The Western Front: Where Manhattan Meets New Jersey

by SAMANTHA QUEEN · April 9, 2008

hobokenI spent this past weekend in Hoboken – this country’s highest number of bars per square mile. It has imported some New York things (Grimaldi’s, Garden of Eden, American Apparel), added its own blend of things (boutiques a-la Cobble Hill and the West Village, a high concentration of yuppies, a vibrant college town/UES bar scene, LOTS of green space) to create it’s own sophisticated, laid-back, waterfront vibe. I like it. Here's some reasons why:

There are lots of waterfront parks with beautiful Manhattan views. Bring a blanket and a cuddle-buddy on a nice day and you’ve got yourself a pretty relaxing afternoon.

BARS. Whether it’s the most liquor licenses per capita or the country’s highest concentration of bars per square mile, the point is that the place is libationary – perfect for an impromptu, post-nap bar crawl with aforementioned cuddle-buddy or with 15 of your closest friends. The locals tell me that Friday nights and weekend afternoons are less popular with the B&T crowd (who in this case, would technically be people from Manhattan, but the traditional meaning applies here), while Saturday nights bring more fist-pumping and the like, especially to South Hoboken (in my experience, however, Saturday night in South Hoboken was just fine). Simply exit the PATH and work your way down Washington St. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a detour from Washington and head west on First or start at LUA on Frank Sinatra Dr. for a lounge-y scene, some Latin grub, and floor-to-ceiling city views. While most bars offer great beer selections, my favorite was Maxwell’s, a fairly well-known rock club at Washington and 10th. Maxwell’s is good for live music, decent food, and a more low-key, downtown vibe. For an older crowd complete with cougars on the prowl, head to North Hoboken, especially on Saturday nights. Check out Madison, on the corner of Washington and 14th, for a 30+ meat market.

Boutiques galore. I wasn’t lucid enough to shop, but I couldn’t help but notice Galatea Lingerie, Platform Soul, Toots & Tallie, Good Kleen Fun, and dozens of others like them. The best part is that clothing and shoes are tax-free. Always.

Good food. Take my word for it.

My expectations were low, but Hoboken was a very pleasant surprise. It reminds me of a vacation town – an upscale, well-pruned, historically preserved town that oozes entertainment. Sure, it’s not entirely diverse or culturally rich, but it is certainly good for a relaxing time every now and then. Love, love, love it.