Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory
426 Jersey Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302
How to get there:
Train: NJ Transit Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to Jersey Avenue Station
Bus: NJ Transit #1, 81L, Montgomery-Westside IBOA bus
This isn’t any ordinary diner. Well, okay maybe. But, to be featured on the Food Network TV show “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” it has to be a special kind of diner. It’s also a pancake factory. This diner sells normal diner food like deluxe burgers, eggs, waffles, pasta, sandwiches, steak, and grilled chicken, but what makes it famous is its pancakes. We aren’t talking about any normal size pancake like IHOP or Denny’s. We are talking massive pancakes that can easily take up a dinner plate, stacked up high above the plate (okay, you only get three), and are so fluffy and thick that you cannot finish them unless you walked in really hungry. These pancakes have been made in this establishment since the 1970s, even under the former name The Newport Pancake House, whose owners worked at the same diner when it was called the M&A Diner. The recipe for these delicious monster pancakes is still unwritten and was handed down for generations but to this day has never been and probably will never be revealed, but nonetheless once you eat here, you will never want to eat at IHOP again.
They make so many varieties of pancakes on their supersized menu that most of your time spent at the table is looking at the menu. They make the traditional old-fashioned pancake, but they offer pancakes filled with different types of berries, nuts, chocolate, and even chopped and diced meats. My favorites include the old-fashioned buttermilk pancake and the meat pancake with bacon bits, ham chunks, and sausage bits inside. Those two and the chocolate chip, nut and honey, and banana pancakes are crowd favorites here. As is that wasn’t enough, they offer what they call “pancake wraps,” which are breakfast or lunch items that are wrapped inside of a huge pancake much like a chicken caesar put into a sandwich wrap. The Original Pancake Wrap is one that includes cheese scrambled eggs and bacon; the Country Pancake Wrap has cheese eggs, sausage, and home fries in it. If you like a little heat, there’s the Triple D Buffalo Chicken wrap named after Guy Fieri, world-renown chef and star of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” who the wrap was named after and was featured on his show. Everything is made to order and from scratch.
Though they have some very appetizing pancakes worth trying, let’s not forget about everything else they serve. Their pasta is tasty and filling, the way an Italian-style dish is supposed to be, their breakfasts are your typical items such as waffles and bagels, but their dinners are quite the surprise. The pork chops (three of them) are enough to come back for more than just pancakes, though almost everything is worth a second visit. Even though the staff has changed a few times over the last decade, the recipes and the friendliness of the staff are still the same.
It’s all just steps from transportation. Located at Grand Street and Jersey Avenue, it is a block away from the Jersey Avenue Light Rail Station, so anyone coming from Hoboken or Exchange Place can just hop on the light rail and walk over to the best pancakes you will ever have. Also nearby is the Jersey City Medical Center, which often brings customers to the restaurant during lunch time. Surrounding the neighborhood are new luxury condominium developments which are centered around the light rail stations as a form of transit-oriented development (TOD), which make it easier to get to nearby office buildings near Exchange Place, Harborside Financial Center, and the Newport district. PATH service to Manhattan is nearby at Grove Street or Exchange Place via the light rail. Buses to Newark and Bayonne are available as well, though they don’t run as frequently as the HBLR or PATH. The Brownstone isn’t a place to watch buses or trains go by while you eat, as the restaurant’s blinds are partially shut to create a quierter, more personal dinner environment, but it’s a great place to eat along transportation. Just come hungry.