New Jersey Sloppy Joe

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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.

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.