Montclair High School students are spoiled with countless local dining options at their disposal. The open-campus policy allows many students to eat wherever and whatever they want for lunch. Students caravan all over Montclair, and sometimes even out of town, to get whatever they crave. Despite recent renovations to the cafeteria and the school’s best efforts to attract more students to buy school lunches, the lure of better-tasting food just outside the doors of MHS is hard to ignore.
In fact, with so many options, MHS students may sometimes find it hard to choose. Here are some of the best local places students like for lunch.
The open-campus lunch policy no longer applies to the freshman at MHS. While some fearless freshmen do venture off campus, the grand majority stay within the confines of Rand Park. Satisfying the demand of these hungry freshman (and upperclassmen unwilling to take a long walk) is a competitive food truck business.
Two of the more popular food truck options are the Munch Man Truck and Soccer Chef Wagon. At the Munch Man Truck students can get burgers, wraps, chicken nuggets and a plethora of other items, all for very fair prices. Similarly there are many options at the Soccer Chef Wagon, however the most popular are the pancakes which are very inexpensive.
Other food trucks come and go. For a while the most popular was the “Thai Truck” as students called it (please come back), where students could get terrific Thai food at reasonable prices.
For those who walk:
Ruthie’s Bar-B-Q & Pizza has long been a favorite of MHS students not just for its food but also for its convenient proximity. Located only two blocks away from the school on Chestnut, it is packed every lunch period with students in search of pizza, barbecue, and its delicious cookies.
A little farther away and in the opposite direction are several restaurants located at the cross section between Valley and Van Vleck. While some students pop into Naunas or Stuffed burgers or even Quick Check, the two most popular food places on Valley are easily Enzo’s and Hot Bagels Abroad, for good reason.
Enzo’s offers up some of the best and most creative slices of pizza in Montclair. From the “Caesar Salad” pizza to the extremely popular “Chicken Bacon Ranch” pizza, students can cheaply satisfy anything their tastebuds desire (speciality slices cost $2.75).
Hot Bagels Abroad specializes in bagels of all types, hence the name. Debatably the best bagels in town, Hot Bagels comes in cheaper than other local bagel places costing only around two dollars for a bagel with cream cheese. In addition to bagels, Hot Bagels also offers terrific sandwiches, coffee, and other hot plates.
For those with a car (or a friend with a car):
Even with great options a short walk away, there are favorite places students will frequently drive out of their way to dine. Having access to a car opens students up to all the possibilities Montclair and the surrounding area has to offer. The only tricky part is finding parking when lunch is over.
Students can walk to Watchung Plaza and back in one period, but they would be cutting it close. The safest bet is to get a ride there, and it is well worth it. The “Skinny Deli” (Watchung Deli), “Fat Deli” (Cafe Clair), and Rosario’s all offer tasty sandwich creations. The Watchung Deli is the most popular out of the three and after trying sandwiches like the “The” or the “Angry Dwarf” it’s easy to see why. The only drawback? Sandwiches are more expensive than a bagel or a slice of pizza (speciality sandwiches at the Watchung Deli cost between $5.95 and $8.95), but they are definitely worth the price.
Other Watchung Plaza lunch spots include Mr. Dino’s, for a traditional slice of pizza; Bonjour Montclair for crepes; and Bluestone Cafe, for those with time for a full sit-down meal (or who don’t mind rolling into their next class late).
Students willing to drive down to Bloomfield Ave. are rewarded with several delicious dining spots that make the trip worthwhile. Belgiovine’s has some of the best sandwiches in Montclair. The “MKA Special” and the Cheesesteak are two student favorites. In fact, the “MKA Special” is so good, MHS students are willing forgive it being named for their crosstown rival and costing $7.95.
Another beloved lunch spot is Beyond Pita on Church Street. Students come back for generous portions of Mediterranean food (great falafel!) at fair prices.
Uptown Montclair also draws students with Sandwich Theory and Jackie’s Grillette both sought after for sandwiches and wraps. Fast becoming a must-stop lunch destination is Walnut Street’s Red Eye Cafe, where you can also score amazing coffee.