Sure, technically you can make any restaurant a BYOB one, but even some moves are too strong for us. In this segment of #BallinOnABudget, I will be taking a look at BYOB restaurants in Jersey, each one of them in a different price bracket to suit your needs depending on who’s coming with you/how sloppy you’re trying to get. BYOB places are a great option to save a little on alcohol so you can feast on the food. We’ll get started with the priciest, yet probably most delicious restaurant, and work our way down. Let’s do this!
Cuban Pete’s, Montclair – One of my favorite spots in Jersey, #BallinOnABudget or not, so this almost has to get represented on one of the lists, even though it can run you on the pricey side, depending on how hard you decide to whip it (note: Rick Ross whips it real hard so you should too. Strong moves only folks). What’s great about this BYOB restaurant is that it is in fact classy. Located on Bloomfield Ave. in the heart of Montclair, you almost feel as if you are stepping into an eatery in Havana. You know, without all the poverty and communism. Indoor and outdoor seating is available and very aptly decorated, the waiters even donning an outfit Batista from Dexter would wear (Guayaberas anybody?). The food is terrific and has all the Cuban staples and even some fusion dishes as well for all of you bullshit artists out there (as far as Cuban goes, I’m more of a rustic kind of man. Cuban fusion is a tragedy on the scale of putting A1 on a steak). But that’s not why it’s on this list. The BYOB options are tremendous, because they provide the option of purchasing pitchers of mojitos or sangria to mix your liquor with so you don’t feel like a plebeian as you sip from your store bought bottle. They are on the pricey side but the pitchers are DELICIOUS; I’ll even order one even if I haven’t brought any booze with me. A great place to take a lady or just go with your friends, you’re guaranteed to get good eats and drink for a fraction of the cost if you were to eat at a similar caliber restaurant with a full bar.
Cafe Archetypus, Edgewater – Colloquially called “The Cave.” Here’s why:
Each table is situated in its own little cave. The place is nice and dark, lit with just candles. A very intimate feel. A really cool spot just off of River Road in Edgewater, The Cave is a great spot for wraps, pizzas, and most definitely DESSERTS (their ice cream, namely the green tea ice cream, is some of the best I’ve ever had), you can even order a a pot of your favorite tea if that’s you thing. Or better yet, sip on a bottle of wine or a six pack you brought from home. Or a Carlo Rossi jug of wine or a case of PBR, no one’s judging you. Probably the friendliest wait staff I’ve ever seen, won’t mind if you stay for hours just drinking and ordering minimal things off the menu, as long as it is off-peak hours. A great spot to just drink because of the ambiance and the music they play (big fans of Radiohead and Boards of Canada), but you definitely won’t regret ordering food. Meals are extrememly moderately priced and affordable, prices on desserts on the other hand are a little steep, but this is a very versatile spot. Go with a big group or cozy up in a mini cave for a romantic meal. Completely up to you. Just get ready to get your drink on.
Sahara Restaurant, New Brunswick – An oasis in the trashier, bar infested area of New Brunswick, rather fitting that a fake palm tree stands outside of this nice Mediterranean spot. Pretty much everything you’d imagine to be on the list and the prices are student-friendly to boot. A little more upscale as compared to the Mediterranean spot down the road (a hint: is probably part of our next #BallinOnABudget feature), once again a pretty relaxed spot to have some good food and sip on a glass of wine you bought at one of the many local liquor stores in the area. I’m partial to anything that involves lamb when it comes to this cuisine. And don’t forget to have some baklava, one of my favorite desserts pretty much in the world. Sure, you can take your girlfriend to Skinny Vinny’s and then out to drink at Knight Club and she will probably have sex with you any because, hell, it’s Rutgers. But at least LOOK classy by going to Sahara. Probably spend less money here anyway.
Here’s two other bonus BYOB spots, these are both in Bergen County:
Casual Habana, Hackensack – Another Cuban spot. Only traditional dishes here folks and I know good Cuban food (thanks grandma). Only been here once which is strange considering my brother works here. Really solid Cuban food. Bring a nice Rioja, pairs well with the food.
Que Pasta, Saddle Brook – Really corny name, and the food is not out of this world, but the portions are large and the more standard Italian dishes compare favorably to other places. Had to put an Italian restaurant here, all the other traditional BYOB cuisines are represented. The bread is phenomenal here by the way.
Like I said in my previous post, a lot of the sushi places I wrote about are also BYOB. But I was able to milk another blog post by splitting the two. Only one more #BallinOnABudget food review post to go, and this one will probably be the longest and the one I’m looking forward to the most. Stay tuned for it on Tuesday and, as always, if you have any other recommendations, let me hear them!