"Notice," warns this street-fair placard, the likes of which you won't see in New York, "the food being sold at this booth has not been prepared in a commercial kitchen. The wholesomeness is solely that of the vendor," it continues, in a positive but unverified vein. The final word, that "hands must be washed before handling food," is a good practice for all concerned. Now just try finding somewhere to freshen up!
Fair warning Carnaval Latino Elizabeth, New Jersey (The 2012 festival was held in September)
The "cafe" moniker is misleading: This former business appears, still, in at least one online listing of gentleman's clubs, albeit in the tamer-sounding "go-go" category rather than "bikini" or "nude." The address — beside a tire-repair shop, across the street from a rail yard, and a short drive from the turnpike — would also have been a suitably gritty setting for the pocket of Caribbean eateries on my custom map of the day. These, however, were nowhere to be found.
Brown Derby Cafe Surviving signage above 645 Magnolia Ave. (at Trumbull St.), Elizabeth, New Jersey
By all appearances this building, two short blocks from city hall, was designed as Aerie No. 667 of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. At some point — I haven't been able to ascertain when — the nest fell empty. As of 2012 it's home to a market offering "una gran variedad de productos Mexicanos, Centroamericanos, Sudamericanos y del Caribe," though signage and advertising seem thoroughly accommodating of English speakers, too.
Shown less for the eatery, whose "home made soup & cuisine" I didn't try, or for its neighbors, which sell electronics, jewelry, and lingerie, but for the building's onetime sole tenant. The Union League of New Jersey, "a Republican Party organization," is now shuttered, with what may be the original wooden shutters.
Two Brothers Restaurant 111 Broad St. (East Grand-East Jersey Sts.), Elizabeth, New Jersey 908-353-5359