Haddonfield, NJ: How I spent the day in this South Jersey downtown

Being that I was born in North Jersey, went to college on the Jersey Shore and now live in Central Jersey (and write about it daily for a newspaper), I’m fully aware that South Jersey might as well be another state.

Dry Quaker towns? Jimmies and hoagies? Tomato pies and cheesesteaks? Tinges of Southern accents? A trip home from Atlantic City that doesn’t feel like you need a pit stop just to nurse your hangover?

Yeah, we’re not in Somerset County anymore.

However, I’ve long wanted to check out Haddonfield, a Norman Rockwell-esque South Jersey downtown known for a bustling main street, adorable shops, and even acclaimed nearby restaurants like Zeppoli and Hearthside. So, my birthday felt like an appropriate time to spend the day here (because there’s not much else to do when you’re 32 and inflation is rocking your fun money).

Mushroom toast from Cafe Lift.

Cafe Lift

When we arrived in Haddonfield, we headed straight to this brunch spot recommended to me by a Haddonfield resident – and I quickly discovered why. This quaint, cozy, modern cafe has a menu of mostly plant-based dishes, but you won’t miss the meat. They have plenty of creative items that are a far cry from your typical eggs-and-pancakes spot.

I got the mushroom toast, a hearty yet healthy meal of poached eggs, roasted garlic aioli, mixed mushrooms, truffle oil, shaved pecorino and crispy shallots piled on toasted sourdough. This meal was so filling and delicious I could have skipped dinner. Mike got the breakfast poutine with fried eggs, waffle fries topped with sausage gravy, smoked mozzarella, pickled fresno and chives. I don’t eat most cheeses so I didn’t try it, but seeing as he scarfed down every last bite, I think he liked it.

Downtown Cookies

The sea salt caramel pretzel cookie from Downtown Cookies.

Since I am a self-proclaimed dessert connoisseur, there was no way I could pass by Downtown Cookies without stopping in, even after a filling meal at Cafe Lift. However, despite the fact that most downtowns now have some sort of trendy cookie spot, Downtown Cookies takes the cake (or, crumb.) They specialize in super-thick cookies with no preservatives. I got the sea salt caramel pretzel cookie and I am not exaggerating when I say this was one of the best cookies I have ever had (and remember, people pay me to write about food.)

It was served just warm enough with a gooey interior and the right amount of sweet and saltiness. Just writing this now is making me feel nostalgic. Mike got the M&M chocolate chip cookie, which was tasty as well, but mine was definitely the winner.

Queen’s Carriage

Unique teacups inside the Queen’s Carriage.

As a traveler, I’m always excited to see anything inspired by a faraway destination, and the Queen’s Carriage is exactly that. This elegant shop is decked out with hundreds of novelty English knickknacks, like Tower of London teacups and Harrod’s shopping bags.

Speaking of teacups, for some reason, there are a ton of tea-themed shops in Haddonfield. Although I’m no tea expert, the Queen’s Carriage is definitely my favorite, because where else can you find an entire wall of offbeat English teacups?

English Gardener Gift Shop

The English Gardener Gift Shop is another spot loaded with fun, unique tchotchkes that you know you have no business buying but you kind of want to anyway. Here, you’ll find ornaments themed as your dog’s breed, Haddonfield bags and English treats like sticky toffee pudding.

The Lavish Loft Consignment Boutique

Although I usually shy away from the pandemonium of consignment shops, I actually really enjoyed my visit to The Lavish Loft Consignment Boutique, which had a lot of high-end designer items like Valentino bags and Louis Vuitton shoes. I normally don’t even peruse the likes of these sorts of items on eBay, so it was fun to see them on the shelves.

King’s Road Brewing Company

A beer from Tonewood Brewing, which I wasn’t incredibly thrilled with, either.

This brewery doesn’t have the most exciting beer list, but it is a nice stop to escape from the downtown bustle (and the cold) for a bit. Beggars can’t be choosers, since Haddonfield, a former dry town, has no other bars. With a few outdoor patio seats warmed up with heaters, it’s also a nice place to sit and people-watch, even in March.

I wish I could recommend another nearby brewery instead, but we also checked out Tonewood Brewing, and it was so chock-full of kids it might as well have been Chuck E. Cheese. I did enjoy the crowd of dogs there, though.

The Little Hen

A dessert from The Little Hen.

With a simple, quiet dining room and just 18 seats, French eatery The Little Hen is a great spot for those looking for a refined meal without the fuss – and without a big bill at the end. This cozy, intimate spot might as well be your own private dining room and they have delicious French dishes – my favorites were the steak moutard, duck frites and deviled eggs topped with trout roe.

With a BYOB policy to boot, the bill was almost unfairly cheap for the value of this delicious and hearty meal with plenty of leftovers. Although I wouldn’t feel the need to return – I still have to check out Zeppoli and Hearthside, after all – it was the perfect ending to my day in Haddonfield.

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