The Belmar Restaurant Tour on March 8, 2020, was by far the biggest and best one yet in the event’s 12-year history. Over 1,000 tickets were sold for the food tasting and tour, which featured nearly 40 participating restaurants in downtown Belmar, New Jersey, and along Ocean Avenue and Route 71.
Our culinary adventure started in what locals call Belmar’s “restaurant row,” a stretch of seven eateries along the western side of Belmar Mall in the downtown business district. First stop: 10th Avenue Burrito Co. for street tacos served with a choice of el pastor, carne asada, or chicken and topped with homemade salsa.
From there, we walked down the strip with stops at Hoagitos (chicken sliders), Jersey Shore BBQ (barbecue wings), Kotta Sushi Asian Fusion (spicy crunchy tuna roll and salad with house ginger dressing), Sonny’s Grille (pulled pork sliders), Simply Southern (jambalaya, chicken gumbo, and fried chicken) and the recently opened Domesticated Dad Catering Company (herb-infused chicken salad).
Across the street, Nourished by Nature was offering different flavors of its cold-pressed organic juices and house-made organic oat bars, while Mike’s Giant Submarines served two varieties of hoagies/subs (turkey and ham-salami). Beach Haus Brewery was pouring samples of its limited-production Swash White Ale, while Anchor Tavern was dishing out braised short ribs with polenta and tomato jam.
From the plaza, our journey led us to 10th Avenue, where we appreciated the warm welcome at Beckman’s Deli (pork roll hash and chicken wings with homemade buffalo and barbecue sauces), Sweet! (peppermint bark, cheesecake in a cup, raspberry crumb cake, and chocolate cake with vanilla icing), and Federici’s on 10th (chicken Francaise and rice pudding).
From there, we set out north along Main Street for stops at Federico’s (slices of white and plain pizzas), Sweet Tease Tea Room & Café (vanilla and chocolate mini cupcakes), Klein’s Waterside Café (New England and Manhattan clam chowder), and Doughboy’s Wood-Fired Pizza (chicken Francaise, penne vodka, bruschetta, and pizza).
Comfi of Belmar did its usual fantastic job with its brunch buffet (grilled kielbasa, classic French toast, vanilla yogurt with fruit and granola, Forever Young breakfast bowl, and Chicken Pesto Sensation). We also enjoyed the generous hospitality at Flames Brazilian Steakhouse (black bean stew, garlic chicken, Brazilian top sirloin and pork sausage, white rice, vinaigrette, and yucca flour) and Stay Gold Café (golden apple walnut salad, chicken salad, Sunshine Dream juice drink).
Moving on to Ocean Avenue, our stops included La Dolce Vita Italian Seafood Grill (gnocchi sautéed with roasted fennel and butternut squash in anisette-pistachio cream sauce), Playa Bowls (dragonberry pitaya, coconut blend, acai blend, and kale blend), and Coney Waffle (cannoli waffles and Coney Candy).
Jimmy James, owner of Jimmy’s Place, always goes all out for the Belmar Restaurant Tour, and this year he did not disappoint with his generous offerings of shrimp Francaise; house grilled chicken; shrimp scampi lobster calzone; sausage and peppers; baked ziti; New England clam chowder; pork, egg, and cheese sandwiches; and pizza samples (Sicilian, plain, meatball, shrimp scampi, white pie, and chicken with broccoli and ricotta).
Other restaurants that stand out every Dine and Discover Tour are Mr. Shrimp Seafood Restaurant and Market on Route 71, Ragin’ Cajun on Route 35, and Cielito Lindo Mexican Restaurant on Main Street. At Mr. Shrimp, guests were raving about the diverse selection of coconut shrimp, mini crab cakes, crab dip with bread sticks, chilled shrimp cocktail, and a raw bar with clams and oysters on the half-shell.
Ragin' Cajun's small plates of blackened chicken bites, jambalaya rice, and Cajun sea mussels were also a hit. The hot buffet at Cielito Lindo included chicken with molé sauce, chicken fajitas, rice and beans, and other house specialties. RELATED: 5 Must-Try Mexican Restaurants In Belmar And Beyond
The roundup of participating Belmar restaurants for 2020 also included Marina Grille (ahi tuna with scallions and vegetables on a flour tortilla), Surf Taco (pork and pineapple street tacos with cilantro and red onion), Jake’s Downtown (seafood chowder), Brandl Restaurant (hot smoked salmon with a Yukon gold potato wedge and caper sour cream), Main Street Donuts (doughnut bites in various flavors), Belmar Bagels (selection of bagels and cream cheese); Corner Bagelry of Belmar; Pizza Shop (selection of slices); Boathouse Bar and Grill; Joe’s Surf Shack; and Bar Anticipation.
We always like to end our afternoon with a final stop at Turnstile Coffee Roasters with a freshly baked scone (oat, cranberry, and currant) and a cup of hot coffee (Sumatra and House Blend).
In all, we made it to 33 of the 37 participating Belmar restaurants this year. It was a mild, sunny day to be out exploring the Belmar dining scene, and the Belmar Beachcomber Blog would like to extend a big thank you to all the places that we visited for their generous and delicious hospitality!
RELATED: Upcoming Events In Belmar
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