Best Bars: South Jersey

At these South Jersey bars, you'll find plenty to do (and to drink).

Some Chop House patrons gravitate to the main bar (bartender Heather Neborak on duty).
Some Chop House patrons gravitate to the main bar (bartender Heather Neborak on duty).
Photo by Stuart Goldenberg

The Iron Room

Atlantic City

Tucked in the back room of the Atlantic City Bottle Company, a wine and whiskey shop for connoisseurs on the west side of town, the neo-speakeasy Iron Room has been a magnet for mixology buffs since it opened in 2013. It features over 340 whiskeys, served straight, in cocktails or in flights, plus a small regionally focused draft-beer list. The seasonal cocktail menu is always intriguing, but to get the most out of the Iron Room talk up a barkeep and ask him or her to create something just for you. The tasty libations will give you an appetite, which chef Kevin Cronin’s plates, small (chicharonnes, foie gras disco fries) or large (cowboy steak, arctic char) will satisfy.—JHF
648 N. Albany Avenue, 609-348-6400.

Brickwall Tavern

Burlington
Brickwall will be the cornerstone that Burlington City rebuilds itself upon,” predicts one South Jersey beer and spirits industry veteran. Indeed, that hopeful spirit is part of what led Smith—the company whose restaurants helped spur Asbury Park’s revival—to renovate an historic brick firehouse with clock tower here and transform it into a branch of its original brand, Brickwall Tavern. The gastropub has brought Burlingtonians of all ages together to partake of affordable, likable fare; sports on screens; tunes spun by DJs or played live by musicians; and cocktails, wine and plenty of craft beer.—TN
19 East Union Street, 609-733-3562.

Brown Room

Cape May
This elegant room in the stately Congress Hall hotel indeed is brown, its dark wood, leather upholstery and faux-tiger-skin-print carpet ready to enfold you like an Agatha Christie murder mystery. The Brown Room is said to occupy the very spot where Cape May’s first post-Prohibition cocktail was poured. Congress Hall itself turned 200 last year and has never looked better. The vibe at the Brown Room on weekends and all summer is garrulous and good-natured, a lively mix of locals and visitors mingling in what’s been called Cape May’s Living Room.—JHF
200 Congress Place, 609-884-8421.

Farm & Fisherman

Cherry Hill
Philadelphia native Josh Lawler, a 2011 James Beard Award semifinalist, opened the bright, airy F&F in 2014, embracing local, sustainably raised ingredients and straightforward yet highly flavorful food. The place has drawn a following of all ages, not just for victuals, but for its regional beer list and its sophisticated seasonal cocktails. It was one of the first in the state to barrel-age cocktails, and lately it’s been rethinking coffee concoctions. Farm & Fisherman could just as easily stand for Fun & Forward, or Fresh & Frisky.—TN
1442 Marlton Pike East, 856-356-2282.

Chop House

Gibbsboro
In addition to licking their chops over Chop House’s fine meats, devotees flock to this upscale bastion on Silver Lake for its seven-days-a-week happy hour and dual bar scenes. The classic wood bar in the white-tablecloth dining room has stools with upholstered backs and three screens  of sports (above). The enclosed stone terrace with panoramic windows overlooking the lake features a granite island-style bar and a fire pit. The lists of signature cocktails, beers and wines-by-the-glass are not long, but you won’t see any long faces here.—TN
4 Lakeview Drive South, 856-566-7300.

Catelli Duo

Voorhees
In a suburb of large homes, luxury condos and mixed-use developments, including upscale restaurants, the niche that Catelli Duo fills is central and social—a place to kick back with colleagues or meet a special someone, have a raspberry mojito or glass of bubbly, and order off the Italian menu, which includes bar bites. In summer, the scene spills onto the brick patio and its cushioned wicker sofas.—TN
12101 Town Center Boulevard, 856-751-6069.

Pour House

Westmont
In 2009, the company that owns Chop House and P.J. Whelihan’s turned Dockhopper’s, a clam bar, into Pour House, a gastropub devoted to craft beer. With its new concept, the location has prospered. Known for its annual Pour-a-Palooza and its Tap Taker single-brewery spotlight days, Pour House counts craft-beer professionals among its core constituents. Yet cocktails, liquor and wine are popular, too. The sound track is classic rock, which goes live when cover bands hold forth on Fridays or Saturdays. There’s still a big raw bar, and buck-a-shuck oysters make Wednesday’s Happy Hour happier.—TN
124 Haddon Avenue, 856-869-4600.

Keg & Kitchen

Westmont
When Janet and Kevin Meeker opened Cork restaurant in 2005, they focused on Belgian beers. But as Jersey craft beer began to bloom, they expanded their list and then, in 2010, rebranded Cork as Keg & Kitchen. Since then K&K has become a leader in presenting the state of the brewing art. You’ll find families and groups of friends in the dining room as well as beer aficionados talking malts and hops across the long communal table. Meanwhile, nine flatbreads/pizzas, burgers, cocktails like the popular Pear Pressure (pear vodka, pear nectar, ginger-cinnamon syrup), a dozen wines by the glass, and a beer garden ensure broad appeal.—TN
90 Haddon Avenue, 856-833-9800.

Giumarello’s

Westmont
This family-owned Northern Italian has a separate lounge, the G-Bar, which opens onto a stone patio in warm weather. Happy Hour is always lively, with a well-dressed crowd kicking back after work, often to live music. Martinis are popular, as is craft beer. The Italian-inflected menu lends itself to wines by the glass, of which there are 30.—TN
329 Haddon Avenue, 856-858-9400.

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