• Where to Find Authentic Portuguese Food in Newark

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    Starting in the 1950s, due to political instability and economic hardship at home, a large number of Portuguese immigrants moved to the east coast of the U.S. to find new economic opportunities. Many of them settled in Newark’s Ironbound district, along Ferry streets, working in light manufacturing such as textile and chemical processing. This closely-knit neighborhood is near  Newark Penn Station and is aptly nicknamed “Little Portugal.” According to a The Washington Post article from 2014, “Newark’s Ironbound district…witnessed an influx of Portuguese immigrants in the mid-20th century…[Today,] businesses owned, operated and influenced by the Portuguese continue to give the Ironbound an Iberian flair.”

    In the present day, the influx of Portuguese immigration has slowed, but immigrants from Brazil, Ecuador, and other Latin American countries continue to move in, giving the neighborhood a vibrant and diverse social, commercial, and cultural atmosphere. Here’s more about the authentic Portuguese culinary experiences in the Ironbound Newark neighborhood —  easily accessible by PATH from the Hudson County area. Read on to discover where to find authentic Portuguese food in Newark.

    For Formal Meals

    Sabor Unido {77 Jefferson Street}

    sabor unido newark

    {Photo credit: @saborunido}

    At Sabor Unido, you can find the most typical grilled seafood dishes the same way you’d find them in a Lisbon neighborhood restaurant. They’re thrown on the griddle —  plentiful meaty cod, sweet sea bass, or fat sardines, drizzled in olive oil, and garnished with flavorful herbs or relishes. It is worth mentioning that every Saturday, Sabor Unido offers a lunch special of feijoada, a Brazilian meat and bean stew with smoked sausage, tasty bits {such as pork feet and ears}, and salted tenderloin, braised to a melting tenderness, accompanied with rice, chicharron {fried pork skin}, collard greens, and ever-delish yucca fries. The portions are huge, so come hungry. One serving of feijoada can easily satisfy and still leave plenty to take home, even if you’re hungry. And yes, fiojada is almost always better as a leftover.

    Seabra’s Marisqueria {87 Madison Street}

    Seabra’s Marisqueria serves a wide variety of Portuguese food family-style — small plates of crunchy fried anchovies or calamari, heaping piles of grilled fish and/or meat, or hearty shellfish stews. Obviously, the specialty is seafood. A favorite among local Portuguese families is bacalhau a lagareiro aka salted cod drenched in olive oil, served with vegetables and boiled potatoes. Another noteworthy dish is the mariscada — lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops braised in a tomato-based stew, with a touch of cognac, served in a steaming copper pot. Get there early for weekend lunches. The place fills up quickly with families after Sunday mass at churches nearby.

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    For Cocktails

    Adega Grill {130 Ferry Street}

    Adega Grill is perhaps the favorite local spot for after-work drinks or weekend night gatherings. The restaurant offers a sprawling wine list of 180 selections, with a wide variety of Portuguese wines. Come on a Friday or Saturday night and first stop by the electric bar area, order glasses of Portuguese wine, or sangria poured directly from wooden barrels, and share a tapa of camarao a guilho, shrimp sauteéed in olive oil, with a touch of lemon and garlic, or chourico assado {grilled Portuguese sausage}. Then move on to the dinning room for a more formal dinner of grilled seasonal seafood, paella, or steak. The restaurant also accommodates special occasions or large gatherings, such as small weddings or birthday parties. The varied selection of dishes and large portions will surely satisfy even the pickiest eater in your party.

    Bakeries and Quick Bites

    Teixeira’s Bakery {186 Ferry Street}

    pastel de nata newark

    Pastel de nata are ubiquitous in Lisbon or Porto bakeries — creamy and gooey egg custard, caramelized on the top, wrapped in buttery pastry shell. You can find them at Teixeira’s, a long-standing neighborhood bakery. They come in two flavors, original and coconut. The bakery also offers other high-quality Portuguese pastries, such as ove moles cakes {sponge cake with creamy egg yolk fillings}, empanadas, or sandwiches with crusty Portuguese white bread. Grab one or two pastries, sit by a small table, and watch old residents in the neighborhoods sipping espressos at the tables nearby.

    Café Pão De Queijo {131 Wilson Avenue}

    In this Brazilian bakery, pão de queijo is surely the star on the menu — fresh bread rolls made of tapioca {yes it’s gluten-free} and parmesan cheese. With a crispy crust and squidgy cheesy inside, these chewy little puffs are highly addictive. The bakery also offers other Brazilian baked goods, the same way as if you were in a neighborhood eatery in Rio de Janeiro. For a substantial breakfast or quick lunch, try the coxinhas, a drumstick-shaped croquette with shredded chicken filling, coated with potato/manioc batter. Or pastel, the Brazilian take of empanada flaky wrap and minced meat/vegetable fillings, fried to the order.

    For Groceries

    Seabra’s Market {260 Lafayette Street}

    portugese food newark

    Before you leave, stopping by Seabra’s Market is a must. It’s a grocery store selling a large selection of specialty foods from Portugal, Brazil, and other Latin American countries. Walking down the long isles, you will find mountains of salted cod, a staple in homemade Portuguese/Brazilian dishes. And there is a dazzling variety of legumes, both dried and canned, including some rare finds in North America such as lupin beans. Or pick a few links of morcela, the Portuguese blood sausage, and take home for a simple but satisfying grill. And don’t miss the canned cod, a delicacy you would find at most Lisbon neighborhood delis — you will be surprised at the big flavor in this small can of humble preserved fish. Serve it with chickpeas, along with a lot of aromatic olive oil {yes, the more the better}. It is a typical tapa dish on a breezy Lisbon summer night.

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    How to Get to Newark

    From Jersey City, there are direct PATH trains from Grove Street and Journal Square stations to Newark Penn Station. The places recommended in this article are within a 15 minutes walk from the station along or close to Ferry streets.

    From Hoboken on weekdays, take PATH to Exchange Place and switch to a Newark Penn Station-bound train. On weekends, take PATH to Grove Street and Journal Square and get on Newark train.

    Have you tried one of these delicious, authentic Portuguese places in Newark? Let us know in the comments!


    Written by:

    Yiwei was born and raised in China. She has lived extensively in Beijing and Hong Kong, before finally settling down in New York. She moved to Hoboken after a few years in Westchester and immediately felt at home here. Two years ago, she left her job at an investment bank to travel the world and explore her interests, and has since then taken on a few freelancing gigs in career coaching, college admission consulting, and writing. When she is not wandering wildly in the streets of Europe, Asia, or Latin America, she can be found sipping an espresso in one of Hoboken's coffee shops or trying out restaurants in Hoboken and Jersey City area.