I just sent an e-mail to a reporter I used to work with, listing some great food values in northern New Jersey. I did so after reading his piece on "Top 10 rip-offs." Now, he's soliciting ideas for great deals. Here's my list:
1. The restaurant-quality, complete meals for takeout at Jerry's in Englewood. Fish, chicken or pork is the main course, $6.99 each. Usually includes two vegetables, pasta and other items.
2. The low everyday prices for fresh fish at H Mart, the Korean supermarket in Englewood, Little Ferry and Ridgefield. Try the meaty ocean perch fillets at $4.99 a pound. More variety of whole and filleted fish than just about anyplace else.
3. The $2 baguette at Balthazar Bakery in Englewood, the same price this crusty sandwich loaf has been sold for since the place opened around Thanksgiving in 2002.
4. Fat Moroccan sardines for 99 cents a can at Fattal's on Main Street in South Paterson, where you'll also find the best pita bread in North Jersey.
5. Crisp Portuguese vinho verde wine, usually under $5 a bottle, Total Wine in River Edge and elsewhere.
6. The eight-course dinner for six at Lotus Cafe in Hackensack, $20 per person, including tax and 15% tip.
7. Deals at Costco, where use of the American Express rebate card returns more cash than the annual fee: a pound of organic salad mix, $4.29; three liters of organic carrot juice, $2.50 per liter; two loaves of sliced, 100% whole grain bread, $1.99 each. The salad mix has gone up to $4.49, still a bargain (updated March 25, 2009).