blush. 

Raymond’s {28 Church Street}

Raymonds Montclair

{Photo credit: @raymondsnj}

One word, brunch. This upscale BYOB bistro is serving up delicious comfort food in a whimsical environment and people line up every weekend for a bite. Black and white floor tiles, enamel touches, mahogany counters, skylights, and antique glass bottles of all colors come together to provide a quirky, old-American vibe. There are a few dishes that every visitor must try, and that includes the French toast, the huevos rancheros, pancakes, and breakfast burritos. It’s all about fresh ingredients at Raymond’s. The maple syrup is made in Massachusetts, the pancake grains come from Tennessee, and the marshmallows are homemade. The salads and sandwiches don’t disappoint either. Specifically, the four-cheese grilled cheese and corned beef are must-orders. From burgers to fish to steak, there’s an entree for every palette. 

Tostchu {12 B N Willow Street}

tostchu Montclair

{Photo credit: @tostchunj}

This is a sandwich shop specializing in meats, specifically pastrami, German sausage, melted sandwiches, and fresh-pressed juices. The fluffy bread is made in-house, and the meat is fresh. The sandwiches are large, so go hungry, or take home the left-over’s. A pastrami sandwich wouldn’t be complete without a side of pickles, and the ones served here are just the right amount of spicy, sour, and crunchy. The most popular item on the menu is the tostchu 1, which is packed with traditional Turkish kashkaval cheese, tomato paste, Anatolian pepperoni, aged dry beef, and egg. For sides, opt for the currywurst tostchu potato salad, or the tomato soup. It may not seem like a traditional pairing, but the smoothies and juices provide a delicious sweet touch to the salty sandwiches. Customers can purchase flavors like ginger, berries, kale, green apple, or you can build your own. 

AppleGate Farm {616 Grove Street}

applegate farm ice cream Montclair

{Photo credit: @applegatefarmic}

Applegate Farm is one of the largest retail outlets for ice cream on the East Coast and has been operating since 1848. Visiting the farm is a nostalgic experience. Guests can see the original farmhouse that saw many slaves to freedom during the Civil War, as well as an authentic tile silo, one of three built in New Jersey in 1919. Over the last century, this farm is said to have some of the best homemade ice cream around. Ice cream options include endless flavors of soft-serve, Italian ice, ice cream sandwiches, Sundays, shakes, and fun toppings. Other treats made in-house are chocolate-covered strawberries, apples, brownies, pretzels, cookies, cake pops, chocolate bars, doughnuts, and more. 

Tacoria {365 Bloomfield Avenue}

tacoria montclair

{Photo credit: @eattacoria}

This gorgeously designed restaurant is more than the delicious Mexican food it pumps out, it’s about paying homage to Mexican culture. The interior has an industrial design, with exposed brick and metal accents. The mural of rainbow hearts adds a vibrant pop of color, along with the Mexican-inspired artwork hanging throughout the restaurant. The printed tiled walls, sticky-note board for customers to write their thoughts on, and neon signs, all tie into the charm of this taqueria. There are eight handcrafted tacos to choose from, including al pastor, chorizo, and carne asada. With several burritos to choose from, it can be overwhelming but there’s something for everyone, including three veggie options. The menu is complete with ten quesadillas, burrito boxes, nachos, and salads. Here, you simply can’t go wrong. 

For more Montclair and Essex County content, check out TheMontclairGirl.com and follow us on Instagram at @themontclairgirl.


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