Asbury Park is coming 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 it has seen a big resurgence in its downtown area and along the boardwalk. It is well worth the visit.
Downtown, on Cookman Ave., you can find a number of shops, galleries and restaurants. There are have many new openings since my last visit. My finds include:
America’s Cup Coffee, at 633 Cookman Ave., is a good spot for a latte. This is a fun coffee shop, that serves food also and roasts their own coffee on the premises. Also good 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. 603 Second Ave. and also at 1300 Ocean Ave. Grand Arcade/Convention Center.
Across from Cafe Volan is 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, at 516 Cookman Ave., is good spot for breakfast, brunch or lunch. Next door is Brickwall Tavern & Dining Room featuring a tavern menu and many beers on tap. 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 the new 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 also at 550 Cookman Ave. unit 1, features contemporary art as well.
Nearby is the famous The Stone Pony associated with Bruce Springsteen and many others. Check out their concert schedule online. 913 Ocean Ave. You might also check the website for live entertainment at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club.
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.
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/cafe 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.
Downtown, don’t miss The Complex. It features Loteria at 632 Mattison Ave. for Mexican street food, Capitoline for Italian specialties and pizza 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.