New Jersey Date Night is a series on NJ Flavor by relationship writer Craig Rogers.

When it comes to celebrating Independence Day, we’ve come a long way in regard to what’s on the menu. Years ago, Americans in the Northeast would typically feast on salmon and green peas. If you want a patriotic date night similar to that of John and Abigail Adams you’d be canoodling under the fireworks with bowls of turtle soup. Luckily, with the passing of time Americans have settled on the perfect food to match the ideal summer celebration, and it involves a grill.

Date night under the stars, surrounded by the colors and sounds of the fireworks combined with the tastes of a summer barbeque is the perfect way to ring in our nation’s 243rd birthday.

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Get ready for a New Jersey Date Night that’s unapologetically American.

Red, White and Bergen

Bergen County knows fireworks, and they sure know burgers. Steve’s Burgers in Garfield is a well-known mainstay for burger aficionados. Their hand-made patties are grilled to perfection and served with a variety of fixings fit for any palate. What will seal the deal is a side order of another New Jersey staple — disco fries! 

Steve’s Burgers only accepts cash and will be open 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on July 4. For more information, visit their Facebook page at

Fireworks in nearby Hackensack begin at 9:15 p.m. in Foshini Park, with The Inferno Band getting the party started at 7:15 p.m. 

Dog Day Morning, Noon and Night

There’s some debate as to who created the first chili dog in New Jersey, but that question will be the last thing on your mind when you and your date bite into chili dogs from Texas Weiner I in Plainfield. Since 1924 they’ve been serving up hot dogs with their homemade chili, giving generations of New Jersians fond childhood memories of visiting this landmark.

Texas Weiner I is open 24 hours a day and only accepts cash. For more information, visit their Facebook page at

Fireworks in Plainfield begin at dusk in Cedar Brook Park, with a concert beginning at 4:30 p.m. featuring many favorites including The Full Force Brothers, Viola Sykes and Melba Moore.

Dogs with an Italian Twist

The typical hot dog always hits the spot, but if you’re craving a frankfurter like no other look no further than Jimmy Buff’s. Located in West Orange, Jimmy Buff’s fries their hot dogs in soybean oil just like their founder, James Racioppi, did in 1932. What makes this dog “Italian” is how it’s served up with sautéed onions, peppers and potatoes on a quarter roll of Italian “pizza” bread. If you’re super-hungry, order the double served on the half roll.

Jimmy Buff’s only accepts cash and will be open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 4. For more information, visit

Festivities begin in West Orange begin at 4:30 p.m. at West Orange High School featuring activities for kids.  Admission is $5 per person. Bring a blanket (folding chairs aren’t permitted). Fireworks begin at dusk.

Putting the Fire in Fireworks

1969 might be best known for a lunar landing, but most aren’t aware of how burger lovers were sent over the moon the same year. The Habit in Parsippany actually got its start in Santa Barbara, California, whre it quickly became one of the most popular burger joints on the West Coast. Over time, The Habit expanded nationally and currently has nine locations in New Jersey. Always fresh and cooked over open flame, you’d think these burgers came straight from your backyard grill. Their fries are tasty, but you might want to try their terrific tempura green beans. 

The Habit will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. July 4 and accepts cash and card. For more information, visit

Festivities begin in Parsippany begin at 7:30 p.m. at Parsippany-Troy Hills High School with a concert by Garden State Radio. Fireworks begin at dusk.

Celebrating Independence Together

Living in the land of the free offers boundless opportunities, some of which we sometimes take for granted. The freedom to love, the choice to share and even the free will to walk away just skim the surface of what “love, American style” truly means. It doesn’t get better than celebrating Independence Day with your sweetheart — being able to take a day to reflect on our great American experience with the one experiencing it with you. That alone creates the best fireworks display you’ll ever see.

Craig Rogers is the guy who gets relationships write. Author of “The 49th Challenge,” Rogers has written countless articles on dating, relationships and breakup recovery. To learn more about him, visit

What’s your idea for a great New Jersey Date?  Tell Craig all about it at



More Date Night Ideas:

Asbury Park is the Shore Thing

Getting Fresh at the Farmer’s Market

 Ice Cream, You Smile

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