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First time visit to Ocean Grove coming later this summer

We've been to lots of places from LBI to Cape May, but this will be our first time "up north" ... we'd welcome any / all suggestions for breakfast and dinner (we'll be on the beach during lunch time ...). Any / all cuisines and price points are in play, and we'll have transportation and a willingness to drive up to 30 minutes or so for a great meal. Also, not familiar with the liquor laws thereabouts - do places serve? Is BYOB do-able?

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  1. Ocean Grove is a dry town. Next door is Asbury Park and I would highly recommend Porta to eat, but get there early for dinner as it turns into a night club Thursday Friday and Saturday after 8 or so. They also have a good brunch on Sunday.
    Stella Marina on the Asbury boardwalk is good as well. Mogo Korean tacos on the boardwalk is good but it is a stand so there is no seating

    1. OG is dry. BYO is the only way. An old school spot in town worth chickin' out would be Nagle's in the Grove. It's an old "Soda Fountain" holdover.

      Along the same lines, on Main Street in Asbury Park, there is Frank's Deli. They make their own pastrami and corned beef. Great lunch spot and pretty cheap.

      Also, Jimm'y is a Sinatra era "Red Sauce" Italian spot in AP. http://jimmysitalianrestaurant.com/ It's cool in a Goodfella's sorta way.

      I too like Porta, but, admittedly, I'm kinda down on nouveau Asbury and the crowds that come with it.

      In Belmar, there is a place called Nicchio's that does an all day Sunday Happy Hour that is one of the best values in the area.

      I could wax on this all day. Maybe you might want to give a tad more detail? Maybe search the Board for Bradley Beach, Belmar, and/or Asbury Park. There's a lot of good Chow to be had.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MGZ

        Nagles is a 'gem' and I actually prefer it over Dey's as to getting one's ice cream on a warm summer evening, though you can't go wrong at either in a town like OG.

        As I read the OP query, he's willing to travel up to 30 minutes......hmmmmmm, MGZ - why don't we include Drew's Bayshore Bistro in Keyport (every bit of a half hour but great NOLA cuisine), Nicholas which will set you back a $100 a chair with wines just north of Red Bank and is the best dining experience here at the northshore (try a Sunday nite at the bar (which is a fixed 3 course menu and reasonable - it will require a reservation). Whispers in nearby Spring Lake is a classic dining experience in wonderful quarters (BYOB) with excellent food.

        You have dozens of choices here at the northshore, many of them very good. Google the nearby towns as MGZ suggested and then you can get back to the board with comments and recommendations.

      2. Welcome and here you go ....

        Breakfast in OG - Barbaric Bean and if the Rasberry Cafe is open - should service you. VG breakfast to be had at Frank's in AP (but it's a long walk - almost to the northern edge of AP - btw, stay out of Toast in AP - expensive and it sucks).

        Dinners. Highly recommend Seagrass in OG which is a local favorite that I've dined at dozens of times. There's also Bia in OG which I've yet to try but gets favorable review.

        South of OG you have many restaurants to choose in Bradley Beach - Bamboo Leaf (Thai), a couple of Italian places - Giammano's, Cerratos' etc. There's also Mexican, Carribean (Fins) and a decent example of Jersey thin crust pie at Vics (will be crowded and expect to wait). You can combine a pizza trip with the nearby Bradley Cinema which is next door, or you if your tastes float over to the avant-garde, there's excellent cinema to be had in AP at the Cinema House (?)/

        AP has numerous restaurants. If I would steer you to one (as a newbie here folks) it would be Moonstruck which will be delightful to a first time visitor. Walkable via the boardwalk from OG. Classy, solid food, wonderful ambience.

        2 Replies
        1. re: JustJake

          The theatre in AP is the Showroom. It's little, but they get cool stuff. http://theshowroomap.com/

          Also, I s'pose it's woth mentionin' Pete & Elda's http://peteandeldas.com/ for pizza and Kelly's for reubens http://kellystavernjerseyshore.com/ (Get the pastrami mini, well done. I haven't been able to finish a full one since I was nineteen.)

          1. re: JustJake

            Down in Bradley Beach there is also Blue Marlin, A Jamaican / Caribbean establishment that was big in the 90s and just reopened in recent months under the original chef / owner, Roy Reid.


          2. To add a few more in Asbury Park: Dauphin Grille, TAki (BYOB but getting liquor license) and Toast (for breakfast and Lunch),and Ivan and Andy's for great burgers at lunch.

            9 Replies
            1. re: SusieQQ

              Ivan & Andy's. Of course. Stick to beef and booze and I bet you'll be back to tell Susie how brilliant she is!

              1. re: MGZ

                I will also recommend the Speakeatery in AP on Cookman by Main. Great little lunch spot with nice daily specials, limited seating at three small counter areas

                1. re: roro1831

                  In some of your collective efforts in trying to give the OP rec's, the request was for breakfast and dinner. They're going to be on the beach mid day and will probably just have hydration in mind, that and some serious swimming, body surfin.. Just saying......

                  Toast is a complete waste of money and time IMHO (this per a number of friends who gave it a shot). If the OP is in OG, I'd suspect the desired goal is a quick walk to a local simple spot to coat the stomach in the morning. I don't know if Rasberry's is still open, but I'm sure the quaint little spot that is Nagle's Apocethary will serve breakfast. .... there's really no need to be spending $10-$15 for breakfast (daily) in a place like Toast (I'd rather reserve that extra jing on dinner). Eating at Toast would also entail getting into the car as a walk will take away from beach time - especially the best part of the day (early morning). I probably shouldn't have volunteered Frank's either which is also a drive by.

                  No flamage here, just scratching my head as to some answers. No one listens anymore. They just want to talk.

                  1. re: JustJake

                    Wow, We were all just trying to give multiple suggestions....

                    You need to go back and read the OP's request...."we'll have transportation and a willingness to drive up to 30 minutes or so..."

                    1. re: SusieQQ

                      I hear you Suzie but when I'm on vacation, the last thing I want to do is to get into the care for brefist, then to find a line. It's a drag, and not needed especially when you're in a town like OG which encourages 'hoofing' it. Nagles, Rasberry's, Barbaric Bean and who knows what else is about should satisfy the minor aspect of putting a coating in one's stomach.

                      I even corrected myself on the Frank's rec as why bother if you're vacationing in OG. Get into a mellow and don't get onto the roadway that is Monmouth in the summer. I get most of my Sh#t done by 10am and I'm off the road - either at the beach or having cocktails at that hour (yup, you read right - when you get up at 5 with the birds, and the serenity that still can be found down here, you're ready for lunch at that time - clock be damned, all I know is what my body's telling me ;-).

                      No harm here, no flame either.

                    2. re: JustJake

                      Sorry Jake they also serve dinner

                      1. re: roro1831

                        Franks? I know lunch, but they do dinner?

                        1. re: JustJake

                          No the Speakeatery my post you responded to

              2. Mr. Shrimp is a great spot for dinner. Nearby in Belmar and byob. Though it's not on the water, you'll enjoy better fish and seafood than most spots that are.


                1 Reply
                1. re: Foody4life

                  Gotta agree with you there. This is the spot you go to for fresh fish/seafood and it is a reasonably priced, spotlessly clean BYOB.

                  Passion, it's a good thing - in the bedroom and dining. ;-)

                2. Gotta join this party... :-) Fwiw, I was down in OG/AP on Memorial Day and walked the boards (85% of which were intact) from the northernmost point in AP down to Bradley Beach--things are definitely looking good there vs a lot of other towns.

                  I always say that I stay in Ocean Grove but play in Asbury during the summer--two VERY different towns, and I like them each for different reasons. Depending upon when you're going to be in OG, parking your car *could * be a royal pain (mostly the week of the 4th of July), so having the walkable options not only helps you stay caaaaaaaalm, it also allows you to enjoy your cocktails/wine and stroll home along the ocean! That said, here are my go-to spots in that part of the world...

                  Breakfast: Starving Artist (attached to Day's Ice Cream) in OG is our go-to spot. You may wait, but you'll be out of the sun (my friends and I prefer the porch to the indoor/air conditioning) and if you get a window seat, you can overlook their wild garden, which is always full of giant (non-stinging) bees and butterflies. VERY relaxing, total eclectic beach vibe, food is terrific, and they have pumpernickel for toast, which makes me happy! We usually end up there every day.

                  Porta sits on the block right behind the Stone Pony (when you walk out of the restaurant you're facing the back of the club) and they have some terrific brunch items; I'm partial to the lemon-ricotta pancakes, the side of sausage, and one of their excellent cocktails, and friends who like bloody marys RAVE about them. They're made with crushed San Marzano's. :-) Sit at the bar or at one of the tall tables next to it and watch all the action! Family-friendly place (not sure if that matters) but you've been warned and I'll do it again--the place turns in to an insane 20-something club scene at night. If that's your scene, go forth--if not, have brunch or dinner! If you go for dinner you. MUST. HAVE. THE. OCTOPUS. I can't stress this enough. If you only have one thing for dinner (or lunch, but you didn't ask about lunch), HAVE. THE. OCTOPUS. Got that? hehe

                  I'll be another person who tells you to stay away from Toast.

                  On the northern end of the AP boards is Convention Hall, and on the northern end inside, you'll find Asbury Park Roastery. EXCELLENT coffees. If you're up early (I always am when I'm down the shore) and want to take a walk, you can grab a cup of coffee for your stroll back to OG. Baked goods too, but mostly packaged, iirc.

                  If you want to take a ride, head south in to Spring Lake and go to The Scone Pony for...you guessed it. Note: I am really not a sweet eater and never cared for scones all that much--until a friend took me there. OMG. Lots of other yummy baked goods too. Wait in the line. It's TOTALLY worth it. Orange-cran is one of my favorites.

                  I have two go-to spots in AP for dinner...Porta is one (and after you have the octopus, you can share a huge salad, have one of their terrific real-deal Neopolitan pizzas, or maybe even try their pasta dishes. Save room for dessert b/c there's always something interesting in terms of gelato flavors! Note: Porta is VERY casual, which I also love when I'm down the shore.

                  Taka is my other favorite spot in AP. Fantastic sushi and as far as I know it's still BYO--but make a reservation. The place is large but always full, because IT'S DAMN GOOD. I'm a fan of the Red Dragon roll, but they also have non-sushi items available. www.takaapnj.com

                  Two other places I frequent--both in Belmar, and literally spaces away from each other in the same strip...10th Avenue Burrito (full bar) and Jersey Shore BBQ (BYO). I'm going to be brutally honest here--every time I go to 10th Ave I swear I won't go back b/c the service is AWFUL. But the food is good, and I do like the vibe once we finally get settled! I tend to stop there to grab lunch before the beach and then go to JSBBQ for dinner. They know what they're doing at JSBBQ...order the brisket!! Note: on weekends they usually have very good small blues bands playing, but don't expect to have a conversation in there if they do. Go, eat, nod your heads, and then leave and go to Hoffman's (Spring Lake) for ice cream and talk about how good the Q was.

                  Additional thoughts if I come up with any, but you've now got my official list. Have a great time!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Curlz

                    Good post Curlz. What the OP needs to know is that most dining options should be done early (5'ish) as Porta becomes as competitive as finding a NYC parking spot. That holds true with most spots in AP as it has gotten 'safe' in the eyes of most suburbanites who once shunned the place for being too dark and dangerous. LMAO

                    Same (long waits) with most popular spots, especially the casual/cheap nite out ones like Vic's, P&E's, Local Smoke, etc.

                    Where a destination/special dinner is planned (Drew's, Nicholas, Buena Suera, Brandl or Whispers) you have the latitude of being able to make a reservation, thus having some semblance of control.

                    Vacations, like living down here, takes logistics. For us locals, we know enough not to make errant decisions as to a drive, a restaurant, etc. Hell, last week when we decided to check out someone selling a couple of hundred of pieces of original art (part of an estate sale) at the OG Flea Market (all proceeds to restore the OG boardwalk), we took my wife's smaller sedan for parking ease; we drove down Main Ave. and I quickly audibled, got outta Dodge and parked along Lake Ave in AP for the walk in. (Met a friend who spent 45 minutes looking for a spot).

                    As a local, my tolerance level for 'waits' are very short as we enjoy unfettered access for most of the year only to be severely tested & exposed to the inanity of it all once the kids invade Bradley/Belmar and those with family at those casual spots (tables of 4-6 take precedence and one ends up waiting, hungry and sucking hind tit).

                  2. As you can see, budgetrick, there is a lot of passion among diners as far as restaurants in this area. One more point is that there are restaurants that are not all high end that do take reservations....but, am I going to name them? Not me, I'll keep that info to myself so that we locals can continue to eat at them during the summer.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: SusieQQ

                      That's funny. Though, not very 'houndish.

                      It reminds me of that fact that there is a place in Manasquan that I've been eatin' at just about all my life. Literally. My baptism celebration was had there.

                      Last summer, we made the mistake of tryin' to go to dinner on a Friday night at seven in August. The place was packed. There was an hour or more wait.

                      We walked in. Saw the old Italian lady who owns the place. Spoke of things past.

                      Well, a table for two opened up before I could finish my drink at the bar. We were escorted to it a minute later. A guy who had been waiting for some time started bitching about how we were seated first. The owner said, "He was born here." I'm not sure if she meant the town or the restaurant.

                      Ironically, the bitchy guy was seated at a table close to us a few minutes later. I raised my glass in his direction and had a waitress deliver a bottle of the Lambrusco that's not on the menu. All good, right?

                      When the time comes to pay, the waitress says, "It's been taken care of."


                      "That gentleman over there has paid for your dinner."

                      As we are walkin' out I go over, shake hands, and express my gratitude. I also inquire "why?"

                      "Way I see it, next time we come in here that old lady will think we're friends."

                      1. re: MGZ

                        MGZ, that's one of THE. BEST. stories I've ever read on CH!!!

                        1. re: Curlz

                          You should read more of 'em, I guess?

                          It was a funny night though.

                    2. Seagrass in Ocean Grove is an all time favorite of mine too!

                      1. This is the OP, just checking in ... YIKES!!! "... a lot of passion" indeed!! Many thanks to all who have shared their thoughts and recommendations. Rather than try to select from among the suggestions, I think we'll work at staying longer than one week ... (And keep the ideas coming, please!!)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: budgetrick

                          Only thing I'm more passionate about than food is Mrs. Z.

                          1. re: MGZ

                            You're such a traditionalist MG. And that's a good thing.

                            1. re: JustJake

                              I may be mostly Hemingway on the surface, but I've got more of a Hawthorne heart.

                        2. I second Day's for breakfast and for ice cream and much prefer it to Nagle's. Raspberry's has been closed for years. You can also get decent bagels at the bagel store in the strip mall at the Route 33 entrance to OG (where Burger King is). In AP, Taka takes reservations, and it and all the Cookman ave places are easily walked to from OG

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: OGguy

                            Swear I peaked into Raspberry's not more than 2 summers ago. In fact, got a breakfast sandwich there and split it with my golden who waited patienty for me at the sidewalk. Usually would take the walk from the Wonder Bar to OG - Main Ave. on the weekends.

                          2. As of last weekend, Mogo Tacos on the boardwalk in AP is officially on my list... Pork and tofu were the winners amongst 4 of us...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Curlz

                              Have they figured out how to serve them warm yet?

                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                I had 1 pork and one bulgogi and both were warm...

                            2. If you're willing to drive 15 minutes up Ocean Ave, don't miss AMA- IMHO the best Italian restaurant in NJ!!! Make sure you have a reservation. They do have a liquor license, but if you want to bring your own, they charge $25 corkage (except Sunday nights when BYOB is free).

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: sockster

                                15 minutes from Ocean Grove? In the summer? Sorry, not possible.
                                BTW, I've never heard of the restaurant, so just have to try it. Although, I'm tired of Italian! Too, too many here.

                                1. re: SusieQQ

                                  You won't be tired of Italian after you try AMA.