Labor Day weekend has come and gone and with it, the unofficial end to summer has arrived. Or has it? For us locals, it has only just begun. The locals' summer...that is. Gone are the hoards of visitors coming from out of the area and the crowds and traffic that comes along with them. What's left? The same great restaurants and bars minus the bedlam.
Time to grab your friends and head back out and visit some of your favorite places that you have avoided all summer. Local haunts known for their amazing atmosphere, delicious food and tasty beverages that bring people together by enhancing the overall experience for the group. Growing up here my whole life I have some preferences and if I happened to have a weekend to burn, here is how I'd do it.
Drinks After Work -
1 Atlantic St, Highlands, NJ
If you live anywhere near the northern tip of the Jersey Shore, chances are, a commute by boat to NYC is something you are very familiar with. That being said, drinks on the boat can often carry over to a few more at one of the local bars in the Atlantic Highlands and Highlands area. There is simply no better way to kick off your weekend excursion than at The Seafarer Bar. Don't worry, there is plenty of room for us non-commuters to visit as well.
The Seafarer is a beach bar through and through. An outdoor tiki bar on a strip of beach accompanied by an adjacent dock and beer garden, they serve up some excellent beach inspired craft cocktails and local beers. Order one up, I'm a huge fan of the spicy margarita, and then take your pick of seats on the dock or on the sand and enjoy it with a full view of the water and Manhattan.
21 W River Rd, Rumson, NJ
Staying close to where you kick the night off is probably a good idea. Those Uber costs can pile up quickly and we can always venture out of the area tomorrow night. So head on into Rumson and enjoy a delicious dinner at the Victory Park Tavern. Steeped in local tradition with a new renovation and menu VPT has quickly become one of my favorite local spots to go to. This is especially true on Friday and Saturday nights when there is live music.
There are plenty of options on the new and improved menu and you can't go wrong with whatever your choose. However, if you really want your mind blown, you must order the French Onion Burger. It is hands down one of my top three burgers to order in the area and melts in your mouth with every bite.
Late Night -
Photo Credit: Sourced from Murphy's Tavern Facebook Page
17 Ward Ln, Rumson, NJ
There is only one place to go when it comes to late night shenanigans on The Peninsula and that is Murphy's Tavern. A short ride or a few blocks walk, you can be there in minutes after leaving VPT and trust me, you will never be disappointed. This prohibition era speak easy located in a basement of a house in at residential area of Rumson has a way of sucking you in and keeping you there far later than you anticipated. Trust me, I know from experience.
Murphy's is the place that when brought up in conversation, no one can seem to ever turn down. Maybe its the darts or the shuffle board or the jukebox. Or, maybe it's the whole package of being in a basement bar that has been there for hundred years. Who knows? What I do know is that should you wind up there and you will certainly leave with stories that will last a lifetime.
Coffee and Breakfast -
Photo Credit: Sourced from Big Mike's Little Red Store Facebook Page
101 Navesink Ave, Atlantic Highlands, NJ
The Red Store, as it was formerly known, was an institution among us locals. A famous stop for many of us just looking for a sandwich and some chips to enjoy with friends. When it shut down a little over a year ago, we all thought it was gone for good and the outcry on Facebook was incredible. Turns out that it was just on a short hiatus for renovations and is now back and better than ever.
Hop on your mountain bike and take a ride through nearby Hartshorne or Huber woods and then head on over for a breakfast bite. Their regular sandwiches are highly creative and worth ordering. Couple that with their daily specials and you are sure to find something next level to fill those bellies post ride. I suggest giving the Minskey a try. The combination of their homemade sausage, hot peppers and tomatoes with eggs and cheese along with a cup of their Jamaican Coconut coffee are just the kick you need to get your day started. All About Après Tip: They just started doing limited seating themed dinners Friday and Saturday nights that are off the chain. One seating, no turnover, family style dinners that come out as they are ready. Grab some drinks and some friends and pick a week with a theme that you are into, but be sure to call ahead for reservations, it's been selling out quickly.
414 Richmond Ave, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
Time to get out of the general northern Monmouth County area and head down south to Point Pleasant. I suggest hitting the beach for a little while late morning into the early afternoon and taking advantage of not having a crowd there. Point can get a little jammed during the summer which is why I don't often make my way down until the early fall when lesser crowds make this one of the best beach towns on the Jersey Shore. When prime tanning hours are over, head inland a touch and grab some good old fashioned bar comfort food at Frankie's. This place has been around for ever and is legendary!
Locals who seem to all know each other's names gather and enjoy a few pints at the bar while watching the massive burgers being cooked right in front of you over an open flame. People rave about the nachos which many consider the best around and if you're into cheesy ones, then go for it. Personally, the fried calamari is a staple for me every time that I walk in the door. It's truly the best!
Apres Surf Beers -
601 Bay Ave, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
You won't have to go very far for this one since it is only about a block and a half away from Frankie's and the walk will help those nachos settle in a bit. Last Wave is as après surf as they come, founded on the notion that your beers should be memorable, just like the last wave of a surf session. Good enough to hold you over until the next time you get out there to ride and then gather with friends to enjoy some beers afterward.
Last Wave is true to their mantra. Their beers are very underrated. They don't get enough recognition in our area and will certainly have you wanting to head back to the brewery in the company of friends to have some more. If Dawn Patrol happens to be on tap, consider yourself blessed. It is the ideal après surf beer. A slightly tart gose with a touch of sea salt on the end that will have craving more.
Photo Credit: Sourced from The Grand Tavern Facebook Page
1105 6th Ave, Neptune City, NJ
If you haven't heard of Grand Tavern, I wouldn't blame you. I hadn't either until a couple of months ago when some friends told us about it while hanging on the beach. However, it is a total diamond in the rough. Neptune, is not necessarily known for its restaurants, but The Grand Tavern is changing that. This once, hole in the wall turned culinary hot spot is a must try.
In a casual, yet elegant kind of way it offers at home comfort with a touch of class. The food, tells the same story and you simply cannot go wrong with anything that you choose.
Live Music and Drinks -
This is hands down one of the coolest new places to open on the Jersey Shore. Housed in a unique, century plus old building WCP is redefining the idea of how to bring people together. Through a unique blend of atmosphere, art, music, food or drink many come to gather and enjoy all that this eclectic location has to offer.
The old building's ambiance is striking. It's brick courtyard welcomes you as you walk in and the rustic industrial look inside and will definitely keep your eyes wandering. Once there enjoy some of their house brewed beers (it's a brew pub) and perhaps a late night snack like the Poutine topped with their Mississippi Roast. Then jam to the live music that performs regularly on their indoor stage or, wander out the yard and enjoy a few drinks under the stars with your crew.
Honestly, I don't often go to brunch but Asbury is a big brunch town and the Biergarten has a good one (or so I've been told). So you can partake in that if you like. But if not, seriously, who cares? They have beer...and a lot of it. If nothing else, head over late morning, early afternoon, just for that. Have brunch too if you want. I'm usually down to just head right upstairs to the outside deck, order a few liters of Köstritzer, a Bavarian pretzel and some sort of wurst while I chill and gaze out over the ocean.
There is honestly no better place to go and the sole reason why this place is hands down my family's go to spot on the Jersey Shore.