The lights are officially back on at one of Jersey City’s more legendary venues as a beloved dive bar has been reimagined following a change in ownership.
The long run of the original Golden Cicada ended back in 2019 when owner Cheng Tan sold the property to Silverman. Tan had operated the bar since the 1980s and was known for serving shots of their famous baijiu to all factions of Jersey City.
Jersey Digs broke the news back in September about big changes coming to the Grand Street building, as it was being taken over by Gary Keating and Eva Johannesdotti. The husband/wife pair run The Cliff, a brunch spot that opened in The Heights back in 2017.
The duo quietly opened Golden Cicada Baja Beergarden just after Thanksgiving, perhaps to create an intentional air of mystery in line with bar’s the previous version. The neon sign outside the entrance has been replaced with a mural on the side of the building and interior renovations have created a fresh look complete with new artwork on the walls.
In terms of menu, the revamp of Golden Cicada offers modern Mexican fusion. Share plates at the restaurant include dishes like a Cajun shrimp and guacamole, tuna tartare, or fried pickles. The tacos are a main draw, with varieties like shrimp and mango, buffalo cauliflower, and beyond beef versions inhabiting their menu.
Golden Cicada Baja Beergarden has not listed a full drink menu on their website but draft beers at the restaurant include Modelo, Kona, Kane, and Captain Lawrence. Old school Golden Cicada fans need not fret as a Baijiu Ming River selection is included on the drink list.
The new version of Golden Cicada will feature an outdoor beer garden still under construction situated just east of the main building that includes several taps. The restaurant is also expected to offer brunch on Saturdays and Sundays as they roll out their opening.
The property housing the restaurant has proved resilient to gentrification over the years, as the original Golden Cicada survived a 2005 eminent domain suit seeking to acquire the land to expand St. Peter’s nearby ballfield. Exclusive reporting from Jersey Digs back in 2018 detailed a lawsuit from a developer that claimed Tan backed out of a deal to sell the property, but that case was eventually dismissed after legal maneuvering.
The property could still be part of a possible redevelopment down the line, as current owners Silverman have previously pitched plans for the area. But for now, Golden Cicada Baja Beergarden is open at 4 p.m. every day except Wednesday and can be followed on Instagram at the handle @goldencicadaJC.