Whether it’s buried treasure or new restaurants, people are always searching for hidden gems. A particular elation arises from finding something dazzling and brand new. Luckily, in the Garden State, it’s easy to broaden your horizons. Some of New Jersey’s best-kept secrets lie within a northern village, which hosts unique culinary establishments for residents of all ages and palates. To experience its lesser-known wonders and flavors, here are 7 hidden gems in Ridgewood, NJ.
Rey Sol Coffee Roasters
If you ask a coffee drinker, they’d tell you that it’s not just a drink––it’s a lifestyle. At Rey Sol, the owners add an extra layer of Colombian culture to the rich, aromatic flavors of everything from espresso to lattes. This “seed-to-cup” café uses homegrown coffee beans harvested from a family-owned farm in Colombia. Their specialty coffees, most notably the s’mores latte and espresso bonbon, have inspired residents throughout the state to visit.
This quaint and authentic Colombian café serves all-day breakfast, housemade pastries, and paninis. Baristas roast the coffee beans three times a week, ensuring the brew is always fresh. Try everything from the affogato (espresso and ice cream) to their signature, subtly sweet Campesino syrup.
Shumi Japanese Cuisine
A personal chef is every foodie’s dream. For those visiting Shumi Japanese Cuisine, each dinner is expertly crafted to meet the diner’s preference. Serving traditional omakase, this Ridgewood restaurant brings Japanese culture and unique dining to locals. A relaxing and intimate interior welcomes guests, specifically through its open atmosphere design. Behind the bar are two executive chefs—from Seoul, Korea, and Fukushima, Japan—waiting to serve delicate creations of sushi and sashimi.
Omakase is designed to stimulate all five senses, with each piece hosting a new combination of flavors and aesthetics. As the chef presents their dishes, you’ll find every taste has its own separate experience. If you’re looking for a more relaxed evening, Shumi also offers a variety of entrées—from ramen to bento boxes—to meet guests’ cravings. For a luxurious night out, this is an excellent destination.
La Lanterna Café and Grill
Family-owned and operated since 2003, La Lanterna gives diners a little taste of Tuscany with every bite. The restaurant serves regional Italian cuisine that embodies traditional family-style food, sparking warmth in both the meal and atmosphere. With a newly renovated four-season porch, La Lanterna becomes a prime Ridgewood destination during the summer months. Try everything—from the popular penne alla vodka to the linguine with littleneck clams—to fully appreciate the depth of flavors and dishes.
A BYOB restaurant, La Lanterna creates a lively environment––frequently hosting musical guests and performances.
Looking to grab a bite but don’t have much time to sit and chat? At Bibillia, fast-casual Korean dining ensures delicious meals are prepared quickly. Rated by Yelp as one of the top 50 places to eat in New Jersey, Bibilla’s rice bowls and noodles are a popular choice for many Ridgewood residents. However, this restaurant is most famous for its traditional bibimbap, which includes various toppings—like teriyaki chicken or spicy pork—mixed over rice.
Aside from their fresh, hand-picked ingredients, Bibilla offers handcrafted Hyo-So drinks to boost immunity. Try their herb-infused drinks or the popular lychee refresher alongside a rice or noodle bowl.
Tori Ramen Chicken
For the most part, people best enjoy a simmering pot of soup during a dreary day. However, the ramen at this restaurant is craved no matter the weather. Tori Ramen Chicken’s casual outlet for Japanese ramen and chicken offers an oasis to residents hunting for much-needed comfort food. Chefs prepare fresh broth each morning, which simmers for 10 hours to achieve a rich depth of flavors. Guests can choose from seaweed, chicken, or pork ramen bowls, with gluten options substituting ramen noodles for rice noodles.
As an excellent side, Tori Ramen Chicken serves chicken wings and drumsticks tossed in a variety of secret sauces. The restaurant also offers rice bowls, dry noodles, appetizers, and specialty ramen like katsu.
As the saying goes, secrets are fun when shared with everyone. Despite this, the inconspicuous nature and theme of No. 12 in Ridgewood keeps its presence hidden from residents. A top-secret restaurant, No. 12 transports guests to a Prohibition-era style speakeasy in the heart of North Jersey. To enter, curious newcomers must obtain the code to a keypad at the back of the building. Behind the locked door opens an exquisitely decorated raw bar and roughly 50 seats.
The culinary playground’s menu changes frequently, preparing a wide range of shareable tapas, oysters, and desserts. No. 12 serves small plates from all over the world, enriching guests in both history and culinary culture. So, if you’re feeling mischievous or curious, try your luck at this BYOB hidden gem in Ridgewood, NJ.
Authentic Mexican food isn’t just about the food. At Sombrero Tacoria, the dishes reflect and uphold the tradition of family meals. Tacos, quesadillas, burritos, bowls, and the heavily-sought after birria are among the tasteful creations it serves. Sombrero Tacoria is excellent for dine-in or take-out meals, welcoming guests with a contemporary interior and rainbow wall of Jarritos sodas.
Sombrero Tacoria is a family business, preparing homemade horchata and limonada for diners to enjoy. The creative decor and bright colors give foodies a glimpse into Mexican culture. With spicy sauces and savory flavors, this casual Ridgewood restaurant is a genuine NJ hidden gem.
Have you found any hidden gems in Ridgewood, NJ? Tell us how they were below!
About the Author/s
Mary Sparago is 22-year-old creative writing and policy enthusiast who's always looking for new dogs to pet. In her spare time, Mary enjoys listening to K-pop and playing video games.
I would not recommend No.12 to anyone anymore. It changed ownership and now serves Restaurant Depot bar food, cheap bread and sauces, and is served by poorly trained staff. It’s really a shame because they used to be one of my favorite places.