The food scene of Newark, NJ has constantly been reshaped by immigrants. Starting in the 1950s, a large number of Portuguese moved to the Ironbound district due to political instability at home. In the decades that followed, immigrants from Brazil and Spanish Latin America also moved in. Many of them opened shops and restaurants that catered to the diaspora, and today the city is dotted with bakeries and cafes that represent the food culture from all these different countries. Read on to find where to find traditional Portuguese and Latin delicacies in Newark.
Borinquen Bakery | 406 Broadway
(Photo credit: @borinquenbakerynj)
The bakery makes excellent Puerto Rican desserts. Must-haves include quesitos (cheese-filled flutes), tembleque (coconut pudding), sorrullos (cornmeal fritters), and pastelillos de guayaba (guava turnover). On the savory side, customers love the cold cut sandwiches made with freshly baked bread. You can also find Puerto Rican products such as soda, condiments, cookies, and canned meat in the shop.
Cuba Bakery | 665 Mt Prospect Avenue
People love the pastelitos guayaba y queso (flaky pastry with guava and cheese) and freshly baked Cuban loaves, but if there is one and only one thing to get here, it is its Cuban sandwich with roasted pork shoulder. The bread is nicely buttered and pressed, and the meat bursts with flavors. Expect a short wait during lunch hour. Don’t forget the Cuban coffee, made from very strong, dark roast espresso.
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Pao Da Terra | 135 Ferry Street
Portuguese pastries are much more than pastel de nata and this bakery offers a great variety. There are tarts filled with all kinds of custards or nut crumbs, cakes and flaky pastries of various textures, and, if you want something more unique, “bolo de arroz,” a very tender and light rice muffin that can be found almost everywhere in Portugal. On the savory side, there is coxinha, a popular Brazilian street food. It is a drumstick-shaped fried dough filled with creamy chicken salad. The sandwiches and empanadas are also delicious.
Pao Da Vida Bakery | 331 Oliver Street
(Photo credit: @breadoflifeusa)
This is a one-stop-shop for almost every kind of Brazilian snack you can think of. For a savory snack, there are coxinha, kibe (croquette with beef and bulgur wheat), pastels (deep-fried meat pies with extra thin and crispy crust), and, of course, pão de queijo (cheese bread made with tapioca flour), a quintessential Brazilian bread. For dessert, don’t miss the acai topped with fruit and granola, just as they are served on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Also try pamonha, which is similar to tamale but made with coconut milk.
Princesa Bakery | 58 Pulaski Street
The Portuguese bakery makes some of the best pastel de nata and galão (espresso with foamed milk) in town. Another popular item is jesuita, a triangular, flaky pastry filled with cream and covered with sliced almonds. At lunchtime, ask about the daily specials. Get francesinha whenever it’s available. It is a large sandwich consisting of layers of meat, and sausage, topped with melted cheese, and bathed in a rich tomato-beer sauce. For something light and quick, you can’t go wrong with tosta mista (toasted ham and cheese sandwich).
Suissa Bakery + Coffee Shop | 57 Pacific Street
The bakery makes delicious Portuguese pastries, including pastel de nata and sonhos (Portuguese donuts filled with cream), but it is not just about breakfast. The lunch menu offers simple Portuguese fare. It consists mostly of grilled meat or fish, with sides of steamed vegetables and boiled potatoes. And of course, there is bacalhau (salted cod), which can be made in different ways. Get cozido (boiled cod) for whole chunks of fish, or bras (salted cod tossed with eggs and shredded potatoes) for something rustic. Aside from entrees, the empanadas, bread, and sandwiches are also excellent.
Teixeira’s Bakery | 186 Ferry Street; 113-129 Kossuth Street
(Photo credit: @teixeirasbakery)
Many people go to Teixeira for the flaky, beautifully caramelized pastel de nata. But the bakery, which has been a Newark mainstay since the 1970s, has a lot more to offer. For something sweet, try minhotas, a ring-shaped pastry studded with nuts, or caracois, a snail-shaped bread stuffed with coconut. There is also a dazzling selection of loaves and rolls. Get broa, a dense corn-and-wheat rounded loaf with sturdy, crunchy crust (available by the pound). Top it with preserved sardines, or dip it in the housemade Caldo Verde (a thick kale sausage soup).