Asbury Park is definitely back!!! There used to be a great boardwalk with amusements and rides that I remember visiting as a child. It went through some tough times, but in recent years it has seen a big resurgence in its downtown area and along the famous Boardwalk. It is well worth the visit.
Downtown, on Cookman Ave., and the nearby side streets, you can find a number of shops, galleries, coffee shops, microbreweries and distilleries and wonderful restaurants. There are have been several new openings since my last visit. My recommendations include:
G00d for coffee which I found on my last trip is Cafe Volan at 510 Bangs Ave. Also for coffee and tea is Asbury Park Roastery. where coffee is roasted on-site at their location at 803 Second Ave. They also have two other locations on the Boardwalk at 1300 Ocean Ave. Grand Arcade/Convention Center and 800 Ocean Ave./1st Avenue Pavilion
Across from Cafe Volan is a great new option for breakfast and lunch, Cardinal Provisions, featuring locally sourced ingredients. 513 Bangs Ave.
TAKA: At 660 Cookman Ave, this is a wonderful sushi restaurant. The decor is really wonderful and colorful. Looks like it could be in New York or Chicago. I chose the lunch bento box special which was a great value. Loved the salmon, California roll, salad and other tastes. I highly recommend it.
Toast City Diner, at 516 Cookman Ave., is good spot for breakfast, brunch or lunch. On the other end of the spectrum is Twisted Tree Cafe, featuring a vegan menu of salads, sandwiches, wraps and soups. 609 Cookman Ave.
Lola’s European Cafe: At 539 Cookman, this is an attractive cafe featuring, wines, cheese platters, cured meats, and other entrees. They also have a great selection of gelatos.
Nearby is Talula’s Pizza, Bar, Bread at 550 Cookman which features pizzas, salads and sandwiches for lunch. For dinner they have pizzas, bowls, salads and toasts with various toppings. Their brunch menu looks wonderful with brunch pies, toasts, bowls and salads. The eclectic space is very attractive.
Confections of a Rock$tar Bakery: This is a funky, pink colored bakery offering cookies, macaron, cupcakes and more. 550 Cookman.
The Bonney Read: This is a newer downtown bar and restaurant featuring chowders, seafood, a raw bar and cocktails. I really enjoyed the crab cake sliders for lunch. 525 Cookman Ave.
At 527 Lake Ave. is Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, a great bar featuring a large selection of craft beers. They also have entertainment and events including Polka on the roof, yoga, music and more.
Next door is Moonstruck at 517 Lake. This is a fine dining restaurant overlooking Wesley Lake. The feature a menu of pastas, seafood, steaks, pastas, salads and seasonal specials. My local friends highly recommend it.
Art 629, at 629 Cookman Ave, is a gallery featuring contemporary art. SALT Design Company has some wonderful home accessories with a shore/beach influence. 550 Cookman Ave. Exhibit No.9 Gallery, now WHITEPOINT, also at 550 Cookman Ave. unit 1, features contemporary art as well.
The historic Boardwalk opened in the late 1800’s and later expanded in the 1920’s. Today there are a growing number of dining options from food trucks and casual cafes to upscale dining spots. Many have outdoor patio dining with great ocean views. Cubacan Restaurant & Bar for modern Cuban cuisine and Langosta Lounge are great dining options. I enjoyed my dinner at Langosta Lounge on a previous trip. Langosta Lounge is located at 1000 N. Ocean Ave. and has been there since 2008 and features sushi, seafood and more.
Make sure to stop in for ice cream and coffee at Eddie Confettis Ice Cream & Cafe. 1100 Ocean Ave. The chocolate hazelnut flavor was yummy.
There is a location of Playa Bowls from the popular chain, and a Food Truck Park at the north end of The Boardwalk called North Eats.
The quality of dining on the Boardwalk has improved with the recent openings of the Iron Whale and The Robinson Ale House by the McLoone Restaurant Group.
The Iron Whale, at 1200 Ocean Ave, is open seven days a week for brunch, lunch and dinner year-round. It has a creative menu of soups, salads, tacos, burgers and sandwiches, pasta and seafood along with some great brunch items. I loved my smoked salmon benedict on the outdoor patio for lunch, overlooking the beach. It also has a contemporary, rustic, design” in the spirit of seafarers, with prominent reclaimed wood, ropes, and gas lanterns.”
The Robinson Ale House, also at 12oo Ocean Ave. is popular spot featuring, salads, soups, burgers entrees and seafood.
Above the Ale House is Tim McLoone’s Supper Club which opened in 2008. Here you can enjoy fine dining and live music.
Nearby is the famous The Stone Pony associated with Bruce Springsteen and many others. Check out their concert schedule online. 913 Ocean Ave. I recently found the site for the Asbury Park Boardwalk which also has a calendar for other concerts at the Paramount Theatre and Convention Center. They have full line-up of entertainment from June through October.
Asbury Lanes is a vintage bowling alley and bar with live performances ranging from live musical acts, burlesque, dance parties, film and art shows. It recently re-opened in its original location from the 1960s. They also have a fun diner that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday, and for dinner only on Tuesday. 209 4th Ave.
I highly recommend that you visit the Silverball Retro Arcade on the Boardwalk at 1000 Ocean Ave N. I read about it in several articles. Not only is it a museum, but it is a classic game arcade featuring pinball machines from the 1930s to the present, plus a snack bar. You can pay to play by buying different packages or pay a small fee to walk around and explore.
It has one of the largest public collections of pinball machine in the world and offers a rotating selection of approximately 600 pinball machines (with 200 or so out at a time) and vintage arcade games. It is also a celebrity favorite, where visitors have included Danny DeVito, Anthony Bourdain, and Bruce Springsteen.
To stay in Asbury Park you can go traditional at the historic Berkeley Carteret Hotel from 1925, which has been reincarnated into the lovely Berkeley Hotel. 1401 Ocean Ave. They have a bar and grill open on weekends. For more of a contemporary vibe, there is The Asbury a new contemporary 110 room boutique hotel with great public areas, rooftop garden, beer garden and lounge with table tennis. you will find live music, yoga, movies on the roof, tea dances, a lobby bar and two rooftops with artificial turf. There is no restaurant, but there is grab and go take-out food.
Another hotel option is the recently opened Asbury Ocean Club Resort which features a 54 room boutique hotel along with a Beach Club, residential homes and a pool deck with bar and grill. It is a very upscale property at 1101 Ocean Ave.
There are a number of emerging microbreweries and distilleries starting to appear in town. Check out Dark City Brewing Co. at 801 Second Ave. which was the first craft brewery in town. Asbury Park Distilling at 527 Lake Ave. is now open with a new tasting room, as is the new location of Asbury Park Brewery at 810 Sewall Ave. They make a stout, an extra pale ale, a blonde and an IPA.
Thanks to Eater NY and Philly, I found Frank’s Deli & Restaurant, a casual diner/café in Asbury Park from 1965. It has a great selection of breakfast items, breakfast sandwiches and sandwiches. The atmosphere is right out of the past and attracts a local crowd. I just went back for the second time and really enjoyed the pork roll sandwich. It was recommended by the late Anthony Bourdain and is a featured stop on his NJ Food Trail.
Downtown, don’t miss The Complex. It features Loteria at 632 Mattison Ave. for Mexican street food, Capitoline for Italian specialties and pzza at 639 Cookman and Bond St. 208 Bond St. for cocktails.
Also getting great reviews is Porta located 911 Kingsley St. It is known for its great pizza in a fun, casual atmosphere a block from the boardwalk. They also have a Jersey City location.
At 711 Cookman Ave, the Cookman Creamery is a really excellent ice cream parlor serving artisanal ice cream. They feature a number of traditional and vegan options. I loved the Key Lime Pie flavor on a beautiful July day at the Shore.
Opened for just two years Modine, at 601 Mattison Ave. in a former bank building, closed in June, 2020. It has been replaced in August, 2020 by Asbury Kitchen by David Burke. He is a celebrity chef with several restaurants throughout New Jersey. I enjoyed Modine for brunch and will miss it, but look forward to trying this new spot next summer! According to the Asbury Park Sun, “Burke has created a Modern American menu with a bistro-style flare reflecting the restaurant’s classy but casual and fun-filled tone. Pivotal to the restaurant’s mood will be artisan cocktails.”
The team who created Barrio Costero, the contemporary Mexican spot in town, recently opened Reyla with a contemporary approach to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is located in a casual, contemporary spot downtown, near Cookman Ave. at 603 Mattison Ave. They are open for lunch and dinner plus brunch on the weekends.
On my list for next year are places recommended by NJ Monthly. These include Pascal & Sabine for French comfort food, Cross & Orange gastropub La Tapatia for Mexican food and Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant on the boardwalk.