The peanut-butter slathered sandwiches at the Peanut Butter Blues Cafe happily swim in a sea of thirst quenchers and open-mic sound waves. Nutty connoisseurs can expand their palates with sandwiches including the Junglicious, which partners peanut butter with honey, cinnamon, and fresh bananas ($5), or the Guitar Hero, a concoction of peanut butter, wild honey, and blackberry jam ($5). The café also outputs heftier sandwiches, such as the Smoked Salmon BLT ($9) and the Hungry Man From Siberia, comprised of meat dumplings, mushrooms, sour cream, and dill ($10). For liquid fuel, open-mic enthusiasts can snag steamy espressos ($2), chilled orange-chocolate shakes ($5), or the too-cool-for-simple PB Blues house shake, which unites bananas, peanut butter, chocolate, and walnuts ($6).
What began as a traditional German konditorei nearly 80 years ago has transformed a lot—by changing its name, adding an espresso machine, and hiring French Culinary Institute grad Cristina Nastasi as pastry chef—but when it comes to the essentials, not much has changed. Rudy's Bakery & Cafe still packs its gleaming display cases with cookies, danishes, cupcakes, and cakes, the latter of which can also be customized for weddings, birthdays, and baby showers for mothers or rain clouds that are expecting. But the spot also features more novel treats, such as gelato and cake pops, along with a range of specialty espresso drinks.
Though Le Bon Choix's core is that of a traditional French rotisserie and caf?, it also draws on the quintessential flavors of the American South and uses produce from New Jersey farms whenever possible. This blending of cultures is best tasted in its signature dish: local, sustainable rotisserie chicken, served golden brown in whole, half, or pulled portions. Each serving is accompanied by steaming sides of butternut squash and potatoes au gratin spooned directly from the outstretched hands of a friendly maitre d'. Rotisserie chicken is also the main ingredient in many of the sandwiches, such as the LBC, which comes topped with apple and gruyere and drizzled with ginger-peanut sauce. To add to the eatery's transatlantic feel, a coffee bar blends European-style espresso drinks and brews coffee.
DIY desserts are the main order of business at Planet Swirl, an intergalactic-themed fro-yo shop that rotates 21 different flavors and more than 70 types of toppings. The yogurts come chock full of live and active cultures, and the nondairy fruit sorbets contain no artificial colors, fat, or bad vibes from bummed-out cows. Dispensers also twist out seasonal flavors, such as pumpkin pie, cheesecake, raspberry lemon tart, coconut cream pie, and cookies and cream.
Artful twists on classic recipes reign at Rose Valley Cafe and Grille. Charred octopus shares a plate with lentil salad and herbs. Grilled polenta pairs up with braised beef short ribs. Spicy avocado, pickled tomato, and ginger add a piquant flair to cured salmon. When the elegant meals draw to a close, customers' dessert-trowels dip into housemade ice cream and cheesecake, the varieties of which change daily, unlike the pope's fashion statements.
At Bing?s Burgers, cooks focus their grilling talents into crafting flavors not found at a typical drive-thru joint. While diners at the newly opened Fort Lee location can indulge in four types of slider and Bing's own beer-battered fish and chips, the menu centers around a lineup of burgers topped with combinations of unique ingredients. The Cali Burger sports a dollop of fresh, homemade guacamole and low-fat ranch dressing, and Bing's Signature Burger layers sauteed onions, gouda, and garlic aioli while also signing for incoming shipments.