Atlantic City has come a long way since I was four and got lost on the most crowded beach on the East Coast.
OpenTable, the major online restaurant-reservation website, has named Atlantic City, N.J., the most romantic city for dining in America. To most people, Atlantic City is best known for salt water taffy, Steel Pier, and being a pioneer in legal gambling in the U.S. To OpenTable, it’s “a glamorous gambling mecca.”
The folks at OpenTable may have missed the memo that the Garden State destination for slots of fun has recently seen a number of casinos close, following revenue losses in the billions of dollars. And then there’s the wonderful PR that followed Ray Rice’s horrific actions at the Revel Hotel and Casino.
Nevertheless, as the saying goes, you have to eat. As far as romance is concerned, if you like a whiff of sulfuric stench with your clams casino, Atlantic City is the place for you. Toss in the smarminess that goes with a decaying city whose economy is only marginally legal and you have a destination that as popular for love and kisses as it is for organized crime.
Atlantic City, once called America’s Playground, does have its dining gems, some of which are far off the beaten path.
Of the five top-rated restaurants on OpenTable, Dock’s Oyster Bar and Knife and Fork Inn have been slinging quality hash since I was a kid—and that’s a long time. Cafe 2825, a casual Italian eatery a few blocks from the boardwalk, is rated highly by OpenTable diners, while the Asian-themed restaurant Buddakan comes in second.
The best food establishment in Atlantic City is White House Subs, known for serving the best hoagies in the state. If you venture there after dark, though, you’d better bring along a guard dog or a friend skilled in martial arts for safety reasons.
To further cast doubt on OpenTable’s list of the most romantic dining cities, San Antonio, Texas, comes in second after Atlantic City. The rest of the top five is Providence, R.I.; Key West, Fla.; and Birmingham, Ala. That covers red tortillas, conch fritters, Portuguese delicacies, and pork ribs—truly the food to win the affection of your sweetheart come Feb. 14.
Photo via y Amiga-Commodore/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)