Home Arts & Culture Don Félix Restaurant: A New Kind of Destination in Elizabeth, New Jersey

Don Félix Restaurant: A New Kind of Destination in Elizabeth, New Jersey

Don Felix Restaurant New alternative in Elizabeth, New Jersey
Don Felix Restaurant Elizabeth, NJ

Elizabeth Avenue has become a go-to destination for shopping, dining, services and special events in Elizabeth, New Jersey’s fourth largest city. Diverse food, music and culture add to the street’s long history as one of the city’s top meeting places. Now, there’s another great reason to pay a visit.

Elizabeth ranks among the state’s Top 10 Hispanic and Latino cities, according to 2010 Census data. Cultural influences and customs from this decidedly Pan-Latino population abound.

On a block of Elizabeth Avenue beyond the revitalized section known as the Market stretching from Bridge Street to Fourth Street, the Felix family has created an oasis of great food and drinks, plus a warm, inviting and comfortable environment that speaks to this diverse community.

The atmosphere at Don Felix Restaurant, in addition to its intriguing Latino-fusion menu, inventive cocktails, world class wines and craft beer selection, has won praise from a wide range of patrons including professionals from Elizabeth’s thriving business sector, local families and area singles.

Known as the proprietors of Elizabeth’s popular Eli’s PizzaPasta on Trumball Street, the Felix family has lovingly and respectfully renovated one of the city’s oldest and best loved classic saloons to create a sophisticated, yet welcoming atmosphere at their new restaurant and lounge.

Historic photos from Elizabeth’s past, sleuthed out from the city’s vast trove of historic documents, are a nod to the late 1880’s building and add a pleasant contrast to the sleek modern interior at Don Felix. The airy, open design works equally well in the dining area and bar, which hosts a DJ on Fridays and Saturdays spinning everything from Latin music to Disco classics and current hits. The restaurant’s patio has also been enclosed and landscaped with bamboo and other plants that provide a tropical feel to the space.

The Brazilian influences of her husband, Billfarney Felix, and the restaurant’s chef are apparent on the menu, notes Dana Lemenova Felix. A Saturday-only feijoada is just one example, and diners will find a range of the familiar from the Latino repertoire including a Picadinho appetizer, braised beef ribs (Costela no Bafo) and sides of plantains, yuca and beans and rice. From hamburgers to grilled salmon and a chicken Caesar salad, everything on the expansive menu is made fresh, in-house each day.

Creative cocktails, like a popular Passion Fruit Caipirinha and a long list of margaritas and martinis, have quickly made Don Felix a new hotspot, and one the Felix family is determined to maintain as the area’s best place to eat and meet with family, friends or business associates.

“We set high standards and want people to have similarly high expectations when they visit Don Felix,” Lemenova Felix underscores. “We are uncompromising when it comes to the comfort and safety of our guests.”

From Mayor Christian Bollwage’s participation in Don Felix’s grand opening in August, to hosting a fundraiser for Elizabeth Councilman Carlos Torres and supporting Assemblywoman Annette Quijano’s annual Hunger Drive in partnership with the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, it is clear that there is a lot of love and respect between the Felix family and the City of Elizabeth.

Dana Lemenova Felix believes Elizabeth is heading in the right direction, and hopes the revitalization of Elizabeth Avenue continues, linking her block with the Market and adding to redevelopment efforts. She notes the new opportunities and support for small business owners in the city, including lowering fees for sidewalk cafes, a benefit to business owners, residents, visitors and Elizabeth Avenue’s destination marketing efforts.

“People will know they are in a different kind of place on Elizabeth Avenue when they visit Don Felix,” she concludes.