Ladies' weekend away in Long Branch, NJ
I am going on a surprise 40th bday weekend with my best friend to the Bungalow Hotel in Long Branch, NJ at the end of July. Please recommend your favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner spots. Looking for good food, nice atmosphere, moderately priced (maybe one high end dinner?) We are both busy moms and never get to go away together, so any other recs on things to do there. Neither of us have ever been. Thanks!!
We had a great time! Here's my food report:
Porta Pizza-lunch was amazing-pizza was great and cheese/cured meats app was yummy, great service
McCloone's-we only went here because it was raining and neither of us were prepared for cold, rainy weather. It was decent, nothing great.
My Kitchen Witch-LOVED. I can eat breakfast 3x/day, so this was perfect for us. Strawberry butter???
Shakka Tacos-we were on the beach and just wanted something quick. Fish tacos were good, shaved ice was yummy, guacamole was OK
Cubacan-Cool place, skirt steak was very good, sangria was a little sweet for my taste, but still did the job :) Not the best Cuban, but tasty.
Paradise/Empress Hotel for dancing-obviously we are old because we thought 10:30pm would be a good time to get there. We were the only ones there with about 10 other ladies...DJ was amazing, we danced, drank...then went to Porta around 1am to meet up with a line down the block and 2 cop cars keeping things in order. Went to boardwalk and grabbed chocolate crepes instead before getting a taxi back to our hotel.
Turning Point-GREAT spot, great food, great service. ordered the lobster eggs benny...
Metlife Stadium/VIP party for Bon Jovi concert-he touched my hand...enough said
Amy's Omlette house-great, would definitely go back
You guys have a great spot here-I was totally expecting Snookie types, but this was a real treat :) I would definitely go back with the hubby and kids. Thanks so much for all the food advice. Need to hit up the other spots I missed like Ada's.
Some nice rec's here. I'll add:
If you enjoy fish tacos, Woody's in Sea Bright makes a really tasty fish taco Baja style.
Shakka at Pier Village, LB also for fish taco done Hawaiian Island style. Very fresh bits of pineapple in every taco which I love. Also their tangy salsa & chips come with each entree and the salsa is super refreshing. The also serve burritos, rice bowls, quesadillas & salads with flair. Shaved ice too!
Well rach, what did you decide upon? - you had a pretty good weekend down here weather wise. You also received a lot of feedback, most all of it good. I believe that I speak for most all of us on here that we are always interested in where you decided and your thoughts - in your case, especially so, as you were travelling from Long Island.
Hey, if you just decided to grab some dogs and fries from the Windmill and retreated it to your hotel room and had a pillow fight - well, I'd be interested in that as well ;-) JK ;-)
So, what's the scoop Betty Boop?
For breakfast I will second;
Kitchen Witch & Turning Point (TP is in Pier Village where you are staying) I will add, Amy's Omelette House, a short 3-minute drive up Ocean Ave. http://www.youramys.com/
You are staying in Pier Village which has been very well discussed on this board as a quick search will show you.
There are a half dozen, if not more, places to drink and eat in Pier Village itself. You don't really have to drive anywhere to have a nice variety all within walking distance. Prices vary, however most are higher, which you are going to find with most water front restaurants in the area.
Directly next door to Pier Village is a hotel Ocean Place or Palace, they have an out door beach bar, which on the weekends is a great place to hang. A short walk past it takes you to Rooney's......a staple in the area, and again beach front dining. Prices again are high, but in line with the rest of the area. Unless you want to travel to Asbury Park (well discussed via a quick search) there really isn't much reason to leave the Pier Village property.
Please note before I get flamed for this post, I'm not saying that the restaurants in Pier Village are the best, nor best value at the Jersey Shore, but they are adequate and obviously close to "home" for the weekend.
Ave. is the perfect setting for a Sex In The City type happy hour, cosmo environment. Careful late at night as the crowd goes from fine diners to rowdy club goers.
Nikos Trapezi opposite 7 Presidents Park for well prepared Greek specializing in Seafood.
+1 for North Beach Grill for Breakfast/lunch a couple blocks north of there.
For links to websites for various LB establishments go to Monmouth Dining Directory and click on "Location" header to sort by town:
Latin cuisine isn't something you're going to readily find at the northshore, especially since Laila's in Asbury Park bit the dust last fall. You mentioned one 'high end' dinner - you may want to look into Cubacan on the Asbury boardwalk. Great cocktails (terrific mai tais among others), good Cuban food and a pretty great vibe right in the center of it all - it appears that you may be on a budget (young moms with families) and if so, it'll cost if you as most everything on the boards is like that. If you're looking to get 'good' and dance on the tables, this is as good as any, but be prepared to go a little deeper into your pocketbook especially on the cocktail side of things.
Suggestion: take a cab from PV if you're going to combine that dinner with some sloppy drinking.
If you do Cubacan, you can also do up Porta at around 11pm to dance (it's a young crowd), but if you want to get loose, that's the way to go. The nearby Empress Hotel has a disco that booms and it caters to a gay crowd. That's not the worst thing in the world -- look at it this way - you won't get hassled, they're great dancers and they play great dance music.
Enjoy your stay ;-)
Everyone has been right on the money as to options, be it at Pier Village, which you may love. For many of us locals, it's a love-hate, but you do have plenty of options for all three daily meals. There's a good Greek in there too.
IMO the best "high end" joint in Asbury right now is probably Hotel Tides. Great food and ambiance. Cubacan charges high endish prices but the food honestly isn't worth the money IMO. The best thing they have is their free bread and butter. Which is crack-level tasty.
The parties at Empress/Paradise are awesome - you *will* have a good time there. It's probably the best kept "secret" in Asbury Park nightlife (not that it's really a secret, but you'll rarely ever see a line there). You can't go wrong starting with some cocktails at Watermark and finishing off at Paradise. I would rather slit my wrists rather than fight the crowds at Porta on a weekend.
I would recommend that OP split time between Long Branch and Asbury and do one or more of the following:
Fancy food: Nicholas. It *will* be worth the trip to Middletown. No one else in our area comes close. Optionally Piccola Italia (Ocean), Hotel Tides (AP) or Avenue. Maybe Moonstruck (AP).
Moderate priced dining: Nikos (or It's Greek to me if you want to stay in PV), Johnny Piancone's, At the table (AP), Taka (AP).
Casual bar food: Wings ribs and clam strips at Jack's, pizza at Porta (AP). Bond St. (AP) or Brick Wall (AP).
Casual food: Ethiopian at Ada's, Brazilian BBQ at Sabor Brasil, sammiches at Richard's or Frank's (AP), Mexican at Oaxaqueno or El Rancho or Cotija (AP).
Go for drinks, enjoy the view: Avenue, McLoone's, bar area outside Ocean Place, Beach Bar (AP), Watermark (AP).
Breakfast: Turning Point, Amy's, Toast (AP), Chat n Nibble (AP).
Upscale cocktail: Watermark, Wine Loft, Avenue.
Club: Avenue, Paradise.
It's 2am and I need to stuff my face: Jr's, Windmill, Crown Fried Chicken (AP)
Finally, I'd spend at least one weekend morning walking around Ocean Grove.
Hope that helps!
That's a great overview Joon. I'd just add (for the OP) that At the Table is Southern soul food with great fried chicken in a very clean room.
Walking Ocean Grove (after a breakfast in AP) is highly recommended. My cousins were down from the Warren Co. area on Sunday (we had lunch at Seagrass) and they commented, who needs Cape May when you have a great little town such as Ocean Grove.
For a firstimer, Moonstruck is a great place to dine should their pocketbook not be in sync with a Nicholas.
The original poster should just print your post, and put it in her pocketbook. It's all that she needs.
Thanks JustJake, I thought it was pretty comprehensive myself! :D
I wanted to add one thing though that I've never personally tried but always wanted to - Ocean Place has an on-the-beach dinner you can do. It looks fantastic and everyone has a steak and lobster on their plate. I can't imagine dinner getting much awesomer than that.
Any 'hounds try this dinner at Ocean Place?
a little off topic, but if we go to Paradise for dancing/drinks, do you recommend Thursday or Friday night? I went on their website and there wasn't much info on what was going on either night...we love dance music, but also want to recognize the songs-not just techno stuff.
JR, On the topic of the avenue, I almost just fell on the floor after reading that avenue thread that was recently resurrected. That guy who complains about everything under the sun and always rants about how NJ doesn't have good food actually LIKED the Avenue. I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING! LOL ...different strokes for different folks I guess.
Has anyone been to Charley's recently? I have been there once and it was just kind of dull....not bad but not enough to bring me back.
re: corvette johnny
I saw that as well Johnny, but what do I know?. I'm a local - and with that, I'll always be northshore Jersey patois and not Riveria beautiful peeps.
Give me the Parker House, Harrigans, or Lucy's on the LES of Manhattan most any day of the week. Though I'm also very comfortable imbibing and making small talk at Bar Seine or The Great Hall Balcony Bar.
I guess I'm just a real Renaissance Guy with a twist - a Bukowski/Gatsby sort of fellow
re: corvette johnny
I agree Charley's is average. Been there for happy hour on Fridays several times in the last 6 months, specifically for half price beers and apps. I wish I could give you a better report, but we have zeroed in on two specific apps: my wife loves the coconut shrimp and I always get the drunken clams. We like these apps compared to some of the other offerings. Never had any entrees there, but like to walk up to the beach after eating.
Turning point is definitely a good spot for breakfast and not expensive.
What kind of food do you guys want and do you want to be eating on the water?
I'd recommend a lunch at the windmill. It doesn't get more long branch than that. A hot dog and cheese fries will take care of you. You can walk there too.
Just out of curiosity, where are you coming from?
re: corvette johnny
Long Branch has quite a few Brazilian places since there is a decent Brazilian population in town. If you have ever experienced "rodizio" style dining they have that here too (not upscale but if you love grilled meat of all styles it might be up your alley)
There is a mexican place called Casa Comida that is pretty good and casual. Havanna was a cool cuban place in Highlands but I don't know if they will be open then. They got nailed by the hurricane.
As for dining on the water you have 4 options in Long branch for ocean front dining in Pier Village. Prepare to get price gouged if you eat on the water and the food will be ok, not great. If you want great food you will need to drive a little bit off the beach.
Avenue: overpriced/trendy french style cuisine with very nice decor, overlooking ocean. Food is mediocre but it is the nicest atmosphere of these 4 places IMO. It is very open and airy.
Mccloones: american, decent lively atmosphere... food is just OK again. One dish I do like is the lobster roll (not a traditional lobster roll but their take on one...quite good for lunch.) You can stop by and sit outside on the boardwalk if you want to have a cocktail.
Sirena, pretty decent Italian and on the beach right next to the avenue. This is my fave over the other 2 at Pier Village on the water. Veal shank is a really nice dish. Chicken scarapiello is good too, and the Saltimbocca are my top 3 there. http://sirenaristorante.com/dinner.asp
Rooneys is down the boardwalk slightly, a few minute walk. They specialize in seafood. I have only been once or twice recently. Again, it is overpriced but that is what you get on the shore. You can get live lobsters here (market priced) and get them stuffed too. Prepare to pay big time for a stuff lobster 2.5lb or more.
If you want to drive a little, you have about a ten minute ride to a few other places that are river side (Not ocean.) Salt Creek Grill and Barnacle bills for some fried seafood or cheeseburgers (their specialties.) And then you have Inlet cafe in Highlands.
Brighton ave has a concentration of good food.
I have eaten at and enjoyed:
JR West End and Neil's kitchen are 'upscale' burger and sandwich shops. Richards for NY Jewish deli. The renovated Jack's goal line is chick friendly now. The Pezao Brazilian Buffet on Brighton. Late dinning night ,The Ink Well. There are other places I have not tried too.
maybe of inter3st
I think Kitchen Witch breakfast is among the best in the area.
Ama in Monmouth Beach is a good option for upscale Italian.
Charlie's Ocean Grill in Long Branch has nice 1/2 price ($5) appetizers every day during Happy Hour (4-6 PM).
Izu in Long Branch is great for Japanese.
Niko's in Long Branch if you're up for a Greek Menu.