Yelpers worship restaurants, and those they adore most were just revealed in Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in 2024. This elite survey, based on the number and positivity of user reviews, salutes four Garden State eateries—and only one in New York. Go Jersey!
Here’s a look at our state’s quartet of culinary conquerors.
This Morris County favorite, around since 2014, is a four-peater on Yelp’s Top 100. Devotees can’t get enough of its generously sized, carefully made, reasonably priced sushi rolls. “Many of our customers come in once, twice or even three nights a week,” says manager YooJin Lee. “And we’re open just four nights, Wednesday through Saturday.” Dozens of specialty rolls beckoning from the menu are crafted with “interesting ingredient combinations, super-fresh fish and house-made crunch topping and sauces,” says Lee. “We like to slip Korean gochujang hot paste into our spicy mayo.”
Kenko Sushi accommodates just 20 diners, mainly at “nooks for two that we built for the pandemic,” says Lee, “but now customers love their semi-private feeling.” No reservations are taken, so Lee recommends arriving close to opening time. (Takeout service begins at noon.)
Post-meal, diners typically post in two places: on Yelp, and on Kenko Sushi’s Post-it-covered walls.
Newark’s Ironbound District promises hearty meals, and Sabor Unido delivers. Its name, which translates to “united flavors,” hints at its cuisine: a marriage of Portuguese and Brazilian, like the Ironbound itself. Sabor Unido is run by the Campos family, who emigrated from Brazil in 2001. Luiz Campos is the manager, his dad Orlando runs the business side and his mom Silvana is the chef.
According to Yelpers, Chef Silvana’s made-from-scratch dishes exude attention and passion. Notes Orlando, “We cook the same food as at home. It’s fresh, often organic, with good ingredients, even the salt. It costs us more, but we don’t charge more.”
Remarkably, dinner entrees, with two sides, are under $30—even the feijoada, Brazil’s legendary, long-cooked meat and black bean stew. Soul-satisfying chow at pleasing prices works for everyone, and Sabor Unido will more than double its space this spring.
How good does an açai-bowl place have to be to make Yelp’s Top 100? Apparently, as good as BOOMCHIA. Says owner Josh Baek of his two-year-old, dine-in or takeout Montclair magnet, “We just go further. Superfood eating is more than a concept here. We’re almost completely organic and gluten-free, and our açai is pure, not a blend with other fruit.”
Time-pressed customers can order a BOOMCHIA Special Bowl, with an açai base and house-chosen add-ins, But most diners can’t resist composing their own bowl with a base like coconut, chia pudding, or açai, topped by granolas, fruits, nuts, seeds, and more. Choices are unlimited “as long as it fits in the bowl,” says Baek. “There’s a fun aspect to all these options that appeals to all kinds of people, and we have tons of regulars,” he says. “The great thing is that this is healthy food, but it feels and tastes like a treat.”
If your idea of the perfect restaurant is one that offers elegant, contemporary French and Italian food, soothing atmosphere, lunch and dinner service and a BYO policy to boot, Jessica’s is your kind of place. Just be aware that with its Yelp status and only 24 seats, a reservation is a good idea. Chef/owner Armen Saqe and his wife—yes, Jessica— finesse every detail of the dining experience. “I grew up on a farm where everything we ate was grown or raised there,” says Saqe. “I learned early that high-quality, fresh, seasonal ingredients are the basis of great food.”
His varied, tempting menu is strong on classics with a unique Chef Armen touch, whether a balsamic and fig glaze, a pistachio crust, or a scattering of cocoa-dusted Spanish pecans. Clearly, Jessica’s diners remain intrigued.