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 Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip

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  • Total Posts: 1559
  • Joined: 2/4/2004
  • Location: scotch plains, NJ
Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Wed, 04/15/09 12:41 PM (permalink)
Judging from the posts on the Trip Reports page it seems that the whole Roadfood world was at the South Jersey Shore last week on separate trips. Me too. My wife was in Texas visiting her sister, my kids were at College, it was time for another solo Road Trip. Down the Parkway this time, to Atlantic City and the surrounding area.
I’m not big on gambling, so that was not the purpose of this trip. Instead I like AC for the old school eating, drinking, and bakery places. My old Brooklyn friends and I make a reunion trip down there every couple of years, usually I don’t spend more than an hour or two losing money and instead head out to explore. I am missing this year’s trip due to family obligations, so this was a make up trip.
I got an early start and by 9:30 AM I was doing the 8 mile driving loop at one of my favorite places in all of NJ, the Forsythe National Wildlife area.
It was a cold cloudy windy day (just like it seems every day this month has been, what Spring??) and there wasn’t too much doing in the shorebird world, but it was nice and peaceful to be there. I made a few stops in the loop and then headed to AC.
My first stop for an early lunch was to be Gilchrist’s on North Maryland Avenue, but I should have checked the Web a little closer. Apparently after 50 years they have been bulldozed by Mr. Trump and his Marina, and have relocated to the mainland in Absecon. As happens all too often, I was a little late to visit a dining landmark.
I decided to head to my next stop, The Pic-a-Lilli Tavern on S. Tennessee Avenue.
There are actually 2 Pic-a-Lilli Taverns. The other is on Rt 206 in the Pine Barrens, and I’m not sure what the relationship of the two is, other than that they are both known for their wings and chicken strips. I had been to the Rt 206 location a few years ago and had some of the best wings I’ve ever had. However as it was only 11AM it was a little too early for a beer, I took a 45 minute walk on the Boardwalk instead.
The AC Pic-a-Lilli is on a deserted block in the shadow of the big Casinos. Perfectly seedy, just the way I like it. I entered at 11:45 AM (they are open 24/7, you gotta like that in a bar) and it was quite lively, with the type of clientele you usually don’t see in the promo brochures for the casinos. It was the kind of place that when I ordered a beer (Pabst on draft, of course) the barmaid suggested that for just an extra $2 I could get a pitcher. Since it was before noon, I politely declined. Anyway, I ordered 10 chicken fingers ($10) and they were huge and terrific. I had 5 there with my beer and took out the rest.
Now it was time to head a few miles north to the old shore town of Brigantine, and way at the tip of that beach town is the Rod and Reel Tavern. I love places like this, right at the end of the road by the water. Very nice convivial place, seems like it would be quite lively with locals in the summertime. On a Wednesday afternoon in April there were still quite a few customers. I had another beer (usually on my day trips I will have no more than one or two bar/beer stops all day at the most, but here is was only 1:30 PM and I was already on beer #2). They have a good reasonably priced seafood (what else would you expect) menu. I ordered a dozen steamed clams in garlic broth ($7). The clams were fresh and tasty. The broth was a little watery, but OK. Oddly, no bread for dunking. Since the broth wasn’t all that great I didn’t bother to ask for any. Nice place, friendly barman.
I decided that I needed to walk off the 2nd beer, so I took a ½ hour walk along the shorewalk and into town. I love sleepy NJ Shore towns in the off season. This was real nice and so close to AC.
OK, now I headed south for some unfinished business dating back to the early 70’s. While researching places for this trip I happened to notice that Maynard’s Tavern in Margate was still in business. On my only previous visit there, in about 1970, I got very drunk, got separated from my friends, couldn’t find their summer apartment, and somehow wound up spending the night on a couch in the summer house of 4 girls I did not know. Nothing apparently happened, and, 20 something boys being what they are, my friends had a field day kidding me about this for the next several days. In fact, a couple of them are same the guys I go to AC with, and once in a while I still hear about it.
Anyway, I’m not sure what my purpose was in going back to Maynard’s 39 years later, but in I went, and realized I did not remember anything about the place so I have no idea if it has changed at all. Surprisingly there were a few customers who looked like they were old enough to have been there that night 39 years ago. I ordered a beer and tried to listen in to their conversations to see if they were regulars back then. It was hard to tell, and I let it pass. I took a walk in the neighborhood to look around and to walk off my 3rd beer of the day, but there was no way I could figure out which was the house where I spent that “interesting” night.
So, back to AC along Ventnor Avenue, the most unsynchronized traffic light avenue I have ever driven on. Ventnor becomes Atlantic Avenue (more unsynchronized lights) and soon I was at Tony’s Baltimore Grill.
I love Old School places like this, a real Red Sauce Italian Spaghetti House. They claim to have the best pizza in Atlantic City. That may be true, but overall I wouldn’t even put it in the Top 10 of New Jersey. A very small ½ sausage and ½ plan pizza was $10. I had once slice of each at the bar (with a soda, not a 4th beer). It was OK, but not great. Still, I loved this place and would go back for a cozy Italian dinner in the dimly lit back room with my honey and a bottle of Red wine.
And that was that, a nice day all around.
<message edited by ken8038 on Wed, 04/15/09 12:43 PM>

    • Total Posts: 6067
    • Joined: 8/16/2007
    • Location: brick, NJ
    Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Wed, 04/15/09 12:54 PM (permalink)
    Nice report,Ken. I agree with your comments on South Jersey shore towns off season. They are fun. Fun to explore, and you never know what you'll see. Visited old Barney and the environs recently and we had the town to ourselves ,practically. Ac is always busy,but it to is great, in small doses!

      • Total Posts: 3531
      • Joined: 5/1/2004
      • Location: Egg Harbor Township, NJ
      Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Wed, 04/15/09 6:21 PM (permalink)
      thanks for sharing, Ken...
      nice narrative...

      Maynard's does'nt seem to be as rowdy and happening as it was back in the 70's and 80's, according to die hard locals..
      (my bf grew up in Margate, etc)

      We peaked inside Maynard's a few weeks back on a Sunday night, around 8 pm....
      Tomatoe's Restaurant and Sushi Bar next door was nice and busy.. (we had apps. at the bar there)...
      but Maynard's was DEAD...(3 people in there..)

      Margate does'nt really have those "animal house" summer beach houses anymore.... the frat boys have all grown up, and drive SUV's now... 
      Margate is much more upscale now...
      my bf grew up in a tiny little house in Margate near the bay; many of those are considered "teardowns" now... and they build gigantic McMansion's instead... with sundecks and boat slips, etc
      <message edited by ellen4641 on Wed, 04/15/09 8:51 PM>

        • Total Posts: 440
        • Joined: 12/30/2003
        • Location: Goodyear, AZ
        Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Wed, 04/15/09 8:22 PM (permalink)
        Maloney's Bar in Margate on Washington Ave has been torn down is now condos. I remember their special from years ago- 7drafts for $1. Just line them up.

        I'm a big fan of Dino's in Margate for hoagies and cheesesteaks. Sack'O'Subs in Ventnor is pretty good too.

        Hannah G's is a good breakfast place as is Annette's on Dorset,both are in Ventnor.

          • Total Posts: 3531
          • Joined: 5/1/2004
          • Location: Egg Harbor Township, NJ
          Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Wed, 04/15/09 8:55 PM (permalink)

          I'm a big fan of Dino's in Margate for hoagies and cheesesteaks. Sack'O'Subs in Ventnor is pretty good too.

          Hannah G's is a good breakfast place as is Annette's on Dorset,both are in Ventnor.

          I love the tuna subs at DINO'S !  (even if they are a little TOO mayonnaisey/creamy)
          Sacko's is family related to the White House...
          Have'nt been to Annette's , but it's within walking distance from my bf..
          We did walk over a few times to the Red Room Cafe , for pizza and a great caesar salad..
          they are "casual upscale".... with an emphasis on casual...
            mr chips

            • Total Posts: 4714
            • Joined: 2/19/2003
            • Location: portland, OR
            Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Thu, 04/16/09 8:52 AM (permalink)
            Enjoyed the report. New jersey is like a foreign country to me and I have spent little time there. Hope to remedy that someday.

              • Total Posts: 1559
              • Joined: 2/4/2004
              • Location: scotch plains, NJ
              Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Thu, 04/16/09 9:16 AM (permalink)
              Thanks for the good words everyone, and Ellen thanks for the update on Margate. I did notice while walking around that there was a lot of construction activity upgrading houses, even in this downturn.

              PS: I'm not sure what went wrong with the paragraph formatting. I wrote this up as a Word Document like I usually do and then cut & pasted it to Roadfood and the formatting got all fouled up. I edited it again after posting and after saving the edit somehow it again reverted to what you see above. So, I apologize if it was hard to read.

              Not sure if it has anything to with the new Roadfood software or what, but what used to work apparently doesn't anymore.

                • Total Posts: 354
                • Joined: 7/23/2003
                • Location: Hyattsville, MD
                Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Thu, 04/16/09 10:09 AM (permalink)
                Sort of off-topic here, but I spent the summer of 71 as a "mother's helper" for 3 boys (ages 3, 5 & 7) in Margate! I had Thursdays off and would take the bus in to Atlantic City, sometimes just exploring the boardwalk all day and sometimes taking in a movie. This was before they started tearing down everything--some of the old movie houses were still in use!

                My employers rented a house that was several blocks from the beach - it was in a neighborhood of locals rather than with the cottages. It wasn't too bad, but all in all I don't think I would have taken the job if I had known what all it entailed up front. LOL

                I can't recall ever getting a White House sub either, more's the pity for me!

                  • Total Posts: 3778
                  • Joined: 6/17/2004
                  • Location: Columbia, SC
                  Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Thu, 04/16/09 11:27 AM (permalink)
                  ken, good report--there's a lot of good information in there.  I had the same problem trying to cut and paste from Word, so I just write my reports in the reply box now.  It's a little nerve-wracking but you don't have the return problems like you do if you bring something in.

                    • Total Posts: 1084
                    • Joined: 3/29/2003
                    • Location: Edgewater Park, NJ
                    Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Thu, 04/16/09 6:52 PM (permalink)
                    Hi, Ken! I'm so glad you went to the wildlife refuge. I personally have never been, but Brian has, and the last time he was there, when he first got his camera, he put together a video, and had Pink Floyd's "Echoes" as the background music. Pretty intense, with a lot of special effects in it.
                    I'm also glad you hit Tony's Baltimore Grill, a place I've been going to since I was little. Tony's is what it is - a place to eat inexpensive Italian food while you check out everybody else who's in there. I've seen some colorful characters in there throughout the years! It's a throwback to an earlier time for me. Last time we went, we had a plain pizza and Brian also had a meatball parm sandwich. Yes, it is a good place to go with your honey.
                    A note about Pic-a-Lilli - there actually are three of them. The third one is called Russell's Pic II, on the White Horse Pike in Ancora (not far from Atco). I've had wings there. Here's their site (for all the "Pics"):
           It's strange because the sign looks so old and dilapidated, pretty much, for the Russell's location, and I was surprised that that one (and I think the A.C. one) was opened in the 90s. It appears to be in a very old building! Definitely want to hit the A.C. one next time we go down.
                    Oh, I meant to add that Annette's was one of my mom's most favorite places down there!
                    <message edited by harriet1954 on Thu, 04/16/09 6:54 PM>

                      • Total Posts: 1559
                      • Joined: 2/4/2004
                      • Location: scotch plains, NJ
                      Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Thu, 04/16/09 9:44 PM (permalink)
                      Hi Harriet, good to hear from you!

                      Thanks for the info on Pic-a-lilli, very interesting. I always wondered what the history was there. I agree, it sure doesn't look like the one in AC dates "only" from the 1990's.
                      Nancy, thanks for the reply. It's good to know I'm not the only one who is having trouble pasting from Word. I guess I'll just have to deal with the "reply" box when writing up reports even though it's much easier to type and edit in Word.

                        • Total Posts: 4462
                        • Joined: 1/17/2006
                        • Location: Pittston, PA
                        Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Thu, 04/16/09 10:05 PM (permalink)
                        ken8038, It's about time you hit the road again.  Great write-up.
                        Don't forget about N.E.Pa!!! 

                          • Total Posts: 1559
                          • Joined: 2/4/2004
                          • Location: scotch plains, NJ
                          Re:Atlantic City and Vicinity Day Trip Fri, 04/17/09 9:58 PM (permalink)
                          Joe, thanks.

                          Yep, NEPA is definately on the agenda, probably in May or June. Will keep in touch.
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