They say that you can tell how busy Avalon is at any time of the year by how busy things are at the Circle Tavern. As the unofficial epicenter of town, the Circle Tavern and its sister bar, the Princeton Bar & Grill, are a perfect indicator of the mood, traffic and overall activity of most of Avalon.
What to expect
The Princeton and Circle Tavern are two of three distinct areas within the same large space. The largest and most iconic of the three is the Princeton, which is open during the summer and shoulder seasons. It is the place to be for Avalon locals as well as pretty much everyone else in town. It’s a little upscale without being exclusive, alternately hosting Villanova alumni events and bachelorette parties.
Adjoining the Princeton is the Rock Room, which is only open during weekend evenings, when bands perform.
The Circle Tavern is open daily year-round, with pub fare and its own indoor and outdoor seating. During evenings in the summer, sliding barn doors open to connect all three venues for a nightlife experience that has become the stuff of legend.
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Food and drink
There’s a pretty basic variety of tap and bottle options at the Princeton and its accompanying spaces. Each bar has a slightly different selection, and if you’re there when everything opens up, you can bounce among the different bars to mix things up. The taps range from Goose Island IPA and Leinenkugel Shandy at the Princeton to Cape May IPA and Sierra Nevada at the Circle, but the real reason to head to this iconic destination is simply to be in the center of it all.
If you’re hungry, the BBQ short rib platter at the Circle or the cheesesteak egg rolls at the Princeton should do the trick.
Labor Day marks the last weekend for live music at the Princeton, with JJ Rupp taking the stage Friday, the Sofa Kings on Saturday, and an end-of-summer bash with Burnt Sienna on Sunday. Cover charges are $10, and shows start at 10 p.m. Grab dinner and show the receipt to beat the cover charge.
If you’ll be here after Labor Day, “clam nights” start back up Sept. 6. With 15 clams for $5 and a selection of five different steaming sauces, the special runs 5 to 8 p.m., or until they run out of clams.
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THE PRINCETON BAR & GRILL AND THE CIRCLE TAVERN
Where: 2008 Dune Drive, Avalon
When: The Princeton: 11 a.m. daily until the week after Labor Day, when the Princeton opens 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Closed for the winter after Columbus Day weekend; The Circle Tavern: 11 a.m. daily year-round.
Who: Scott Zurawski and Lizanne Tracy
Contact: 609-967-3456; PrincetonBar.com
Other info: All major credit cards accepted, parking available, disabled accessible, takeout available in the Circle Tavern, and before 6 p.m. at the Princeton.