Destination Newark staff talk about some of their favorite culinary experiences

Editor’s Choice

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit Marcus Samuelsson’s new restaurant in the Hahne & Co building, Marcus B&P. Marcus B&P was named for the Swedish concept of “back pocket”—a place to hang out with family and friends. And that’s exactly why I went. I thought the restaurant’s Sunday jazz brunch would be the perfect setting for catching up with good friends and eating good food.

I was not disappointed. A small to mid-sized space with rustic trappings, a visit to B&P is a sensory feast. The tall bar covered/topped with white tile is one of the first things that catches your attention. You’ll also notice the eclectic art that covers the walls in the dining room. One of my favorite features was the collection of LP covers that adorned the walls in one of the bathrooms.

On Sundays, hungry patrons are welcomed by a couple of jazz musicians set up in an intimate space at the front of the restaurant. They set the mood and create a sophisticated atmosphere with music that is both a focal point as well as ambience.

The food—Southern soul food with a sophisticated twist—is as artfully arranged as it is delicious. I had the shrimp and grits, and the cornbread is worth fighting over. On our table was also several plates of chicken and waffles and a personal pizza.

A gathering of friends is always a good time. But it becomes a great time with warm, attentive service; comfortable surroundings; delicious food; and an atmosphere accentuated by the stylings of live jazz musicians. A return visit is definitely in order.  ~Sonja Mack

Publisher’s Choice

Traditional Pick

For just down home good food, good ­company and general comfort, I pick Vonda’s Kitchen. We featured Vonda’s last summer so I wanted to be original but the truth is I have probably patronized Vonda’s more than any other sit down restaurant in the City.

The fish and grits is always a win. And when I have a big appetite the mac ‘n’ cheese and collard greens are tasty sides too. The chef is always pleasant. And on good days I may even get to have a sighting of the owner, Vonda McPherson. Go see and taste for yourself! Vonda’s Kitchen, 183 W. Kinney St., www.vondaskitchennj.com.

Publisher’s Non-traditional Pick

My Non-traditional pick would be Carmen’s restaurants. Most of you reading probably don’t know where this is unless you work in City Hall. And since I frequent Newark City Hall a lot, I’m a big fan. I’ve been ordering takeout lunch from Carmen’s for more than a decade.

This quant office-building café is downtown’s best kept secret. Or I should say, one of City Hall’s best kept secrets since no one advertises that it is down there on the basement level. But City Hall is open to the public, so if you are ever up for a BLT or some grilled chicken with rice and beans that actually has some flavor, try Carmen’s restaurant at City Hall, 920 Broad Street, Newark NJ ­(Basement level). ~Sakina Cole

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