Friends often ask me where to go for lunch. Well, here are a few of my favorite lunch spots for some quick GOOD food.
If you find yourself in the Clark area and have a hankering for some Thai food, you absolutely have to try Thailand Restaurant (291 Central Avenue, Clark, New Jersey 07066, (732) 388-4441). Located just a stone's throw off of the traffic pattern formerly known as the Clark Circle (GSP Exit 135), Clark Thai has made an old "steel diner" its home. I love Pad Thai, and this place makes it best. This traditional rice noodle dish is bright, flavorful and has the perfect balance of sweet, tangy and savory. Every time I have ordered the Pad Thai, the noodles have always been perfectly cooked and dressed with just the right amount of sauce, veggies, shrimp, chicken and, of course, peanuts. Their Tom Ka Gai (chicken coconut soup) and green chicken curry dishes are also very good. Every entrée is served with a small house salad dressed with a mildly spicy peanut dressing. The price is right and the servings are nicely sized for lunch. I have never had a bad meal here, and I go often.
When I am in Union, I have to eat some Portuguese Barbeque at Burnett Barbeque, with two locations (1363 Burnet Avenue, Union, NJ, (908) 687-0313 and 1275 Stuyvesant Avenue, Union, NJ, (908) 688-8897). A Portuguese colleague of mine has equated Burnett's Barbequed Chicken to that of his mother's home cooking. Their slow, open-fire, grilled chicken, meat and fish are terrific. I have had many meals and never a disappointment. My favorites are the (pick a meat) half salmon steak/half chicken/half ribs/half beef short ribs, with a generous side of yellow rice and salad, although rice and fries are the standard. Expect to get a few fresh Portuguese rolls as you wait for your PILE of food. You won't be leaving hungry. Trust me.
In Newark, it's hot dogs. And it absolutely, positively has to be Tony's Hot Dog Truck, located at the intersection of Lake Street and Park Avenue, just outside Branch Brook Park, Newark, New Jersey. For over 40 years, Tony has been serving hot dogs. I was introduced by a friend within the past year and I am hooked; a once a month ritual. The dogs are natural casing all-beef dogs. The casing gives it that signature "snap". My favorite is the Chili Dog with Spicy Mustard -- four of them to be exact. Tony's homemade chili, an age-old family recipe, is absolutely amazing. Not too spicy -- just right. The chili is packed with flavor, but smooth, with a nice finish. Tony's is in operation Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Don't be discouraged if the line is 10 deep, they often have 2-3 lines going. So you'll be chowing down in no time. Go there!
These three places are my top picks in their categories. I urge you to give them a try and let me know what you think.
It is time for me to move onward, in my search for the perfect meal. Check back soon and join me again, as Stern Eats.