Independence Day — it’s a sparkler-filled celebration for the birth of our nation. A chance to revel in the glory of Old Glory herself. And for many it means attending some form of backyard barbecue.
While there is nothing wrong with that, going to one of these events does come with its downsides. We’re talking overcooked burgers, drunk uncles and a swimming pool filled with screaming, splashing kids, at least one of which will inevitably burst into tears after enduring some type of horseplay-related injury. And then to cap things off, grown men will suddenly begin lighting off fireworks, much to the dismay of the local police and a majority of neighborhood dogs.
If all this is sounding less than enjoyable, we have come up with a list of local spots where you can track down all of the traditional foods that one might find at a Fourth of July backyard barbecue — without having to endure any of the above hardships.
Sure, you can find a burger at just about every restaurant from here to Sacramento, but if you want one that you will crave for weeks — and one that’s appropriately named for the holiday — we suggest you head over to Tailgaters for their American Classic burger. Topped with a traditional combo of lettuce, tomato and American cheese (though we highly recommend adding their candied smoked bacon and a bit of raw onion) this is perhaps the tastiest burger you will try all summer. Tailgaters is located at 337 White Horse Pike in Galloway. Go toTailgatersNJ.com.
Margate Dairy Bar
A consistent trophy winner at Atlantic City Weekly’s annual Burger Bash competition, the MDB Burger is about as close to a backyard barbecue burger as it gets. It starts with an all-beef patty, then is loaded up with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and their signature MDB sauce. Margate Dairy Bar is located at 9510 Ventnor Ave. in Margate. Go to MargateDairyBar.com.
Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall
Since opening in November, Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall has made a name for itself, serving classic American pub grub with a twist. Chef Charles Soreth’s hot dogs have become a crowd favorite and for good reason. Their Mexicali dog comes wrapped in bacon and topped with avocado puree, chipotle crema and pico de gallo for a spicy take on a truly American treat. Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall is located at 133 S. Tennessee Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to TennesseeAvenueBeerHall.com.
Maui’s Dog House
What could be more fun than eating a delicious hot dog on the Fourth of July? How about eating one out of a dog bowl? At Maui’s Dog House, that’s exactly what you do as all of their meals are served in this canine-esque manner. But what comes out of the kitchen is anything but dog food. The ominously named “Cardiac” dog is topped with bacon and — as their menu states — “globs and globs of cheddar cheese.” Healthy? No way. Delicious? Totally. Maui’s Dog House is located at 806 New Jersey Ave. in Wildwood. Go to MauisDogHouse.com.
Ernest and Son
If you are craving the smoky goodness of a sausage hot off the grill, your neighbor’s cookout is not the only game in town. Pop on in at Ernest and Son in Brigantine — a legendary spot for meats of all kinds since 1977 — and order The Tailgater. It starts with a grilled Italian sausage and adds the classic combo of peppers and onions and finishes it off with a few slices of sharp provolone cheese. Ernest and Son is located at 3305 Brigantine Ave in Brigantine. Go to ErnestAndSon.com.
The Surfing Pig
The term “barbecue” gets thrown around a lot when describing Fourth of July get-togethers that involve a grill. But true barbecue doesn’t come from throwing a few frozen burgers on the grill, it comes from smoking meats for hours at a time till they are tender and perfect. The Surfing Pig in North Wildwood takes that concept and adds a chill beachy vibe that is perfect for an early July celebration. Try their St. Louis Ribs for a sweet and smoky bite of heaven. The Surfing Pig is located at 231 W. 10th Ave. in North Wildwood. Go to The SurfingPig.com.
If you are looking to sample some of the best, properly-smoked barbecue in all of New Jersey, we recommend a trip to Henri’s Hotts, which has certainly mastered the art of “slow and low.” Order up a platter of their slow-smoked baby back ribs and find out once and for all what real barbecue is all about. Henri’s Hotts is located at 1003 Black Horse Pike in Hammonton. Go to HenrisHottsBarbecue.com.
When Chris Bellino departed from his role of Executive Chef at Smithville Inn many folks were understandably upset. Luckily for everyone he never left town, opening up Bellino’s Market just a few streets away in December 2017 and serving one of the best selections of prepared foods in the area. All the traditional backyard cookout staples can be found here, from macaroni salad to fresh mozzarella and all points between. Bellino’s Market is located at 45 S. New York Road in Smithville. Go to BellinosMarket.com.
Corn on the cob
Summer wouldn’t be summer without a few ears of fresh corn on the cob. Though the kind found at most barbecues is often only topped with butter, this year we suggest you spread your wings a bit and try the elote, above, at La Dona Mexican Restaurant in Cape May. This tasty app features grilled corn on the cob with mayo, Mexican cheese and chili powder for a kicked up version of a familiar favorite. LaDona is located at 31 Perry St. in Cape May. Go to LaDonaMex.com.
Chelsea Five Gastropub
Sure, maybe it’s more for picnics than barbecues, but either way, nothing says America like a lovely plate of fried chicken. This Fourth of July we can’t think of a better place to grab some than at Chelsea Five Gastropub, located in the Chelsea section of Tropicana Atlantic City. Dredged in a seasoned flour mix, this honey-glazed southern staple is crunchy, savory and sweet all at once. Tropicana Atlantic City is located at 2831 Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Go to Tropicana.net.
What Fourth of July party would be worth attending if it didn’t come with a cooler full of ice cold brew-dogs? This year instead of hoping your buddy Steve doesn’t cheap out with a keg of Natty Light, why not cut out the middle man entirely and head straight to Wingcraft, where they offer 40 taps worth of some of the best craft beers money can buy? There you can sip away and sigh wistfully, content in knowing you won’t be forced to choke back a red solo cupful of whatever swill may have been waiting for you in Steve’s backyard. Wingcraft is located at 2010 Baltic Ave in Atlantic City. Go to WingcraftAc.com.