Montclair is a great place for a day trip or short weekend get-away, especially if you’re living in New York City, with six train stations in Montclair that can get you there from Penn Station very easily. We visited Montclair in collaboration with Destination Montclair and the Montclair Center BID to experience its queer scene and local business.
Although a small town, Montclair has pockets of queer community and queer-owned businesses, including a Montclair Pride Festival, that are worth highlighting and checking out if you’re in the area.
Minia’s is a delightful brunch spot and the founders met at Henrietta Hudson, a popular lesbian bar in New York City. Their menu ranges from classic breakfast options, like pancakes, french toast, and omelets, to an equally delicious lunch selection of foods such as quesadillas, burritos, and a variety of sandwiches.
The environment in the restaurant is warm and inviting, with regulars that come every day, the owners told us. Their vision was to have food that is comforting and tastes homemade, with delicious meals that have a hint of nostalgia.
Porta is a queer-owned restaurant that is actively involved in queer community events. They host “SaturSlay,” which is a monthly 21+ late night drag show, as well as drag brunches for all ages. Some of the restaurant staff are drag performers in the shows too. They currently have 2 public levels, with the top level hosting their drag brunches.
They’ve also worked with Out Montclair on events, such as trivia nights, and are a great place to stop by after Montclair Pride. For past Pride events, they’ve served Montclair Pride Beer.
We got to speak with Ainslee Thompson, their Hospitality Leader, who spoke about Porta’s passion for uplifting and involving queer events and community into their restaurant and general mission to be an inviting place for all.
In addition to their queer happenings, the restaurant has a great selection of food and drinks, with friendly staff and quick service. We loved their fresh mozzarella and pasta.
Java Love is a women and LGBTQ+-owned coffee shop that values inclusion and community involvement. They have diversity training for staff and strive to make everyone feel welcome. Java Love is very involved in Pride festivities. Every Pride, they create a list of specialty drinks. Last year’s included “Earl Gay” (Earl Grey with vanilla, lavender, and oat milk topper) and “Uhaul” (Iced oatmilk lavender latte). Their 10 year anniversary was May 1st, 2023.
The Vanguard Theater is a theater company that strives to uplift diversity in all forms. They are a performance and education space with a mission to their DREAM beliefs. DREAM: Diversity , Reciprocity, Education, Activism, and Mentorship. This is a great place to catch a show while in town and know you’re supporting an organization that is dedicated to inclusion. They also partner with Out Montclair for various events like Drag Brunch, and work with Marie’s Crisis for their Sip and Sing.
Out Montclair is a fantastic non-profit organization that launched in April 2021. They offer a variety of social and educational events, including events for teens, like their Teens Tie-Dye Party, LGBTQ+ Climbing Night, Pride Bike Rides, and more. They also hold trans support groups with a mental health specialist.
The first Montclair Pride Festival was in 2022 and their second one is expected to attract an even larger crowd. With local businesses lining the parade, it’s truly a celebration of community. They hope to continue growing and be able to provide support and community for queer youth and the community in general. Their site has a growing event calendar and their plans for Pride season!
If you’re looking for a quick trip to a cute town with good food, arts, and community, Montclair is a nice destination to choose.