"The South Jersey Shore as we know it wouldn't have existed without Philadelphia or its steamy summers," writes local author Jen Miller in the recently released second edition to her coastal compendium The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May (Countryman Press, June 6). Escape with a seaside jaunt this summer, whether for the day, week or season, using Miller's book and personal blog (downtheshorewithjen.com) as your guides. Here she shares some of her best Shore food tips.
Notoriously impenetrable Chef Vola in AC just won a James Beard Award. Now how are we supposed to get a reservation? I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.
After dinner, we're hitting the casino. Which cocktail waitresses won't deny us double Maker’s times infinity? How about you make a sure bet and skip the gambling to drop your money right into booze? Because you absolutely must go to the Dizzy Dolphin at the Atlantic City Hilton. It is by far the weirdest bar in Atlantic City. It's supposed to be a ship inside a bar inside a casino.
We're in Margate, but want to avoid the typical South-Philly-by-the-Sea hangs. We should grub at ... Downbeach Deli. Forget the bread and butter tray — they serve you a pickle, peppers and tomato tray before your meal. If you want a drink, though, go to Maynard's. Best indoor/outdoor bar in the Downbeach area.
Who shucks the meanest Cape May Salt at the Shore? The Knife & Fork Inn in Atlantic City. Go just to see the building. Its history is connected to Boardwalk Empire fame. Ask for the Nucky story.
Boardwalk eats: Wildwood or Ocean City? Sorry, Wildwood, but it's Ocean City. Mack and Manco's, Shriver's Salt Water Taffy, Johnson's Popcorn and Kohr Brothers Custard. Chickie's and Pete's is opening up locations in Wildwood and Ocean City this summer. It'll be interesting to see how they do.
What secret local hang did you leave out of the book? I would say Twistie's in Strathmere, but I slipped them in this edition, despite protest from its favorite fans. How could I leave it out? It's a former speakeasy on the bay in Strathmere.
We’re in the ritzy Avalon area — where are we eating on the cheap? Concord Café. It's a small place tucked into the Concord hotel with the best pub grub around. Go for the fries doused in buffalo sauce with blue cheese. And it's cheap — the dude and I had dinner with drinks for under $25. Expect it to be crowded. But they do have giant TVs to watch the Phillies games while you're waiting.
One dinner, anywhere at the Shore, no budget. Can I give you two? I love the Ebbitt Room in Cape May. I hear they're going to be doing farm-to-table fixed-price menus again this summer if you actually do have a budget. I also really dig Izakaya at the Borgata. When I was there in May, they let me taste test a sweet corn ice cream that should be on the menu this summer. Get some.
One dinner, anywhere at the Shore, $10 budget. Mack and Manco's. No shower required. Get it with birch beer. Or, if you're just waking up after an Atlantic City bender, the bloody mary at the Chelsea in Atlantic City. Ask for it extra spicy.