The Ironbound District in New Jersey is located in Newark, New Jersey, just off the NJ Turnpike, blocks from Newark Penn Station, with easy transport to Newark Airport and near the ‘1&9’.
This community is so unique it’s impossible to provide a comparison, so each reader must experience Ironbound first hand. Historically the heritage is Portuguese, with iron laborers settling the area approximately 150 years ago probably because of the convenient proximity to Penn Station, Newark Airport, and downtown New York. Transportation is easy both coming and going making Ironbound a good place to spend some time.
The main street of the District is Ferry Street, offering blocks and blocks of unique shops, bakeries, and a generous sprinkling of ethnic eateries just waiting to satisfy your foodie cravings. Whether here for a luncheon, a relaxing dinner or shopping it’s easy to feel the welcoming atmosphere extended to all visitors.
As I drive a rather large pick up truck I am always concerned about parking, especially when I am traveling through quaint towns. Ironbound has ample parking lots throughout the District and I am able to get in and out without leaving paint on any poles! If you drive a smaller vehicle there is also street parking.
Walking down Ferry Street the cooking smells are almost irresistible! Clothing stores sit with doors open, beckoning shoppers in. Merchandise is not your typical ‘mall’ fare. Each piece of clothing, every jewelry item, and all the specialty gift pieces feel hand picked, not stamped out as with cookie cutter copies found in chain retail stores.
Taking packages back to the truck, this writer returns for dinner, making the choice to try the Brasilia Grill, on Monroe Street. The choice was difficult as there are so many restaurants to choose from! This grill offers a variety of foods at affordable prices, in a relaxed atmosphere. I chose a fresh salad with hearts of palm and it was yummers! My main course was a seafood mix plate which featured lobster, clams, shrimp, pork, rice, and etc. (I am not sure what the ‘etc.’ part was as there was so much food! I ate everything except the design on the plate!)
Now, the cab of my truck was full of packages, my tummy full of savory foods, my quest for sweets took me on a search throughout the District. There are many bakeries and cafes, making it easy to find a shop with cozy tables for coffee and pastries. Alvaro’s Bakery fit the bill. Portuguese custard is a favorite in Ironbound, and a must for all to try.
Shopping outdoors is so much more satisfying in the cool east coast air, but one must remember that Ironbound, New Jersey, is not just a one-street tourist area. Ironbound is a thriving town filled with families that have been in the area for generations. There is a pride in the town that is sometimes hard to find in older communities. This community has pulled together to form the IBID, (Ironbound Improvement District) to keep the area safe, growing, healthy, and welcoming to all.
When in New Jersey take the time to visit this community. You will find a generational pride and soon be pulled to join in the ethnic traditions, making it hard to leave at the end of the day. Ease of transportation to and from makes it easy to come back soon. I will. You should too.