One of the many reasons I love living in Philadelphia is it’s easy proximity to other intriguing places. Anyone who knows me will tell you I have wanderlust; the quote “She was often struck with the desire to be elsewhere” suits me perfectly.
Asbury Park is my happy place. Only 65 miles northeast of Philly, I discovered it in the warm Fall of 2015, soon after I moved to Center City. Asbury Park has always been an entertainer’s town. It was on the circuit for the Big Bands, and the rock and roll history perpetuated by the Bruce lives on.; yes the Stone Pony is alive and well! The tight knit community of locals, of all ages, are proud of the hard work they’ve invested to bring Asbury back in the last ten years.
While the summer is popping and super fun, I also enjoy visiting during the off months when the pace is slower and accommodations are inexpensive. Try the Empress Hotel; right on the beach, with private balconies, I pay $89 during the week off-season. Rooms on the 4th floor have ocean views, and they will provide you with a free fridge if you ask nicely! The historical Berkshire also sits right on the beach and the hip, new Asbury Hotel is just a block from the water.
You won’t find a better lunch special in Asbury than at the Asbury Ale House. For $12 you have your choice of a (domestic) beer or glass of house wine, soup, and either a sandwich or burger. Yes, that comes with fries!
Dallas is a great hostess/barkeep, very personable and professional. Located on Cookman Ave., Asbury Park’s main drag, you can enjoy lunching outside during the warm months, or grabbing a late afternoon brew from their extensive list and just people watching.
Other spots worth mentioning are Bond St., a favorite local dive bar just around the corner on, yes, Bond St., and Talula’s, a farm to table restaurant on Cookman with amazing pizza, wine on tap, and a local beer list.
The next day I ventured the ten miles north to Red Bank and had a fabulous meal at Birravino. An Italian fine dining spot, they make their own (delish) beer and the wine list is only Italian. The food is spectacular; I paired Chicken Francoise with a Pinot Bianco and I am still thinking about it!
The large round bar is conducive to conversation and Frank is happy to serve you from behind it.
Ryan, on the left, is the manager; he’s with his stepdad. If you enjoy warm, friendly people and spectacular, reasonably priced beer, wine and food, check it out!
On to the NYC. New York City is an addiction for me, a place that fires up something inside of me. I lived there in the early 2000s, and while it has become super corporate and expensive, there are places I frequent which have great wine, ambiance and don’t break the bank.
Ten Bells, 247 Broome St., is my favorite wine bar anywhere. Three different Somms told me about it in the summer of 2015, and I visit every time I am in NYC.
In the last gritty part of the Lower East Side, the neighborhood is an adventure in itself, although very safe!
All organic/biodynamic wine and beers (wine is the focus), you will discover unusual wines from all over the world, and France in particular.
The French wine buyer, Sevin, is my celebrity crush (sorry, no picture- she was on a wine buying trip in France when I visited). I am always happy to see David, who is from France as well.
I strongly suggest going for happy hour (5-7 Mon-Fri, 3-7 Sat/Sun). $5 glasses, $15 carafes and $1 oysters should do the trick! All the food is fantastic and they offer a great selection of cheeses and charcuterie.
Another favorite stop in NYC is The Folly, on Houston St., which separates the Village from Soho (yes, I am and always have been a Downtown Grrl).
It’s built to look like a pirate ship with lots of warm wood, pirate oddities and room for private events.
I love pulling up a seat at the bar and indulging in their 7 day a week 12-8pm happy hour. And where else can you find a Peg Leg sizing chart in the women’s bathroom??
While it’s a rum bar, the owner Dre, put a lot of thought into the wine list and it’s varied and reasonably priced, esp. for NYC.
He has several really good wines for $6 during happy hour, including this French sparkling rose. I also recommend the South African Pinotage, and the quality Prosecco.
Kristian may be there to welcome you.
The wine is always fresh and the conversation lively. I mean, how often to you get to pretend you’re a pirate!?