This weekend I set off for the Jersey City African Cultural Arts Festival in Berry Lane Park, but despite plenty of people having a good time, I did not find a fruitful food scene. The lineup was full of a wide variety of performances and the park had a decent number of clothing and accessory vendors.
Thankfully I had planned a long, circuitous walking route to explore a good chunk of lands I had never explored, south and west of Journal Square before arriving at the park. My to-do list gained about ten places, Egyptian seafood restaurants, a couple new Filipino spots, and a number of Central American steam tables.
One of these, which immediately got crossed off the list after I did not find food at the festival was a tiny Guatemalan spot on Pacific Avenue. The company is actually split in two (above), with a bakery on the left and a small steam table kitchen on the right. The bakery has a long list of elaborate celebratory cakes on its roster, as well breads and sweets, but I needed real sustenance after 10 kilometers on the hot pavement.
A look through the menu reveals a rotating menu of Guatemalan standards, similar to the steam tables in Brooklyn and Queens and nothing on par to the still amazing Tierras Centro Americanas. Soups, various guisados, carne asada, etc. The stewed chicken, or pollo guisado ($6, above) looked the tastiest on the table, so I ordered it with rice, beans, and a sweet plantain. At this price, we need not ask any questions, and I was full for the rest of the day.
Although this area seems very far off the Grove Street PATH station, there is a "hipster" coffee shop right around the corner on Communipaw. Coming from the west, I would have never imagined this world arriving here yet, but it does seem like the edge of a frontier, as a couple walked their dog to get a coffee and returned immediately to the east. With plans to continue that way towards Grove Street, I instead turned back to search more promising non-hipster lands. Thankfully a couple Honduran joints popped up before I got back to Journal Square, as well as the murals below.
If you are in the area, check out the "Aqualand" project created by the Jersey City Mural Arts Program, as well as some other large format vacant building works: