Lokal Restaurant on Jersey City Waterfront Holds Opening Event

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Owner Mona Panjwani greeted guests Thursday evening at the opening of her restaurant on the Jersey City waterfront, Lokal. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.

Lokal, a spacious new restaurant on the Jersey City waterfront just north of Exchange Place, held a grand opening celebration on Thursday evening to show off its “local” approach to cuisine. The eatery, which replaces the old Taphaus Biergarten at 2 Second Street, specializes in dishes “with the Garden State’s finest ingredients,” created by Executive Chef Walter Donadio.

Owner Mona Panjwani, who lives a block from the restaurant, was on hand for the opening. She co-owns an event planning business and had been looking for the opportunity to run her first restaurant.


“We want to highlight Jersey City,” she said. “A lot of the food is from New Jersey farms. Even the spices in the cocktails are locally sourced.”

The signature cocktail at the event, the frothy Elliott Stubb, included honey from the Garden State, as well as yuzu juice, lemon juice, aquafaba (a vegan ingredient in place of eggs), and vermouth. It was punctuated by a blueberry from the Garden State (it’s the state fruit and the state’s most lucrative crop).


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Bartender Scott garnishes an Elliott Stubb cocktail with bee pollen at the opening event on Thursday night. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.

The 6,000-square-foot establishment affords panoramic views of the Hudson River and seats 200.

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Lokal restaurant affords a view of midtown and lower Manhattan. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.

“Our food and drinks are an amalgamation of different flavors,” Panjwani said. “It’s going to be modern American food with locally sourced ingredients and some Asian fusion. A lot of the food has Asian spices. We will have some seafood since we’re on the waterfront. It’s American cuisine; it’s gastropub cuisine.”

Patrons at the event got to try out the seafood by sampling crispy bluepoint oysters with mayo and a jalapeno dressing. Other appetizers included three kinds of homemade hummus, including spicy carrot and sundried tomato. Some of the items on the menu are vegan and gluten-free.

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The crispy oysters were a crowd favorite. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.

Small plates on the menu — which is still being finalized — include pumpkin soup, rock shrimp, mushrooms al ajillo (Spanish garlic mushrooms), truffle mac and cheese, and duck salad.

Main courses will include Atlantic wild cod, short ribs, lamb steak medallions, beluga lentils, spinach malfatti, and crab risotto.

Panjwani owns the eatery with her husband Gulshan and business partner Anshu Gupta. Also on hand for the opening was concept creator Hemant Phul, who conjured up the “local” theme.

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Guests ate and chatted at the grand opening event for Lokal on the Jersey City waterfront Thursday night. Photo by Caren Lissner/Jersey Digs.

The drinks include a comprehensive wine list and craft cocktails by mixologist Tess Sawyer.

The restaurant will also feature its local customers with a “designated selfie wall.”

For now, it’s open from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight. They’ll start serving brunch the weekend of October 5 and will then open at 11 a.m. on weekends.

The restaurant is located between the Newport and Exchange Place PATH stations on the waterfront, and is close to the Harsimus Cove Light Rail stop. It’s also within blocks of several waterfront hotels.

The address is 2 Second Street, Jersey City, New Jersey. Find out more here.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. I never want to go here. Seems like every other new place thats opened in Downtown since 2016 but somehow the food seems even worse and overthought out…..

    Keep your vegan egg white substitutes, beluga lentils, Asian spices (which im sure are all ridiculously overpriced) and good luck!

    • https://www.lokal83.com/

      This place seems to have ripped off a NYC restaurant’s name?! They may have some different dishes (the other place also has hummus, lamb chops, etc.), but still, not a good start to win people of JC over.

      First time restaurant owner…sounds like it. They’re very confused with what they’re offering; just read the 6th paragraph. This place won’t last too long…

    • I didnt know all JC residents were required to try new restaurants….because we all know taste is not subjectionable, right? 🙄

      Indian-infused New American cuisine served in small portions at inflated prices sounds horrible bruh.

      The vibe is these three wanted to open up a restaurant for themselves and their ego, they clearly didn’t do any market research, which would show downtown is overly saturated with this high falutened new American style food already.

      • You’re not required to try every new place, but your opinion is meaningless unless you tried. Otherwise you just come across as another bitter, angry JC resident who hates their own life so they take it out on locals.

        Just don’t go…i’m sure no one will notice or care.

        • It seems you’re banking on tons of people not looking at menus & prices before they visit your restaurant. You dont need to try a dang thing to know this model is watered down and failed a dozen-plus times here.

          But what do I know? I’m sure theres lots of couples to fill that 6000 sq ft space ready to drop $150 on a meal of ‘ecclectic’ cuisine.

          To be honest, I’m more looking forward to your 2nd, and then and 3rd iterations of the menu with more…..appealing offerings.

          PS: Pro tip – please don’t provide these snotty “its not me its you” responses on all the 1-3 yelp star reviews that could head your way.

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