Lower Chelsea: The Riviera of Absecon Island.
Is it a real name for a neighborhood, or another confection created by real estate agents to be read about only in the funny pages?
Don’t answer that. I won’t be able to hear you anyway.
Route 40 has its headquarters here, and though we told ourselves we weren’t going to do this kind of thing (Shopping Guides being the sisters to GENTRIFICATION) who doesn’t love a good listicle? And it seems past time to reflect on the census block we call home. So, in no particular order, here are five things we love about this sweet little section of Atlantic City:
Thing One: The “Poke Bowl” façade:
We’ve never eaten there! Who cares! We love the name of this stylish new Lower Chelsea eatery, which went through two (at least) previous iterations.
Way back in the way back it was the “Captain’s Boil.” Dubious! Especially if you’ve had a staph infection in the last two years (we have). Anyway the “Boil” never opened, so to speak, and was rechristened something like “Jack’s Seafood Boil” which succeeded only in further personalizing the boil and giving it a vivid internal life, full of textures and smells! But it never opened either.
Today we (thankfully) have Poke Bowl, which is O-P-E-N under the stewardship of chef Bo Lin, who has moved down from Flushing to bring us Japanese-Hawaiian cuisine. Everyone who’s eaten there says it’s great. Chef Bo says it’s healthy. Great for lunch!
Thing Two: Mole Oaxaqueño at Mexico
We told ourselves this wouldn’t be about food, but thing two is the mole at Mexico Restaurant & Bar on Ventnor Ave., where the proprietors come from Oaxaca and where they not only make their own mole but also will sell it to you in sandwich form (the Torta Oaxaqueña, $7.50) or on enchiladas (prices vary).
I love it. Do I care that they’ve been making their own mole here for 23 years? Or that they ship in seven varieties of chile (the puya, the criollo, the ancho, the guajillo, etc.) along with an assortment of nuts and things for the purpose? I kind of do!
Enjoy a refreshing mezcal while you wait. It’s what the hipsters drink.
Thing Three: Chilaquiles at Atlantic Pizza
OMG, more food! Sorry but Friday chilaquiles are a newsroom custom at Route 40. We observe it strictly.
Our current favorites are from Atlantic Pizza and can been seen here inside their original packaging, and beside Jaime Sanchez, who said he would text me a better picture, though I’ve yet to receive one.
What can we say about the chilaquiles? The chips are chiplike and edible, highly edible even. The green sauce is a textbook green—neither too blue nor too yellow. The chicken is stylish and featherless. What am I, a food critic?
Thing Four: AC Cheese Fries at Joe’s
Do you like to drink Yuengling and forget to have supper, like I do? Then Joe’s on Ventnor Ave. has the answer to your late-night problems (some of them).
Everyone knows South End Pizza, right down the street, and their extra-large slices with the buffalo chicken business. But Joe’s (formerly Venezia) does a special where you can get a sub with a side order of fries (good fries) and your choice of soda in a can, all for like $8.
If you’re feeling extra indulgent, go with the AC cheese fries: a mix of mozzarella, cheddar and Old Bay. I’m pretty sure they had bacon bits on there too, but I forgot to ask (#investigativejournalism). For $6.95
The guy behind the till is Fadil Rama: He’ll hook you up!
Thing Five: Jitney Tickets at Dover Check Cashing!
Finally, a non-food-related item!
Little-known neighborhood secret Dover Check Cashing is a great place to buy jitney tickets: ten rides for twenty dollars is what the proprietor behind the plexi quoted me, a steep discount from what you pay if you buy from the driver.
You can also have some keys copied and send money overseas while you’re at it.
Thing Six: Coriander Chutney
I have no idea what to do with this stuff!
But I bought some at Deshi Bazaar & Produce on Ventnor near the corner of Albany Avenue, where Nazrul Rony, pictured here, works when he’s not studying business marketing at Stockton University, which has opened a brand-new campus across the street. You may have heard about it!
Rony’s considering a change in major, which I encouraged, for what it’s worth. Don’t you think he should study political science or something? For one, he’s got this business-marketing thing down already. Stop by Deshi if you want Rony to be your next Congressman. We need him. Rony for president!
Thing Seven: This Fire Hydrant w/ Shower Attached
This fire hydrant what has been turned into a shower with the addition of a pipe, by the fire department presumably, is the seventh and maybe even final thing we love about Lower Chelsea.
What a civic-minded gesture from our beleaguered first-responders. And it’s a great way to get the sand off yourself if you stroll accidentally onto the beach. When it was hot, the kids could play in it! Could and did!
Thing Eight: Mino’s Bakery!
Say it with me: One-dollar donuts! You can get them at Mino’s, where they’ve been turning these suckers out for 40 years. Nice to know they are still fresh—and affordable!
Buy a pack before heading across the street to Island Vapes. Or after heading to Island Vapes? I don’t know your life.
Anyway! Those are just a few of the things we love about Lower Chelsea. Thanks for letting us hang out here the last few months. We hope to stay as long as they’ll let us.
If you’re in the neighborhood and see us ambling around, say hi! And feel free to share with us any grievances you may have. We’re weird looking and live near Fiesta Pizza.
Speaking of which, Cynthia Corey, their delivery driver, and Daisy Almonte, the maitress d’ (not pictured), are two more things we love about Lower Chelsea.