Pete August of Super Snake Gives us the Insider’s Guide to Jersey City

Jersey City may have inspired images of grit and crime a decade ago, but that image is no longer. With people getting priced out of Brooklyn and Manhattan left and right, the city on the other side of the river has seen a massive migration, with developers rushing in right along side the newcomers. But who better to speak to the city’s change than the people who call it home. Jersey based rockers Super Snake released their debut LP Leap of Love this year, and as the band’s popularity grows, so does their home base. We’ll let bassist Pete August take it from here, as he gives us a look into what’s happening in the growing city, and where to go (hint: avoid downtown).

The gentrification of DTJC is complete. They’ve got it all. Vegan bars. Salmon short wearing frat boys inside the over priced repurposed lofts in what used to be the shit side of Hoboken. I’m not sure if Barcade is the nicest mausoleum or the nail in the coffin, but nonetheless Downtown is an over populated graveyard. Those crossing the 38th parallel into the forbidden zone in pursuit of cheap rent and consequently making their neighborhood a little nicer are in luck. You can no longer live downtown without a trust fund or rent control. So where does that leave us? The working stiff. Well, luckily Jersey City is a big place. Sprawling with once uninhabitable neighborhoods that are, getting pretty livable.

I’m just as guilty as the next guy. About a year ago my girlfriend and I decided to move in together. She lived and works in Manhattan. I commuted from Montclair. The crown jewel of Essex county, my favorite place on earth. It’s uncool. It’s barely hip, and best of all I could drink in peace. Erin and I had a big problem in front of us: where in Jersey City (our middle ground) could we afford and still have a reasonable quality of life? We found a beautiful and affordable 2500 sq ft loft in the Heights. That neighborhood that overlooks Hoboken. It was seemingly a good fit for us. Clean enough, some parks for our dog and every blog we could come across said that’s where people are putting in great places to eat. The last year, I’ve been tearing the town apart looking for some places I feel at home drinking and eating. Here’s a list of some of the best bars, food, and coffee that aren’t in downtown. Enjoy.

Where to Drink

Astor Bar
Perfectly situated in beautiful McGinley Square is a quintessential dive bar. Cheap drinks. Decent burger. The front doors open up letting that cool Jersey City air flow in. The bathrooms smell like your swim club locker room, but do not be mistaken, there is definitely no pool. 

Jack Miller’s Pub
A gem in Journal Square. They’ll serve you a can of Bud in a wine glass. There are pictures of every boxer ever hanging on the walls and Butch the bartender can tell you every fact about each and every one of them. There will not be a woman inside of here, basically ever. It’s a man’s world, and this is its bar. This place really is a treat and best of all, you won’t run into anyone you know here.

Henry’s Wok
Now here’s a real weird piece of shit. Located in Bergen-Lafayette is a full service bar that has a fucking Chinese takeout counter where the back wall should be. It’s not a bar that serves Chinese food. It’s a bar with a hood ass takeout kitchen in the back. I don’t really understand it, but I’m not really supposed to, I’m just supposed to enjoy it and god dammit, I do.

The Hutton
Here’s a place that has it all. It’s clean. The food is top notch. They are vegan friendly. It’s priced decently. They serve brunch and the backyard patio is awesome. It’s almost never crowded and when it is, the people crowding it aren’t douchebags. It’s a perfect, tucked away hangout in the Heights and I’m very happy it’s there.

Where to Grab a Coffee

Mod Cup
There are a few places in the Heights that serve up some seriously decent coffee and Mod Cup is the finest of them all. One problem: it’s filled with jerkoffs. You’re gonna wait for your cup. You’re gonna wait a long, seemingly unreasonable time. They might give you some ‘tude while you’re waiting, and you’re gonna pay for that ‘tude, but praise Allah, it’s a really great cup of joe.

Dulce De Leche
This is my spot. Insane Argentinian bakery with EVERYTHING and it’s cheap as all get out. What do I mean by everything you might ask? Good coffee, maybe even great, nah not great, but really good. Quiche that is out of this world. Cold brewed 20oz nitro coffee for like 4 bucks. Every cake and pastry you could ever want and a bunch of little cutie pies serving it to you quick. It’s on Central Ave in the Heights so it’s the perfect stop on my way out of town to work.

Congress Station
Great little neighborhood spot in the Heights. Good BEC. They use Intelligentsia beans, so the coffee is up to par with the best of em. Never much of a wait. It’s right by the light rail. I’m trying to think of something bad to say about them and I can’t find anything, so they make the list.

Where to Eat
I’m going to cover the four food groups here: pizza, Italian combos, brunch and weird. Hope you don’t have a problem with that. JC has a great food scene. You can get mostly anything. There’s a neighborhood for any ethnicity. Here’s a few of my favorite grab and go spots.

Andreas Salumeria
This is the best Italian combo I’ve ever had and I’m experienced. It blows Belgiovene’s in Montclair away, something I never thought I would say. The staff is authentic Jersey City asshole Italian guys in the best way possible. My only complaint, they don’t have bags of chips. What the fuck is that? Luckily there’s a bodega next door. In the Height’s on Central Ave. As good as it gets.

Gino’s Pizza
Slamming Grandma’s slices. Cheap and quick and world class. There’s a wood fired specialty pie spot on every corner downtown, but outside of maybe Helen’s there isn’t a GOOD place to grab a slice. Here’s one and they deliver.

The Cliff
New spot in the Heights serving up the best avocado toast I think I’ve ever had. Coffee is good. Outside seating is great on a nice day. They have drink mixers and airline bottles aren’t a problem so you can get your Bloody Mary fix. It’s new and the owner is cool.

Filipino fried chicken and spaghetti. Spam sandwiches. Chinese noodles and garlic sauce. I’ve gone here twice, both times I left feeling terrible, yet not mad about it. When you aren’t sure what you want to eat, but don’t want to feel good about it, this is the place to go.

photo by: Luke Brereton; Jason Jenkins/Flickr