Red Bank, located along the Navesink River in Northern New Jersey, has had a recent resurgence after an economic decline in the late 1980’s. There have been a number of urban redevelopment projects completed that have made it a vibrant city with a number of fun shops including some national retailers, antique malls, new hotels and restaurants. I have been going to Red Bank and neighboring Fair Haven since I was a child. I had not been back in many years, so I was very excited to go back and explore. It is a fun spot to spend some time as you are going to and from the Shore, but you could also make it a fun weekend destination as well. You can take the train from New York Penn Station, Newark Penn Station, Newark Airport or other Shore points. You can easily walk everywhere from the train station.
On the third Sunday of the month, you might enjoy the Redbank Food & Wine Walk, by walking in the downtown area and tasting food and sampling drinks from the top restaurants. There is also the Indie Street Film Festival in late July in various venues around town. There are art galleries, film, comedy, talk and readings, theater performances, dance, music and an active nightlife scene.
My recommendations after a enjoyable afternoon include:
Where to Eat
Antoinette Boulangerie: This is a lovely shop featuring breads, croissants, pastries, cookies, tarts, macarons and more at 34 Monmouth St. The chocolate macarons were excellent!
Carlo’s Bakery, 86 Broad St.: This is the Red Bank outpost of the Hoboken, NJ based bakery established in 1910. It has operations in New Jersey as well as New York City, Philadelphia, Dallas, Las Vegas, Atlanta and more. I bought their crumb cake for my Sunday morning breakfast at the Shore and loved it!
Luigi’s Homemade Ice Cream: Make sure to stop in to taste one of their ice cream flavors made in-house at 60 Broad St. The salted caramel was well worth the calories!
Chocolate Works: At 36 Broad St., this is a fun shop for candy and chocolates including the traditional salt water taffy.
The Boondocks Fishery & Grill: This is a fun, casual seafood shack at 1 Marine Park, overlooking the boat harbor on the Navesink River. I enjoyed lunch on the outside deck overlooking the boats and the water. You order at the window and the food is brought to you at your table. It is the perfect spot for a lobster roll. It is also an easy walk from the downtown shopping area or there is a public parking lot right outside the door.
26 West on the Navesink: Opened in the summer of 2017, this is a great new addition to the downtown dining scene. I was very impressed with the contemporary decor, the great views and extensive seafood menu. I can’t wait to try it on my next visit. New Jersey Monthly Magazine just featured them in an article about their creative use of Jersey corn in several menu items.
For breakfast, I would try Taylor Sam’s at 20 Broad St. which features several dishes with the famed NJ Taylor ham or pork roll. Toast City Diner, at 45 Monmouth St., recently took over the space that has been a diner since 1959. I loved the traditional decor and design. They also have restaurants in Asbury Park and Montclair, NJ.
Whipped Creperie & Dessert Bar: This is a fun spot that features savory and dessert crepes, pastries, breakfast items such as Belgian waffles and espresso drinks. 6 Monmouth St.
Local Smoke, 244 W. Front St.: Started by a competition BBQ team in 2007, they have won over 100 awards including the famed American Royal BBQ contest in Kansas City and the National BBQ Festival in Douglas, GA. They have three locations including Red Bank. They feature ribs, pulled pork, BBQ chicken and brisket. It is owned by the son of local friends.
Surf Taco: This is the Red Bank branch of the NJ restaurant chain that I have enjoyed for many years in Manasquan. I always go for the mahi or shrimp tacos. Their location here is 35 Broad St.
Rook Coffee: Make sure to visit the Red Bank location of this local, 10-store coffee shop chain featuring their locally roasted coffee drinks. 10 White St.
For drinks, make sure to visit The Dublin House at 30 Monmouth St. This is a fun Irish Pub with a great outdoor patio, a traditional menu and live music. They also feature soccer sporting events on TV. Also check out The Robinson Ale House at 26 Broad St. with a large beer and wine selection.
The Brothers Restaurant: I love the “supper club” atmosphere of this Italian restaurant featuring pizza and Italian specialties that has been there since 1957. 188 W. Front St.
O Bistro Francais, at 15 North Bridge Ave., was recommended by locals who own Stillwell House Fine Art & Antiques. The menu looks excellent.
JBJ Soul Kitchen: This is a non-profit community restaurant run by the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation. It serves both paying and in-need customers. The menu changes often and there are special events featuring guest chefs. 207 Monmouth St.
Where to Shop
Red Bank has the reputation as being a great antiquing destination. My sister-in-law and her mother and sisters love it. In addition to local shops and antique stores there are some larger national chains like Urban Outfitters. Make sure to visit.
The Antique Center of Red Bank: Since 1964 at 195 W. Front St. and 226 W. Front St. It features over 100 antique dealers in two locations.
Stillwell House Fine Art & Antiques: This is a lovely store featuring fine art, pre-industrial revolution era antiques, Meissen porcelain and antique accessories. 212 W. Front St.
Where to Stay
There are some very good hotel options in downtown Red Bank. These include:
Molly Pitcher Inn: At 88 Riverside Ave., this is a lovely 108 room, historic hotel that was originally built in 1928. I remember staying there as a child in the early 1960’s. It has wonderful views overlooking the Navesink River and was totally renovated in 1992. It is known for its Sunday brunch buffet.
Oyster Point Hotel: Located a block from the Molly Pitcher Inn, is their sister, 56 room, boutique hotel located on the Navesink River. It has a contemporary design, with the Pearl Restaurant and a cocktail lounge overlooking the water. 146 Bodman Place.