The Best Restaurants In Asbury Park guide image


The Best Restaurants In Asbury Park

There’s no better, cliche, or more appropriate way to introduce this guide than how Bruce Springsteen might have in 1973: Greetings from Asbury Park.

Asbury Park is a town that proudly represents its Jersey-ness. During the summer months, the beach is Asbury’s prime destination, whether you’re planning a long stay or day-tripping because the surf report looked good when you woke up. By morning, you’re in full serenity mode, cruising along AP’s scenic boardwalk to grab coffee. And by night, that same spot is overflowing with concert-goers and bar hoppers enjoying what will undoubtedly become a legendary night in their personal pantheon of “one time, down the Shore…”

The boardwalk itself has served as a backdrop for many Jersey moments in pop culture, most notably The Sopranos and dozens of Hollywood movies (and not just those from Kevin Smith). This area of Asbury is also home to New Jersey’s oldest and largest annual Pride celebration each June, with a parade, concerts, and what appropriately feels like a citywide party.

Perhaps most of all, Asbury Park is the sandy crossroads of music history along the eastern seaboard, serving as home to the legendary Stone Pony: the centerpiece rock club to the musical origin story of The Boss. Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Jerry Garcia, and The Rolling Stones have all played this town, and at some point, you or someone you know likely attended the Sea.Hear.Now, Skate & Surf, or Warped Tour festivals, or a show at The Saint, Asbury Lanes, or the Paramount Theater. 

As Asbury has evolved in the past few decades, its developing restaurant scene has also attracted a lot of attention. Generally speaking, much of the buzz can be a bit overhyped. While we love the octopus and fennel at Porta and the tempura calamari and blackberry margarita at Taka, there are better places to eat.

So for you, we created this list of the best options. And while seafood shacks, slice joints, and Jersey breakfast sandwiches (and the debate about how to refer to them) still reign supreme along the Jersey Shore, there’s a lot to check out next time you head down to Asbury Park.


photo credit: Emily Schindler

Cardinal Provisions review image

Cardinal Provisions


513 Bangs Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712, USA, Asbury Park
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At some point during the Shore season, you’ll sleep late enough that you’re not sure if you want breakfast or lunch before you hit the beach. When you’re feeling indecisive, Cardinal Provisions is the place to go. 

We really like their rotating sandwich specials, which are usually easiest to check out via their Instagram, as well as the gravlax with beet-horseradish cream cheese on an everything bagel, plus the terrific salads (the New Mexico Bowl and Lunch Bowl are standouts). Another go-to is the cacio e pepe scrambled eggs, served with arugula, breakfast sausage, and local fave Benchmark bread. Cardinal also has a bunch of vegan options, including almost all of their baked goods, making it an ideal place for special diets, pastries, and everything in between.

In 2022, the boutique St. Laurent Hotel opened as an exciting new addition, and Heirloom Kitchen is its main attraction. The restaurant’s original location and part-time cooking school off Route 9 in Old Bridge are often cited among the state’s best dining options, and the food at its St. Laurent outpost is nothing short of outstanding. 

The beautifully-designed space features a stylish lounge up-front offering the restaurant's signature cocktails (their beverage director hails from Miami’s Broken Shaker) and the town’s best and most well-curated wine list. But it's Heirloom’s four-course, seasonally-specific farm-to-table focused food that's an always-special experience. You’ll pay a premium for this kind of quality, but it’s the best and most sophisticated dining experience in Asbury Park and the surrounding area.

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We may never get a consensus on the correct usage of pork roll vs. Taylor ham (it’s Taylor ham for us, but it’s certainly not called that at Frank’s). But what we can all agree on is that Frank’s is among the best places to get this iconic deli meat sandwich in New Jersey, which actually means any other place on earth. 

Part-deli, part-diner, Frank’s has been an Asbury Park staple since before the state of New Jersey gave it an official designation as part of its Anthony Bourdain Food Trail. Go for breakfast and get that thick-cut Taylor ham with egg and cheese on a housemade roll or rye bread (our preference). While you’re at it, try one of their donuts and pastries (also housemade), too. And if you’re headed to the beach, grab a deli sandwich for lunch—we’re partial to the triple deckers on rye. You’re probably not hungry after all that breakfast, but you’ll thank us later.

When you mention the name Talula’s, the conversation naturally leans towards pizza. And rightfully so: the wide variety of pies seemingly suit even the most unique of dietary restrictions. And they’re also really good. We love the Beekeeper’s Lament (tomato sauce, hot calabrian soppressata, fresh mozzarella and local honey), The Rocket, and the occasionally available Detroit-style pies. 

But the real reason to visit Talula’s is the bread they bake in-house and the sandwiches and toasts they create with it. The sandwiches are only available at lunch, and that’s the ideal time to go—the reuben on country sourdough features housemade pastrami and is among the best sandwiches in Asbury.

While filled with fun restaurants that are great for post-beach or pre-concert, Asbury Park can come up a bit short when it comes to proper places to eat and drink like an adult, especially when celebrating a special occasion like your birthday, an anniversary, or running into Bruce Springsteen at The Wonder Bar. Pascal + Sabine makes great cocktails and serves really good French-inspired food, from a great pork chop to local seafood and beyond.

Asbury Park is home to a number of Mexican restaurants, and you’ll literally find them up and down Main Street and throughout the town. Of the many options, El Rey is one of our favorites, particularly during the warmer months when outdoor seating is more ideal. Located on a residential street a few blocks north of the popular Cookman Avenue row of restaurants and bars, El Rey was opened in 2021 by a local family originally from Oaxaca (they’ve also recently expanded to a second location in Belmar). 

The restaurant is BYOB (although their agua fresca is good enough to make you skip the cerveza), and once you step inside, you’ll be drawn to the oversized pot of birria bubbling on the stove. Everything here, from their choriqueso to their carnitas to their quesadilla de maiz, is solid. Also worthy of your attention is their pollo rostizado, which can sell out quickly each day.

Ethiopian-Dominican fusion is not meant to be a new trend that’s taking the Shore by storm. Rather, it’s the story of one unique restaurant whose chef/owner is from Ethiopia but learned to cook exceptional Dominican food to appeal to locals. You’ll find Dominican classics like tostones, mofongo, pastelón, and yucca cakes on the same menu as Ethiopian dishes served with lentils and veggies on housemade injera. Swing through for dinner, as their outdoor seating area often features some live music. Ada’s is a BYOB, so don’t forget to pack some drinks.

There are no shortage of viable coffee spots around Asbury Park, but if you’re particular about the meticulous way a latte or cortado is made, then Cafe Volan is the best option. They offer a variety of simple toasts and pastries that are helpful if you need something quick on the go, but really, you’re coming to Volan for coffee.  

When you need to shake up the same order you’ve made for a month straight, they always have a seasonal menu that will upgrade your beverage with a host of unexpected flavors—particularly their unique housemade syrups such as maple, lavender, or a hot sauce-infused mazi mocha. If available, add some orange honey to your latte.

As incredible defenders and promoters of New Jersey, we must confess that like every great hero, a flaw must emerge. For Superman, it was kryptonite. For New Jersey restaurants, it’s barbecue. Never has the Garden State been confused with Memphis, the Carolinas, Texas, or Kansas City. However, this fact didn’t stop the team at Mutiny BBQ from opening up one of the state’s best BBQ options in the middle of Asbury Park. 

Solid ribs, juicy hot links, and a rotating offering of brunswick stew, chili, and smoked turkey soups make this an ideal spot when meat is on the mind. The 5th Avenue location offers a tucked away backyard that’s perfect for a BYOB hang with friends—plus that age-old cheat of sitting close enough to the smoker that your clothes will offer that perfect aroma, letting everyone you come in contact with in the next 24 hours know what you recently ate.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Bettie's Icebox review image

Bettie's Icebox

Perfect For:DessertVegans

Like all great Shore spots, Asbury Park has a number of ice cream and candy shops, and many are exactly what you’d expect. And sure, their treats will cool you down or satisfy your sweet tooth after a hot day on the beach or a greasy handful of boardwalk fries. But if you’re looking for something a bit different—or something vegan—Bettie’s serves some of the area’s best frozen desserts in their fresh fruit ice pops and shave ice. 

We’re partial to the ice pops—the flavors rotate a bit, but the coconut and peach are among the legendary favorites. While the brick-and-mortar location in Conventional Hall is the easiest to find, you might encounter a Bettie’s food truck along the boardwalk or during events across the town. 

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Brando’s Citi Cucina review image

Brando's Citi Cucina



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Nearly every part of New Jersey features an Italian restaurant or 20 that people argue over being the best. While there are many very good options in the area, Brando’s is the best in Asbury Park. Although presented in a slightly more upscale way, it’s still a classic red sauce joint that’s perfect for a nice dish of paccheri bolognese or a fat bone-in veal or pork chop presented with milanese, parmigiana, or in an assortment of different ways. Portions are large, so Brando’s is an ideal option for a group looking to share a few things off the menu.

The Galley is one of the better options for pizza before a concert or the day after a night of drinking. We like the square pies (such as the upside down or Detroit-style), appetizers like their boneless buffalo chicken strips, plus just about anything calling out to you off their extensive burger and sandwich menu (their secret-menu fish sandwich, typically an oversized fried local fish procured from Local 130 Seafood two doors away, might be among the best bites in Asbury).

If we were to discuss seafood at the Shore, you’re certainly going to think about dockside dining, plastic lobster bibs, and overly aggressive seagulls. And while you wouldn’t be wrong as you drive through the beach towns of Monmouth County, The Bonney Read is not that. Rather, it’s a tavern-style, seafood-focused restaurant that does a few specific fish dishes really well. 

Sure, it’s a worthy spot for a beer and to shoot some raw oysters and clams, but we’d suggest checking out their fish tacos, which are large and fried and crispy with a cool crunchy slaw, as well as their fish and chips and crab dip. The Bonney Read is a great option for lunch while checking out the shops on Cookman Ave., or a late afternoon snack or early dinner after the beach before you blow out of town. At brunch, be sure to check out the kitschy oversized Ultimate Bloody Mary, served in a beer mug and overflowing with seemingly half of the raw bar in each glass.

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