While Newark has always been known for having great restaurants in its Ironbound district, the culinary bug seems to be spreading to the neighboring Downtown area, which is a healthy sign for the city’s continued revitalization.
Halsey Street, one of Newark’s most booming areas, should see the opening of two new spots soon. As previously reported by Jersey Digs, The Halal Guys will be opening an outpost in Prudential’s shiny new headquarters at 72 Halsey Street. The business originally started as two guys with a cart on West 53rd & 6th Avenue in Manhattan and has slowly grown into a global endeavor.
The Halal Guys have started franchising the business and recently saw locations open in South Korea and the Philippines. The clatter of construction has invaded the Halsey Street space and while the company hasn’t set an official opening date yet for their Newark location, they pledge to be open sometime this Fall.
Elsewhere in Downtown, there are two other establishments underway, but both are shrouded in a bit of mystery. Just down the road at 95 Halsey Street, Black Swan Espresso has a sign up, but little else is known about the business, other than that they presumably serve coffee products.
A few blocks south at 27 Academy Street, construction is underway for Toskana, a new casual eatery. Information about the business is also scarce, but signage on the building indicates it will be open 24/7, which would be a rarity in Newark’s Downtown landscape.
The area known as Rock Plaza adjacent to the Prudential Center will soon have another filled storefront as the owners of Mercado Tomato Pie have expanded their liquor license to include the space next door at 216-218 Market Street. The coal-fired artisanal pizza place, which opened in 2014, is looking to expand their presence in the neighborhood, which recently saw the opening of Newark’s first Biergarten, Redd’s.
While there’s a bunch of restaurants that are coming soon, there’s a new arrival as well. Drina’s Café, which took over the old Better Bites location at 1186 Raymond Boulevard, is one of the more exotic dining options to open in Newark and features an eclectic mix of African, Caribbean and American meals. The menu features everything from Okra Stew (which combines oils, hot peppers, okra, onions and a protein) to Jollof Rice (a West African dish with rice, chili peppers, and meat or fish), plus some more traditional smoothie options for those less adventurous.
The restaurant, which started serving customers in September, proudly describes their cuisine as “home food” and features interesting side dishes like fried yams and oxtail rice and beans. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week.