New Jersey Sloppy Joe

Welcome to the Atlas Obscura Community discussion of New Jersey Sloppy Joe. Ask questions or share tips, experiences, pictures, or general comments with the community. For the story behind this food, check out the Atlas Obscura entry:

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I think this must be a hyper-local thing - maybe only this town? I grew up in Freehold and went to school at Rutgers in New Brunswick. Neither is more than 40 miles away, but I’ve never heard of this. Sloppy Joes only ever meant tomato-sauced ground beef on hamburger buns.

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I grew up in Morris County and we had these kinds of sloppy joes from a restaurant called the cheese block. But only on special occasions. Still my favorite sandwich.

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The very best Sloppy Joe was at the famous Pal’s Cabin/Pal’s Jr in West Orange. A girlfriend and I went there for one every Saturday when we were in high school. Ham, turkey (real, roast), cole slaw, Russian dressing, on real light rye. Fabulous. I still make one at home occasionally, with my own cole slaw and dressing. Alas, the great Pal’s is now gone, and you have to go to a really good artisan bakery to get decent rye anymore.

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I grew up in North Caldwell and we LOVED Pal’s Cabin. It was a landmark. We had these types of "sloppy joe’s sandwiches as kids. So many great deli’s in that area. Hard to get the breads and other foods anywhere else.

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New Brunswick and Freehold are both south Jersey. You can get a proper sloppy Joe anywhere in Morris and Essex counties.

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Sloppy Joe’s Bar is in Key West, Florida not Havana, Cuba. But Hemmingway did hang out there.

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Confirming that this sandwich is a staple for parties in South Orange/ Maplewood! My great-aunt always gets them from the Town Hall deli.

They really are tasty and a hyperlocal legend - if you see it on a menu in NJ, give it a go!

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Are they still a thing there? My father used to serve them for company parties — either with cold cuts and cole slaw or lox and cream cheese. I think he got them from a Bloomfield Avenue deli in West Caldwell.

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Lakeside Deli in Verona.

This isn’t a “jersey thing” I lived all over the state from south to north and never once saw one of these or heard of them in over 40 years. You are right this is only for the to two towns listed and nowhere else. And to odballpaul they say one of the places selling it is in Orange, which is north Jersey.

One of the two places listed is in South Orange, which is North Jersey.

Same. Born and raised in northern NJ (lived primarily in Hudson County) and a sloppy joe to me is definitely beef/sauce/hamburger bun. We had it served to us every other week in the cafeteria at school. I went to Seton Hall in South Orange too - and while I have been to the Town Hall Deli where this was invented several times…I have somehow never seen this sandwich before just now, reading this article. I guess I did too much studying or too much partying to notice…or maybe both :slight_smile:

Town Hall Deli! So glad to see this mentioned in Atlas Obscura. After finding out about so many wonderful places, I’m glad to say I actually was in one! They were the best…watching them being made was to witness an artist at work. Homemade russian dressing & coleslaw were the secret ingredients that made this the most delicious one. I used to deliver for them back in the day, and I have to confess, when the van was loaded with deli platters of Sloppy Joe’s (which was most of the time) I had to sneak a triangle or two while on the road (after picking out the tongue, of course!)

Never seen this version of sloppy Joe before, and my hometown is right next door to New Jersey. This is new to me…