As we anxiously await Spring's arrival this weekend, let's give our taste buds a chance to blossom, New Jersey. There's some interesting new spots to try around the state.

Plus, there's some longtime landmarks that make a perfect excuse for a springtime outing with family or friends. Here's a rundown of some best "Cheap Eats in NJ."


1. Empanada Guy (Freehold, Brick, plus food trucks)

Empanada Guy has been taking Jersey by storm, with a fleet of food trucks, a Freehold restaurant and a new spot just opening in Brick. The hardest choice is deciding just where to start.

Grab three $3 pork, chicken, beef or chorizo empanadas — or splurge on a couple with real crab meat for $5 each!


2. Inspiration Roll (Morristown)

Inspiration Roll in Morristown bills itself as “the sushi burrito restaurant concept." It offers made-to-order, delicious Asian and Latin flavor combinations. Plus, “authentic ramen noodle soup.” This is steps above the cup o'noodles I slugged down in college.

A Sushi Burrito Salad or Rice Bowl, for $9, includes protein or tempura and four toppings, plus sauce.


3. Spirito’s (Elizabeth)

Spirito's has been slinging pies and Italian staples for over 80 years in Union County. The homemade ravioli is a must-try. A portion fits into our $10 mark — which you need in cash, as Spirito's doesn't do credit cards.


4. Dolce & Clemente's (Robbinsville)

All the sandwiches. That's what I want from Dolce & Clemente's in Robbinsville when I scan the menu. Most are priced at $9 on a roll. The Pepperoni Pink Panther is among my favs- Chicken cutlet, pepperoni and fresh mozzarella in vodka sauce on garlic bread.


5. The Flaky Tart, Atlantic Highlands

From ham & gruyere croissants, to boston cream brioche, to scones and muffins- The Flaky Tart in Atlantic Highlands has you more than covered. Each of those sweet (or savory) treats is under $10.

And, oh the cookies and cakes! No wonder the owners made it as semi-finalists for 'Outstanding Baker' ahead of the 2016 James Beard Awards.


6. Bombay Wok (Hillsborough)

Bombay Wok in Hillsborough has a home-run offering of Asian Fusion, Indian and Thai food. There's a whole menu of lunch specials under $10, including vegetarian, chicken and noodle dishes.


7. Jimmy Buff's (West Orange and Kenilworth) 

Jimmy Buff's is another Jersey landmark business for more than 80 years. It's got deep roots in West Orange, while the second location in Kenilworth has been open more than 5 years.

From the original Italian style hot dog and sausage sandwiches, to cheese steaks and burgers, veggie and potato sandwiches — even a double will run you under $10.


8. Local Smoke BBQ (Neptune City, Cookstown)

Local Smoke BBQ has two restaurants and a third in the works (in Red Bank) that will lure you back as a repeat customer, for sure. They started out as a BBQ team and still do brisk catering business, too.

Start off with lunch — a Pulled Pork Sandwich topped with slaw, costs $8. Same price will get you a Texas Brisket Sandwich. (If you're drooling by now, don't worry- so am I. )


9. Burg (Newark)

Burg is the much-anticipated burger joint in Newark's Military Park. $10 would get you at least a burger- Classic, The Korean or The Chipotle. It might also score fries, depending on a lunch special.

Or- you could easily opt for Fried Pickles and a beer!


10. La Isla Restaurant ( Hoboken)

La Isla restaurant could be worth a trek to Hoboken. The authentic Cuban fare is getting rave reviews. There's 600-plus on Yelp, where one fan calls every sandwich "bangin’." (Zagat's, watch out!)

Maybe start with a Havana Club for $9 (triple decker, grilled chicken, bacon, tomato, avocado and red onion on toasted multi grain bread with mayo)


11. Pinho’s Bakery (Roselle)

Pinho's Bakery in Union County is another place where it's near-impossible to choose poorly. The reasonable prices will score you a couple goodies for under $10.

It's hard to rank, but the apple danish and pistachio biscotti are personal staples. Also, it is possible to eat a loaf of Pinho's pesto bread with olive oil, in one sitting. Or so I've "heard."


Erin Vogt is a lifelong Jersey Girl, whose first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee.  A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.