Now that it’s getting colder out, it’s making me reminisce of the few times we spent at the Jersey Shore. As much as we wanted to make it out to Seaside Heights and revel in our favorite trashy reality TV show’s hot spots, we’ve actually only made it out to Asbury Park in New Jersey.
A quick 1 hour ride from NYC’s Penn Station brings you right to one of the most northern Jersey Shore hot spots – Asbury Park. There’s a nice long boardwalk along the beach with many bars and restaurants to keep you entertained, along with a bit of city life not too far of a walking distance away.
We stayed one weekend at an AirBnB, which was very reasonably priced for what it was worth. We got a private room and bathroom (both locked) in a lovely family’s home who not only offered us breakfast every morning but also anything else. If that’s not up your alley, you can get a reasonable beach house if you split it with a big group of friends.
Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten
About a 10 minute walk from the south side of the boardwalk is this huge beer hall; it’s almost easy to miss if you didn’t know it was there. The massive two-story building will likely always be busy with patrons (and for all ages, might I add).
Seating is typical as per beer gardens – long family style benches. We managed to snag an end corner and started off with a Bavarian pretzel. Mustard dip is mandatory for pretzels, but this liptauer cheese dip it came with was bomb.
Surprise, surprise – Stephen ordered the Halle Burger. It was an interesting mix of patty, tomato jam, muenser cheese, and red onion slaw on a brioche bun.
The spiced wurst tasted a lot better than it looked, that’s for sure. The spicy mustard and sauerkraut wrapped with the wurst on rye bread was perfect and reminded me of genuine German food I’ve had abroad.
Obviously being a beer garden, we had to try some specialty beer. While I can’t recall which ones we tried, they were especially refreshing on a warm beachy day.
The Anchor’s Bend
After a decently long day at the beach (I can only last an hour tops at the beach without getting too hot), we got up and walked along the boardwalk looking for somewhere to grab some food. At the northern part of the boardwalk is a little pavilion with some shopping, restrooms, and a few restaurants. The Anchor’s Bend had AC so that was an easy choice.
This is their Nachos Grande – crunchy corn tortilla chips with chili, cheese, pico de gallo and black olives. As tasty and filling as it was, chili is never a good idea on the beach – friendly reminder.
Stephen made a better choice with their pulled pork sandwich. The meat was tender and tangy, and the crunchy slaw definitely helped pull it all together. Why it came with chips and not french fries – not sure.
Asbury Park Distilling Co.
Surprisingly enough, right next to the beer garden is a local distillery – Asbury Park Distilling Co. They currently don’t have public tours, but you can see most of the distilling process through the large glass windows. And of course, cocktail tasting is the best way to see for yourself.
New Jersey has a strange law that any distillery in the state cannot operate as a “typical bar”. This means that they are legally only allowed sell or serve alcohol produced on site. Which is a great opportunity for them to showcase their spirits. In fact, any drink ordered at Asbury Park Distilling Co will be made from scratch – the alcohol, bitters, tonics, syrups, or anything else.
And the drinks was fucking tasty!
Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten (pt 2)
We had such a great experience at the beer garden we had to stop by again on our last day. Note: if it’s a beautifully sunny day (like it was the day we stopped by), it’s worth it to wait for a table on their rooftop deck.
Not sure if this is the case always, but the rooftop service seemed more laid-back with BBQ-esque food served in disposable trays. Here’s some pulled pork and mashed potatoes for example.
Chili was fantastic actually, and you could tell it was def homemade.
House-brined pickles were also fire. Beautiful location with great food and beers. Again, worth the wait to get a seat on the rooftop if possible.
We did one final stroll along the boardwalk before making our way back to the city. This is where we found Pop’sPop’s (which we stopped in for a beer the previous day) not realizing they had a pretty solid food menu.
Since it was early in the evening, we just missed their brunch menu. This was the Torta Mexicana – traditional sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, chipotle mayo, jalapeosm, oaxaca cheese, and chicken.
Their daily empanadas change frequently so not sure what these were, but likely some type of ground beef and cheese sauce. The crust was super crispy and fried perfectly.
From the boardwalk we made our way back to the NJ Transit station and headed back into the city. Highly recommend a weekend trip along any of the cities in the area, not just Asbury Park (Bradley Beach, Ocean Grove, etc).
Just a tip: Buy your round trip NJ Transit tickets at the booth at Penn to get the beach deal which allows you to lay on that specific beach without any additional beach fees.