Atlantic City doesn’t generally evoke warm and fuzzy images of a quaint summer vacation town, what with all the degenerates and casinos. But if you can look past all the depressing parts of downtown AC and factor in the surrounding towns of Ventnor, Margate, and Longport, this small strip of the Jersey Shore takes our pick for best #BEEEEEACH to #EEEEEATS ratio.
Consider us (one former local and one life-long summer vacationer) your insiders with the info, and this guide your crib sheet to the best food this shore community has to offer.
For the ideal beachside lunch, takeout or delivery from Dino’s is your best bet. Be warned that this place won’t take the prize for speediest spot in town, but the subs will more than make up for the long waits. The Regular Italian and cheesesteak (fried onions mandatory) are always crowd pleasers, but our favorite is the tuna sub. We recommend taking it with hot peppers and a side of Herr’s potato chips. Or, for optimal enjoyment, place said chips inside your sub. Pro Tip: despite getting top billing in the name of this place, the pizza is not good.
Dock’s has been an AC staple since 1897. Ideal for an upscale group dinner with the fam, dishes here are best enjoyed when shared. Don’t be intimidated by the massive menu, the only mistake you can make is not walking through the door. We recommend going to town on some oysters (obviously). As for the rest of the menu, skipping the scallops would be criminal, and if you’re feeling nostalgic, head for the “Classics,” which have been on the menu since day one.
Warm house-made Belgian waffles topped with ice cream – need we say more? Two Cents Plain has been serving up some super-sized sweets for 40 years. We love peanut butter, hot fudge, and whipped cream on our waffle, but if waffles and ice cream isn’t your thing (who are you?), this place also offers an assortment of monster sundaes, milkshakes, and plain cones. Endless pretzel bites are also served table-side while your waffles are prepared. The real pros know to ask the waitress for a side of hot fudge for “pretzel-dipping-purposes.”
Jonuzi’s or Tony Boloney’s? We’ll abstain from picking our favorite since both have their merits. Priced right, Jonuzi’s NYC style slices are some of the best we’ve had outside the city. But if you are willing to venture down the one-way path to gluttony, head to Tony Boloney’s. We admit the menu is a tad too gimmicky, but the pies are packed with enough flavor to keep us coming back. Our favorite is the “Sh*tfaced” pie, topped with the best BBQ chicken we’ve found north of the Mason Dixon line.
Ideally situated along the back bay in Margate, Junior’s has quickly risen among the ranks of places you must try on the island. They keep it simple, serving perfectly executed, fresh-out-the-fryer donut shop classics. Our favorites are the glazed, chocolate, and cream filled. If you happen to miss the breakfast rush, one of their all beef-hot dogs with grilled onions or chili makes a great midday snack.
This place screams local breakfast spot. It’s the only restaurant on the island where your health-obsessed friends can happily Instagram their gluten-free and vegan #EEEEEATS alongside you after their morning walk on the boardwalk. Do yourself a favor and order the Blueberry Power Pancakes – these healthy alternatives are made with flax, organic cottage cheese, and organic flour. Don’t let the buzzwords scare you, the menu also features plenty of traditional breakfast dishes, including an extensive omelette list. Lunch is underrated, too – Kevin’s Hot & Sweet chicken sandwich and Nan’s Chicken Salad wrap are our go to’s.
Our summer down the shore is nothing without a bagel, and Hot Bagels has the uncontested best. Nothing more to be said on the topic. Its Hot Bagels or bust. Channel your inner Russ & Daughters – grab a dozen bagels and then pick up some smoked salmon from Casel’s supermarket across the street. Let the brunch feast ensue.
Salt Water Taffy is the official candy of Atlantic City. Of the countless candy shops along the boardwalk, James is our favorite. Their trademarked “cut-to-fit-mouth” shaped taffy makes chewing these things considerably more enjoyable than the bush league stuff the competition tries to pass off as the “original.”
Located on the beautiful bay side of Margate, Tomatoe’s is where trendy meets quality. This spot is for everyone, offering both California/Asian-inspired entrees and a full sushi bar. While not your typical “sushi spot,” Tomatoe’s serves up the freshest cut of fish around and some unique specialty rolls. Admittedly, it can get a bit pricey and tends to attract a scene-y crowd, but the perfect combination of tasty, reliable food and primetime cougar spotting keeps us coming back. Note: The bar will get rowdy with moms past 11 p.m. on weekends in the summer – if you’re under 40, hit up Maynard’s next door.