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Monmouth County, NJ diners--what's still there?

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I moved from Monmouth County (heck, I totally left the state) in 1995. Since we'll be in shouting distance, otherwise known as my dad's in Delaware, I've decided to bring my beloved up there to show him where I grew up. We won't have much time for true chowhounding, but I know a visit to Jersey isn't complete without a huge diner breakfast, which my Virginia-bred husband has never experienced. My two favorite diners were Manalapan Diner on Route 9 in--where else--Manalapan and the Americana Diner on Route 35 in Tinton Falls, not far from Fort Monmouth. I'd like to take him to either one of those, but since it's been so long I figured I'd give a shoutout to the Chowhounds to make sure one or the other still exists. And, of course, if you'd like to give your opinion, that's fine, too. ;)

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  1. The Americana Diner is still there on Rt 35. Don't know if it's good or not.

    My favorite place near Fort Monmouth is Far East Taste on Rt 35 in Eatontown. It's a very home-style comforting Thai food. The owner is a commercial fisherman and serves fish he caught himself. Last visit we had whole steamed ling with Richard's fish sauce. Boney, but delicious. Order from the chalkboard, of get Richard's advice on ordering.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Val G

      Far East Taste is very satisfying. Definitely chit-chat with the owner, because he is extremely nice, forthcoming with advice, and occasionally generous with freebies.

      Diner-wise, the Monmouth Queen is good--I am not a big fan of the Americana, which just isn't traditionally diner-y enough for me. It has pretensions of a little too much grandeur. I miss the L&M on Asbury Circle.

      If the Apollo Diner on Rte 34 is still around, give that a try. It used to be really great (excellent salad bar) but I haven't been there in about 20 years, so I have no idea if it's still in existence or worth visiting.

      My must-visits when I go home (I am also a Delaware resident but Ocean Twp. homegirl) are: Attilio's on Rte. 35 in Ocean for subs, Richard's in Long Branch for deli, Vic's in Bradley Beach for pizza.

      1. re: Julie
        Salad Bars Not Sanitary

        seen too many coughing, sneezing people to not go to salad bars anymore

      2. re: Val G

        Don't know how far off the path this is for you, but I would take him to Franks in Asbury Park.It's on Main St. AP, corner of Sunset. This is more north on main, closer to Interlaken. It's called Franks Deli & Restaurant, but it's the most diner-like 'straunt you'll ever find.
        I grew up in Sea Bright, and Franks' is one of the few Monmouth Cty. places that hasn't changed yet.The food is fine, not great, but perhaps, if I'm reading your post correctly, you are looking to give your husband a taste of not only food, but also the Jersey Shore.
        This is where I think Franks has it over the traditional diners, good as they are, they could be anywhere. With Franks, yer talkin' Asbury Park, NJ.
        Re: Far East Taste, aka "Richards" if you go def.try the tom yum soup. Also, across from him is a Korean Market that sells GREAT kim chee. It's on the corner, by the light.
        Enjoy your trip !

      3. Can't remember all the names, but having grown up Monmouth County I used to go to:

        -The Monmouth Queen(Eatontown Circle).

        -The small diner tucked in along side the old police station on Monmomouth Street in Red Bank. It was a chinese restaurant in one incarnation. Last time I was there, last year, it was was a diner again but all trendy and shi-shi-ed up.

        -Also in Red Bank, the larger one on Front Street and Higway 35.(No longer there)

        -The Bay Queen? On higway 36 in Leonardo.

        -The one in Long Branch near the train station.

        They were the good old, open all night, standbys that welcomed me with a hot meal and plenty of coffee after tending bar or drinking and partying into the wee hours.

        1. Hi....welcome back to NJ
          the Manalapan Diner just remodeled and reopened.
          the EMPIRE Diner is only a short distance away on Rt. 9. great salad bar . my sis loves the greek salad on the salad bar. can't go wrong at the Empire

          enjoy your visit

          1. We had lunch at the Manalapan Diner right after it re-opened with its newly remodeled interior and the food was just *awful*!

            The Empire Diner, on 9 North, just north of Jersey Freeze, is the one I would choose in this immediate area. The Golden Bell, on 9 South, at Adelphia Road, is another possibility.

            3 Replies
            1. re: RGR

              The Empire doesn't ring a bell, but if it's by the Jersey Freeze by Freehold Circle, then I've probably been there. The Golden Bell I do remember--great burger platters. Never ate breakfast there, though. Since we'll be in the Freehold area in the morning, those sound like the two best bets if they do breakfast well. Anyone done breakfast at either place?

              1. re: NJExpat

                Perhaps the reason the name "Empire" Diner does not ring a bell for you is that when it first opened, it had a different name, which escapes me at the moment. It was re-named "Empire" a couple of years ago (new owners, I think) which would be after you left in '95.

                I don't do breakfast at diners, so I can't give you any input from personal experience in that regard. But my thinking is that since the food at Empire and Golden Bell is good, then breakfast should be fine.

              2. re: RGR

                Second the above opinion on the Manalapan Diner; we ate there tonight and the food was decidedly substandard. We got a Greek salad (rubbery feta, olives that looked and tasted old, drab greens), onion rings whose crust was too bland and thick, and a too-sweet vanilla shake. On the other hand, the place was packed and most people seemed to be eating pancakes; maybe the breakfast food is good there?

              3. Perkins is always good for breakfast. The Manalapan diner has new owners and a new look. It is always busy now. There is also "Mom's" on Rte 9 (formerly The Pantry) in Manalapan next to Sipersteins. They are all good choices.

                1. The Four Seasons by Monmouth Mall (Wykoff Rd & 36) or
                  the Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street are the way to go- make sure to order him some pork roll!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chowgirl

                    I hate to say it, but I think Red Bank's Broadway Diner has gone downhill. But I can only talk about breakfasts. It hasn't been nearly as good in the past several months.

                  2. ... the Golden Bell. My husband is STILL talking about the blueberry pancakes and the huge sausages.

                    I took him to Federici's in Freehold for pizza at lunch. He's still talking about that, too. One of the Federici kids was there (I shouldn't say kid, he's probably in his forties), and he was delighted to hear that I had been jonesing for Federici's pizza in my near-eight-year absence. It hasn't changed a bit, either. Sheer chowhound heaven!

                    1. Ate an amazing breakfast for lunch the other day. Open 7 days a week until 3PM (They serve both breakfast or lunch all day) It is not a "diner" in the traditional sense more of a cozy mom and pop. It is in a house with 10 tables and a counter on a side street with parking. They have teapots hanging in the window with an old coke machine.

                      Zoƫ's Vintage Kitchen 77 Center Ave Atlantic Highlands

                      They had all the Breakfast and lunch basics and many really creative items on the menu like Linzer Tart French Toast with sour cream - Gingerbread Pancakes - Kielbasa and cheese Omelette - Grilled Chicken with Brie and Raspberry and I had an Amazing Three Tier Brie and Ham French Toast dusted with powder sugar - Huge portion (brought most of it home) - Crazy Good.

                      It has been around, some older posts showed mixed reviews about the service, yes slower than other places, but if you have a good book or a good friend time can be enjoyed. If you got somewhere to be maybe not.

                      Really enjoyed the food at this place! Can't wait to go back.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: shabbystorm

                        Zoe's is one of my favorite places for breakfast and lunch. All the pies are homemade too.