Newark crackles with homegrown creativity, music and development. Companies like Audible and Nike have made a home in New Jersey’s biggest city, while public parks and historical buildings have undergone major renovations and repurposing. The Hotel Indigo Newark Downtown is housed within the 1912 National State Bank building and ideally situated for exploring both downtown and the popular Ironbound District. Here are some Newark highlights withing walking distance:
Food & Drink
Celebrity chef Marcus Samuelson opened Marcus B&P in November, 2017, in the former Hahne & Co. department store, serving up delicious fusion creations like fried chicken with plantain waffles, Neapolitan pizza and his famed cornbread.
The Ironbound District has been on foodie radars for years, thanks to its Spanish, Portuguese and Brazilian cuisine — the tasty result of sizable immigrant populations from those countries. Teixeira’s Bakery sets the standard for Portuguese bread and pasteis de natas (egg custard tarts), while seafood gets a Portuguese spin at Seabras Marisqueria, a Newark must since 1989, and Adega Grill splits its seafood-heavy menu between Portuguese and Spanish dishes. Into tapas? Mompou and Casa d’Paco are both authentic — and worthy — choices.
Craft spirits are well-represented at All Points West Distillery, which produces a botanicals-rich, mid-Atlantic style Cathouse Gin and flavorful bone charcoal-filtered vodka you can sample in their tasting room’s cocktails. During warmer months, drinks at Hotel Indigo’s Skylab rooftop bar come with sweeping views of the Newark and New York City skylines.
Newark boasts a rich musical history, and past residents have included everyone from hip hop and pop stars like Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, Ice-T, Whitney Houston and Faith Evans to jazz greats like James Moody and Sarah Vaughan. The country’s biggest jazz station, WGBO, is based here, and you can catch live jazz at Clements Place and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. NJPAC also hosts the annual TD James Moody Jazz Festival (among a wide range of pop, rock and classical performances and theater). You can also enjoy jazz and blues over a Southern-style dinner at newly opened supper club Eleven Clinton.
At speakeasy Jimenez Lounge you’ll feel like you teleported to Havana thanks to its Buena Vista Experience Cuban jazz nights, while Adega Lounge is all about the DJ and 21st Century dance music. Meanwhile, just a block from Hotel Indigo, Prudential Centerarena hosts concerts by A-list big names like U2, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Pink and New Jersey natives Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.
Art lovers have much to choose among the dynamic, ethnically diverse local scene. Start with Newark Museum and its expansive collections of African, Asian and American work, both past and present. At Gallery Aferro, Aljira and Index Art Center, you can take in large-scale contemporary exhibitions, events, film screenings and workshops.
With multiple spaces at nearby Rutgers University and in downtown Newark, Paul Robeson Galleries is edgy and timely with its group and solo shows. You can also check out local artists’ open studios at Gateway Project Spaces and D.I.Y. printmaking in action — and some finished items and textiles for sale — at Newark Print Shop.
The dramatic skylit atrium at Newark’s former Hahne & Company department store now sheds light on an iconic building repurposed for retail, arts, dining (including Marcus B&P and a Whole Foods) and apartments. At NJ Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture and Design, contemporary design is spotlighted during two annual exhibits, while the Artisan Collective spotlights jewelry, clothing and home items crafted and sold by local female designers.
A 27-room mansion built in the 19th century for a wealthy beer brewing family, Ballantine House is now part of the Newark Museum. Transformed into themed galleries, it features rooms filled with period items.
You can take a bit of old school Newark iconography home with you at Art & Artifacts of Newark, where artist/owner Matt Gosser fashions artwork from items he salvages around the city, including the historic bank building that now houses Hotel Indigo.