For 20 years, Jersey City’s Newark Avenue just north of Journal Square has been known as Little India. Dozens of businesses cater to the culinary and cultural needs of South Asians, and the street includes groceries selling spices, dry goods, and vegetables (many unfamiliar to Westerners); stores flogging the gold jewelry that makes up the dowries of Indian brides; sari shops; pan sellers (who wrap mixtures of spices and unguents in beadle leaves, which are then chewed); and some really kick-ass restaurants.
Originally, the stores catered to Gujaratis, who came from India’s westernmost state, but now South Indians from states such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala have filtered in. Like the Gujaratis, many prefer eating vegetarian, though there are also many meat eaters among them.
Several restaurants specialize in dosas, the fermented rice-and-lentil pancakes―often stuffed with curried vegetables―that form the heart of South India meatless cooking. Plenty of places also flaunt the currently faddish Indo-Chinese menu, a cuisine that represents a popular adaptation of Chinese cooking for Indian tastes. Take some time to cruise the two dozen restaurants along the two long blocks of Little India, as well as those spilling onto the side streets, before deciding where to eat.
Getting there: Take the PATH train from Manhattan to Journal Square, then walk north along John F. Kennedy Boulevard until you hit Newark Avenue.
Click through the gallery above to see scenes from Jersey City’s Little India, as well as the best places to eat when you visit.
Written by Robert Sietsema (@robertsietsema)