Jersey Spin - October, 2010

NJ Food Reviews - The Hot Grill in Clifton, NJ And Hat City Kitchen  in Orange, NJ



The Hot Grill - Seems a bit odd for a place in New Jersey to be locally famous for Texas wieners, but The Hot Grill is.  The place is approaching 50 years old and this area mainstay appears ready to add 50 more.  Many choices are available with the addition of healthy menu choices for those dragged there by undoubtedly numerous Hot Grill fans.  

When trying a place for the first time, I like to chose what they are known for, and at The Hot Grill, it's the Texas wiener.  The dogs are deep fried, and I must say are quite tasty indeed.  I checked the place out at lunchtime and it was packed, and I mean packed with everyone from a shirt and tie business type to the contractor to the utility worker to the UPS man.

You get the picture... the place has buzz and a very loyal following.  I could see some biting into their dogs ordered all-the-way (also known as the works) while their lunch mate was eating a healthy salad.  The place is a great anchor in Clifton, and it is even open for breakfast.  What I like to see is a place giving back to their customers, and they are doing so presently with some great buy- one-get-one-free specials from 3pm - 6pm.  I'm sure there will be plenty of regulars taking advantage of that one.

People in North Jersey love their Italian Hot Dogs, but who knew they loved Texas wieners too.  Variety is the spice of life, but so is something good that has obviously stood the test of time.  If you haven't been -- and you go for the Texas hot dog, watch out when you take a bite because you might just become a fan for life. - Jersey Shadow -

The Hot Grill
669 Lexington Avenue
Clifton, NJ 07011
Phone: 973-772-6000


Hat City Kitchen - What's in a name anyway? Well, for the Hat City Kitchen quite a lot as it turns out.  Once known for its hat factory and bustling commerce, anyone from Essex County now knows Orange as a small blighted city not famous for much except violent crime and white flight. Entrepreneurs willing to invest in a city such as Orange are true urban warriors.

The menu is interesting, not cluttered with too many choices and full of southern choices perfect for locals and out of town diners. The pulled pork sandwich looked interesting, but the ribs were what I was in the mood for, and for 19 bucks represented a good value for the massive full rack portion I received.

As is the case with any meal, the first order of business is the use of fresh ingredients, and these ribs were loaded with tasty pork with a great sauce and interesting dry rubbed texture to them as well. Just enough sauce coated my ribs without being sloppy. This was clearly someone's special recipe and a great one at that, plus the cold slaw was also interesting, fresh and tasty.

There are much cheaper selections on the menu such a burgers for under 10 bucks. The Mac & Cheese which I tasted was very rich and delicious, again someone's special recipe.  Judging by how quickly this side-dish disappeared from our table, it's quite clear that Mac and Cheese is a real winner.  The pulled pork sandwich, shrimp and grits and vegetable jambalaya were all raved about.  

Of particular note, the wait staff was especially friendly and very competent  while not being intrusive.  As we were leaving through the bar area, a live band was warming up for the evening as more patrons poured through the door.  These are certainly all the ingredients of a successful business.

The light shines brightly at the Hat City Kitchen as a beacon of hope celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit and history of the past with what could well be an interesting and very positive future. Orange is small enough to be totally taken over by people who care about its future with productive commerce, safe streets and great food at the Hat City Kitchen.
- Jersey Shadow -

Hat City Kitchen
459 Valley Street
Orange, NJ 07050
Phone: 862-252-9147

Credit Cards Accepted



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