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Monmouth County - Best of Last Year?

So, at least for us, 2013 was a lousy year for eating out at the Shore. Our investment in restaurant food was roughly equivalent to that of JP Morgan Chase in WaMu. I think we just settled the last dispute with the Feds and it almost exhausted the reserve.

Nonetheless, I did have a few shining palate moments from the plates placed in front of me at local eateries. For example, the crab beignets and the gnudi at Surv. have us heading back for more tastes in a couple weeks. The pizzas at Mossuto's and Porta are consistently worth stopping in for. Mrs. Z had a halibut special at The Shipwreck that was dish licking good. And, the corned beef hash at Toast in Asbury will always come to mind when I am more hungover than usual.

So, I was wondering, as we start Twenty-fourteen, what did you have last year in the area that you wanna head back for? What deliciousness would you divulge? What was your "Wrecking Ball"? Your "Roar"? What would be your MTV awards for the Best of 2013? Best beer? Best app? Best sandwich?* Best whatever-the-f*ck-you-can-think of?

*By the way, I still want to get to that place in Long Branch for the Meatball Sub.

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  1. Cool thread and happy new year z man.

    Let me think this over. What place in long branch?

    4 Replies
    1. re: corvette johnny

      Oceanview. I'm pretty sure it was your rec: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/868666 I've been past a few times too late to go in, and longed to stop by "next time". It's at the top of the short list for the next few weeks. Perhaps, on the way back from the impending trip to the DMV in Eatontown?

      More importantly, Hat's Off and Happy New Year to you, Johnny. Any Carton beer nods for the past twelve months, or were they too "Work Bitch"?*

      *Sorry, just showing my Pop music prowess so as not to seem too out of touch. I can still talk Zeppelin, if you'd prefer?

      1. re: MGZ

        More importantly, I'd also love to see one of those Astronaut trophies be awarded for the "Best Happy Hour Special with Live Performance" or the "Best Latin Artist". (I'm pretty sure that the pork skin tacos at North of the Border will walk away with the latter category).

        1. re: MGZ

          Oh yeah, carton is going strong. I'm still drinking it like its going out of style. Their recent beer called epitome was top notch and at over 10% abv it will take care of you nicely.

          1. re: corvette johnny

            And, here I was thinking I'd have to give those boys a lifetime achievement award for their past prowess with gentler "spirits".

      2. Are you talking about Joanne's Ocean View bakery in LB for meatball subs etc, great place?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Tapas52

          It looks great. 'Hounds have said it's great. I, however, have never been, and really look forward to going soon. Do you think it's great?

          1. Yeah z is talking about ocean view. I'm not even a big meatball guy but that is a decent sub. Ask for the special of the day. Her veal and peppers is a tasty dish.

            Around the corner rocafellas has some real good cheese steak pizza....suprisingly better than their sandwich version which isn't great. These places are both right near the train station.

            For some not so popular places I will toss out a few of my faves this year.

            For 2013 one of my "go to" dishes was the pork chop at harborside. I prob had about 20 of them when I normally am a steak guy. I sub out the potato pancakes for mashed..great unexpected find for a place that's more known for their bar.

            Tacos al pastor at linos was another top dish for2013.

            Thanks for the tip on the pork skin tacos....I might have to head there tonight lol.

            The new Chinese place in hazlet was enjoyable too, jing chuan.

            1 Reply
            1. re: corvette johnny

              That's the spirit, Brother. Harborside deserves some kudos for convincing you to let your beefy ass get "porked"! (frequently, it seems).

            2. Yeah z is talking about ocean view. I'm not even a big meatball guy but that is a decent sub. Ask for the special of the day. Her veal and peppers is a tasty dish.

              Around the corner rocafellas has some real good cheese steak pizza....suprisingly better than their sandwich version. These places are both right near the train station..

              For 2013 one of my "go to" dishes was the pork chop at harborside. I prob had about 20 of them when I normally am a steak guy. I sub out the potato pancakes for mashed..great unexpected find for a place that's more known for their bar.

              Tacos al pastor at linos was another top dish for2013.

              Thanks for the tip on the pork skin tacos....I might have to head there tonight lol.

              1. Very cool thread...here are my picks in no particular order:

                Lengua Taco at North of the Border
                Tortas at Jaunito's Bakery
                Beer at Carton Brewing
                Pretty much everything at The Flaky Tart
                Voodoo Shrimp and the shrimp and grits at Drew's Bayshore Bistro
                Baba ganoush and falafel at Gardenia Grill
                The Capolino sub at Taliercios
                Eggplant slice at Sea Bright Pizza
                Sicilian slice at Federico's Pizza Express (It is so light and airy not like the dense bricks that can be served)
                The Italian roast pork sub at Philly's Famous Cheesesteaks
                Grilled Octopus at Undici
                Philly burger and mango milkshake at Bobby's Burger Palace (I initially didn't expect to like this place, but find my self going back every few months.)
                Khao soi at Kunya Siam
                Broiled, fried, and/or steamed local seafood all along the shore, but Moby's is really close to me and perfect with a pitcher of beer on the roof deck
                Al pastor tacos at International Mexican Food

                I'm sure I've forgotten a few and hope to expand the list in the upcoming year.

                4 Replies
                1. re: LifeGeek

                  Lifegeek, if you are into duck try the Basil duck at kunya siam.

                  Definitely agree with the voodoo shrimp, philly pork sandwich, carton beer and baba ganoush....all great choices of mine as well.

                  A few more....some old classics and some new

                  Still a sucker for a plain brothers pie. I don't think it needs any toppings.

                  Maguro sashimi at kyoto

                  Chorizo and garlic shrimp at costa verde

                  Mac and cheese at salt creek. Heart attack in a bowl.

                  Ny strip Steak at cc

                  Rodeio grill ....one of my all time favorites. Casual Byob rodizio for 18 bucks. Ive been going here for over 8 years and they haven't raised the price a penny. No it's not plataforma but you can roll in here after a day of fishing with a cooler full of beer. I def eat 18 worth of top sirloin, skirt steak, and pork ribs lol

                  Chowhound turned me onto kimchi in lincroft this year. Beef stone bowls are tasty and pretty cheap.

                  I also got into Ada's this year thanks to this site. Pernil is good and Im an ethiopian newbie but I do like that style too.

                  Oh and I found a decent cheese steak finally. Its the place next to shop rite in west long branch. With a little salt and pepper this is pretty good...just had it a few weeks ago.

                  Stuffed jalapeños at local smoke

                  1. re: corvette johnny

                    Thanks corvette johnny. I have heard the duck is awesome and have been meaning to try it. The best part of this thread so far is that I now have even more places to look forward to trying this year.

                    I recently went to Dee Dees kitchen in colts neck and had a pork roll, egg, and cheese. I just randomly stumbled onto the place. I am normally not expecting to be blown away by this humble sandwich, but oh my was their roll awesome. The bread is brought in daily from royal crown on Staten Island. So technically I guess it isn't their roll. They can run out of the rolls pretty quickly on the weekends. It is not much to look at and I haven't tried anything else, but worth a stop for the roll alone if you happen to be in the area.

                    1. re: corvette johnny

                      Cheesesteak in West Long branch.. is that a pizza place?

                    2. re: LifeGeek

                      Federico's Sicilian slice is a true treat. It's like givin' Dave Grohl a "Lifetime Achievement" award. Maybe force him to play a Nirvana/Foo Fighters medley?

                    3. I forgot the infamous sausage egg rolls at Christine's. I was just there Friday too. Jr will back me up on those. I still love the "how do you get a fat guy to eat broccoli" joke. I told my wife and she got a kick out of it.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: corvette johnny

                        I've heard about these from several people now. How is the rest of their food? The rest of their menu seemed pretty standard. I have to stop by there soon.

                        1. re: LifeGeek

                          It's pretty decent. Its kind of expensive for a byob IMO. They have a good ny strip but at 39 dollars im not in love. Another place locally I like has a better steak for 31. Their veal Christine is a high quality cut with fontina cheese and a lemony sauce I believe. My wife got it. It was ok but not my cup of tea in the flavor profile. It is huge and very tender. I think it was 39 as well. If that flavor connects with you it would probably be an awesome dish.

                          The egg rolls are superb. In fact next time I might just get two orders and test a few other apps out.

                          The owner Ron is areal nice guy and you can tell his family pours their heart into their restaurant.

                          1. re: corvette johnny

                            I'll definitely give it a try soon. I've been hearing decent things about Belford bistro too. Has anyone been there?

                            A good steak is hard to find locally it seems. I had one at copper canyon once but didn't care much for the seasoning. I meant to go back and get one without the seasoning. I normally love a lot of seasoning especially when it is spicy, but I love steaks as simple as possible. I did like the food at canyon and thought the cooking was well executed. Was this the steak you were referring to above?

                            1. re: LifeGeek

                              No I haven't been to the belford bistro. I hear people on here talk about it too. I just checked out the menu and it looks interesting. The prices of these BYOB places seem to be creeping up and up...maybe it is just me.


                              And yes, it is the steak there at copper. A few people don't care for the rub but I absolutely love it. I'd love to know what he puts in it.

                              I don't get over to coltsneck much in the morning but if I do I will check out that pork roll sandwich too.

                              have you have the "bomber" at atlantic highlands bagel? I just saw it on the menu AFTER i ordered. Its just a pork roll egg and cheese with homefries....probably good stuff.

                              1. re: corvette johnny

                                Thanks corvette johnny, I'll let you know if I make it to Belford bistro.

                                I hope I didn't come across as a hater on copper canyon. I really like the place just a personal preference regarding steak. Maybe I should give it another try. I thought it was cooked very well when I had it. They have so many good dishes and that is coming from someone that is normally a purist snob. ;)

                                Anything with bomber in the name is worthy of a try!


                                1. re: LifeGeek

                                  "Anything with bomber in the name is worthy of a try!"

                                  Joe Walsh is my idol!

                      2. 2013 was like the last few minutes on Titanic, the real Titanic not the movie. There is no Rose, there is no love story and even though the band still played you still shit your pants knowing the end was drawing near.

                        For me it was a particularly terrible as the year drew to a close Momma Jr passed away on the morning of Dec. 30th.

                        So for my best meal of 2013 I will have to vote for the roast beef dinner, with crab cakes my cousin and God Mother to me, God Daughter to my Mother made for us on Sunday night the 29th. My mother enjoyed a loving dinner surrounded by those she loved, including my daughter home from college, for her last meal here with us. She then passed peaceful and painless in her sleep next to her husband of 45 years at her side. That's all you can ask for a loved one and I will forever be thankful to God for that.

                        Now to keep this back on topic some of my favorite dining experiences of the year have been as follows;

                        Drews for food, however I've expressed my feelings regarding service.

                        Christine's in Atlantic Highlands

                        Commited Pig in Manasquan (thank you MGZ for recommendation)

                        Shipwreck Point in Point Pleasant (ditto MGZ)

                        Jimmy's in Asbury Park (as always)

                        The worst of 2013

                        Raven and Peach Fair Haven; a long time favorite of mine is off my list after multiple sub par experiences.

                        CJ Mc' Loones Tinton Falls, NJ, a new name doesn't change a bad restaurant.

                        Mooses Tavern, Tinton Falls, can anyone explain to me how this place is still open?

                        Let's raise our glass and toast the New Year and the endless possibilities and opportunities it brings with it. I wish you all the health, happiness and love that anyone can experience.

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          Happy new jr and I am very sorry to hear about your loss. Hang in there buddy.

                          I agree on drews. Not in a rush to get back but his food is tasty and unique.

                          One spot I went to a few times this summer was off the hook. I used to go there drinking in my bachelor days many years back. I had not been in years but eating outdoors and snacking on some crispy buffalo wings and brews was a
                          good time. Its "bar food" but the outdoor seats and decent wings were good for a change of pace.

                          Is mcloones the old grist mill? I always loved that building there on the water.

                          Shipwreck is on my radar too.

                          Jr did you ever try captain eds?

                          Super Bowl at pho le is a tasty dish. I had a few of those this year.

                          MGZ have you been to hickory hog?

                          1. re: corvette johnny

                            Thank you CJ, while losing a loved one is never expected, Mom was in ill health for awhile now.

                            Off The Hook on 36 Sth just before the Sandy Hook bridge? If so they have $5. Stoli martinis and darn good bar food. I use to go there when my son played some sports at Croyden Hall.

                            I haven't made it to Capt Ed's yet but it's on my short list to try.

                            CJ's is the old CJ Montana's, old Brix 560 old American Pizza kitchen and a few others mixed in there.

                            The old Grist Mill is now MJ's which isn't bad, but I cannot understand their popularity or growth in the area. The Poor House is near CJ's and is the same ownership of the old Grist Mill, solid place for a good burger.

                            1. re: corvette johnny

                              I have not been to Hickory Hog. I have two cousins on that side of the Bridge and when they come to my house and eat barbecue, they make fun of the place as a way of offering compliments. Consequently, I have never taken it seriously. Honestly, I'm not much of a fan of any of the local barbecue places.

                              For what it's worth, I kinda look upon going out to eat barbecue at a restaurant the way I do going to a strip club. Things may look pretty, and even smell good, but every time I wind up leaving with empty pockets and feeling unsatisfied. Perhaps it's just because of all the time the meat has to spend under those hot lights.

                              1. re: MGZ

                                90% of BBQ cooked at home will be better than most any commercial stuff for that very reason. BBQ can not be cooked to order in a restaurant setting.

                                1. re: MGZ

                                  Dear MGZ, that right there is poetry.

                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    Hilarious! And true for so many of my trips as well!

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      Hickory Hog is NOT real smoked barbecue and also not even tasty. Avoid it.

                                      1. re: chowhounder411

                                        "Hickory Hog is NOT real smoked barbecue and also not even tasty. Avoid it."

                                        That seems to be the sentiment offered to me many times. I assure you that I shall heed your advice. Frankly, I have some good memories of the chicken and onion ring loaf at the old Southern House, but those date to a time before the "magic ATM" and the first trip on 64:

                                    1. re: jrvedivici

                                      My condolences, Brother. Hat's in hand. Cheers!

                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                        So sorry to hear about your mother, JR. My thoughts are with you.


                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                          My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family jrvedivici.

                                          1. re: LifeGeek

                                            Thank you very much LifeGeek..........

                                        2. (Some of these may overlap into late 2012, or spill into other counties)

                                          Best new discovery at an old standby: Garlic teriyaki wings at Jacks, Long Branch.

                                          Best Mexican dish I've never heard of: Chilaquiles at Bradley Cafe.

                                          Best Happy hour food deal: 5$ Sausage & rabe at Nino's, Ocean.

                                          Best new experience: Hot pot at Thumbs Up, Edison.

                                          Best indulgent moment: Eating 30 1$ oysters at Brickwall, Asbury Park.

                                          Best "How have I never heard of this place before" discovery: Hotel Tides, Asbury Park.

                                          Best new "Why can't this place be in Monmouth county" discovery: Collins, Morris Plains.

                                          Still the best: Nicholas

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: joonjoon

                                            Wonderful, joon. Next year, I'm gonna try and work it out so that you host the show!

                                          2. Read through all of the replies, so I don't have much to add. Best New Find (for my family) for Breakfast goes to Lenoras in Keyport. Mexican menu, so there are good huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, etc. and the 'regular' American breakfast is great, pancakes were exceptional. Small place, storefront..On Front St.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: TomT

                                              That's cool, Tom, and thanks for the heads up. But was there any particular plate that stuck to your tongue like an ear worm? Like hearin' the "Pina Colada" song and singin' it when you wake up the next morning? Tryin' to figure out how to get to "Scrappy Malloy's"?

                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                For fans of sweet, my wife had some waffle with dulce de leche, bananas, and other things I don't recall in it. By all accounts that was great, and she raved. The chorizo hash was something different and I would go back for. As mentioned previously the Huevos rancheros were solid as were the pancakes. Two sides to the menu, Mexican and American....as well as daily specials.

                                            2. Nicholas - foie and black truffle macaron
                                              Drew's - Voodoo shrimp
                                              NoTB - Mixed tacos
                                              Local Smoke - Poppers/ABTs
                                              Shanghai Bun - Soup Dumplings and Noodles w Hot Bean Paste
                                              Pad Thai - Chinese Sausage Fried Rice
                                              Tuscany - Grandma Pie
                                              Via45 - Any Daily special
                                              Jack's - Hot Garlic wings
                                              Red - Filet Mignon appetizer
                                              Porta - Octopus and Margherita pie
                                              At The Table - fried chicken

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: seal

                                                Dear God, seal, tell us more about this foie and black truffle macaron?

                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                  Nicholas lobster mac and cheese is amazing.

                                                  mgz....hit notb last night and they were out of the pork skins. On the menu it says pickled pork skin. Are those the ones you recommend?

                                                  1. re: corvette johnny

                                                    The cueritos tacos are the "Jenny from the Block" for me.

                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                      Nice....that's what I tired to irder. What are they pickled in? I assume some vinegar but anything else?

                                                  2. re: MGZ

                                                    For a wine tasting event they made black truffle flavored macarons filled with a foie mixture and some shaved black truffle. I was eating dinner at the bar with my family and was chatting with Nicholas. I mentioned the wine event and told him that I was not a big wine drinker but I was considering attending the event just to get some of those amazing sounding truffles I saw on the menu for that night. He excuses himself and in a few minutes he is back with a small plate with two of these beauties on it. Perhaps the best bite I had all year.

                                                2. I forgot the lobster rolls at Chowdah house. I had one last night and a few in 2013. Getting a decent lobster roll in the middle of winter, and in redbank, is pretty neat. No, they are not the best in the world but they have their recipe down and they have gotten better since their first batch (which I had.)

                                                  I think this is a cool dish for a change of pace and I am not aware of too many places in monmouth county that serve these in the winter.

                                                  1. Best pizza Deninos - Matawan or Federici's
                                                    Best supporting pizza - Porta Asbury Park
                                                    Best Italian - AMA Sea Bright
                                                    Best Supporting Italian Piccola Italia Oakhurst or Ciao Bella (they moved)
                                                    Best crab cake - Copper Canyon Atlantic Highlands
                                                    Best Chinese - Shanghi Bun Matawan
                                                    Best Supporting - West Lake ( haven't been to the place in Hazlet yet) Matawan
                                                    Best Breakfast - Turning Point Little Silver or My Kitchen Witch Monmouth Beach
                                                    Best Supporting Breakfast - Edie's in Little Silver or Linos for huevos rancheros Red Bank
                                                    Best Mexican - in Red Bank NOTB, Linos or that place in Long Brach
                                                    Best Supporting Mexican - Walt Street Pub Red Bank
                                                    Best Burger - The Globe Red Bank
                                                    Best Supporting Burger - Danny's Red Bank
                                                    Best upscale - Nicholas Red Bank
                                                    Best Seafood - Navesink Fishery Middletown
                                                    Supporting Seafood - Stella Marnina Asbury Parkor The Greek Restaurant in Long Branch
                                                    Best Greek - Nikos in Long Branch
                                                    Best Supporting - Briickwall for oysters Asbury Park
                                                    Best Brunch - the Molly Red Bank
                                                    Best supporting brunch - Porta Asbury Park
                                                    Best Pasta - AMA Seabright
                                                    Supporting - Christine's Atlantic Highlands
                                                    Best appetizer - Lamb chops at Copper Canyon Atlantic Highlands
                                                    Supporting - Filet mignonette at Red red Bank
                                                    Best Coffee - Rook Coffee Roasters
                                                    Best Sushi - Kanji tinton Falls
                                                    Best Supporting Sushi in Middletown - Sono
                                                    Best Thai - Siam Garden red Bank
                                                    Best Supporting Thai - Kunya Siam Atlantic Highlands
                                                    Best Happy Hour- MJs used to be Basils Ts when put out that spread...but they scaled back:(
                                                    Best Thing I ever eat- would be the lamb chops at Bukara grill in South Africa around here....the octopus at Porta in Asbury
                                                    Honorable Mentions :
                                                    Aida's long Branch
                                                    Drew's Keyport
                                                    Belford Bistro Middletown
                                                    Best Soup - that hot dog place in Red Bank
                                                    Pasta Fagioli - Basil Ts ( it is really good) Red Bank
                                                    Nicholas at the bar - Red Bank

                                                    18 Replies
                                                    1. re: Dori Murray

                                                      So on. Great. Thanks.

                                                      Do you work for Viacom?

                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                        Viacom? I am a dance teacher and fitness instructor. Good thing because eating out is my favorite pass time.

                                                        Best Indian- Neelam
                                                        Best steak - My house

                                                        1. re: Dori Murray

                                                          I'm thinking we've had to have been sitting at tables across from each other at some point...your list is MY list except my favorite Indian is found in Edison and my favorite pizza is in Elizabeth (so not monmouth).

                                                          Do you have any favorites for sweets, Dori?

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            Well Edison has great Indian...I don't love Neelam but I was trying to stay in Monmouth County. I get Great Indian in NYC. My favorite Italian is Laiicos in Jersey City.

                                                            1. re: Dori Murray

                                                              Could not agree more about Laico's but it is not Monmouth County. I always need a monthly Laico's fix.

                                                            2. re: HillJ

                                                              Sweets.......I love the desserts at Nicholas and Belford Bistro. I love chocolate fondue......I checked out the cake boss just ok. I love whipped bites in Red Bank. The sweet and savory creeps are delicious. They also have French macaroons.

                                                              1. re: Dori Murray

                                                                Has Whipped Bites always sold gelato? I didn't know.
                                                                Flaky Tart is my go to in mon cty of late. I'm not the sweet tooth of the family though, my husband & kids love sweets. Although, La Rosa bakery has some mighty fine rugelach for sale and they do one heck of a business.

                                                                I head to Edison for the ladoo and Indian sweets when I crave it. Love those flavors.

                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                  I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been mentioned restaurant wise

                                                                  Best Bakery by far is the Flaky Tart. But that is more French and this Italian Kid that fell out of Staten Island needs a good cannoli fix. By far the best Italain bakery in my NJ experience and rivals the best of Brooklyn and SI is Dolce Calabria by iplay america in Freehold. Ordered cannoli cake for my wifes birthday and was the best I ever had. Just the right amount of rum soaked cake and cannoli cream. They also make macaroons and do so e crazy custom cakes.

                                                                  JR - Sorry to hear about your Mom

                                                                  1. re: angelo04

                                                                    Oh my forgive me, Jr. I didn't realize your Mom had passed. Sorry for your loss.
                                                                    angelo, I've been to that Freehold bakery and you're right the cannoli cake made my husband's family smile too. Big Italian clan and not easily impressed by NJ bakery products. But I haven't been back myself in some time. Thanks for the reminder.

                                                            3. re: Dori Murray

                                                              Well if the best steak is at your house looks like I'm going to need an address!

                                                              1. re: Dori Murray

                                                                I was merely trying to offer a compliment in a silly way, Dori. Your contribution to the thread was great, so I joked that you might work for the company that produces the MTV awards. Next year, we'll arrange it so you can be the choreographer, but you have to get jrv to dance . . . .

                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                  Rumor is they use to give the bears in Russia vodka before slapping a tutu on them and making them dance. Looks like all you need is a 3xl tutu and I'm your man!

                                                                  FYI had lunch at NOTB yesterday, delicious!

                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                    I was not familiar with Viacom. It's a deal!

                                                              2. re: Dori Murray

                                                                "Mexican - that place in Long Branch"

                                                                There are like 8 Mexican restaurants in Long Branch...

                                                                Briickwall in Asbury Park is the Best Supporting Greek?

                                                                1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                  Typo Brickwall was oysters. Not sure what happened.... I think it is called acuplenos. ......

                                                                  1. re: equal_Mark

                                                                    Sorry Mark...I stuck supporting Greek in after the fact and accidentally stuck it under best Greek.
                                                                    The Mexican place is Acapulquenos on Broad street in long Branch.

                                                                2. My two cents worth:

                                                                  Best Italian: Via 45, Red Bank
                                                                  Best Italian market: Mosutto's, Wall
                                                                  Best Chinese: Sichuan Cottage, Marlboro
                                                                  Best French: Voila, Point Pleasant
                                                                  Best NOLA: Drew's, Key Port
                                                                  Best chocolates: Pierre Chocolat, Sea Girt
                                                                  Best bakery: Scone Pony, Spring Lake
                                                                  Best happy hour: Paganos UVA, Bradley Beach
                                                                  Best newcomer fast food: MOGO Korean Tacos, Asbury
                                                                  Best new small plates: Cibo e Vino, Asbury
                                                                  Best bar atmosphere: Moonstruck, Asbury
                                                                  Best city for dining out: Asbury

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: CatLadyJan

                                                                    I agree full heatedly with Mogo and Asbury:)

                                                                  2. Great thread! I'll offer my two cents as to my current places where I'll go for X. As I've been going to a lot of these for a while now, I guess they tie into a best of 2013.

                                                                    Steak- copper canyon. Top 5 of all time for me.
                                                                    Margarita - copper canyon
                                                                    Chinese - temple
                                                                    Quick Chinese - little szechuan
                                                                    Pizza - Porta or Biago
                                                                    Pizza by the slice - Deninos or salernos
                                                                    Antipasta - Porta
                                                                    Italian market - livotis
                                                                    Italian delicacy - tomato petals from joe leones
                                                                    Butcher - whole foods
                                                                    BBQ - none. It's comical how bad the local offerings are.
                                                                    Coffee - rook. The iced chicory is insane.
                                                                    Bakery - didn't open til the new year, but Antoinette boulangerie (sp?) in red bank has the best pastries I've had domestically.
                                                                    Hot dog - Costco. Still the best cheap lunch in the country.
                                                                    Beer - Carton BDG
                                                                    American - Belford bistro
                                                                    Lunch - djeet
                                                                    Mussels - rigolettos
                                                                    Beer selection - maloneys
                                                                    Happy hour - brick house. Great new addition out in front of the outlets.

                                                                    I feel like there's a lot more but those jump out at me.

                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                                                                      Local Smoke and Jersey Shore BBQ are two of the better barbecue restaurants in New Jersey and a good meal can be had at each with several authentic smoked meat options. I'm surprised you do not like either for an occasional meal.

                                                                      1. re: chowhounder411

                                                                        Honestly, I really don't think highly of either. I hate to bash a place online, as people put their lives into their places. So I'll just say that I have spent a lot of time in Carolina, Texas and the south and what I've seen locally isn't particulalrly my brand of vodka...

                                                                        1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                                                                          Different strokes for different folks I guess...I thought the food at Temple was atrocious and would much rather eat at either of those BBQ joints.:D

                                                                          1. re: joonjoon

                                                                            Yeah actually I would have to list Temple as one of my biggest let downs of the year as well. (I think it was 2013 that I went there) Both for the over priced. "average" Chinese food, and that dumb big tease of a non-operational fully stocked bar! Doh......

                                                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                              Temple initially was a head scratcher to me, but once I honed in on some dishes, it's been a home run for me. The wonton soup, egg rolls and a few other items were disappointing, espn considering the price point, but once I had the steak tangerine, lettuce wraps, mango chicken and a few others, I was hooked. I've held parties there and come to know victor and his crew. Good people! I will admit the bar / nonbar is an oddity...

                                                                              As for the BBQ, I guess I'm a BBQ aficionado and would rather eat what comes out of my backyard then pay for what seems to be reheated meat.

                                                                              Maybe lpst among my initial list, but my biggest finds in Monmouth this past year have been the steak at copper canyon, short ribs at Belford and the desserts at the new French bakery in red bank. Give me a Monmouth county edition of best thing I ever ate, and those three are curremtly filling the 30 min show.

                                                                              1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                                                                                I actually had the tangerine steak and didn't care for it (well my son ordered it and I had some) the only exceptional item I found was the Peking Duck, I enjoyed that. The rest, including a 1lbs de-shelled lobster fried rice ($50? if memory serves me correct) I found to be truly lacking for the price(s).

                                                                                I won't fault you on Copper Canyon's steak, it is very good but I have found the rub they use to be more of a detraction than compliment to the quality. I specifically request it without the rub and have come to enjoy it more that way. Their lamb chops are fantastic. Those are about the only two things I like there.....plus because they are more a tequila bar, their vodka selection is somewhat limited.

                                                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                  JR, they have a new pork chop there and now fajitas (if you are into those.) I just get the steak but my wife has had both. I do like the pork chop but I am not a huge fajita guy.

                                                                                  Those are some good picks LCDsoundsystem. Give this place a try for chinese, Jing Chuan in hazlet

                                                                                  Anyone have any good recommendations at Neelam? I have been wanting to try that place for a few years now. Im an indian newbie

                                                                                  1. re: corvette johnny

                                                                                    I find their fajitas lacking too. I've been ruined for life by fajitas in Houston TX, so everywhere else locally just falls really flat in comparaison.

                                                                                    Interesting you get the steak sans rub. With or w/o rub, they know how to cook it! It comes out perfectly medium rare every time.

                                                                                    I'll have to try that place in Hazlet out. I hope its cleaner than the prior establishments there. I always felt them to be grimy...

                                                                                    1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                                                                                      I absolutely love whatever they put on those steaks.

                                                                                      As a man of good tastes, any other steaks that you enjoy around here?

                                                                                      1. re: corvette johnny

                                                                                        Truthfully, no. I always dread ordering steak at a restaruant for several reasons.

                                                                                        The main reason is that very few places can cook a steak medium rare. I absolutely HATE sending food back to the kitchen. I ordered whatever dish I ordered, and if it sucks... well thats on me. That being said, I've sent a good amount of steak back to the kitchenfor being over cooked. When it gets to med well, the entire complexity of a steak changes. It amazes me how a certain nameless high end local steakhouse still cnt cook their meat properly.

                                                                                        Also, not enough places have/use good meat! Filet is nice and soft and has a great texture, but unless its a prime, there's no flavor in it. Give me a good ribeye, strip or flat iron any day of the week. Too many places put their eggs in the filet basket, which to me is a big snoozer! I dont care if its angus. I've never had and angus steak wow me in a way that a non-angus steak has.

                                                                                        I'd rather go to whole foods or costco, pick up some usda prime ribeyes, throw some salt, pepper, lawrys & msg on them and sear them at 775 on my grill.

                                                                                        So to answer your question, my second favorite steak locally is the churrasco (skirt) from Salsa Latina on Rt 34 in Old Bridge/Matawan. They have a tendency to overcook the meat when theyre busy, so I really try to stress medium rare to them.

                                                                                        I've been intrugied by Ivan & Andy's but just dont know anyone who's been there... and the reviews are mixed online.

                                                                                        1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                                                                                          I have been to Ivan and Andy's and would certainly say it's worth a shot. The service and environment weren't to my personal liking, but the steak was dam good. (Porterhouse for 2)

                                                                                          1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                                                                                            Ivan and Andy's has closed for the winter.

                                                                                              1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                                                                                                I will be surprised if they reopen. I've been there a few times. Good steaks at the beginning but not so good as time went on. And you get a steak for the entrée price and nothing more. The prices were high so by the time you get an app., a salad, a side etc. it became too too costly. One great thing about it was the free parking...paid parking for me has become a big issue in eating in Asbury.

                                                                                                1. re: SusieQQ

                                                                                                  Ivan or Andy were a butcher and it seemed to me that was the true talent in the place, neither it seemed knew much about running a restaurant.

                                                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                    Thats unfort. I went there once for brunch and thought it was ok, nothing spectatuclar. If I recall correctly, the line for toast or whatever the other place is was super long and one of the owners saw me looking annoyed by the wait and told me to go to his place. He offered us free mimosas. Needless to say, he went mia when we got inside and we never got our free cocktails.

                                                                                                  2. re: SusieQQ

                                                                                                    Aside from cost issues the place was just not run well..I can't tell you the number of times i've been there and no one knew what the hell was going on...seating issues, servers not knowing their own specials...

                                                                                                    I always go for free parking at the train station. A little bit of a walk but not too bad.

                                                                        2. Ant thoughts on MJs. In Tinton Falls. We went once, Very good!

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Laela236

                                                                            I've only been to MJ's in Middletown and I wasn't keen on the service, food or the noise level. I found the burger really bland and the salad I sent back.

                                                                            However, the business has lasted past many that have occupied the space over the last decade, so they must be doing something right.

                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                              I've been to Tinton Falls & Middletown. From what I remember in TF it was a decent meal. Nothing to rave over.

                                                                              I give them a lot of credit for their expansion plans. They must have some serious capital behind them. My only gripe is the Buttonwood Manor. If I was looking to get married and condiering that place, I would have driven right off out of the parking lot with the MJ's sign they have there. I know theyre trying to build a brand, but it took an old banquet hall on Lake Lefferts that was once well respected in the area, and made it hokie with that sign. It just seems low rent now. Someone in mgt there has to know that...

                                                                            2. re: Laela236

                                                                              I went once, haven't been back. Not that it was bad, but there was nothing there that made me want to eat there again.