Sabor Unido in the Ironbound, Newark
Today, we happened to be in Newark — courtesy of Lizzie. Looking for a place to eat in The Ironbound District is not an easy task — every restaurant is rated 4-5 stars by some 1K people or so. The weather was nice and the first day of winter felt like the first day of spring. We had some time to stroll down the streets of New Jersey’s Lisbon and make our pick.
Fortunately, Tom stumbled on Sabor Unido on his phone. It was not exactly hole-in-the-wall kind of place but it was not the one easy to find as it’s not on the main drag. And the main drag — Ferry Street — is hopping with places to try!
At first, the prices of Sabor Unido turned us off but then we realized that there were options for half-potions on the menu and we went for it. It was a good thing. Their full size portions are calling for Gargantua.
This is a small family owned Brazilian Portuguese restaurant where servers make you feel comfortable the moment you walk in, as if they’ve known you for some time. The owner is constantly present in the room greeting regulars and nodding to newbies without invading — just right. The music is not overpowering and it relaxes you into the experience.
They do serve beer but do not push for it. Once asked about drinks, our server directed us to a nearby place across the street — no corkage fee. One word about this experience — smooth.
Not sure what we were going for, just because it was “Brazilian Style” and we were at a Portuguese Brazilian restaurant, we ordered this fried chicken. Moist, crunchy, deeply seasoned, piping hot, this one is not to be missed.
Fried calamari was good, too. Although less interesting than Brazilian Chicken, it had much thinner coating than usual and definitely much more soft.
The octopus was fresh and meltingly tender. But — the potatoes! And when you notice boiled potatoes — a boring workhorse — alongside a star like a grilled octopus it says something. Whether it’s the way they cook their potatoes, or it’s the onion-pepper sofrito pulling everything together — this combo is perfect.
Fried squid — when I see it — I order it. At this restaurant, every main dish comes with your choice of two sides. Mine were sautéed spinach and mushrooms. Perfect umami of mushrooms and perfect greens — crunchy and garlicky.
I love anything green and always go for collard greens if it’s on the menu. These were prepared differently than the ones I had before. The chiffonade slicing allowed for frying rather than steaming and delivered the crunch, the color, the brightness I’ve never experienced.
Garlicky shrimp — juicy and intensely flavored without being overpowered with garlic. This place is a winner!
The motto about the front door pretty much sums it up.
Parking in that area of Newark is not easy and I am not the best at it. Also, we live a few towns away. But this place is right around the corner from Newark train station and I can sneak out to my new favorite place on my own any time without being concerned about the parking hassle.