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Help please! [near Freehold]

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  • EL7 Oct 13, 2011 02:35 PM
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I have enjoyed lots of new restaurants thanks to great information I have gained from reading your posts. However, we have now moved to NJ and I am lost! I would appreciate suggestions for the " Jersey Shore area" we are near Freehold and willing to travel a half hour if only we knew where that would lead us! We enjoy ethnic food. Not fancy just great food. We tried and loved Shirin cafe as recommended here. We also were delighted with two Greek restaurants whose names escape me. One was in Long Branch the other I think was Munroe. We would love Italian, Chinese, Middle Eastern suggestions as well as just about any other good chow places. The only thing we don't care for is Indian or spicy food. Thanks for all the great suggestions I have read here, and look forward to new ideas.

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Shirin Cafe
345 U.S. 9 South, Manalapan, NJ 07726

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  1. I travel to East Brunswick to shop and eat at Hong Kong Supermarket.

    1. You can't go wrong with Federici's in downtown Freehold. They're known for their thin crust pizza which I've had and is delicious. I'd bet their other dishes are also great. See http://www.federicis.com/index.html .

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      Federici's
      14 E Main St, Freehold, NJ 07728

      1. if you were to circumscribe a circle half hour or so from Freehold, you have some wonderful choices.

        Some of the best pizza to be had anywhere can be found in Trenton - DeLorenzo's and some swear that Papa's is on the same level. It's an urban environment but that should not dissuade you from going. Try a late afternoon seating and be prepared to wait. It's most assuredly worth it.

        Up #18 to New Brunswick, is a marvelous white table cloth Italian in 'Due Marie' (highly recommended). Decent Lebanese food up Easton Ave. at Sahara. Etheopean isn't for everyone, but I enjoy 'Makeda'.

        Spring Lake - Whispers or Black Trumpet for fine dining along the beach in a beautiful seaside environment.

        Belmar - 10th Ave. Burrito for some funky Tex-Mex. Great pie to be had at Vesuvios (and a taste of Jersey 'attitude) also on 10th Ave. ;-)

        Asbury Park - while I have been critical at times of some of the eateries there, Taka is a decent Japaneese experience. I still love going to Moonstruck. You may love some of the resto's on the boards (Stella Maria, Cubican, or Langosta). All trendy, vibrant, with the food being hit or miss - but you should experience it, if you're new to the area. Take in an afternoon of window shopping along Cookman and Mattison and then eat out on the boardwalk.

        Neptune - if you feel like TRex, there's Brennan's Steakhouse.

        And there's plenty in and around the above which you may like and if you visit the boards, you'll find a pretty active Shore board from a posting standpoint.

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        Black Trumpet
        7 Atlantic Ave, Spring Lake, NJ 07762

        23 Replies
        1. re: JustJake

          Nice list. Close to home, hit up Ibby's in Freehold Boro if you haven't checked it out yet.

          1. re: jsfein

            After Ibby's or Federici's hit cafe 360 for some gelato!

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            Federici's
            14 E Main St, Freehold, NJ 07728

            1. re: angelo04

              Gelato!!!!!!!! How did I miss this store? You are officialy my new best friend Angelo!!

              1. re: EL7

                The gelato at Cafe 360 is excellent.

                Cafe 360 photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                Another very good option in Freehold is the Mexican restaurant El Meson.

                El Meson photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                1. re: RGR

                  I concur on El Meson... one of my favorite restaurants in Monmouth County.

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                  El Meson
                  44 Monmouth Ave, Freehold, NJ 07728

                  1. re: drongo

                    Had an old friend from Chicago in town last night. He was staying in Tinton Falls, so we met at El Meson. Haven't been there in years, but it wasn't as good as I remember it being. Regardless, the place was packed for a Wednesday night. And what's not to like about a BYO? Still good, but not "as good" as I remember. Would still go back though! -mJ

                    1. re: njfoodies

                      Hey njfoodies, good to see you back here. Your experience mirrors ours a few months ago. In our opinion El Meson has gone downhill quite a bit the past year or so.
                      They still draw a crowd so its still popular which is good for them.

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                      El Meson
                      44 Monmouth Ave, Freehold, NJ 07728

                      1. re: njfoodies

                        "And what's not to like about a BYO?"

                        No tequila.

                        More importantly, however, I agree that El Meson is not as good as it was . . . or is remembered. Perhaps it was the length of time between visits or the fact that I ate better in between, but my last time there left me thinking I should have had falafels instead.

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                        El Meson
                        44 Monmouth Ave, Freehold, NJ 07728

                        1. re: MGZ

                          Bad news: El Meson has gone downhill in recent years.

                          Good news: There are now many local authentic Mexican restaurants run by Mexicans that are better than El Meson ever was.

                          1. re: equal_Mark

                            Not that I'm really a good judge because I don't think I've ever had truly authentic Mexican cuisine, but my guess is that El Meson has never fit that category.

                            I've been wanting to try someplace that does serve what those-in-the-know consider authentic Mexican. So, which would be the best spot(s) to do so?

                            http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                            1. re: RGR

                              My current faves are Acapulquenos in Long Branch and North of the Border (Frontera del Norte) in Red Bank. Keep in mind that NOTB is not a sit down type restaurant unless you are comfortable sitting on stools at the counter that runs along the walls. Do not expect Tex-Mex puddles of melted cheese and ranchero sauce...

                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                "Do not expect Tex-Mex puddles of melted cheese and ranchero sauce..."

                                Exactly what I am NOT looking for. Thanks for the suggestions and for the heads up about the seating at NOTB.

                                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                              2. re: RGR

                                I have yet to find trul;y authentic Mexican in NJ, though I am sure it does exist.

                                I can however say that having spent the fist couple months of this year in San Antonio, I did find some amazing Jalisco's down there, and would absolutely kill to have something like that here!

                                There has got to be some good little tienda's around here though that has Mexican food. We just need someone to inform us as to where they are! -mJ

                                1. re: njfoodies

                                  Really? Have you tried Taqueria El Mariachi (on South Olden Ave) in Trenton?

                                  And Tacos Cancun in Lambertville. Or (for a nicer atmosphere) El Tule in Lambertville.

                                  -----
                                  Taqueria El Mariachi
                                  109 S Olden Ave, Trenton, NJ 08609

                            2. re: MGZ

                              Is there a reason you can't take your own tequila? In PA, we used to go to a BYO and rolled in with an assortment of liquors, wines and beers. Is this against the law in NJ?

                              1. re: wadejay26

                                Yes, beer and wine only at BYOB's. NJ law states "under no circumstances may spirituous liquor be permitted." http://www.state.nj.us/lps/abc/faqs.h... Altho' this is apparently ignored by some restaurants, just as the prohibition against advertising "BYOB" is. "There may be no advertising whatsoever of the fact that wine or beer may be permitted. "

                                1. re: JessKidden

                                  Restauranteurs looking the other way is particularly odd given the fact that they are the ones who face criminal liability - not to mention the increased likelihood of civil liability should something occur after the patron leaves,

                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    I recall not long ago a Mexican restaurant in the area with a newspaper ad or a flyer advertisment proclaiming "BYOT" (Tequila) and thinking, "Oh, two violations in one 4 letter abbreviation!".

                                  2. re: JessKidden

                                    Thanks! Now I know!

                                    1. re: wadejay26

                                      I remember some years ago Juanito's had blenders in there back dining room and encouraged patrons to bring in tequila to be used to make frozen margaritas. Don't know if they still do this...

                  2. re: JustJake

                    We live 15 minutes closer to New Brunswick than Freehold, and it usually takes us around 25-30 minutes to get there. While the portion of 18 b/t Freehold and Old Bridge is a freeway with a 65 mph speed limit, the rest of the trip to N.B. involves lights and, often, a lot of traffic. So, 30 minutes? I don't think so.

                    I do agree with you that Due Mari is a good choice. The pastas are especially excellent. No surprise given that Michael White is the e.c./partner.

                    Due Mari photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                    1. re: RGR

                      I live in Oakhurst (Ex 105) and if I discount getting to the GSP (7-10 minutes), starting from 105 I can get into downtown NB in a little over 30 minutes (GSP>NJTPK>18>College Ave). Then again, I don't have to travel Rte. 18, the lights and distracted shoppers in that East Brunswick corridor- most of them should be taking the D or F train, instead of getting behind the wheel. Sorry about that EL7 - but it's an objective overview borne out of years of driving (I have 1.2M under my belt in this grand ol Garden State and I've seen it all).

                      I stay away from the Rte. 9 & 18 corridor at all costs.

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                      Garden State Restaurant
                      287 Central Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07307

                    2. re: JustJake

                      De Lorenzo's has a new location in Robbinsville on Rte 33 just off Rte 130 . Plenty of parking and a good Italian Geli in the back of the complex .

                    3. I had a great meal at Via 45 in Red Bank last June. I am dying to go back.

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                      Via 45
                      45 Broad St., Red Bank, NJ 07701

                      1. I am so grateful! This list is just what I was hoping for. I will put it to good use! My half hour was just a gauge. I was just thinking of a typical day where I don't feel like cooking. Will travel longer for good food if anyone has more ideas I would love that too. Moving is no fun, and not knowing where to find good food is even less fun. Thanks for all your help, and great suggestions.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: EL7

                          Second on Via45 - they get better each time we eat there and they now have a very good bargain special prix fixe menu. Also in Red Bank we love everything we've eaten at El Norte de la Frontera across from the train station. Our go to place these days is Red near the corner of Front and Broad Steets. Their filet appetizer and one of several very good sushi rolls or the yellowtail and jalapeno plate makes a great meal and the weekday drink specials are a nice value.
                          Also second Ibby's right in Frteehold for great bargain priced middle eastern food and Federici's/Frankie Feds locally for great pizza and red sauce italian. You have got to try the house dressing on a Frankie Fed's salad!
                          For Chinese, the best two are right near each other up Rt 34 past Matawan - Westlake Seafood and Shanghai Bun. Check the many posts here about them both. Almost across the street from them is Deninos for the best Margarita pizza around.
                          Also, the name of the greek place in Long Branch is Nikos. Lots of posts about them here too.

                          1. re: seal

                            One more vote for Ibby's. Definitely great affordable Middle Eastern menu, and friendly people working there. I always get hot sauce on my lamb schwarma although that is of course optional --- especially since you mentioned that you wanted to avoid overly spicy items. Just let them know of your preferences one way or another when you order.

                            Also thumbs-up for Federici's & Frankie Feds....both popular and with good reason. Personally, I'm a bit more inclined towards downtown Freehold Federici's for sit-down dining in the bar/restaurant although we do get takeout from Frankie Fed's as well when the mood strikes. I guess it's like Ford vs Chevy. LOL. Federici's in the borough always seemed more laid-back hometown to us than Frankie's out on NJ33 but 'seal' knows of what he speaks when he mentioned the Frankie Fed's house salad dressing (which may be a family recipe, not sure). Finally within a 30 minute travel radius of Freehold, we also enjoy going to Vic's in Bradley Beach for their whole wheat thin-crust pizza.....Pete & Elda's in Neptune City has their loyal customer following as well but we have always liked Vic's. Only downside to both places is that they can get busy, particularly in-season on Friday & Saturday evenings etc.

                            Last of all, for a fun more casual summer experience, you could always stop at the Windmill in the West End of Long Branch on Ocean Avenue at Brighton Avenue ..... get one or two of their hot dogs, and climb up the stairs to eat on the deck under the windmill blades while you watch the world go by. Stay clear of Max's north of there on Ocean Avenue, another hot dog purveyor some might suggest but high prices, poor service, and surly attitudes spoil the deal.

                            Enjoy !

                            -----
                            Federici's
                            14 E Main St, Freehold, NJ 07728

                        2. Don't bother with any other Chinese places until you've went here. So close to home too.

                          http://pekingpavilion.com/home.html

                          Pino's is pricey but close to home. I don't think I've ever had a bad meal here but you're paying $20 for pasta. Not good.

                          http://www.famouspinos.com/

                          1. I second West Lake & Shanghai Bun in Matawan for authentic Chinese food.

                            I also enjoy Ibby in Freehold. Frankly Burgers and more in Raintree plaza in Freehold near Stop and Shop is a good place for cheese steaks, burgers, fries.

                            Pom Pom BBQ on Rt33 (Millstone) and Mo'Green (Marlboro/Manalapan) on Rt 9 are also good, low price option.

                            Had lunch once in the newly opened Meredith's New Orlean on Rt 9 South and enjoyed them. I am not an expert on what is a good Po' Boy or Jambalaya both we ordered both along with a hush puppy and enjoyed them.

                            Little Saigon on Rt 9 north isn't the best Vietnamese food but they are certainly an acceptable option.

                            -----
                            Frankly Burgers and more
                            Freehold, NJ, Freehold, NJ

                            Shanghai Bun Restaurant
                            952 State Route 34 Ste 6, Matawan, NJ 07747

                            1. Have I said thank you! I am so grateful for all your suggestions. Also fatter! We enjoyed ourselves a little too much! Federichi's pizza was interesting. I loved the sauce and cheese. I am not a thin crust fan. I especially don't like cracker crust. If that topping were on a thin crust I'd be happier. If it were on a regular crust I would be a regular. Glad I went there though would be happy to try their pasta next time. My favorite pizza was from Nunzio's in Staten Island before they renovated. I will keep looking!
                              We are looking forward to Hong Kong Supermarket in East Brunswick as we like authentic Chinese and I occasionally enjoy American Chinese too. Looking forward to Peking Pavilion for this, thank you! We like Shanghai Bun a lot. East Lake we have been too many times and it is usually pretty good. We took friends there about two months ago and it was awful. I am afraid to go back it was so bad. I love Wonder Seafood and would go there before we moved to NJ. Tom is wonderful and will always be happy to suggest dishes if you ask for his help. This is one of our favorite restaurants.
                              Via 45 in Red Bank was outstanding! That was where I really put on the pounds! Everything we had was fabulous! Thank you ... I think?! We will be back!

                              Just Jake, sorry but I am one of those who belong on the D train! I apologize! But thanks for telling me about Trenton for pizza, and Black Trumpet in a beautiful seaside environment. That is the reason we moved here! I love the beach! That is the one ambiance I don't mind paying for! Then again sitting under the blades at the Windmill sounds like a perfect way to enjoy so lots of reasons to say thank you! Looking forward to great eats and fun times!
                              Thank you all for your wonderful help!

                              -----
                              Just Jake's
                              30 Park St, Montclair, NJ 07042

                              Black Trumpet
                              7 Atlantic Ave, Spring Lake, NJ 07762

                              Shanghai Bun Restaurant
                              952 State Route 34 Ste 6, Matawan, NJ 07747

                              Via 45
                              45 Broad St., Red Bank, NJ 07701

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: EL7

                                Glad that you had such a positive experience with our recs!

                              2. Based on our first dinner at Meredith's New Orleans Cuisine, in Manalapan, it appears we have a winner. My review is on this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/785640

                                Meredith's New Orleans Cuisine photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

                                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: RGR

                                  Does Meredith's have a bar or liquor license or is it BYOB? They have a "Bar/Lounge" Menu pdf, but it's food only - no mention of alcoholic beverage choices on the menu or anywhere else on the website or the photos (at least, that I could see).

                                  1. re: JessKidden

                                    Meredith's is a BYO. There is a bar/lounge immediately next door (same entrance and to the right), but the two places are not related.

                                    http;//thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                    1. re: RGR

                                      I do remember seeing on Meredith's menu something like "Cocktail or Drinks from Twilight Bar" - i could be wrong though.

                                  2. re: RGR

                                    I will second RGR's assessment. We had a great lunch there a few weeks back. I look forward to returning for dinner