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Asbury Park, no car, two lunches and a dinner

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Visiting Asbury Park from Austin on Friday for a wedding, and it looks like the SO and I will have time to squeeze in a couple of lunches and a dinner while we're around. What shouldn't we miss?

Sorry if I missed earlier "best of AP" postings....

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  1. I would hit At The Table for either lunch or dinner... or both. Here is a very recent thread on the place.
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/637904

    1 Reply
    1. re: tom246

      Maybe I can sneak in a Lone Star for lunch? In ATX, one can get bloody marys, beer or wine with any chicken fried in town...but I may have to suck it up if everyone keeps recommending this place.

    2. If you like soul food, you should definitely try 'At the Table' , 311 Bond Street, but be forewarned they neither serve nor permit you to bring any alcoholic beverages. It's open for lunch.
      Others will doubtless express varied opinions, but my favorite place for dinner is Taka (takaapnj.com) on Mattison Avenue, followed by Moonstruck (moonstrucknj.com) on Lake Avenue.
      Enjoy your visit.

      3 Replies
      1. re: OGguy

        I've been to most of the restaurants on or around Cookman and I'm sorry to say that I'm not enamored with any of them. The best of the worst is Market in Middle where I'm sure you can craft a very nice meal if you order correctly. The best item on the menu is the BBQ ribs with sweet potato fries. As far as At the Table, I've yet to try it, but I trust many of the hounds who have reviewed the restaurant so I'm sure you will have a good meal. The best restaurant "off of the main drag" is Stella Marina and is located next to the casino on the boardwalk. Before or after dinner drinks can be had at the Watermark next door. Good Luck.

        1. re: bgut1

          Would MitM be worth a lunch? We'd sussed out Vic's (which I believe you favored) but wondered if it was bikeable (we're at the Berkeley); any thoughts?

          Sorry about the At the Table "meh" as I think I remember that you came down on the more reasonable side of the argument, but I'm pretty rigid about the marriage of food and libation.

          Thanks for your thoughts, here and fore.

        2. re: OGguy

          I'm from the land of chicken fried steak, smothered pork chops and chicken and dumplins, so I'm a bit hesitant about going for comfort food, and I read a previous thread about At The Table and am a bit put off by a "culinaire" who would deny their guests what I consider an integral (in the most rudimentary meaning of the word) part of the meal. Based on the posts here and what I've read, we'd already put Moonstruck and Stella Marina on the list, but I'd like to know a bit more about Taka.

          We have a top notch Japanese fusion restaurant in Austin that I frequent (uchi), but being land-locked, there's probably a certain degree of degradation in the quality of the seafood (though it's marginalized by the fact that daily shipments are flown in). What are the specialties there? Freshness of the fish? Creativity?

          Thanks in advance for any additional info you can provide.

        3. Two restaurants on the Boardwalk that I recommend:

          http://www.langostalounge.com/
          http://stellamarinarestaurant.com/

          And in town:
          takaapnj.com

          1. On Cookman you can try BrickWall for good, cheap eats. Heard Munch was good too.

            On the boardwalk, I recommend Langosta Lounge. There are some cheap, decent eats as well such Pop's Garage and I had a pretty decent slice of pizza at the place on the boardwalk going towards Ocean Grove once you go through Casino.

            And of course, there are cupcakes in Convention Hall at Baker Boys.

            4 Replies
            1. re: dani0622

              Hmmm. Cupcakes. Baker Boys. Please tell me more...

              1. re: poryorick

                Baker Boys has two shops, one on the main street in neighboring Ocean Grove and one inside Convention Hall on the boardwalk. With that said, I've enjoyed some really good cupcakes there, however, they can sometimes be inconsistent. If you catch them on a "on" day, they are very good.

                1. re: dani0622

                  After looking over the menu, my SO made an imperative of the visit. I've also be requested by our favorite cupcake creator (http://www.sugarmamasbakeshop.com/) here to bring back a selection for her to try.

                  Any preference as far as location, i.e. is it worth the extra time to get over to the Ocean Grove location?

                  1. re: poryorick

                    I don't think it's worth the extra time to go to Ocean Grove shop. It doesn't look like they bake in the Asbury shop, which leads me to believe that they ship them over from Ocean Grove.

                    However, if you do go to Ocean Grove, the Ocean Grove Bake Shop, about a block down from Baker Boys, also serves cupcakes, in my opinion, which are better and far more consistent.

            2. Thanks to everyone for the great input. Should any of you ever find your way to Austin, let me know if I can return the favor.

              4 Replies
              1. re: poryorick

                Hello pory
                My wife and I visited Austin this past christmas break and are returning this Mon Aug 17th to visit her sister and family. Austin is a very different food town then Asbury. In Austin practically on every corner you can get very good food at very reasonable prices.These are not high end places, in fact quite casual but they offer great food. Here I believe it is almost the opposite. There are many places to go but to get decent food you have to spend a little more. Also not having a car is really limiting your choices... Asbury is a relatively small area.
                That being said I think I would focus on things that are not available or done well in Austin. First one coming to mind would be pizza. People will probally disagree but I love the pizza at Vics the place is a dump and the service is horrible but the pizza, in my opinion, is the best in the area. For your dinner night go to Stella Marina I think you will be happy with menu format. It offers many options from sharing meat and cheese at the bar to wonderful pasta dishes to very nice fish options. I'm not sure you will be amazed by this place but it is what the immediate Asbury area has to offer. At the table sounds great and I cant wait to eat there but for you I think it parallels Threadgills. Also I like taka alot and I do go there, great short ribs, but having been to Uchi myself I would say skip it. If Sunday is one of your lunch days try to get Langostas Lounge for their brunch. Awesome bloody marys and micheladas, also a sandwich called the jersey boy, porkroll and cheese on brioche.
                Good luck and have a great trip.

                1. re: AC Captain

                  Thanks for the solid info, AC.

                  One question about Vic's, as we'd already considered it as an option. I know that NYC pizza is NYC pizza both as a result of tradition, but also, I've heard, as a result of the water, which is why it's damn near impossible to recreate those pies anywhere else. How does Vic's stack up? I know I'm generalizing about NYC pizza, but in comparison to what we have available here, the mean quality is significantly higher.

                  God, I hope you don't think Threadgill's is reflective of what Austin has to offer in the realm of comfort food. I'd take Hoover's over it in a minute, and I think their food can be a bit uninspired. For the best CFS in the Austin area, make the 45 minute drive out to Spicewood and wait patiently at RO's Outpost (http://www.rosoutpost.com/). And if you don't mind waiting for rustic perfection at a dive on the east side, Nubian Queen Lola's (http://nubianqueenlolas.com/) probably has the most authentic take in Austin.

                  And one more question for you: have you taken the BBQ cathedral tour of Lockhart (Kreuz, Smitty's), Luling (City Market), Taylor (Louie Mueller) and the newest entrant, Lexington (Snow's)? You haven't lived until you've spent a weekend gorging on oak kissed meats in Central Texas.

                  Thanks again for the input.

                  -----
                  Smitty's Market
                  208 S Commerce St, Lockhart, TX 78644

                  Kreuz Market
                  619 N Colorado St, Lockhart, TX 78644

                  Snow's Barbeque
                  700 Main St, Lexington, TX

                  1. re: poryorick

                    It's hot here this week, and now I'm excited to head somewhere 15 degrees warmer just over bbq talk. I've only been to Austin the one time and we went to Saltlick, I know touristy, but it was faboulous. I still dream about the brisket. Problem is my brother in law does not do bbq so it is hard to find time to break away for the carnivores to eat, but we love him. If you have any favorites bbq places within 20-30 min of Austin proper I would love to hear them. My wife and I plan to take an afternoon and have a foodis lunch for just the two of us.
                    Threadgills was the only comfort place we went to it was good but I could see how there would be better.
                    The pizza question is hard to answer, everyone has different preferences. I do believe the water has an impact on the dough but I always associated that with the northeast or tristate area not just NY. What I loveabout Vics is the crust its thin but not paperthin like a cracker, it has a nice crispiness on the outside and a little doughy on th inside almost as if it were cooked in cast iron. Like I said there are people who will have just as good an argument why they like another pizza place in the area.

                    1. re: AC Captain

                      Well if you dream about the Saltlick, you might just pull up roots for the top five. Saltlick is fine, really; certainly beats anything you can get in Austin. But those quiet little burgs that are within a short (by our standards) drive are the brass ring.

                      I know you're probably on a schedule, but if you really want to get the true experience, you'll need to build in 1:00-1:30 for roundtrip travel to any of the places I've suggested. Lockhart is about 35 minutes south of Austin, home to two of the top five: (the Church of) Kreuz's (pronounced "crite-zes", ribs and brisket and sausage) and Smitty's (ribs and brisket). Lexington to the northeast about 30 minutes is home to Snow's, the little one-day-a-week dark horse that stole the title from the big 5 in 2008. They're open on Saturday from 8am until the food runs out, which has been known to happen as early as 9:30am. They have the best brisket that's ever crossed my lips and melted in my mouth (and giant pork butt steaks), and it's done by one of the only female pitmasters I know of. And in Taylor, about 30 minutes nne is Louie Mueller's (I've never actually eaten here so I can't say one way or another). Luling is probably beyond your travel allotment, about 50 minutes south of downtown; it wins for best overall. If you want to taste the real deal Texas BBQ, you've got to make it to one of these pits.

                      Thanks for the pizza insight; I had hoped that you could verify that the water theory was a regional thing and not localized to the city. And I don't care if I'm hearing what I want to hear....

                      I'm sure you've already done so, but our CH Austin board has some pretty damn knowledgeable folks; pay close attention to those who've been posting for several years and you won't go wrong.

              2. While I agree that there is good food to be had at the places already mentioned on this thread, they are mostly the products of the recent renaissance in Asbury Park. As such, they are new and devoid of any sense of the history or soul of the place. To the extent that you seek a little more “Jersey” from your visit, I offer some other ideas.

                First, take one of your lunches, or a breakfast, at Franks’s Deli on Main Street. They cure their own pastrami and corned beef on site. Consequently, a big, fat deli sandwich or a plate of hash might give you a little East Coast fix. Plus, I think you will find the atmosphere slightly more “real” than the less well-aged establishments. (It’s walkable, but a bike would be better. There is a place on the Boardwalk where you can rent one.)

                Next, if you want a taste of old school, NJ-style, Italian-American fare, Jimmy’s on Asbury Avenue is certainly worth a visit – if only for a pizza and a beer. The bar feels like it came from the Goodfellas set. Pictures of the owner with assorted visiting celebrities – Don Rickles, Elton John, Tony Bennett, you get the idea. The food at Stella Marina on the Boardwalk might be a bit more “old world” authentic, but if you want to see where Joey Bag’o’doughnuts eats – go to Jimmy’s! (Probably want to take a cab as Asbury Avenue is not always pretty at night.).

                I like Vic’s pizza, but have had better at Jimmy’s. To my hyper-critical Jersey pizza palate, Vic’s cheese has a very high fat content often resulting in a greasier pie. Regardless, you will find that either place makes a better pizza than is available anywhere south of Philadelphia.

                Finally, I would suggest a drink at the Wonderbar and/or the Stone Pony. Hell, in a way they are as much a part of the legend of the town as any place else and are within walking distance from your hotel. Steve Kimock is playing at the Pony Friday night. If he’s on the Summer Stage, you can listen from the Boardwalk.

                5 Replies
                1. re: MGZ

                  I like to find a balance on my trips between the new and the old, so this is some really useful info. Earlier research had turned up Jimmy's and I was waiting to see if anyone might throw it out there.

                  Frank's is an added bonus–I love delis, and the fact that they have their own in-house meats is a definite plus.

                  Thanks for the input.

                  1. re: poryorick

                    poryorick,

                    This is a nice thread you have started....and your participation is refreshing. What do you think about Sam's BBQ in Austin. Here's a thread I started back in January-February for my trip to Austin. Lots of great ideas, but I was unable to take advantage due to the group I was traveling with.

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/590507

                    I'm a Northern New Jersey Guy, so I am really not too familiar with the Jersey Shore and the Asbury Park area and environs......but I'm jumping into this discussion to chime in about Jimmy's. In the past, I have had exchanges with (bgut1) about my opinions of restaurants in the shore area......and Jimmy's is the only restaurant I have frequented on a regular basis for probably 20 years. Jimmy's is a place that serves rustic Italian fare....what is considered old school red gravy. While you will read a varying amounts of opinions on both sides of the fence, I will tell you the reason why I believe the restaurant receives it's praises is due to the fact they serve very good food using high quality ingredients. In my opinion, the people that do not care for Jimmy's are usually looking for a fresher approach to Italian food preparation, rather than the traditional recipes that have been served for over 25 years. I base this observation on the fact the nays generally include comments such as, it's past it prime or it's seen better days...........both, which I disagree with tremendously. To me Jimmy's is a solid restaurant. It's a place I have taken many of my friends, who are restaurant owners, and they have all been very impressed and satisfied with the quality, preparations and tastes of the food.

                    I've never ordered the pizza at Jimmy's, but I have seen it ordered by many families whenever I go there....and it does look very good. Classic round pies this area of NY/NJ is known for. Outside of the ordering Fried Calamari, I also have not had much of their red sauce either....but the red sauce(hot) served with it has always been good without any complaints. I have only had their red sauce on pasta side dishes, so I'll let others with more experience give you opinions on that. I have ordered Alfredo and Vodka sauces, split for appetizer and both were very good.

                    For me, the best dish on the menu is their rendition of Baked Stuffed Sole Oreganato with Crabmeat. It's the only place I will ever order this dish it is so good. Believe it or not, a simple dish that is not made very well around here, even though there is an abundance of seafood restaurants on the landscape. The sole is fresh and the crabmeat stuffing....is crabmeat with with minimal fillers.

                    Should you decide to give Jimmy's a try, they have great meats and are know for their Veal Dishes, Veal Chops, Steaks and Pork Chops. I also have a bud who thinks their Chicken Scarpariello is as good as his Grandmother used to make. The first few times I went to Jimmy's, I always ordered the Stuffed Veal Chop or the Steak Special, but the guy who introduced me to Jimmy's always ordered the sole. I asked him why and he reply was If I tried it once, I would know why.......I did and I have been ordering it ever since.

                    http://www.jimmysitalianrestaurant.com/

                    http://www.jimmysitalianrestaurant.co...

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Thanks for the detail on Jimmy's. Between you and MGZ, and barring any dicta from our fellow travelers in the wedding party, I think we'll put a check next to Jimmy's. We're staying at the Berkeley, so it turns out that Frank's is easily walkable from the hotel, and so now I'd like to hear about how it might play for breakfast.

                      As for Sam's, I'm a huge fan. That mutton is a thing of wonder. That said, it's a completely different style of Q than what I've previously mentioned in this thread, more of a Carolina southern (heavily sauced) than the aforementioned Texas pit style (smoke, salt and pepper).

                      I hope you at least had a good time golfing and a nice stay at Barton Creek since it seems you didn't really get to hit any of the great restaurants (other than Sam's). Hopefully you can make it back for another 18 and some serious eats.

                      1. re: poryorick

                        Off the subject, but in your favor - the ocean was 74 degrees this morning and with the forecast for more southernly winds it should get even warmer for the weekend!

                  2. re: MGZ

                    I agree these should be added to any Asbury Park visit. I am a local who has become enamoured of the new places and tend to ignore these old traditions.

                  3. I'll write more tomorrow, but I'll leave you with pictures for now.
                    Thanks to those who provided the info that drove our choices. You done good.

                    http://bit.ly/LTuoV

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: poryorick

                      cool! thx for the slideshow about food!

                      1. re: poryorick

                        I see you found the pinball place - cool! I had meant to mention that, but somehow didn't get to it.

                        1. re: MGZ

                          That's a funny story. I couldn't really get much data coverage for my iPhone, and so I was having a tough time locating the museum. We'd pretty much given up and my SO had started shopping, and at about the third shop, I was wearing thin, but grudgingly agreed to go in. Whilst meandering in wait, I glanced up to notice a sign to the museum pointing downstairs. It was a Taoist epiphany....

                      2. Thanks to all your recommendations. Here's a brief review of our food discoveries during our brief stay in Asbury Park.

                        Arrived on Friday, and stopped by Baker Boys in the Galleria where the SO picked up a chocolate cupcake. The chocolate was grainy and of a low quality and the white cake was dry and tasted of baking powder. A disappointment, but not a portent.

                        Stopped by Langosta Lounge for drinks. I had a Market Mojito, which was heavily mulled with mint and frozen strawberries. A nice pairing for the beach.

                        Though the wedding party was heading for Stella Marina, we took our cue from MGZ and fourunder and caught a cab over to Jimmy's Italian. We started with the hot antipasto plate and were immediately greeted by that giant East Coast tomato flavor that is a staple of Italian American cooking. The plate featured shrimp, clams, oysters and manicotti, all swimming in a pool of red. It immediately reminded me of how impossible it is to get decent Italian in my neck of the woods, and the occasional flecks of tomato skin assured me of its authenticity. There is no overabundance of seasoning to this red; it's all about showcasing those incredible tomatoes.

                        The SO followed fourunder's advice and went with the Sole Oreganato, which consisted of a huge filet in white wine butter sauce so overstuffed with crabmeat that it reminded me of a Katz's corned beef. There is nothing subtle about this type of cooking; it is the comfort food of the region and was flavored accordingly. The dish was absolutely delicious.

                        I queried our server who recommended the Lobster & Shrimp Linguine in Pink Cream Sauce with Fresh Asparagus. The pink sauce was more demure than my SO's dish, but the linguine was fortified with a bevy of rich seafood. I counted six whole lobster claws and at least as many large butterflied shrimp. Despite the generosity of piping sauce, the linguine was al dente perfection. A solid choice.

                        The following day, we awoke early and headed to the beach for a morning dip in the ocean. The SO grabbed a scone from Baker Boys on the way as a second chance, but it was equally unmemorable. After our swim, we again followed the urgings of MGZ and made a beeline to Frank's Deli. We arrived at roughly 11am on Saturday to a packed house, and waited for a few minutes until a booth opened. We felt it a moral imperative to give the pork roll a try, so we got an egg, cheese and pork roll on Frank's kaiser roll to start. I can see why this might be a staple of Jersey diner cuisine, and now wish I had ready access to the pork roll. We followed our late breakfast immediately with lunch splitting one each housemade corned beef and pastrami on Frank's rye. The corned beef was delicious, but clearly outshined by the pastrami. We took our mustard on the side to give the meat its chance. I found myself going to the mustard much earlier on the corned beef than its counterpart, but both were delicious, nonetheless.

                        On our last day in AP, we hit the board walk just as La Plaza Cubana was rolling up the screen, so we stopped by to give their sandwich Cubano a go. While good, it didn't strike any high notes for me. It could be, too, that the pork was left over from the day before, because it was a bit thin and dry, and didn't have a very fresh taste.

                        We headed to downtown to kill some time before our ride returned us to JC, stumbled upon the Silverball Museum then popped by America's Cup for a rest and drinks (I became addicted to Green Tea smoothies in AP). We met our ride at Wonder Bar for burgers, as we'd heard from other members of the wedding party that they were pretty good. I'd have to agree, and I come from the land of beef, so consider it high praise for Wonder Bar's effort; moist flavorful meat on a tasty roll.

                        Overall, with the help of our fellow CHers, we were able to eat great meals that enhanced our vacation on the Jersey shore.

                        Thanks to all.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: poryorick

                          We started with the hot antipasto plate and were immediately greeted by that giant East Coast tomato flavor that is a staple of Italian American cooking. The plate featured shrimp, clams, oysters and manicotti, all swimming in a pool of red.
                          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                          poryorick,

                          too bad, but you got screwed.......they left out the eggplant rollatini!!!!!!

                          1. re: poryorick

                            Sounds like you enjoyed your trip... I'm very happy tp hear that. I hope you didn't run into too much of that jersey hospitality that fourunder has so gracefully said farewell with.

                            1. re: AC Captain

                              LOL. Thanks for your help. Turns out I was just tired and confused when I wrote the post anyway. SO reminded me that she had to correct me at the table when I mistook the eggplant for a "strange, wonderful pasta" initially. Too much chianti, I guess.

                              Hope you had a good visit to our fair burg, as well.

                            2. re: poryorick

                              Well, it seems you had a nice "taste" of the area. Should we actually make the SXSW trip we've considered for years, I'll bring you some "Trenton Brand". In the meantime:

                              http://www.buynjporkroll.com/

                              And, for discussion:

                              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/560396

                              1. re: MGZ

                                Thanks for the heads up on the pork roll, and a hearty salute for your great recs. They really help to make the entire trip.

                                Find me on the Austin boards if you ever make it down and I'll introduce you to some of our local fare.

                                All best.

                                1. re: poryorick

                                  PS. FOREVER grateful - Pinball is my FAVORITE!
                                  Had no idea it was there until a cowboy from Austin visited NJ :)
                                  All the best - THANK YOU!!!