Middle Eastern Lemon Chicken & Pasta Salad

There are are countless bodegas surrounding the Newark Ave. area in Jersey City. Some offer the standard deli fare, others like the Pita Grill Express at 56-58 Sip Avenue, cook up a spread of hot, homemade dishes that are tasty and cheap. The Pita Grill is open 24/7 and its sign proudly proclaims that “anytime is the perfect time.”

I choose the $3.99 lunch special, chicken and vegetables with pasta salad.

The chicken and bell peppers had a zesty citrus flavor to them. The pasta salad, a mix of bow ties and stuffed tortellini, was just right. After so many rich lunches, this decidedly light meal was flavorsome but didn’t seem to quite fill me up. I guess it’s time my expanded stomach shrink back to the size of a fist instead of a cantaloupe.

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Looks familiar…

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$3.50 Baked Ziti!

I have already blogged about Larry and Joe’s Pizzeria and my insatiate love for Pizza. In addition to being a sanctuary to the most sacred of foods, this establishment has a slammin baked ziti lunch special for only $3.50.

Not only do they give you about three pounds of cheesy matter, they also throw in a free hunk of bread.

Mmmmmmmm, cheese.

There was so much ziti that I ate just over half of it and saved the rest for the next day’s lunch in hopes of sparing my arteries somewhat.

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BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich

I had one hell of a lunch today at Legal Beans, and no, it did not involve coffee. You wouldn’t guess by the name, but Legal Beans at 2 Division St., is actually a BBQ meat joint. Located in a small shack off a desolate stretch of Newark Ave., its unassuming exterior is no introduction to the bold foods roasted inside. Quality BBQ and southern sides such as mac and cheese and baked beans are rarities in this area, and Legal Beans fills this void.
I narrowed my choices down to either the brisket or the pulled pork sandwich and settled on the pork for $8.56 (including tax). I asked how fresh the meat was and was informed that the pig was smoked for 12 hours the day before so it was very fresh. I tried not to drool as I hurried back to my desk to indulge in my swiney treat.
The sandwich was ginormous. There was easily two inches of perfectly pulled pork over top a layer of thinly sliced dill pickles. A gorgeous, palate cleansing purple cole slaw complimented the piquant pork. The pork had a deep, smoky flavor and a hint of spice. The squishy roll absorbed all the yummy sauce and made this sandwich extremely gratifying to eat.
The sandwich turned out to be so large that just half of it filled me up and I saved half for the next day’s lunch. Although it’s probably the least office friendly lunch I can imagine, I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Legal Beans to try the Brisket and the mac and cheese.
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Chicken, Rice and Beans

Chicken Go-Round is a new addition to the area, located at 629 Newark Ave. This Halal restaurant serves up rotisserie chicken and other Tex-Mex staples.

I ordered the 1/4 chicken with rice and beans for a mere $3.99.

 

The staff are über friendly and even let us create our dishes for the same price.

After seeing the cornucopias my cohorts created, I asked for a dollop of pico de gallo and the staff were eager to oblige.

Don’t be fooled by this restaurant’s sterile appearance. The owners did almost too good of a job making this seem like a McChicken chain franchise. Don’t be fooled! This is a small business and the owners of Chicken Go Round clearly put a great deal of thought and effort into creating this place, including putting together a nice website for the business.

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Pâté and Ham Bánh mì & Macaroons

For weeks my coworkers have been raving about the Bánh mì at Rue Viet Sandwich & Noodle Bar. I couldn’t hold off any longer and on a balmy day in early April, and with much anticipation, I hiked to 270 Newark Ave. I don’t think I will be offending anyone by saying this is the trendy area of Jersey City. It’s pretty obvious that it is, and Rue Viet fits in perfectly in this part of town.

Its thoughtful design and cheerful, sunny interior make Rue Viet an enjoyable place to dine. Each table is complete with Vietnamese hot sauce, a jar of fresh jalapeños for us heat lovers, and best of all, Koh Kae Chicken flavored peanuts to munch on. The highlights of the menu include the Vietnamese Sandwiches (Bánh mì) and other interesting dishes such as baked eggs, chilled peanut noodle salad, and steamed pork buns. Rue Viet also has an array of homemade juices and desserts.

I chose the Pâté and Ham Bánh mì for $5.

My Bánh mì consisted of a crispy baguette spread with pâté and filled with a few slices of ham and a healthy dose of fresh cucumber, cilantro, and shredded carrots. The spicy mayo, and jalapeños that I added gave it a nice kick. I thoroughly enjoyed this refreshing sandwich. Despite eating ham and pâté, I didn’t experience the itis that often occurs following a meaty, fatty, or gargantuan meal. I think it was all the raw vegetables that spared me.

Before leaving, the owner informed us that Rue Viet will have a mobile cart serving up Bánh mì this summer on Jersey City’s waterfront and at the Friday Grove Street parties (I LOVE these). He also gave us some homemade berry macaroons and mmmmmmmm they were supurb!

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Pancit with Mixed Vegetables & Buko Pandan

The Fiesta Grill and Restaurant is a buffet that serves up a huge variety of hot, home-cooked Philippine dishes. Located at 655 Newark Ave., the restaurant has stellar lunch specials, a choice between rice or pancit with two sides for $4.95 or one side for $3.75. There are a lot of sides to choose from and I am including photos of just some of the many interesting dishes they offer.

There are a lot of fishy dishes.

After inhaling a french cruller for breakfast, I was hungry for some fibrous roughage. The friendly staff offered me two samples of tender meat dishes that were ridiculously delicious. However, I wanted to avoid another meat and carb only lunch. I settled on a heaping plate of Pancit with a side of colorful vegetables.

The Pancit consisted of thin noodles, and small pieces of vegetables and meat stir-fried together. It was similar to Chinese lo mein and very tasty.

The vegetable dish included eggplant, squash, green beans, okra, and a vegetable I had never heard of before. The okra was suspiciously squid-like!

I had tried Philippine food before and remembered enjoying everything except for a pesky vegetable I kept encountering. I thought there was something wrong with it, that maybe it had gone bad. Nope, it was just a bitter melon. The waiter informed me that it is actually very good for diabetes. Something this putrid has to be healthy.

I decided to reap the benefits of the melon even though it was so distasteful it was hard to swallow. I took a deep breath, shoved the melon in my mouth and chewed as quickly as possible. I discovered that the softer they were the less bitter they tasted. Thankfully, the sauce was flavorful and the slimy mix of vegetables turned out to be quite enjoyable.

To wash down the Bitter Melon, I succumbed to my curiosity and tried the Buko Pandan dessert for $3.50. The chunks of coconut meat (Buko) and the jello like Pandan were drenched in a creamy, sweet coconut milk broth. While savoring this soupy dessert, I couldn’t help but imagine how much better this cool and refreshing treat would be on a hot day in the Philippines as I tried to ignore the snow falling outside my window.

Visit Fiesta Grill’s website for more information.

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