The dining scene in New Jersey is as eclectic as anywhere on the east coast, with a decent amount of international cuisine in the large cities of Newark and Atlantic City, and more traditional American fare in the smaller towns. One area where New Jersey reigns supreme is the roadside diner. The state is home to more of these modest, old-school eateries than anywhere else in the country, and several of them are nearly legendary. Nightlife here is also good, with the liveliest scene in Atlantic City’s myriad casinos and bars. Princeton and Newark also do a good job of keeping the night young.

Bars and Pubbing in New Jersey

If you really want to party in New Jersey, there’s only one place to go. Atlantic City has been entertaining visitors for over 150 years, and the past 40 of those have been especially lively thanks to the introduction of resorts and gambling. Stroll along the boardwalk and you’ll find 11 flashy casinos where most of the action takes place. The Trump Taj Mahal (1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City) is fun and swanky, but the new kid in town is Revel (500 Boardwalk, Atlantic City), a posh casino that looks to shake things up. Bars in Atlantic City serve alcohol 24 hours a day like Vegas, but other Jersey towns close between 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m.

Princeton’s university crowd provides another of Jersey’s top nightlife scenes. Try a craft beer at the Triumph Brewing Company (138 Nassau St, Princeton) or enjoy the timeless tavern ambiance at the Alchemist and Barrister (28 Witherspoon St, Princeton). Other big cities like Newark and Jersey City have decent bars as well, often with an obvious sports theme. P.J. Ryan’s (172 First St, Jersey City) and Blitz Sportsbar (179 Wilson Ave, Newark) are local favorites. Smoking is not permitted in any bar in New Jersey.

Dining and Cuisine in New Jersey

For the most part, the food in New Jersey consists of American standards. This is where the roadside diner was created, so visitors have hundreds of diners to choose from for cheap, tasty eats in a reliably colorful atmosphere. The White Mana Diner (470 Tonnele Ave, Jersey City) opened for the 1939 World’s Fair and is still going strong. Other institutions include Homer’s (201 Crescent Blvd, Oaklyn) and Brooklawn Diner (297 Crescent Blvd, Brooklawn). With over 500 diners in New Jersey alone, you can do a tour by simply cruising along Route 130. One staple on the menu is disco fries, french fries slathered in melted cheese and gravy.

In Atlantic City, the casinos lean toward theme restaurants. Cuba Libre (Tropicana, Atlantic City) has great Cuban fare, while Capriccio (Resorts, Atlantic City) is an award-winning Italian bistro. Cape May’s restaurants are as genteel (and expensive) as the town itself. You can’t go wrong with the menu at Washington Inn (801 Washington St, Cape May), the town’s top venue, with superb New American cuisine and an incredibly romantic ambiance. For seafood, head to the Lobster House (Fisherman’s Wharf, Cape May) or Axelsson’s Blue Claw Restaurant (991 Ocean Dr, Cape May), two of the state’s most popular spots.