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Local Love: Michelle Garay

Local Love: Michelle Garay

Michelle Garay is as ‘New Jersey‘ as it gets! She grew up in Bergen County, attended Rutgers University, and although her first words weren’t “Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen was the first artist she ever saw perform. She runs the @jerseatgirl Instagram which highlights the best eats across the state. She is from Hillsdale, New Jersey, and today she shared her Local Love with HipNewJersey.com!

What is your favorite local restaurant?
My favorite local restaurant is Osso Buco in Hillsdale! It’s a great Italian spot and is home to my favorite vodka sauce on the planet. Osso Buco fits any occasion you’re eating out for, and I never leave disappointed. I’m truly not sure what I would do (or eat) if this place didn’t exist.

View this post on Instagram

Black Linguini special! Yummy

A post shared by Osso Buco Grill (@ossobucogrill) on

What is your favorite local boutique?
A boutique that I usually find myself in is Rare Cargo in Manasquan. I spend a lot of time at the shore throughout the summer, and it’s my favorite place to pop in for a stress-free, relaxing, and productive shopping experience. They offer so many great accessories and clothes that you don’t come across often, and I never leave empty-handed.

What is your favorite salon or spa?
My favorite salon I can always count on is Creative Expressions in Hillsdale. It’s been my go-to for every occasion.  I’ve been going back for so many years! The staff is incredibly kind and patient, and I’m excited to pop in once we’re in the swing of things again.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-fFgNrAHPW/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

What is your favorite local health and wellness center?
AKT in Morristown! Their workouts are full-body and the type of high energy I need for exercising.

Where is your favorite local place for home decor?
My favorite home decor spot is White Oak Home in Westwood. They have so many unique finds and make shopping fun. It’s a creative and welcoming environment that has something for everyone, and I could spend all day browsing their offerings.

View this post on Instagram

In-progress project #1 . Scroll through to see more of the room and the inspiration! . I need to add a few more to fill in the space, plant few more real plants in some of them and spruce the faux plants in there, but its a start and much better than the blank wall I had! . I tagged some of the products in the shop so you can make your own, too! . This is in our eat-in-kitchen, which while its dated (oh the 60’s with all your knotty pine), there are elements I fell in love with when we first saw the house 4 years ago…namely the reclaimed brick stove and fireplace (I’ll share pictures soon!) . I dream of updating the kitchen, taking out the built-ins, updating the cabinets, installing a garbage disposal, etc…I also find myself appreciating the craftsmanship put into this space. Hand carved wooden valences, cabinets and drawers that have withstood 60 years of regular use and are still going strong and a layout that the past family thrived in for 55 years before it became our home. I love the history and care…and one day, when the cabinet hinges get too wobbly to tighten and the drawers won’t close, it will be time to say “thank you” and do the update but until then I won’t fix what isn’t broken! I’ll find fun ways, like these hanging planters, to make the existing space fun and beautiful and I will love it each morning I sit down with my family for breakfast!

A post shared by White Oak Home (@thewhiteoakhome) on

Where is your favorite local daytime hangout?
You can pretty much find me anywhere from hiking a trail along the Delaware Water Gap to enjoying lunch with friends at Raymond’s in Montclair or Ridgewood. I’d do anything for one of their lattes right now! Hiking is such a great release for built-up stress, and the views along their trails are one of a kind.

What is your favorite local place to do business?
One of my favorite local places to get work done is American Bulldog Coffee Roasters in Ridgewood. It’s such a relaxing coffee spot with tons of room (and outlets), and I like to believe their iced coffees have made me a better person.

What is your favorite “Made in Jersey” product?
I recently tried Lazy Susan’s Granola, and it’s become one of my favorites as a quick snack or something to add to yogurt! She also makes delicious granola bites, and offers gluten-free options as well. I highly recommend checking her products out.

What is your favorite New Jersey downtown district?
My favorite downtown district within New Jersey would have to be Manasquan. It’s a town with great shopping, eats, and people that resides by the beach. It gives off such a home feel.

How has COVID-19 affected your business?
A major part of what I do for @jerseatgirl is visiting local restaurants, and unfortunately the pandemic has put a hold on dining out for the time being. While the photos I take primarily highlight the food, a restaurant’s environment plays a major part in the experience and is essential when it comes to recommendations.

Although dining out isn’t an option right now, I’m continuing to explore every possible way to stay involved and put restaurants in their best light. Whether it’s participating in their take-out, delivery, and curbside pickup options, or even promoting their efforts on my page for exposure, I’ve learned that it’s about changing with the times and doing it together. I’m lucky to be involved in an industry with so many passionate people, and I’m hopeful we’ll all come out of this stronger and equally motivated to keep moving forward.

You can find Michelle Garay on her Instagram page.

For all things Garden State, keep checking out HipNewJersey.com!

Posted By

Hip New Jersey

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