New Jersey, also known as the “Garden State,” is a diverse and bustling state with a rich history and culture. While it may be most famous for its boardwalks and beaches, New Jersey is also home to a vibrant food scene that reflects the state’s ethnic and cultural diversity. From classic diner fare to Italian and Jewish cuisine, New Jersey’s food scene is as eclectic as its population.
In this article, we will explore what New Jersey is known for food and the best local food that you must try when visiting the state. Whether you are a foodie or simply looking for some delicious meals to enjoy during your trip to New Jersey, this guide will help you discover the best food the state has to offer.
New Jersey has a diverse culinary scene, influenced by its location on the coast and its proximity to New York City. Here are 10 famous New Jersey local foods and cuisines:
Taylor Ham, also known as pork roll, is a type of processed meat that is a popular breakfast food in the state of New Jersey in the United States. It is typically made from ground pork, salt, sugar, and spices, and is typically served sliced and fried, often as part of a sandwich.
The origins of Taylor Ham or pork roll can be traced back to the mid-19th century in Trenton, New Jersey, where John Taylor first began producing the meat product. Today, Taylor Ham or pork roll is produced by several companies in New Jersey and can be found in most grocery stores and diners throughout the state.
The debate over whether it should be called Taylor Ham or pork roll has been a source of contention among New Jersey residents for many years. The name “Taylor Ham” is a registered trademark owned by the Taylor Ham company, while “pork roll” is a more generic term used by other companies that produce a similar product.
Despite the name controversy, Taylor Ham or pork roll remains a beloved and iconic food in New Jersey, and it is often enjoyed as part of a breakfast sandwich with egg and cheese, or as a side dish with other breakfast items such as pancakes or waffles.
Tomato pie is a type of pizza that is popular in the state of New Jersey in the United States. It is typically made with a thin, crispy crust, tomato sauce, and grated cheese, and is often served at room temperature. Unlike traditional pizza, tomato pie is typically topped with the sauce first, followed by the cheese.
The origins of tomato pie can be traced back to the Italian-American communities in the Trenton and Philadelphia areas, where it was first introduced in the early 1900s. Today, tomato pie remains a popular food in New Jersey, particularly in the Trenton and Philadelphia regions, where it is often served at local bakeries, pizzerias, and restaurants.
One of the defining characteristics of tomato pie is its unique crust, which is typically thinner and crispier than traditional pizza crust. The tomato sauce used in tomato pie is also slightly different than traditional pizza sauce, and is often more tangy and less sweet.
Tomato pie is often enjoyed as a snack or appetizer, and is commonly served at parties and events in New Jersey. It is also a popular food to bring on picnics or to enjoy at outdoor gatherings, as it can be eaten at room temperature and does not require heating or reheating.
Salt water taffy is a type of candy that is particularly associated with the state of New Jersey in the United States. It is a soft, chewy candy that is typically made from sugar, corn syrup, and water, and is flavored with various natural and artificial flavors. The candy is then stretched and pulled by machine to create a fluffy and airy texture, before being cut into bite-sized pieces and wrapped in wax paper.
The origins of salt water taffy can be traced back to the late 19th century in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where it was first sold on the boardwalk as a souvenir for tourists. The candy got its name from a story about a severe storm that flooded a candy store and soaked the taffy in salt water. The owner of the store supposedly offered the salty taffy to a customer, who loved it, and the candy became known as salt water taffy.
Today, salt water taffy is still a popular candy in New Jersey, particularly in coastal towns like Atlantic City, where it is sold in souvenir shops and boardwalk stores. The candy comes in a wide range of flavors, including traditional flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, as well as more unusual flavors like cotton candy, root beer, and even pickle.
Many visitors to New Jersey consider salt water taffy to be a must-try food when visiting the state, and the candy has become a symbol of the state’s seaside culture and history.
Boardwalk fries are a type of French fries that are typically sold at food stands and restaurants on the boardwalks of coastal towns in New Jersey, particularly in places like Ocean City and Wildwood.
These fries are usually made from freshly cut potatoes that are fried until crispy and golden brown, and then seasoned with salt or other seasonings.
Boardwalk fries are a popular food in New Jersey, particularly during the summer months when tourists flock to the state’s coastal towns. They are often served in a paper or cardboard cone, and are commonly eaten as a snack or side dish with other foods like hot dogs, burgers, or sandwiches.
One of the things that sets boardwalk fries apart from other types of French fries is their crispy texture and fresh flavor. Many boardwalk stands and restaurants use locally sourced potatoes, which are cut and fried on site, giving the fries a distinctive flavor and texture.
In recent years, some boardwalk stands and restaurants have also started offering a variety of toppings and dipping sauces for their fries, such as cheese sauce, chili, bacon, and garlic aioli. This has added to the popularity of boardwalk fries as a fun and customizable food option.
Overall, boardwalk fries are an iconic and beloved food in New Jersey, and they are a staple of the state’s beach and boardwalk culture.
Disco fries are a type of French fries dish that is particularly popular in New Jersey diners. This dish consists of French fries that are topped with melted mozzarella cheese and then covered with a rich gravy made from beef or chicken stock.
The origins of disco fries are unclear, but they are believed to have originated in New Jersey in the 1970s. Some people speculate that the name “disco fries” comes from the fact that they were often eaten by late-night diners who had been out dancing at disco clubs.
Today, disco fries are a popular menu item in New Jersey diners and are often served as a snack, appetizer, or late-night meal. They are typically made with freshly cut French fries that are cooked until crispy, and then topped with a generous amount of melted mozzarella cheese. The gravy used to top the fries is often thick and savory, and can include a variety of seasonings and ingredients.
Disco fries are sometimes also served with additional toppings, such as bacon, scallions, or sour cream. The dish has become an iconic and beloved food in New Jersey, and it is often associated with the state’s diner culture and late-night dining scene.
Pork Roll Egg and Cheese, also known as Taylor Ham Egg and Cheese, is a popular breakfast sandwich in the state of New Jersey. It typically consists of a sliced and fried pork roll (or Taylor ham), a fried egg, and melted cheese (usually American cheese) served on a toasted bagel, English muffin, or Kaiser roll.
The origins of the pork roll egg and cheese sandwich can be traced back to the early 20th century, when pork roll was first introduced in the Trenton area of New Jersey. The sandwich quickly became a popular breakfast item in the state, and it is now widely available at diners, delis, and fast food restaurants throughout New Jersey.
The sandwich is typically made by frying slices of pork roll until crispy and browned, and then frying an egg and melting cheese over the top. The pork roll is often served in circular slices, which are similar in size and shape to Canadian bacon. The egg is usually cooked over easy or sunny-side up, so that the yolk can be used as a sauce for the sandwich.
Pork Roll Egg and Cheese is a classic and beloved food in New Jersey, and it is often considered to be one of the state’s signature dishes. The sandwich is especially popular among commuters, who often grab one on the go as a quick and satisfying breakfast option.
Blue Claw Crabs are a type of crab that is native to the waters off the coast of New Jersey. These crabs are named for their distinctive blue claws, which are a bright blue color and are used by the crabs to defend themselves and catch prey.
Blue Claw Crabs are a popular food in New Jersey, particularly during the summer months when they are in season. They are often caught by local fishermen and sold at seafood markets and restaurants throughout the state.
The crabs are typically prepared by steaming or boiling them in a large pot of water, and then seasoning them with a mixture of Old Bay seasoning, garlic, and other spices. They are often served whole, with the shell on, and are typically eaten by cracking open the shell with a seafood cracker or a wooden mallet.
Blue Claw Crabs are a favorite food among seafood lovers in New Jersey, and they are often enjoyed as part of a traditional crab feast, which may also include other seafood like clams, shrimp, and lobster. The crabs are also a popular ingredient in dishes like crab cakes, crab bisque, and crab dip.
Overall, Blue Claw Crabs are an important part of New Jersey’s culinary heritage, and they are a beloved and iconic food in the state.
Subs, also known as hoagies, are a type of sandwich that is particularly popular in the state of New Jersey. These sandwiches typically consist of a long roll, or sub roll, that is filled with a variety of meats, cheeses, and vegetables.
Subs can be found at delis, sandwich shops, and pizzerias throughout New Jersey, and they are often made to order with the customer’s choice of ingredients. Some of the most common ingredients used in New Jersey-style subs include ham, turkey, roast beef, salami, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and hot peppers.
One of the key features of a New Jersey-style sub is the bread. The sub roll used in these sandwiches is typically soft and chewy, with a slightly crispy crust. The rolls are often baked fresh on site, and they are usually sliced open and filled with the sandwich ingredients.
New Jersey-style subs are often served cold, but they can also be toasted or heated up, depending on the customer’s preference. They are often accompanied by a variety of condiments and sauces, such as mayonnaise, mustard, oil and vinegar, and Italian dressing.
Subs are a popular and beloved food in New Jersey, and they are often considered to be a staple of the state’s cuisine. They are frequently enjoyed as a quick and convenient lunch or dinner option, and they are also a popular choice for parties and gatherings.
Italian Hot Dogs are a unique and popular food item that originated in the state of New Jersey. These sandwiches are made with Italian bread that is hollowed out and filled with hot dogs, fried peppers and onions, and potatoes.
The hot dogs used in Italian Hot Dogs are typically larger than traditional hot dogs and are made with a blend of pork and beef. They are deep-fried until crispy and then placed in the hollowed-out bread roll. The fried peppers and onions are then added, along with sliced potatoes that have been pan-fried until crispy.
Italian Hot Dogs are often served with a variety of condiments, such as mustard, ketchup, and hot sauce. Some variations also include melted cheese or sauerkraut.
The origins of Italian Hot Dogs can be traced back to the early 20th century, when Italian immigrants in the Newark area began experimenting with different types of sandwiches. The Italian Hot Dog quickly became a favorite among locals, and it is now widely available at delis, hot dog stands, and restaurants throughout the state.
Italian Hot Dogs are a beloved and iconic food in New Jersey, and they are often considered to be a symbol of the state’s diverse and flavorful cuisine. They are frequently enjoyed as a hearty and satisfying meal, and they are often served at events like fairs, festivals, and sporting events.
Zeppoles are a popular dessert in New Jersey that are typically served at fairs, festivals, and carnivals throughout the state. These deep-fried dough balls are coated in powdered sugar and are often filled with cream or fruit.
The dough used to make Zeppoles is made with flour, water, sugar, and yeast, and it is typically flavored with lemon zest or vanilla extract. The dough is rolled into small balls and deep-fried until golden brown and crispy.
Once the Zeppoles are cooked, they are dusted with powdered sugar and served hot. Some variations also include a filling, such as pastry cream or fruit preserves, which is injected into the center of the dough ball.
Zeppoles are a beloved and iconic food in New Jersey, and they are often associated with summertime celebrations and outdoor events. They are frequently enjoyed as a sweet and indulgent treat, and they are often served alongside other carnival foods like cotton candy, funnel cake, and caramel apples.
In addition to being a popular dessert at fairs and festivals, Zeppoles can also be found at bakeries and restaurants throughout New Jersey, where they are often served as a special treat or seasonal menu item.
A: The typical cuisine in New Jersey is influenced by its diverse population and its location along the East Coast. You can find a variety of cuisines, from Italian and Jewish to seafood and classic diner fare.
A: New Jersey is famous for its diners, which are often open 24 hours a day and serve classic American comfort food. The state is also known for its tomatoes, which are used in everything from salads to pizza.
A: New Jersey is home to many popular restaurants, ranging from high-end steakhouses to casual eateries. Some popular options include Peter Luger Steak House in North Bergen, which is known for its dry-aged steaks, and Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in Wayne, which serves up some of the best pizza in the state.
A: Yes, there are many vegetarian and vegan options available in New Jersey, particularly in larger cities such as Newark and Jersey City. Some popular options include The Green Chicpea in Newark, which serves vegan Mediterranean food, and Subia’s Vegan Cafe in Jersey City, which offers a variety of vegan sandwiches and salads.
A: Yes, there are several famous food festivals and events in New Jersey, including the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, which features top chefs and restaurants from around the world, and the Cape May Seafood Festival, which showcases the state’s fresh seafood. Additionally, the state hosts several beer festivals, wine events, and food truck festivals throughout the year.
24 Jan, 2024