On bright, warm spring days, Hobokenites flock to their seashore: Frank Sinatra Park. Runners dart around baby strollers, dogs yank leashes out towards the end of the pier, and folks stop for an afternoon snack. Long gone are the days of the casual ice cream truck or snack stand in gentrified Hoboken. For the hungry yuppie, there’s only one sophisticated snack of choice: crepes.
Crepe Grill, on Frank Sinatra Boulevard between 4th and 5th, is the reincarnation of an old-time snack stand. Diners order at the counter, receive their food in baskets, on plastic plates, or wrapped in paper cones, and linger inside or out, munching in the middle of the riverside park.
Inside, skylights and black-and-chrome exposed beams give the café an airy feel. With the French doors opened towards the river, you feel a stone’s throw from Manhattan’s piers. Paintings and photographs of the Eiffel Tower help set the mood—and the craving—for one of France’s favorite street foods.
Crepe Grill is not only for the afternoon, though. Their all-day menu offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert items. Stop in for a mid-morning snack of a light sugar-and-lemon crepe ($4.99), with the golden crepe sides folded thinly over the sweet feeling. Or, if you’ve got more of an appétit américain, you can toss sausages, eggs, cheese, and veggies into a burrito-like crepe that’s a satisfying—if somewhat “reimagined”—crepe meal ($4.99+). Sip hot coffee or any of their arrays of teas and watch the sun jump up over Manhattan’s skyline.
For early evenings, this BYOB is a good spot for a casual, romantic night. The entrée crepes—$7.20-$9.50—are the stars of Crepe Grill’s short menu, stuffed with melted cheeses, fresh vegetables, and grilled meats. Their Fiesta Chicken crepe is full of fresh guacamole, peppers, cheese, and hot sauce; the Philly Cheese Steak crepe comes with sliced steak, onions, peppers, and mozzarella cheese; and even a Pizza Crepe for les enfants is served with fresh diced tomatoes, pesto, and melted mozzarella.
For the healthier fare, a wide variety of veggie crepes offer different combinations of roasted peppers, spinach, artichokes, tomatoes and melted cheese. A mushroom and pesto crepe came oozing with perfectly-melted mozzarella cheese, tender mushrooms, and just a thin coating of bright green pesto. The savory crepe batter is not as sweet as the dessert crepes, so the sandwich-wrap feels satisfying—though not enormous—for a lunch or dinner meal.
But if, in the end, all you really want on a sunny city day is to hearken back to your time in Paris, swooning beneath the Eiffel Tower and munching on 3-Euro crepes, well, Crepe Grill can do that too. Gooey, gigantic Nutella crepes are the house specialty ($6.50), with chocolate hazelnut spread bulging from the overstuffed crepe, drizzled atop with more melted Nutella, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and dolloped with whipped cream.
And though the French would surely be in a coma after one bite, Americans may feel free to add a scoop of ice cream for another $1 and eat their way to bliss.
Alas, the perfect afternoon crepe in the charming riverside park would be remiss if it did not include Hoboken’s most vital asset: the view. Floor to ceiling glass windows and doors—and a well-placed telescope—offer sweeping, unobstructed views of the entire Manhattan skyline, from the tip of the Financial District up past the midtown skyscrapers. One could sit, savoring the dripping lemon-sugar crepe and soaking up the sun, and stare at that skyline for hours.
An hour—or more—is what you’ll need for a meal at Crepe Grill. Adopting a French mentality of joie de vivre, the folks pouring the batter nix the idea of “grabbing a quick bite,” with 15-20 minute wait times for each crepe. But sit back, sip a cold soda from the refrigerator or pop your own bottle of wine, and watch the setting sun douse the city skyline in orange light. It’s a good afternoon in Hoboken.
Colleen Curry is a Jersey Bites Regional Editor for Hudson County where she’s busy trying every restaurant in Hoboken. She is also a hyperlocal web editor for the Asbury Park Press, exploring community news and citizen journalism in Freehold, New Jersey.