• Poke Bowl
    Poke Bowl; Photo: Getty Images/Elena Danileiko

9 New Jersey Food Trends for 2019

There’s always something delicious to eat and satisfying to drink in New Jersey. Gather up your fellow foodie lovers and experience some of the latest food trends at these restaurants, bars and cafés all around the state.


1. Poke

Once a staple found only in Hawaii, poke (pronounced “POH-keh”) has made its way to the mainland in a big way. These colorful bowls include cubed raw fish (typically tuna or salmon, marinated in shoyu), vegetables (everything from avocado to carrots to hearts of palm), white or brown rice, and a sprinkling of furikake (a seasoning mix of dried seaweed, dried fish and sesame seeds). Try it out at the recently opened Orgreen Poke in Westfield. 


2. Gourmet Food Halls

Collecting an array of diverse restaurants under one roof, food halls offer something for everyone in your group. Bring your friends and take your pick from pizza, Korean barbecue, poke, Mediterranean cuisine and much more at District Kitchen. It’s a sprawling waterfront food hall that opened March 2019 inside the renovated Harborside Terminal building in Jersey City. In Holmdel, the historic Bell Labs building has been transformed into Bell Market, featuring five restaurants serving up everything from Neapolitan-inspired pizzas to steaming hot ramen.


3. Farm-to-Table Cuisine

Just-picked, seasonal, locally grown ingredients are the focus at farm-to-table restaurants around the state, as these super-fresh ingredients result in incredible flavor and sustainability in the dining scene. In Flanders, experience the ever-changing menu at the recently opened White Birch, which partners with local purveyors such as Ashley’s Turkey Farm, Donaldson Farms and Valley Shepherd Creamery to provide gourmet seasonal dishes.


4. Low- or No-Alcohol Drinks

For those looking to live healthier or just take a break from imbibing alcohol, menus around New Jersey are beginning to offer gourmet low-alcohol and no-alcohol “cocktails.” The drinks will use high-quality ingredients such as freshly pressed juices and fresh herbs. Enjoy a Strawberry Basil Mule Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas in Clifton, or go with a fancy zero-proof cocktail made with Seedlip non-alcoholic spirit at Agricola Eatery in Princeton.


5. CBD-Infused Drinks

Cannabidiol (or CBD for short) is the non-psychoactive compound derived from hemp, but unlike marijuana, this THC-free substance does not produce a “high” and is completely legal. The purported anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving qualities of CBD have made it very popular at juice, coffee and health-food shops around New Jersey (and the country). Sip on a vegan Chocolate CBD Milk at Ocean Organics Café in Seaside Park, or enjoy a café au lait with honey and CBD oil at Java Love Coffee Roasting Co. in Montclair.


6. “Gut-Healthy” Fermented Foods

Fermented foods (think: kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir) have become increasingly popular due to their beneficial probiotic bacteria, known for improving digestion and boosting immunity. Enjoy a daily dose of microbiome-boosting fermented foods with a glass of kombucha at The Kombucha Bar in Flemington, or with an order of kimchi veggie tacos at Kimchi Smoke Barbecue in Westwood.


7. Mezcal.

Although both tequila and mezcal are made from the agave plant, mezcal is cooked in earthen pits and then distilled in clay pots, resulting in a complex, often-smoky flavor. Try this unique Mexican spirit at the recently opened Central Taco & Tequila in Haddon Township, which boasts approximately two-dozen mezcals. Also check-out the new location of Orale Mexican Kitchen in Hoboken, where smoky mezcal adds depth to a number of margaritas and specialty cocktails.


8. Cold-pressed juice.

Using a hydraulic press to extract juice without additional heat or oxygen, cold-pressed juice maximizes the retention of nutrients from fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs. Enjoy an ultra-fresh, nutrient-dense juice, such as the Green Machine or Daily Detox at Beets Juice Bar in Park Ridge or Montvale.


9. Nitro cold brew coffee.

When cold brew coffee (coffee steeped in cool water over the course of 12 to 24 hours) is infused with nitrogen, the result is a super-smooth, rich, creamy and slightly sweet coffee drink. Try this cult favorite at Turnstile Coffee Roasters in Belmar, Drip N’ Scoop in Ocean City or Endgrain Coffee Bar in Pitman.


Discover even more restaurants in New Jersey to explore.