The food scene of Newark, New Jersey has constantly been reshaped by immigrants. Starting in the 1950s, a large number of Portuguese people 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 some of the best 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.
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.
Sweet Portugal Bakery | 27 Fleming Avenue
Everything in this bakery is made completely from scratch + made to order — plus, Sweet Portugal Bakery even has shipping for those not in the Newark area. It’s open Monday to Friday from 2PM to 6PM. Customers rave about the natas here — whether you opt for a traditional custard tart, a dulce de leche twist, or Nutella, you can’t go wrong. The menu is extensive, and whether you opt for a sandwich or something sweeter, this bakery is sure to promise something tasty.
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).