Home » How to Spend a Day in Rutherford + East Rutherford, New Jersey

How to Spend a Day in Rutherford + East Rutherford, New Jersey

by Sarah Griesbach
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Differentiating between Rutherford and East Rutherford may not be quite as challenging as sorting out the four Oranges, but these two neighboring boroughs’ individual charms are worth knowing about. Rutherford promises the kind of small town with one historic Main Street that North Jersey is known for. East Rutherford, on the other hand, is a town with a teeny population (<10,000) but spectacular entertainment venues that draw massive crowds. Read on for a guide to visiting Rutherford and East Rutherford, NJ.

Origin Stories

Rutherford was originally Rutherfurd — after it was Boiling Springs, that is. It was named for Senator John Rutherfurd (years in office: 1791–98), with the spelling altered during the time of Rutherford B Hayes’s presidency (1877-1881).

East Rutherford became a borough in 1894. The borough was the second formed during what was referred to as the “Boroughitis” phenomenon in which 26 boroughs were formed in Bergen County. Today, East Rutherford is frequented by massive numbers of sports and music fans, mall shoppers, and thrill-seekers.


When in Rutherford, keep in mind that this town is a semi-dry town, one of the biggest differences between Rutherford and East Rutherford. While liquor stores are easy to spot, all of the restaurants are BYOB and there are not any bars in this area.

What to Do

Iviswold | 231 Montross Avenue

Iviswold, also known as “The Castle,” was constructed in 1869 by newspaper tycoon and developer Floyd W Tomkind who called it “Hill House.” In 1887, David Brinkerhoff Ivison expanded the mansard-roofed two-story building into a three-story turreted mansion with multiple balconies, 25 rooms, and a music room. Then, in the 1930s, a pool was installed on the second floor with a water tower built to supply it. 21st-century preservation has made the building the center of the Rutherford campus of Felician College.

The Meadowlands Museum was established in 1961 as a repository for artifacts relating to the history of Rutherford and the New Jersey Meadowlands region. Antique toys are on permanent exhibition. As is the museum’s collection of local rocks and minerals. Various 19th-century and early 20th-century household objects were organized into displays of New Jersey life long ago.

Soldato | 19 Franklin Place


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Soldato is a very worthy destination. This art gallery-like, independent book and record store will inspire the mature intellectual looking for something novel and the teen seeking challenges to her reality. Despite the small size and clean aesthetic, Soldato’s rich variety of inventory represents the wide scope of interests of Peter Leonard and Chuck Olivo, who run the shop. Uncommon zines, old vinyl, and an eclectic selection of new and used books ensure one will walk away with something unexpected.

The William Carlos Williams House + Williams Performance Center | 9 Ridge Road + 1 Williams Plaza

The William Carlos Williams House, built in 1913, was the home to poet and physician William Carlos Williams for half a century. It’s still used as a private residence and doctor’s office, so don’t expect to visit. But do walk the tree-lined neighborhood to the Williams Performance Center and read a poem or several by this great Puerto Rican-American poet whose economic use of words and unique style, known as Imagism, still manages to draw in the poetry-resistant and make the reader smile. The Williams house is a stone’s throw away from the borough’s modest 1936 New Deal-era post office built by Edgar Irving Williams, the younger brother of William Carlos Williams.

Labor Day Street Fair | Downhill Derby

A couple of annual events draw crowds to this sweet borough: The Rutherford Labor Day event is the longest-running street fair in New Jersey and usually attracts ~20,000 people.

Read More: How to Spend a Day in Belleville, New Jersey

Where to Eat

Café Matisse | 167 Park Avenue


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Café Matisse is a restaurant designed with ambiance in mind The former horse and buggy firehouse expands into a garden patio for outdoor seating. The aesthetic is built around an impressionist-style painting theme. The restaurant hours and menu are both limited. The restaurant is only open for dinner on Wednesday through Sunday.  The restaurant is unable to accommodate vegan or gluten-free requests. It is a BYOB restaurant and reservations are required.

Fiorentini | 98 Park Avenue

Fiorentini celebrates the cuisine of Firenze. Though the recipes that co-owners Brenda and Antonio use originate in Italy, they source the ingredients locally. The couple declares their environmental intentions with farm-to-table fare that is elegant enough for an anniversary and a delight for dining out any day.

Red Basil | 4 Glen Road


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Red Basil has a more extensive menu than most Thai restaurants. The selection may tempt the less adventurous away from their tried and true favorites. Among the menu standouts is a green mango salad with avocado, mint, red onion, cashews, and carrots in a lime dressing. The restaurant has a vegetarian ‘duck’ option along with the traditional vegetable and meat selections to accompany curry, rice, and noodle specialties. The combo platters give individuals a chance to try a few things at once. Delights abound in the dessert menu: fried banana prepared with honey, coconut, green tea, and vanilla, rice dough delicacies filled with coconut, green tea, or vanilla ice cream, pan-seared or Thai style sweet roti served with sweet milk and butter, rice puddings, and Thai pumpkin custard are only some of the options.

The Rutherford Pancake House | 40 Park Avenue

The Rutherford Pancake House provides a menu to please everyone. The traditional breakfast and lunch fare includes fresh fruit-covered pancakes, cranberry orange french toast, Maryland crab cakes, eggs Benedict prepared four ways, roasted herbed potatoes, and loaded veggie burgers. The Pancake House has a great selection of omelet options and tofu scrambles. Smoothies and milkshakes are par for the course, confirming that this is a good place to center a day’s eating. The complimentary refills on iced tea, coffee, and fountain drinks will caffeinate a table into a festive mood. The restaurant is in a welcoming storefront, spacious enough to accommodate large parties.

Sweet Avenue Bake Shop | 153 Park Avenue


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Sweet Avenue Bake Shop makes cupcakes, 6” cakes, cake truffles, gooey yummy cookies, banana bread, crumb cake, and doughnuts in so many delicious varieties. The choices are the tough part. Here’s a small selection of the Bake Shop’s variations on delicious: lemon raspberry, lavender lemon, strawberry shortcake, cinnamony carrot cake, tiramisu, apple cider, Boston crème, and chocolate ganache topped. This bakery is 100% vegan, the gluten-free selection is extensive, and none of the baked goods contain tree nuts.

East Rutherford

What to Do

American Dream | 1 American Dream Way

East Rutherford is the site of the American Dream Mall. An elaborate mirrored fun house, aquarium, blacklight mini-golf, water park, year-round indoor ski center, and amusement rides… this place is a trip. Visitors can try surf lessons in an indoor wave pool.

Meadowlands Racetrack | 1 Racetrack Drive

The Meadowlands Racetrack is a horse racing track where visitors will hear things like: “Haymitch shook loose late out of traffic two starts back!”, “Rock The Casbah moves inside!”, and “Bronson’s Delight flashes plenty of late pace from an impossible spot!” Who knows what they’re talking about, but anyone is welcome to put their money down on the pretty Andalusian and see what happens.

MetLife Stadium | 1 MetLife Stadium Drive


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MetLife Stadium, previously the location of Giants Stadium, is best known as the home of the New York Giants and the New York Jets. The arena also hosts college basketball, football, big-name concerts, and all kinds of major headline events. MetLife Stadium hosted Super Bowl XLVIII (that’s how to write 2014 in Super Bowl script), which made East Rutherford — a borough of fewer than 10,000 residents — the smallest city ever to host a Super Bowl, not to mention the smallest city to host any professional sports.

Thriftnicks | 227 Paterson Avenue


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Thriftnicks is a thrift and consignment shop with sweet finds that haven’t likely been picked over like anything within subway distance of NYC. It’s tiny but packed to bursting. Treasures await for the sharp-eyed collector of vintage knickknacks, jewelry, and clothing.

See More: The Ultimate Guide to MetLife Stadium

Where to Eat

Eros Café | 168 Union Avenue


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Eros Café offers a massive menu for serious eating, from stuffed grape leaves to baked brie cheese wrapped in phyllo with toasted almonds, honey, and apples, to any kind of omelet or pizza. It is a crowd-pleaser with a classic Jersey diner-style menu with added specialty drinks and hookah. The atmosphere is comfortable and inviting with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

Annabella’s House of Mozz | 900 Paterson Plank Road

At the well-loved Annabella’s House of Mozz, meat is the star of this menu — even the five specialty salads are centered around meat. However, there’s more to the menu than meat. Fresh mozzarella gets center billing and everything in the dolce section of the menu is Insta-worthy. Save space for a cannoli and a pistachio or peanut butter ice cream bomb.

Elia Mediterranean | 240 Hackensack Street

Elia’s standout dishes include eggplant and zucchini chips cut paper-thin with yogurt spread, butternut squash schnitzel, and a seafood raw bar. Executive chef Jose Luis Falcon gives inspired twists to Mediterranean cuisine while staying true to age-old recipes for lavraki, fagri, and other signature dishes. Elia’s dress code states: “No baseball caps, sports apparel, flip-flops, or tank tops,” so you might take dining there as an opportunity to dress up a bit.

The Yard House | American Dream Way

The Yard House Gastropub is located in the American Dream Mall shopping mall in Court A, Level 3, where sports apparel is not a problem. The menu is peppered with novelty foods fit for a fancy Super Bowl party: poke nachos, vampire tacos, slider-piled plates, and Wisconsin-fried cheese curds, to name a few. It claims the world’s largest selection of draft beer with 130 taps and a full-service bar, which means that finders should walk, not drive, from the restaurant to the MetLife Stadium (via the pedestrian bridge).

Ho Ho Restaurant | 235 Paterson Avenue

At Ho Ho Restaurant, traditional Korean and Japanese plates pull in loyal customers with sought-after bibimbap, kimchi, and bulgogi. It’s a cozy restaurant for very casual dining. The unique warning — “Our seafood menu items may contain seashells and are not recommended for people with weak teeth” — will likely read to some as a challenge.

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