The idea of a “corner store” is foreign to people like me growing up in the suburbs of Monmouth County. Here, we have convenience stores, either standalone or attached to a gas station. While corners stores vs. convenience stores offer many of the same items such as packaged and refrigerated goods, the similarities end there. Daisy’s is one of an infinite number of corner stores in not only the city of Perth Amboy, but the surrounding area and all of north Jersey. There are probably thousands. While I have been to several, it is this place that stands out as the shining example of what a corner store should be. And to be frank, anywhere you can purchase meat from a butcher, a box of cereal, or a buttered roll all in one shot is okay in my book.
And speaking of buttered rolls, that is what Justin and I had for breakfast the day after Christmas en route to visiting his family in nearby Carteret. Daisy’s was the corner store of his childhood, and he is quite familiar with it. When you walk in, you are met with the register and the beginning of the produce section. Just behind the avocados is a station with a vat of hot oatmeal, coffee, and a warmer for various fried goods which we had tried on an earlier visit (more on that later). We poured some coffee and then went towards the back. There was a large display of fresh-baked bread ranging from whole loaves, sub-type rolls, and Portuguese rolls. We grabbed two of those and then headed to the back where the butcher is. The glass case was just about to be stocked with fresh-carved meat.
Justin asked one of the butchers if we could get the roll buttered and he took them and asked if we wanted it warmed. We said yes, which meant they would be buttered and placed under a press—squashed until they had the width of a pancake. They also make made-to-order sandwiches in the back. When that was finished, we went to pay. The coffees were 50 cents each (they had a larger size available for 75) and both rolls came to $1.50 total. Since there are no tables, we ate this in the car. This kind of food is meant to be eaten that way. The roll was interesting, managing to be chewy and crispy at the same time. Breakfast for two people for less than $3? You tell me a place in Monmouth County where I can get that. It just hit the spot. I debated running back in for one of the empanadas pictured below.
On a previous visit months ago, we had done a sampling of beef, cheese, and a potato croquette-like creation stuffed with meat. All were delicious, but the cheese empanada was my favorite. The interior was chewy and stringy as opposed to gooey, which made for a nice mouth-feel and texture. The case is loaded with dozens of them, and it seems that they keep bringing them out because the line is endless. Whatever customers are in there for, be it some kind of Goya product, ox tail, fresh fruit, or a bottle of Advil, everyone appears to grab at least one empanada. I am going to give Daisy’s 3.5 out of 5 stars, because as a corner store and not a restaurant, it is hard to find an accurate place on my scale. Make no mistake, this is a wonderful spot and I wish we had one within walking distance of where we live.
Daisy’s Food Store is located at 490 Amboy Avenue in Perth Amboy, NJ.