From The Lips Of A Local

Each week we feature a different local, sharing their unique experiences on what makes NYC the best place, ever.  Hey, we never said New Yorkers weren’t cocky.  

This week we’re delighted to be chatting with graphic designer, Marinell Montales!  She hails from across the river in none other than Jersey City, and has some great tips for places to visit in both  JC and NYC.  Make sure to stop by her blog, it’s simply the bee’s knees!


Name: Marinell Montales

Occupation: Graphic Designer, Founder of Jersey City’s Streetstyle blog, Downtown, Natch!

New Yorker since: I actually live just across the river in Jersey City, a brief PATH ride away. I’ve been there since 2003.

What hood do you live in? Greenville

Where do you get your morning coffee? I get my first cup of jo at The Warehouse Cafe in the Powerhouse Arts District of Downtown Jersey City where I used to work as a barista. They brew Intelligentsia Coffee and have the best-looking industrial decor. The space is a great place of pilgrimage for creative types like me. I personally spend long work hours here. You’ll find knick-knacks, trinkets, books and magazines sprinkled about the bare space – those and the communal tables are great brainstorm-instigators. At the same time, because it’s a little out of the way and tucked in between old warehouses, it’s also a great spot to unplug, start and finish a book in one sitting, or play chess and Scrabble and no one will bother you.

Restaurant you’d be really, really sad bordering on clinically depressed if they closed: Tacqueria in Downtown Jersey City. I’m here 2-3 times a week! Tacqueria actually closed its doors after getting knocked down by Hurricane Sandy. The restaurant was completely gutted, and the rebuilding took over 5 months! You can say I was clinically depressed during those 5 months for sure.

The manager Checho (gosh, I hope I spelled his name right) knows me by name here and memorized my “usual” by heart. Their tacos boast flavor in each bite. Plus, you get a mouthful for only $2.50! The carnitas (pork) and buche (pork stomach) tacos are my favorites, and the napolitas (cactus) taco is a tasty option for Vegetarians. Oh, and the guac! The guac alone is a reason to visit! New Yorkers can’t miss out on all these goodness because Tacqueria’s second location is right on their backyard on Orchard St. in the LES.

Every tourist must visit: As many museums as they can! I particularly enjoy the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea. You can take in and enjoy 6 stories of Himalayan paintings, sculptures, textiles, and other ancient relics. You can catch a free film screening every Friday for their Cabaret Cinema series (it’s free with a $7 bar minimum!). I saw Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain (not for the faint of heart!) here with friends and that was interesting.

NYC trend you’re currently loving/hating: I’ve been meeting more and more people and continue to hear stories of people who used to call Manhattan or Brooklyn home and are now fleeting to Jersey City. As a Jersey City resident, I’m a big proponent of this trend! Jersey City is in the middle of a culture revival and culinary renaissance and it’s cool to finally see skeptics drawn to it. It’s the new frontier. You can overdose on culture and creativity here, and the music and art scene is very vibrant.

When you come visit, I recommend that you check out my favorite spots (aside from The Warehouse Cafe and Tacqueria):

Razza – There are only 33 places in all of America that make the best pizza according to Thrillist. Razza is one of them. I mean…

Brewshot – Hey Brooklyn, your favorite coffee roaster (Blue Bottle) is served here.

Another Man’s Treasure Vintage Store – Always pleasant and always helpful, the staff are amongst the best-dressed of Jersey City, which makes the shopping experience here like having a personal stylist.

The Hamilton Inn – You’ll find me here almost every Thursday night because it’s happy hour all night! Hashtag ThursdayThirstdate

Marco & Pepe – This is where you go for weekend brunch with your main homegirls (and homeboys). Great for groups and also good for dates!

Torico’s Homemade Icecream – When you’re dining, skip dessert and come here. Tons of flavors for everyone’s taste buds! Recommended flavor: pound cake!

Sam A.M. Cafe – This daytime cafe is a new kid on the block. It’s a little out of the way, but the breakfast is worth the trek. Hashtag Bacon.

Favorite way to while away a (non-workday!) NYC afternoon: I’m usually in Downtown Jersey City snapping photos for my blog, but when I’m in NYC on a weekend, I’m most likely coffeeshop-hopping and catching a movie with my boyfriend.

NYC’s best kept secret: Reade Street Pub in Tribeca. It’s hard to find a local watering hole in the city that has a very neighborhood-y feel, but Reade Street Pub is intimate and feels familiar. I found myself here by accident with a girlfriend. The ambience was warm and welcoming and made mellow by Frank Sinatra playing from the jukebox. The space was treated with enigmatic colonial relics: a model train moves around the track above your head on the bar, a collection of baseball caps, and yellowed American flags – large and small tacked on the walls. The barstaff are quick to serve, friendly, and offers great conversation; one of the bartenders even played a magic trick on us that still boggles my mind until today. Be ready to chat it up with the bar patrons, as they will equally satisfy you with fun stories. Long story short, we ended up staying late and having a good time!

To connect with this awesome New Yorker, visit her on Twitter.



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