New Jersey Date Night is a series on NJ Flavor by relationship writer Craig Rogers.
Now that we have Thanksgiving under (or perhaps a little over) our belts, New Jerseyans have had their fill of turkey, dressing and pie. Sure it was delicious, but when the hunger pangs return for both a dinner and a date night, we want a flavorful experience that’s a bit different.
It was great celebrating a classic American holiday meal, but there’s more to the western hemisphere. Enjoy the flavors from our neighbors to the south, be it take-out or dine-in.
Get ready for a New Jersey Date Night that’ll give you a taste of the other Americas!
Peru for You!
Plymouth Rock is great, but Machu Picchu is just as panoramic, if not more so. Tumi Peruvian in Elizabeth is the place to experience the flavors of Peru. Some of their not-to-miss entrees include pollo a la brasa (juicy family-style rotisserie chicken served with fresh-cut fries and salad) and bistec a lo pobre (steak with white rice, French fries and plantains topped with a fried egg).
Check out their Peruvian rice dishes like arroz chaufa de carne (beef fried rice) and arroz chaufa especial (chicken, beef and shrimp fried rice). Be sure to save room for dessert, and good luck choosing between classic tres leches and the alfajores (cookies filled with dulce de leche and topped with powdered sugar).
For more information about Tumi Peruvian, visit www.tuminj.com.
Arepas, Patacones and Cachapas … oh my!
Merey in Highland Park serves up some of the best in Venezuelan cuisine in New Jersey. From arepas (cakes made from ground corn and stuffed after cooking) to patacones (plantains, cut cross-wise and fried twice) to cachapas (similar to arepas, but more like a pancake), you and your date are in for a tasty experience.
Choosing between the reina pepaida arepa (served with avocado and chicken salad) or the classic patacone (served with a coleslaw salad, pico de gallo and yellow cheese, topped with both pink sauce and green garlic sauce). The tie breaker might be the cachapa pernil (served with roasted pork and Venezuelan white cheese).
Ending your evening with churros in three flavors — Nutella, dulce de leche and condensed milk — is the right thing to do.
For more information about Merey, visit www.mereyrestaurant.com.
You’ll Adore Ecuador
Ecuador is not only a beautiful country but also one filled with flavor. La Ronda in North Plainfield specializes in Ecuadorian cuisine guaranteed to make you want more. A perfect appetizer for you and your date is bolones, a plantain dumpling offered in both mixed plantains or only green.
For your main course, you’ll be tempted by the mariscada (a hefty serving of fried seafood including shrimp, crab and clams with mixed seafood rice and served with plantain chips and fried green plantains) and the churrasco al jugo (steak au jus served with rice, fries, sautéed peppers and plantains). Saving room for a classic Ecuadorian dessert is a must, and higos con queso (figs with cheese) is a perfect choice.
For more information about La Ronda, visit www.larondarestaurant.com.
Way Southern Cowboys
Brazeiro Churrascaria in North Bergen will take you straight to the Rio Grande Do Sul in Brazil. This steakhouse’s specialty is traditional rodizio-style dining.
Starting your evening with two glasses of caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, is the way to go. Made with cachaça (a liquor made of fermented sugar cane), lime and sugar, this cocktail is refreshing with the perfect kick.
The rest of your dinner is basically up to you and what delicious grilled meats suits your fancy — and they just keep coming! Be sure to check out some of their tasty salads and side dishes, too.
For more information about Brazeiro Churrascaria, visit www.brazeirobbq.com.
Outside of the Lines
One of the great things relationships provide is a sense of routine. Doing “couple things” at various times is a necessity not totally void of fun. Human nature makes routine essential, but we need to be aware of when a routine morphs into a rut. All couples have ruts and all couples can successfully break them, starting with your choice of date night activity.
Trying something new like a different style of cuisine might instill panic, but if you think about it what’s the worse that can happen? You eat what you can, order a pizza on the way home and laugh about it later. Or consider the BEST thing that can happen: you both expand your horizons, develop new favorites and you might even make a new friend along the way.
After all, trying something different might just give you both something new for which to be thankful.
Craig Rogers is the guy who gets relationships write. Author of The 49th Challenge, Craig has written countless articles on dating, relationships and breakup recovery. To learn more about Craig, visit www.CraigRogers.nyc.
What’s your idea for a great New Jersey Date? Tell Craig all about it at email@example.com.
More Date Night Ideas:
Got a story you'd like to see on NJ Flavor? Email Jackie Lieberman at firstname.lastname@example.org.