(Image courtesy of Crossroads Website)
Crossroads sits just outside Westfield’s popular downtown neighborhood in a smaller suburb called Garwood. While it may appear as just a small bar on the outside, it is one of New Jersey’s longest-running music venues and is a central fixture in the thriving Union County indie music scene.
I remember playing there many times in high school and early in my college career. Some of my friends and ex-bandmates still perform there with their current acts, and I’ve found myself in the crowd more recently these days. Not much has changed there since I’ve last played, except for now the casual crowd has grown larger with more people coming to see local musicians play.
The bar begins right next to the front entrance (pictured above) and wraps around to face the window looking out towards the main road. In the far left corner sits a small stage where thousands of musical acts have played their instruments to those seated at the tables before them.
The stylish wraparound bar is the building’s main fixture when there’s no musical performances. Patrons can enjoy a wide variety of beer from classic staples to obscure craft brews. While I must admit I’ve never tried their food, the menu certainly looks like it’s been improved since I used to play there. The grilled alligator tail and crawfish bourbon bisque sound like dishes I really would like to try.
The new menu appears to draw heavily from New Orleans-style influences. With this menu, Crossroads has begun to build a more concrete identity for itself. Their primary logo features a cartoon figure holding a saxophone and their interior decor has some jazz music-inspired aspects. A New Orleans bar in Central New Jersey might sound a bit outlandish, but with an oversaturated nightlife market in the area, it helps the bar stand out.
So the question that stands is: Why visit this place? Well, the answer is not one that can be said plainly or simply, so here’s a few reasons why this place deserves your patronage:
- As stated before, the current menu looks fantastic. New Orleans-style food is a rarity in the area, and it allows visitors a taste of the city without having to travel all the way to Louisiana. The bold, daring menu beckons patrons to try something unfamiliar to most peoples’ palettes in the area.
- The Union County music scene is excellent, and Crossroads is at the heart of it all. Van Gogh’s Ear Cafe and 10th Street Live are two other big music venue contenders in the area. While both those venues are also excellent, neither have the same longevity and reputation as Crossroads. Crossroads is just that venue that every New Jersey act plays at. With the thriving indie scene, standards for local artists’ songwriting and performance have skyrocketed, so patrons will be in for a treat with some great original music.
- The bar is close to Westfield’s downtown area, but does not share the downtown bars’ posh atmosphere and outrageous prices. An person who makes an honest living can buy a drink and a quality meal there without feeling like they’ve just burned a hole through their wallet. It is a great place to both see an excellent live show and to grab an affordable beer and meal with friends.
Crossroads is located at 78 North Ave. in Garwood, NJ. For information regarding specials and live performances, check out their website.