Newark is packed full of amazing Portuguese restaurants — and there’s a good reason for it. Starting in the 1950s, due to political instability and economic hardship at home, a large number of Portuguese immigrants moved to the east coast of the U.S. to find new economic opportunities. Many of them settled in Newark’s Ironbound district, along Ferry Street, working in light manufacturing such as textile and chemical processing. This closely-knit neighborhood is near Newark Penn Station and is aptly nicknamed “Little Portugal.”
According to a Washington Post article from 2014, “Newark’s Ironbound district… witnessed an influx of Portuguese immigrants in the mid-20th century… [Today,] businesses owned, operated, and influenced by the Portuguese continue to give the Ironbound an Iberian flair.”
In the present day, the influx of Portuguese immigration has slowed, but immigrants from Brazil, Ecuador, and other Latin American countries continue to move in, giving the neighborhood a vibrant and diverse social, commercial, and cultural atmosphere. Here’s more about the authentic Portuguese culinary experiences in the Ironbound Newark neighborhood. Read on to discover where to find authentic Portuguese food in Newark.
For Sit-Down Meals
Fernandes Steak House | 158 Fleming Avenue
This massive restaurant has outdoor dining and two floors of indoor dining – great for large parties. The draw of Fernandes’ is the rodizio, the iconic Brazilian form of eating that consists of dozens of rotisserie-grilled meats from chicken to steak to lamb, all brought to the table on skewers. Since it’s a flat fee per person, it’s basically an all-you-can-eat rodizio buffet. The wine and desserts are also notable.
Iberia Tavern and Restaurant | 80-84 Ferry Street
Iberia Tavern and Restaurant introduced Portuguese and Spanish cuisine to the area in 1926. Iberia Tavern is the older brother of the Iberia Peninsula located at the heart of Newark’s Ironbound section. It specializes in traditional Portuguese and Spanish dishes. The menu is extensive, the portions are extremely generous, and the prices are affordable. The menu is very meat and seafood forward.
O Pipo Tavern | 349 Chestnut Street
Though on the less formal side of things, this hidden gem gets a lot of praise for its hospitality — particularly about the owner, Tony. Beyond its consistent reviews for service, this spot has some seriously yummy eats on the menu, packed with flavor and all reasonably priced. Some of the most popular dishes include the pork cubes, the stuffed salmon, and the chourico — which is served on fire. We also recommend the sangria. This spot is sure to serve up authentic eats and a wonderful dining experience.
PortuCale Restaurant & Bar | 129 Elm Street
PortuCale Restaurant is family owned, has a full bar, is full of exposed brick, and serves up quality eats. All the food is made with fresh, local ingredients, and it aims to imbue the same love you experience when eating your grandmother’s cooking. Be warned, portions are big here so definitely come hungry. The Lulsa Fritas (fried calamari) and both paelhas are exceptional options here. Pro tip: the sangria is a must=try here.
Sabor Unido | 77 Jefferson Street
(Photo credit: @saborunido)
At Sabor Unido, patrons can find the most typical grilled seafood dishes the same way they’d be served in a Lisbon neighborhood restaurant. They’re thrown on the griddle — plentiful meaty cod, sweet sea bass, or fat sardines, drizzled in olive oil, and garnished with flavorful herbs or relishes. It is worth mentioning that every Saturday, Sabor Unido offers a lunch special of feijoada, a Brazilian meat, and bean stew with smoked sausage, tasty bits (such as pork, feet, and ears), and salted tenderloin, braised to a melting tenderness, accompanied with rice, chicharron (fried pork skin), collard greens, and ever-delish yucca fries. The portions are huge, so come hungry. One serving of feijoada can easily satisfy and still leave plenty to take home. And yes, feijoada is almost always better as a leftover.
Seabra’s Marisqueria | 87 Madison Street
Seabra’s Marisqueria serves a wide variety of Portuguese food family-style, such as small plates of crunchy fried anchovies or calamari, heaping piles of grilled fish and/or meat, or hearty shellfish stews. Obviously, the specialty is seafood. A favorite among local Portuguese families is bacalhau a lagareiro aka salted cod drenched in olive oil, served with vegetables and boiled potatoes. Another noteworthy dish is the mariscada — lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, and scallops braised in a tomato-based stew, with a touch of cognac, served in a steaming copper pot. Get there early for weekend lunches. The place fills up quickly with families after Sunday mass at churches nearby.
Taste of Portugal | 148 Delancy Street
This white tablecloth, family-run restaurant is wonderful for a night out with family or friends. It’s been serving up quality Portuguese food in the Ironbound district since 1998. There’s both a bar section for a more casual night and a more formal sit-down area. It serves up large seafood platters + grilled meats along with a host of Portuguese wine to pair with the food. There’s also a large selection of cocktails as well to jazz up the evening. The octopus salad is a must-try here, and there’s a long list of other proteins to try. Whether it’s shrimp, swordfish, chicken, veal, pork, or something else, TOP has you covered.
Adega Grill | 130 Ferry Street
Adega Grill is perhaps the favorite local spot for after-work drinks or weekend night gatherings. The restaurant offers a sprawling wine list of 180 selections, with a wide variety of Portuguese wines. We recommend coming on a Friday or Saturday night and stopping by the electric bar area, ordering glasses of Portuguese wine or sangria poured directly from wooden barrels, and sharing a tapa of camarao a guilho, shrimp sauteéed in olive oil, with a touch of lemon and garlic, or chourico assado (grilled Portuguese sausage). Then you can move on to the dining room for a more formal dinner of grilled seasonal seafood, paella, or steak. The restaurant also accommodates special occasions or large gatherings, such as small weddings or birthday parties. The varied selection of dishes and large portions will surely satisfy even the pickiest eater in your party.
Bakeries + Quick Bites
Teixeira’s Bakery | 186 Ferry Street
Pastel de nata is ubiquitous in Lisbon or Porto bakeries — creamy and gooey egg custard, caramelized on the top, wrapped in buttery pastry shell. Patrons can find them at Teixeira’s, a long-standing neighborhood bakery. They come in two flavors, original and coconut. The bakery also offers other high-quality Portuguese pastries, such as ove moles cakes (sponge cake with creamy egg yolk fillings), empanadas, or sandwiches with crusty Portuguese white bread. Grab one or two pastries, sit by a small table, and watch old residents in the neighborhoods sipping espressos at the tables nearby.
Café Pão De Queijo | 131 Wilson Avenue
In this Brazilian bakery, pão de queijo is surely the star on the menu — fresh bread rolls made of tapioca (yes it’s gluten-free) and parmesan cheese. With a crispy crust and squidgy cheesy inside, these chewy little puffs are highly addictive. The bakery also offers other Brazilian baked goods, the same way as if you were in a neighborhood eatery in Rio de Janeiro. For a substantial breakfast or quick lunch, try the coxinhas, a drumstick-shaped croquette with shredded chicken filling, coated with potato/manioc batter. Or pastel, the Brazilian take of empanada flaky wrap and minced meat/vegetable fillings, fried to the order.
Seabra’s Market | 260 Lafayette Street
Before leaving the neighborhood, stopping by Seabra’s Market is a must. It’s a grocery store selling a large selection of specialty foods from Portugal, Brazil, and other Latin American countries. Walking down the long aisles, shoppers will find mountains of salted cod, a staple in homemade Portuguese/Brazilian dishes. And there is a dazzling variety of legumes, both dried and canned, including some rare finds in North America such as lupin beans. Or pick a few links of morcela, the Portuguese blood sausage, and take home for a simple but satisfying grill. And don’t miss the canned cod, a delicacy one would find at most Lisbon neighborhood delis — many are surprised at the big flavor in this small can of humble preserved fish. Serve it with chickpeas, along with a lot of aromatic olive oil (yes, the more the better). It is a typical tapa dish on a breezy Lisbon summer night.