The Best 48 Hours in A.C.
Two weeks ahead of time
Leave a dinner reservation request on the answering machine at Café 2825 (609-344-6913). Hope that your reservation is made, because you might not get a call back.
5:40 pm Board NJ Transit. Who needs the buzz kill of weekend warrior traffic? The train is a straight $7.25, one-hour-40-minute shot from 30th Street to midtown. Yes, the trip takes longer than best-case-scenario driving, but a summer Friday at rush hour is never a best-case scenario. At the bottom of the stairs, hop an aqua jitney for a free ride to the Borgata, still the only place to stay. With the money you saved on tolls and gas, you can almost afford the standard room. (No room in the inn? Try Resorts, for its extra-large rooms and Art Deco elevators.) 1 Borgata Way, 609-317-1000; theborgata.com.
9 pm Dinner at Café 2825.
A dressier, more easily accessible Chef Vola. This wood-paneled, white-tablecloth trattoria has just come into its own after 20 years working the grind. Order: Whole artichoke stuffed with crabmeat and chopped egg, veal osso buco, and Sunday sauce, a red-gravied hodgepodge of manly, leftover-theme beef, including amazing braciola. Overeat. Café 2825, 2825 Atlantic Avenue; 609-344-6913.
11 pm Walk a couple of blocks to the Quarter at the Trop, and sneak into the second-floor dance club at Cuba Libre. This semi-secluded spot feels like your very own disco: It’s less crowded — and way less public — than the salsa-fied downstairs, the perfect place to break out your running man. The Quarter at the Tropicana, 2801 Pacific Avenue, 609-348-6700; cuba-librerestaurant.com.
1 am Get in line at Jay-Z’s almost year-old 4040 Club (or call ahead to reserve a table) with the best-heeled, best-looking and definitely best-grooving crowd in all of A.C. Once you start a tab (minimum is $50 at the bar), keep one eye on the giant screen (always tuned to sports) and the other on the fashion show on the dance floor. 4040 Club, 2120 Atlantic Avenue, 609-449-4040; the4040club.com.
2:30 am All this socializing renders you strangely unfull from dinner. Slide over to Tony’s Baltimore Grill before they close down the kitchen, for late-night pizza, $1.25 juice glasses of Bud, and tabletop jukeboxes. Tony’s Baltimore Grill, 2800 Atlantic Avenue; 609-345-5766.
10 am Phone room service (if your vision is blurry, hit the button next to #4) for blueberry pancakes and a berry smoothie. There will be a wait, so feel free to go back to sleep.
1 pm There’s nothing like a little sun, reggae and a rum drink to get you back to feeling yourself. Trump runs the biggest beach bar in town, a planked, 15,000-square-foot oasis with an open-air kitchen, burgers, nachos, a raw bar, drinks served in plastic cups, and beach access. Trump Plaza, the Boardwalk at Mississippi Avenue, 609-449-1000; trumpplaza.com.
5 pm No need to shower, really, not if you head straight back to Gardner’s Basin, the charming little bayside district where you can play with the sea urchins in the touch tank at the Atlantic City Aquarium, browse through vintage jewelry and American art at Bayside Basin Antiques, and hustle for a spot on the upstairs deck of the Back Bay Ale House, to watch the fishing boats come in and toast the sunset with a Flying Fish Summer Farmhouse Ale. Bayside Basin Antiques, 800 North New Hampshire Avenue, 609-347-7143; Back Bay Ale House, 800 North New Hampshire Avenue, 609-449-0006.
8:30 pm Showered and sequined? It’s time to head back downstairs, to the Borgata’s still-reigning restaurant row (provided that Buddakan and the Continental at the Pier haven’t opened, and that you’re not important enough to bypass the two-plus-hour waits at the Quarter). Trying for a reservation at this point is moot. Your strategy: Eat at the bar. Ombra’s bar, the one that serves wine and cheese for here — and to go. Then again, if Michael Mina, Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck have opened their restaurants, you could try there. Good luck. Ombra at the Borgata, 1 Borgata Way, 609-317-1000; theborgata.com.
11:30 pm On to Mur.Mur, the Borgata’s new plush, DJ-driven, decanted-bottle-service ultra-lounge (again, if it’s open by then). If not, a cushy chaise and a tea-infused martini at B-Bar (open 24 hours, guarded by staff that never lets it get too crowded) will set you straight for the night.)
Noon EAT brunch at Resorts’ Capriccio. Chef Robert Irvine (who used to cook for Charles and Diana) presides here. Load up on Belgian waffles with strawberries and cream, caviar toast and mimosas. Capriccio, Resorts, 1133 Boardwalk, 800-336-6378; resortsac.com.
2 pm hit the Pier at Caesars for a session of better-than-KOP shopping. Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Coach, Burberry, plus places you can actually afford, like Janie and Jack, Dandelion and Bebe, dot this latest, greatest addition to A.C.’s glamour scene. Don’t miss the water show at the end of The Pier — they’re claiming it’s better than the Bellagio’s. The Pier at Caesars, Arkansas Avenue and the Boardwalk, 609-345-3100; thepieratcaesars.com.
5 pm The White House. Hungry, again, and willing to wait in another line for a large meatball sub (half for now, half for tomorrow), right before catching the 6:45 train back to reality. The White House, 2301 Arctic Avenue; 609-345-8599.