Boxcar is named for its quirky location — the main building of the original Short Hills train station built in 1907. The renovated space houses a spacious restaurant, a cozy bar area, and an outdoor patio right on the train platform. It is relatively unassuming, tucked away in the beautiful residential streets, and not well-known among those who don’t use or pass through the Short Hills stop on their train ride.Boxcar is worth a visit, principally because it boasts a combination rarely found in the area — outdoor seating, a liquor license, and decent food.
photo by Jakub at foodiesfeed
While all of those elements are present, none of them are perfect. The outdoor seating is well-maintained and a pleasant spot to spend a sunset, if you don’t mind the noise of the passing train about 20 feet away every 20 minutes. It is the hum of life in a commuter town. The liquor license is a rare treat, and the selection of craft beers is impressive; the cocktails sound interesting but sometimes fall a little flat in execution. The decent food is just that – decent. Nothing to get excited about, but suits just fine for those occasions where it’s not about the food, but rather the company.
“beers in a pub” by jakub at foodiesfeed
I recommend Boxcar for a few specific dining out situations:
- Reasonably priced dining for non-foodies. If you’re gathering with friends and family who have varied or picky tastes, Boxcar’s menu will have something for everyone.
- Early evening dining with kids. The children’s menu has all the staple options, and most are pretty well executed. There are kid-friendly touches to keep the little ones occupied while the adults enjoy their meal.
- Outdoor dining in nicer weather. There aren’t many options in the area, and this is a nice choice for both weekend lunch and dinner.
- Catching the game over a meal. The indoor bar area has a few large screens, all visible from nearly every seat in the house. Perfect when Gary wants to catch a Browns game and I want better quality food than your average sports bar.
I’ve never experienced Short Hills as a commuter (usually frequenting Maplewood or Millburn), but Boxcar also serves coffee and pastries for the morning rush. Morning, noon and night, Boxcar has earned its place in the commuter town dining scene.
25 Chatham Street ⋅ Short Hills, NJ ⋅ (973) 912-0002 ⋅ www.boxcarbar.com