NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—After a long and torturous winter, glorious weather has finally arrived. Although New Brunswick's narrow sidewalks offer little room for café seating, insiders know that the city is full of places to lounge outside with cold drinks and a delicious meal, in several different areas around town.
Here's a list of our favorite spots to dine while enjoying the beautiful summer weather and vibrant city atmosphere:
Old Man Rafferty's (106 Albany St., 732-846-6153) is known for its refined American comfort food. Big umbrellas keep diners cool as they munch on coconut shrimp, pulled pork sandwiches, and barbecue ribs on the front and side patios. Don't forget to stop in the Gourmet Shop and Deli for quality meats and cheeses, imported goods, and delicious homemade desserts.
Old Bay (61 Church St., 732-246-3111)is the only place in town to find fine Cajun and Creole cuisine. The menu is stocked with sassy seafood dishes like pecan-crusted catfish and crawfish etouffe. The Old Bay sizzles at night with a full bar serving hurricanes and mint juleps and a stage for live music and karaoke. The outdoor patio (heated in the wintertime) is available day and night.
Stage Left (5 Livingston Av., 732-828-4444) is New Brunswick's premier "contemporary American" restaurant. Its renowned burgers have been called "the best in New Jersey" by the Star Ledger and Food Network Magazine. Stage Left's café area is fenced in by lush and beautiful floral displays.
Taqueria-El-Poblano (202 New Street, 732-937-9722) boasts a menu full of authentic Mexican classics. For the amount and quality of food served, the prices are incredible. Prepare to find unexpected taco fillings such as beef tongue and pastor (pork cut directly from a marinated spit). The restaurant displays its pride with a giant Mexican flag bolstered to the patio's entrance.
Café La Terrassa (137 Louis St., 732-640-0822) masters the uncommon art of Latin-Italian fusion. "La Terrassa," or "the terrace," likely refers to its beautiful outdoor patio adorned with oversized palms. Its impressive and reasonably-priced tapas (Spanish for small plates) are perfect for sharing with friends. Conveniently enough, this BYO restaurant is directly across the street from Joe’s Liquors.
Sahara (165 Easton Av., 732-246-3020) reflects the elegance and style of the Mediterranean. Its traditional and healthy fare draws inspiration from many nations situated on the Mediterranean coast. Sahara's elegance extends to its illuminated outdoor patio where diners can feast on brick-oven specialties well into the night.
Stuff Yer Face (39 Easton Av., 732-247-1727) opened in 1977, is a New Brunswick tradition. Heavenly strombolis and succulent wings can be enjoyed outside in the biergarten, where a covered bar with a stellar international beer list serves pints and fishbowls galore. If you haven't been already, Stuff Yer Face is the place to be at 5 o'clock on a sunny spring afternoon.
Mamoun's Falafel (58 Easton Av., 732-640-0794) serves Middle-Eastern favorites like meat kabobs, tabbouleh (bulgur and parsley salad), hummus, and of course, award-winning falafel. Platters can be stuffed in a fresh warm pita and brought outside to the restaurant's comfortable café area.
Evelyn's (45 Easton Av., 732-246-8792) cooks up sultry Lebanese cuisine. Come hungry because the prices are good, the portions are large, and the food is tantalizing. The expansive outdoor bar has a classy and romantic atmosphere. Ocassionally, there are live performances of Middle-Eastern inspired ambient music.
Paulie's Pizzeria (34 Easton Av., 732-227-0900) and Truly Yogurt (38 Easton Av., 732-543-2555) share a spacious backyard patio that can easily accomodate your entire posse. Pizza, fat sandwiches, wraps, and paninis are just a few of the things Paulie's has to offer. Truly Yogurt is famous for its unique Asian-inspired flavors of frozen yogurt. To find the outdoor patio, walk towards the back of Truly Yogurt and a friendly server will lead the way.
Efe's Restaurant (32 Easton Av.,732-249-4100) is home to Mediterranean fare with a Turkish flair. Efe's is known for its large selection of vegetarian dishes. On a nice day, the outside café is a great place to enjoy menu items like wood-fired mussels and gyros with a glass of wine.