Gateway - A Neighborhood in Transition

Explore the Perth Amboy
Gateway Neighborhood

- by Alfonso Faura

The Gateway neighborhood is a very diverse neighborhood in Perth Amboy!  It was originally an Irish area, then later the Eastern Europeans settled here. Today, the neighborhood has a mix of cultures.  You can walk and grab Polish, Jamaican, Hungarian Mexican, Portuguese, Dominican, and Honduran food all within ten blocks from each other. Not many neighborhoods in the state of New Jersey can make this claim.  And this blog highlights many of these eateries.

The Gateway neighborhood is located in the southern part of Perth Amboy. Its boundaries the NJ Transit RR to the east, Woodbridge Township to the west, New Brunswick Avenue to the north, and the Raritan River to its south. It is a working class section of Perth Amboy.

 This mural represents strong, independent Latina women--like many in our neighborhood.

Typical row houses in the Gateway. 

 Snow takes Kirkland Place by storm.

The Perth Amboy Center for the Arts - 339 Reade Street. 

The center holds events for Hispanic Heritage Month.  I also like how the Center for the Arts engages children in the community. Here, they offer arts and crafts classes for them.  One of the best ways in which a community prospers is through its arts. 

Se Salio El Pollo - 456 Smith St. 

 Before this restaurant opened, which moved from Convery Boulevard, to a bigger and better location, you would have to go to Paterson or Elizabeth to eat great Peruvian food.  Now you longer have to take such a long trip if you are in the Perth Amboy area. The pollo a la brasa con papitas fritas and ensalada (rotisserie chicken with fries and salad) is to die for. Se Salio also offers great arroz chaufa (Chinese Peruvian fried rice).  Arroz chaufa comes with many types of meat.  They also serve delicious cebiche (raw fish marinated in lemon) and jalea (fried seafood).  Their lomo saltafo (sautéed beef with rice and fries) is also a worth a try. You can pick up good Peruvian deserts.  The dulce de tres leches is recommended.

Tropical Cheese - 450 Fayette Street 

Tropical Cheese Factory was started by a Cuban immigrant, Rafael Mendes, who did not have a lot of money when he came to the United States and now he is doing very well for himself.  According to its website, Tropical Cheese is now worldwide, but like Preferred, has its roots here in Perth Amboy.

Joe’s Meat Market - 437 Smith St.

The Cooking Room.

Joe's Meat Market attracts many people from far away including Hunterdon and Ocean Counties as well as Staten Island.  Some even come from other states including Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.  You will see long lines of customers here, especially during Holiday Season.  The store, however, is closed on Sundays.

Although I am not a Polish speaker, I find the collection of Polish newspapers and magazines to be amazing.  They also sell milk, water, soda, soup, and chocolates all imported from Poland. 

Shelves offer Polish red and white borscht, mayonnaise, chocolate, and other packaged goods. Polish is the predominate language in this store but English is also spoken.  

Signs about upcoming events in Polish on the front door.

ZPA Lounge - 281 Grace St.

This is the ZPA or the Zjednoczenie Polakow W Ameryce.  This is a Polish banquet hall and there is a Polish bar next door (see the brick building).  Even though it is a Polish organization there are some Hispanic events held here.  The Miss Dominican Republic contest was held here.  Also the Taste of Perth Amboy event was held here.

Bull's Meat Market - 435 Smith St.

Right next door to Joe’s Meat Market, but these two probably don’t have to worry about competition from each other because it is a completely different bull (pun intended).  Here they don’t sell kielbasa.   This is an Argentine meat shop, notice the Argentine flag hanging from the store. Argentines are known throughout the world for their beef. Here they sell meats like goat, churrasco, sirloin, and pernil.  They also sell lomito. You could find Argentine pastries as well as tea here.  

American and Argentine flags fluttering in front of Bull’s.

                            Our Lady of Fatima Roman Catholic Church - 380 Smith Street 

Our Lady of Fatima is the most active church of Perth Amboy. When the Catholic churches had to merge with one another in the city,  Our Lady of Fatima, or La Fatima, as the city’s Spanish speakers call it, was the only one that did not have to merge.

This is the oldest Hispanic church in the state of New Jersey.  Originally founded in 1940, when it was in the Claret building, across the street next to Herbert Richardson School, on Smith Street. 

Catholic churches tend to dead in the Northeast.  Not this one.  You see so much liveliness, joy, and hope in this church.

It gives me testimony, as a practicing Roman Catholic, when I go to Sunday mass at 9 AM.  The parishioners who often have struggles of their own---many are foreign born, some possibly undocumented, many are just striving to make ends meet, and some have problems at home.

Yet when they are clapping, praising the Lord, and singing with a wide grin on their face, it seems like none of their problems exist when they are in front of Him..  

There is a food pantry every Saturday as well as some Wednesdays here.

Sipo's Bakery - 365 Smith Street

This is a very well known bakery in Perth Amboy.  It is a Hungarian bakery and offers some Eastern European treats like babka, Hungarian cookies and beigli rolls,  Due to Perth Amboy’s large Hispanic population, they also offer Latino treats like Dominican cake and dulce de tres leches.  I personally like the walnut danish since it not so sweet.  My coworkers have also mentioned that the coffee here is good.

Mobay’s Jamaican Restaurant - 332 Smith St.

One can buy curry goat or chicken (depending on your taste), sweet plantains and a hefty portion of rice for about $8.  The cocoa bread here is really good here as well and you can find some other Jamaican treats you cannot find in mainstream stores.  This nice Jamaican place located in the southwestern section of the city has a take out and a restaurant to eat in next to it.  

A morning shot of Smith Street.

A Mexican restaurant to the left and a Dominican restaurant to the right.  Dominicans and Mexicans are now the neighborhood’s largest ethnic groups.  Mexicans have now outnumbered Puerto Ricans in the Gateway section of Perth Amboy. To the left is Esmeralda Restuarant, which I will go over after this next restaurant.

La Vega Restaurant

Home to the best Dominican style hot dogs, they also serve good chimichurries.  I also remember eating fish here and it was quite delicious! 

The restaurant is named after La Vega, the city where a good portion of the Dominicans in Perth Amboy are from.

Dominican candy. I found candies like this on the counter in La Vega.

To the left is a cortado de leche (sweet milk custard) and to the right is dulce de coco con batata (coconut custard made out of batata, a tropical fruit)

I never tried the dulce de coco con batata.

Esmeralda's Restaurant - 315 Smith St. 

Esmeralda Restaurant is another one of Perth Amboy’s great Mexican restaurants.  The restaurant has some nice murals and the food is really good. I have heard great reviews of their enchiladas. 

Bonao Restaurant - 339 Oak Street

 According to locals, this is one of the best Dominican restaurants in Perth Amboy and it is known for being inexpensive.

 I remember I ate a meal once consisting of yellow rice, a  bit of potatoes and some pollo guisado (braised chicken), and a brand of soda titled the Country Club, (a very popular soft drink in the Dominican Republic), and Dominican cake. The entire meal cost less than ten dollars!)

The Meals

Mangu con pernil. Try it with chinola or morir sonando Two great Dominican drinks!

The best mangu (mashed plantains) in Perth Amboy and possibly in the New York City Metropolitan area. The mangu at Bonao is more smooth than the more coarse type of mangu you find in other Dominican restaurants.  Personally, I think this is what makes it the best.

A chinola is basically a passion fruit drink meanwhile morir sonando is orange juice mixed with cane sugar, milk. Sometimes morir sonando is mixed with ice cream, as well. 

I love how this restaurant takes a different spin on Chicken Cordon Bleu!

El Meson - 409 Smith Street 

Another great Dominican restaurant.

They serve great pasta and chicken.

Typical scene of Smith Street

Garibaldi Mexican Restaurant - 287 Smith Street

This is probably the most famous Mexican restaurant in Perth Amboy.  The burritos, horchata drinks, and chicken wings are pretty good here.  This restaurant even has a jukebox and there is plenty of seating here as well. 

Fiesta Garibaldi! Try it with jugo de pina 

it comes with avocado 

La Primavera Bakery - 278 Smith Street

Pastries in La Primavera Bakery!

The Portuguese Manor -310 Elm St. 

The Portuguese Manor is one of the city’s most exclusive restaurants.  According to the Star Ledger, this famous eatery is a "A viable alternative to the Ironbound Iberians at 20-plus years and counting." Famous dishes include Paella and Pork and Clams. A must try is their sangria.  The food here is very great and they give you big portions. The meat was cooked to perfection and they give you these amazing chips.  Also the dessert is delicious.  The dulce de tres leches cake they serve here is the best in town.

Market Deli and Grocery -  298 Market Street

Don’t let the appearance fool you they have some great sandwiches and this little bodega is really known for this. Plus they are super cheap.

The Superior Diner - 464 Smith Street

Last but not least, this is the Superior Diner, it is known for its good food and friendly staff. Their burgers are delicious.  Although I personally recommend The Greek Salad as well as the Shrimp Salad Platter.


  1. Wow..Alfonso!!!! What a great Blog! I confirm everything you said about all the places. I have been to all! Perth Amboy is our great city!

    1. Thank you Belkis! It means so much that you were impressed with this blog.

      I wish you and Robert well especially during this season!

  2. Thank you for this informative insight. I am considering the area to relocate to and i'm hoping to learn all I can. Ive driven past many of these places you mentioned so I am eager to try them!

    what do you know about the safety in the town and the schools (if anything)? Also wondering about parking...

  3. Parking can be tough, depending on the neighborhood but it’s usually ample.

    Schools aren’t desirable.

    However, according to the stats on City-Data, the crime rate in Perth Amboy is lower than the national average.


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