Very Cheap Place To Visit
Bars very few and far between
Probably would have helped had I seen the place in daylight
It seems that the evening dining choices in Union City are limited to Pizza, Pizza or Pizza though I did see a Subway once. As with De Palma this is primarily a take-away (though I think there was a formica counter by the window to eat in on) serving a range of pizza, pasta, sandwiches and burgers. Pizzas are made fresh to order.
Favorite Dish: The steak calzone with cheese - about the size and shape of half an American football and packed with lean tender steak for under $7 take-away. Washed down with a bottle of plonk from the local liquor store made for an excellent supper.
Under normal circumstances finding a pizzeria & ristorante in the New York area (Yes I know this is New Jersey!) one would expect that if English wasn't going to be the common language then perhaps my snippets of Italian may come in handy. No, don't be silly this is Union City - se habla Espagnol and certainly not any Spanish that I have ever come across.
My request for "A piece of the Sicilian and a coffee to eat in please." was met by a blank stare from the big black guy serving who then called a colleague over with a bit of rapid-fire Spanish. Repeating my request to the new guy the pizza chunk was fed into the oven for reheating but the reply was "No coffee!"
OK a restaurant without coffee, so I tried: "I'll have a beer then, thanks."
This was quite a busy little place, mostly take-away, with everything being made fresh to order from quite an extensive pizza, pasta and sandwich menu. The "restaurant" comprised 4 formica-topped tables with cheap wooden chairs, designed more for snacking or waiting for take away orders rather than proper sit-down service.
Favorite Dish: OK I made do with the chunk of Sicilian and delicious it was too and at $1.85 take-away or eat-in was an absolute bargain.
It was only the beer lights in the window that intimated that this was a bar of some sort and there being a bit of a paucity of watering holes here in Union City I decided to give it a try.
Once again there was a bit of a language problem in trying to order a beer, the barmaid having to fetch the owner for translation of "What beer do you have?".
The owner Freddy turned out to be a really nice guy and after he explained that there was no draught beer I settled for a bottle of Corona Extra. It caused a bit of consternation when I asked for a glass tho'!
Then to my delight I discovered that this was actually registered as a pool hall and that smoking was allowed!!!!! So one beer led to another and another to the beat of Latin music from the jukebox and a bit of a laugh with the girls. Getting my camera out created a bit of a stir - "No paperazzi!" screamed one as she ducked under the bar counter.
Settling my $14 bill for 6 beers a couple of hours later I said to Freddy to put the change from $20 in the tips, which he first refused but eventually allowed me to buy the girls a drink.
Cracking little place!
Dress Code: Coat and Tie definitely not recommended - low cut tops for the girls a must!
Union City is 20 minutes from Manhattan by local bus. It's about 20 minutes to Jersey City and also allows easy access to Liberty Park for visiting Liberty and Ellis Island.
It's perhaps not the ideal place to stay for a New York visit but for the budget conscious is definitely worth considering.
There's proper buses to the PABT (Port Authority Bus Terminal) as well as local minibus services into the heart of Downtown Manhattan. To get into Jersey City there's a regular service from Kennedy Blvd and once in Jersey City you can join the PATH network.
For all the options you'll find the official site easy to navigate:
Bergenline Avenue, the city's main commercial strip, is undoubtedly the main attraction. This skinny and bustling commercial strip is congested with pedestrians and traffic especially on weekends. Some call it the "eternity of walking" due to its length. It runs from Union City to North Bergen. It is the gateway to Latin America. Even though Cubans are still the majority, the Hispanic population has diversified. From the throngs of people you could hear different accents from different countries.
Today it is a thrving area of Cuban and other Latino businesses. The grocery stores sell products from all over Latin America that you can't find anywhere else. There are traditional restaurants that serve Cuban arroz con pollo, Peruvian ceviche, Colombian arepas, or Salvadoran pupusas. You could even smell the Cuban roast pork from the streets. Records stores here sell c.d's ranging from salsa, merengue, rumba, and mariachi to American pop music. Such stores, such as Ritmo Latino, blast Latin music and put up 6 foot posters of very famous Latin American celebrities onto the street (on top of the stores). Then there are tiny storefront cigar factories and stores that sell guayabera shirts and
Moreover, there are shops that you can spot in any other commercial drag like 99 cent, electronic, money orders, clothing stores etc. However don't be surprised if the business is conducted in both English and Spanish or just Spanish. Chinese restaurants put their signs in Spanish and even Rite Aid has "farmacia" on its exterior. You will run into many people who don't speak English at all so don't be shocked if you ask for a soda in a grocery store (in English) and nobody knows what you're saying .
This area occupies 17 blocks vertically in city limits. Besides the fact that it was built by immigrants, it is also thriving of the UEZ (Urban Enterprise Zone). The UEZ is a program that helps "needy" commerical districts so you pay a 3% Sales Tax i
If you're staying in Manhattan then it's kinda difficult to see Manhattan - certainly not the famous skyline anyway!
Over the river though, in Union City, you get the views. Not only that but hotels are half-the-price!