Forget about trying to make reservations at a restaurant in New Jersey where outdoor dining is going to be heavily capacity-controlled. The right way to celebrate eating out again is true New Jersey outdoor food festival. It’s gonna make you feel like you’re back in the Jersey of yore—the pre-covid version. Just in time to get you back into the swing, empanada extravaganza will be held on Sunday, July 12 at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in the parking lot (near Nordstrom) from 11am-7pm. No one knows why people are obsessed with empanadas, but New Jersey loves them!

For the uninitiated, empanadas are fried golden brown pockets filled with everything from beef to potato to vegetable and even fruits. There will be a slew of food trucks specializing in empanadas lining the parking lot, not to mention trucks with a huge variety of non-empanada delights as well. According to, some of the food trucks that are scheduled to take part in the festival are Glazed and Confused (mini donuts), Kong Bab, (Korean BBQ), Catlike Reflexes (sliders and tornado potatoes), Amanda Bananas (dairy-free banana ice cream), Jimmy Dawn’s (cheese steaks), Hudson Valley Kettle Corn (kettle corn and cotton candy), to name a few.

It’s fairly easy to maintain social distancing requirements outside, so people can feel safe coming out and enjoying all the day has to offer. And this sounds like the festival to end all festivals with live music, carnival games for the kids, face painting, inflatable slides, hatchet throwing, and not to mention craft beers, wine, and plenty of non-alcoholic beverages.

In order to really ensure safety and cleanliness, families are asked to bring their own sanitizers and masks and treat the festival like their own daytime campground bringing their own folding chairs and eating tables. If you miss eating out with the family, this is a great way to get back into the swing of it. Tickets are $5 per person online at Children 3 and under are free.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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