Why wasn’t any restaurant in the Asbury Park area featured in New Jersey Monthly’s “Cheap Eats” February cover story?  It’s because there is no such thing as cheap and really great eats in the area.  Everything here is overpriced, most of it is mediocre and there is almost nothing special at any price.

It’s a discussion that happens regularly with locals.  “Am I in New York or Asbury Park right now?”  “What’s with these prices?”  “Does anyone think that pasta dish was worth $25?”  “Was that caesar salad appetizer really $14?”

And that’s not coming from cheap-asses.  It’s coming from foodies – many of whom have eaten at the best and worst around the world – who equate quality, creativity, ambiance and the creation of something memorable with menu prices.  They cherish a fun and inexpensive meal just as much as a fancy-pants one.  Blow their taste buds away with a $10 entrée and I guarantee they will be back more times than they would with an okay $25 plate.

The debate usually continues – are the menu prices driven by greedy restaurant owners or greedy landlords, either of whom have a ten-year retirement plan?  Choose a restaurant… err, side as many have.  There’s no definitive answer.  What do you think? (PLEASE comment below).

What’s agreed is, restaurant owners need a “price check” and as the New Jersey Monthly story confirmed, there’s money and fame to be had with affordable, niche cuisine that is special and Asbury Park should be part of that dialogue.

Go to Mofongo for the best, handmade-to-order empanadas in the area for $1.


The empanadas at Mofongo are the closest thing this area has to special and cheap "eats."

The empanadas at Mofongo are the closest thing this area has to special and cheap “eats.”