Top Five South Jersey Restaurants

By Mara Monahan 24’

There are many restaurants in South Jersey, yet some are better than others. Because of the pandemic, many restaurants have had shortages in workers, causing restaurants to slow down. Even though the pandemic has had an impact on many restaurants, some still stand to have some great food and services just like these restaurants that I’ve never gotten tired of.
In the 1980s the founder of Panera, Ron Shaich, merged his cookie store with a bakery, creating Au Bon Pain Co. Inc. He and his partner, Louis Kane, recognized the potential of transforming the company from a bakery selling croissants and bread to a bakery-cafe that used bread and croissants as a platform for selling sandwiches. Since then, it has been acquired by JAB Holding Co. and grown to become the amazing restaurant it is today.
Although the designing of the place could have a little more seating, overall it is a well put together place. I feel like the Panera logo stands out and catches the eyes of people since most people do not use green for their logos.
Panera’s menu spans anywhere from soups, to sandwiches, to delicious baked delights. Their bread is always served warm and basically melts in your mouth. They offer many of their homemade soups to be purchased and stored to make anytime you want. Their broccoli cheddar soup is so creamy even a child would ignore the fact there is broccoli in it and eat it all.
The food is all put together by their very friendly staff. Panera is always welcoming and quick to take an order. This restaurant was even the first and only restaurant company to commit to and achieve 100% clean food. This restaurant is a great place to catch up with a friend for food, yet it might be a bit pricey.
Another quick and easy stop is La Sacilia. Giuseppe Ali opened La Sicilia in about 2005. His goal was to serve “heart neighborhood Italian” food to his customers. The interior design is quite small with few tables, but bathrooms are available as well as fridges filled with drink choices. Indoor access is not available right now though because of the pandemic. The exterior design is decorated with paintings on the windows and the sign is big and red, different from the other signs around it making it stand out. It is very appealing to the eye.
This restaurant provides a lot of Italian cuisine anywhere from pizza to cheesesteaks and many options. One of my favorite things about the restaurant is you don’t always have to get a full pizza. You can choose to get just a slice which is perfect for going out to get something quick. The toppings are of great variety too: sausage, broccoli, pineapple, pepperoni, etc.
The cheesesteaks are cooked very well and have a great flavor. Their service is very friendly and they get the food to you quickly. Most people take-out the food, so it is nice to enjoy it when you are there without many people.. There are few tables so all of them are well managed and kept spotless. The kitchen area in the back also seems very sanitary. The prices are average prices that any pizzeria would sell their items for, so it is affordable.
The Red Hen is a great choice for family style food. The interior design making it look like a barn is very creative. The fans are put together using a bunch of old artwork and random items. It does make it different from other places which is something I really like and find interesting. In the exterior design they also include outdoor seating which is nice for warmer days to me outside with family.
Their “Freakshake ” is a giant milkshake. You can choose any kind of ice cream or toppings you want which makes it a very happy place for kids. Some of their toppings include M&M’s, Reese’s, fudge, a giant swirl lollipop. I know as a young kid, I’d be begging my parents to get one. Even their chips are homemade and very crispy. They have just the right amount of salt. The workers are usually very nice, but always make excuses for time spent getting and making the food because they are short-staffed. On the menu there’s a little excerpt that warns of this though.
No one really rushes you, and you can enjoy your drinks before wanting to order. The tables are cleaned after every meal, and they also have a busboy who cleans most things, so it is pretty set in terms of cleanliness. The food is worth the price, and they even state on their website that “Our affordable menu features family favorites that will make every member of your family happy – from the youngest to the oldest.”
A classic from my childhood, The Hollywood Cafe and Sports Bar, is another restaurant that has never disappointed me. The interior design is old fashioned. Sometimes they have an older car placed right at the entrance when you walk in. At the front there is a variety of baked delights such as cheese cake, cannolis, cookies, and pies that are very tempting to get quick when leaving. Through the entrance doors, they even have a statue of Elvis. The exterior design of the place is very vibrant. The color scheme has bright red, blue, and yellow colors. It is a place that you couldn’t miss when passing by.
They have a lot of great breakfast items which they serve all day. Their Belgium waffles, one of the most popular options, are big in size topped with powdered sugar, butter, and syrup on the side so you can put however much you want on. The service there is always very good since they take and get out your orders quickly. If you have a child with you, they give you a menu with crayons and a coloring page on it.
It is very upbeat when walking in. The music is fitting to the setting and theme of the restaurant. Everything is shiny in there, and you can tell that they keep it very clean. The food is not pricey and is a normal range for the quality of the food you get.
The American Favorite Chick-fil-a is a great restaurant choice. On the inside there is lots of seating and a condiment station. There is also a playhouse for little kids to enjoy. Although right now because of Covid it is drive thru or delivery only. They have a drive thru and many workers out there to help you. The drive through tends to always have very long lines and gets pretty backed up, but it is definitely a line that is willing to wait in. Menus out there are clear and efficient, and the microphones work well so you don’t have to repeat yourself.
They have some of the best chicken and their waffle fries are out of this world. The chicken is seasoned perfectly, and the taste is addicting. You can also tell that they use real chicken. Their signature Chick-Fil-A sauce is creamy and sweet with a smoky aftertaste. The workers are very nice and always say “My pleasure” after you order all your food.
The restaurant chain has a good atmosphere, very positive, and everyone is very nice. The playhouse for the kids gives it character and makes it fun. It is clean, for a fast-food place. They get a lot of people so it’s hard to keep up with the spills and things around the condiment area.
I can’t get enough of these restaurants. I would recommend all of them. These places are perfect for a quick trip with friends or family. They are all good choices since a lot of these places have more than one location that may be closer to you. They offer some great food and services that we all look for. Whether you wanted to eat in, take-out, or deliver, these restaurants offer those kinds of options. Whenever you need a quick stop, these are some great South Jersey restaurant choices.