Take all of Continental Europe and mix it with native cultures of South America. What do you get? You get Portuguese cuisine, of course! And in Elizabeth, New Jersey, you don’t have far to look to satisfy your Portuguese food craving. With establishments like Don Felix, Minhoto’s Restaurant, Taberna del Rei, Ironbound Grill, Valença Restaurant, and many more, your desire for authentic Portuguese is right around the corner.
You’re walking around Elizabeth and suddenly your stomach starts to grumble. One minute, you’re thinking about buying shoes at The Mills in Jersey Gardens, the next minute, all you can think about is ameijoas ao natural (raw oysters in the half-shell). You know the delicious oysters won’t be enough to satisfy you, but it will be a perfect appetizer, so you head Monroe Avenue and into Valença Restaurant, an upscale establishment with everything you want. While you peruse the menu and listen to the chatter of other happy patrons, you decide to tack on the polvo a feira (octopus topped with a touch of paprika, olive oil, and fresh parsley) for good measure.
As a coastal nation, Portuguese food has its heart in seafood, so you can’t go wrong. Try the clams with bacon or shrimp in hot sauce at Minhoto’s Restaurant - a laid-back eatery with a fantastic patio. Once the rumbling in your stomach has calmed it’s time for an entree or two.
This is the main event - the large plates that will fill you up and possibly make you say, “I shouldn’t have eaten that last bite.” Head to Ironbound in the Marriott and enjoy the Passaic Tacos stuffed with creamy avocado, spicy pico de gallo, and cotija cheese. Don Felix on Elizabeth Avenue serves a flavorful picana asada or spicy bitoque in an updated setting. Here you can enjoy watching the big game on high-definition televisions while sipping on a tasty margarita or pina colada! If your appetite is massive, you’ll need to visit Taberna Del Rei for their large portions of chicken and orange rice. if their grilled swordfish is on special, don’t hesitate to order it - you won’t be disappointed.
Clearly, Portuguese food doesn’t stop at incredible seafood - Brazilian churrascaria is another regional favorite. Grilled meats marinated in wonderful sauces and absorbing flavors from the smoke are all part of the cuisine. Costeleta de vaca grelhada, the grilled beef short ribs at Valença Restaurant are a specialty and can stand all by themselves. But don’t miss out on the visually appealing rabos de lagosta na pedra - twin lobster tails cooked on a hot stone! Or go all out at Minhoto’s Restaurant with the Brazilian-style barbecue meat combination - you’ll be swimming in the savory tastes and smells of chicken, pork, and beef grilled to perfection.
What is a meal without the sweet and decadent ending of dessert? A missed opportunity. Don’t let this happen to you. Natas do ceu is a Portuguese dessert of layered whipped cream and egg cream on top of crumbled cookies and Valença Restaurant makes it fresh for you. And any of the Portuguese restaurants will offer a flan that will delight you with caramel and custard goodness.
Enjoy filling up on all of the many options for Portuguese cuisine in the various restaurants during your stay in Elizabeth. From seafood to barbecue and desserts, you’ll leave happy and sated.