Those who have been inside any one of Atlantic City’s seven casinos know there is an abundance of fantastic, functional, and just plain fun dining options at every one.
Plus, when Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino both open June 28, bringing the number of Atlantic City casinos up to nine, each is promising to bring its own unique flavor to the flourishing local culinary scene.
Whether it’s a bountiful breakfast buffet, can’t-miss lunch spot, or to-die-for dining experience, each Atlantic City casino has its own go-to eatery. Many have more than one. From fine dining to fast food, America’s best can all be found at the different Atlantic City casinos.
However, if you’re looking for a property that stands soup bowls and dinner plates above the rest — the best Atlantic City casino for dining — you’d be better off looking into Atlantic City’s past than its future.
Because the Atlantic City casino with the best food is Atlantic City’s original casino.
In an effort to save the declining seaside resort town once referred to as America’s Playground, casino gambling proponents got a referendum on the 1976 election ballots asking voters to support the idea of casinos in Atlantic City.
The measure was approved by a 1.5 million to 1.14 million vote and in 1978, Resorts Atlantic City opened up as Atlantic City’s first legal casino.
Resorts Casino Hotel
The property is now referred to as Resorts Casino Hotel. And although there have been a number of major upgrades and expansions over the years, it still operates from its original Boardwalk location.
In more recent years, the myriad of dining options available at Resorts has earned it a reputation as one of the best Atlantic City casinos for food. Now, the fact it has two restaurants ranked in the respected TripAdvisor website’s list of the top 10 restaurants in all of Atlantic City, takes it to the top.
In fact, an Italian fine-dining restaurant tucked up on Resort’s second floor has ascended to the top spot on that list, making it #1 of 272 restaurants in Atlantic City after 795 mostly glowing reviews on the site.
Capriccio offers the complete Italian dining experience with gourmet Italian cuisine served in a posh-yet-comfortable atmosphere. The dining room even offers a great view of the Atlantic Ocean from on top of the Boardwalk.
Reviewers rave about the freshness of the pasta on the menu and great seafood and veal entrees. Capriccio also has a top-notch wine list and quality desserts that complete the experience. The list of awards the restaurant has won are too long to list here, but rest assured, critics and diners agree this place is a winner when it comes to food, service, and decor.
There’s space for 140, but if Capriccio does fill up, (thankfully) they do take reservations. This includes the popular $49.99 Sunday Brunch featuring one of Atlantic City’s best brunches overlooking the Boardwalk and ocean below.
Capriccio is only open for dinner 5:30 to 11 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. On Sundays, it’s open 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. for dinner. The restaurant is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
The other Resorts Hotel Casino restaurant on TripAdvisor’s list of the top 10 restaurants in Atlantic City is the EastWind Chinese Restaurant and Noodle Bar.
EastWind ranks No. 8 of 272 restaurants in Atlantic City and has a great reputation for top quality Asian food. The restaurant serves up a variety of Asian appetizers, entrees, and noodle soups in an elegant-yet-relaxed atmosphere.
It’s easy to find as it sits just steps away from the casino floor and the Boardwalk on Resorts’ casino level. EastWind claims to offer authentic Asian cuisine and most reviews support that. Plus, Eastwind is a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence award winner.
The restaurant is open Mondays to Thursdays 12 to 8 p.m., Fridays 12 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturdays 12 p.m. to 2 a.m and Sundays 12 to 9 p.m.
The complete list of Resorts restaurants
Dining options at Resorts Casino Hotel might begin with these two award-winning restaurants, but they certainly do not end there.
Resorts features a huge variety of restaurants in three different categories: casual dining, quick bites, and fine dining.
Casual dining restaurants on the property include:
- Breadsticks Café
- LandShark Bar & Grill
- Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
- Bubbakoo’s Burritos
- Margaritaville Coffee Shop
- Gallagher’s Burger Bar
Plus, Resorts’ quick bites restaurants include:
- Dunkin’ Donuts
- Famiglia Pizza
- Ruby’s Dinette
- Soup Man
Finally, fine dining restaurants at Resorts Casino Hotel include:
- Cielo Wine Bar
- Capriccio Italian Restaurant
- Gallagher’s Steak House
Casual dining at Resorts
Resorts’ array of casual dining options begins with two iconic eateries.
LandShark Bar & Grill is the only year-round full-service bar and restaurant that sits on the sand side of the Boardwalk. It’s a classic beach joint with retractable walls providing spectacular ocean views. There’s also an outside deck and a bar right on the sand with a fire pit for those unforgettable beach campfires.
Then there’s an outlet of the world famous Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, offering live entertainment on the weekends and a menu more than just devoted Parrot Heads have come to love. Margaritaville also features a tiki bar and a seasonal deck right on the Boardwalk for alfresco dining.
The casual dining list continues with Breadsticks Café, an authentic Atlantic City casino cafe serving lunch, dinner entrees, all-day breakfast and homemade desserts. The restaurant overlooks the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk and features panoramic ocean views. Favorites include the cinnamon swirl french toast and hand-crafted burgers.
Burgers and Mexican flavors
Bubbakoo’s Burritos Mexican Restaurant features Mexican food fused with American funkiness. This fast-casual burrito spot offers everything from burritos and tacos, to bowls, salads, nachos, and quesadillas. There are even original items such as The Chiwawa, a Panko-crusted fried rice ball smothered in cheese.
Resorts’ Gallagher’s Steak House also offers a casual dining option on the property. Right across from the steakhouse you’ll find Gallagher’s Burger Bar featuring a variety of appetizers, burgers, and sandwiches served with shoestring French fries.
Finally, casual dining options wrap up with the first-ever Margaritaville Coffee Shop, adjacent to the Margaritaville Casino floor. The shop serves gourmet coffee, espresso-based beverages, and frozen drinks.
Quick bites at Resorts
Quick bites offerings at Resorts are all found in the Quick Bites Food Court. They include an outlet of the iconic international baked goods and coffee chain Dunkin Donuts. Plus, Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream, featuring quality Häagen-Dazs ice cream products.
There’s also a Famiglia Pizza restaurant in the food court. In fact, this Gotham City original still run by the same family that started it. They now offer top quality New York style pizza in New Jersey.
Plus, there’s the Soup Man deli featuring soup creations by the original Soupman ‘Al’ Yeganeh, made famous on the hit TV show “Seinfeld.” Don’t worry, there’s soup for you, plus a variety of New York deli classics.
And finally, there’s Ruby’s Dinette, a classic diner that has been offering guests a glimpse back to the 1940s and all-American diner fare for 30 years.
Additional fine dining at Resorts
In addition to the top-rated Capriccio and EastWind, fine dining options at Resorts include Cielo Wine Bar.
The wine bar is located at the entrance to Capriccio and features a small bites menu designed to be shared and enjoyed with wines from California, Italy, and Argentina.
And finally, there’s the Gallagher’s Steak House at Resorts, which was voted 2017’s Best Steakhouse in Atlantic City by Casino Player magazine. Gallagher’s is a classic steakhouse that claims it was the first to serve the famous New York Strip.
There’s really something for everyone at Resorts, which, in addition to the litany of awards its restaurants have received, makes it the absolute best Atlantic City casino for dining.
However, honorable mention must go to Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino. Mostly because of it’s Guy Fifer’s Chophouse. It is the only Atlantic City casino restaurant on the review site Yelp’s top 10 restaurants in Atlantic City.
Additionally, Hard Rock Atlantic City isn’t open yet, but it already has people talking about the food. Mostly because an outlet of classic Atlantic City favorite White House Sub Shop will open up on the property. In fact, not having to leave the Boardwalk for White House sub will be a definite plus for this property.
There is so much happening and about to happen in Atlantic City in 2018. And one event this weekend, which almost certainly would have been headline news otherwise, has not received all the attention it deserves.
This article is intended to correct the oversight and make you all aware of the remarkable celebration about to take place. 2018 marks the 40th year of legalized casino gambling in Atlantic City. In addition, this Memorial Day Weekend, the oldest casino hotel, Resorts Atlantic City, celebrates its 40th anniversary!
2018 is a year to remember
2018 will go down in history as one of the biggest years ever for Atlantic City and NJ gambling.
Legalization of sports betting
First and foremost, on May 14, the US Supreme Court ruled that the 1992 federal ban on sports betting, aka PASPA, in all but four states was unconstitutional, thereby freeing each individual state to set its own policies.
New Jersey, which was instrumental in bringing about this exciting new development, has the necessary legislation already in place. So from this point onward, it’s only a matter of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts and giving the casinos the green light.
For example, Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa has indicated that its race book, which will now be called a Race & Sports Book, will start taking sports bets on day one. The Borgata will also be drawing on the vast experience of its parent company MGM Resorts International to create a brand new state-of-the-art sportsbook.
Other Atlantic City casinos will also probably have temporary headquarters set up to start taking sports bets as soon as possible, until such time as they are able to offer a more elaborate Las Vegas-style sportsbook.
Two new casinos
Exciting new entertainment and restaurant options
As if all the above isn’t enough, there will be plenty of new options this summer for non-gamblers, too. The casinos are putting out all the stops to bring top entertainment to town, especially at Hard Rock, with 60 acts booked for the summer alone. There will be three concerts on the beach as well: Sam Hunt (July 1), Demi Lovato (July 26), and the Chainsmokers (July 29).
New restaurants will be opening, too, starting with the much anticipated soft opening this weekend of Gordon Ramsay Steak (replacing the former Steakhouse) at Harrah‘s Resort.
The Skybridge connecting the Chelsea Tower with the Tropicana Atlantic City will also open this weekend, as will Chelsea Five Gastropub, where you will be able to enjoy steak, seafood, and panoramic views.
Atlantic City visitors and residents alike will also want to check out the new eateries near the Boardwalk on Tennessee Avenue:
- Tennessee Beer Hall: Featuring pub and comfort foods and over 100 craft beers
- Hayday Coffee: Atlantic City’s only independently owned coffee shop
- MADE: Specializing in everything chocolate, including chocolate-based cocktails
Flashback to 40 years ago: The debut of casino gambling in Atlantic City
May 26, 1978, was day one of an equally memorable era in Atlantic City. That was when Atlantic City officially became the first region in the US outside of Nevada to offer legalized gambling. It was also when the property then called Resorts International first opened its doors on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
What it was like at Atlantic City’s first casino back then
Opening Day at Resorts was sheer craziness. Hopefully, when Hard Rock and Ocean Resort Casino open on June 28, they will be much better prepared to handle the overflow crowds than Resorts was in 1978. But you have to hand it to Resorts not only for trying their best but for the property’s phenomenal growth over the past 40 years to get to where it is today.
At 10 a.m. on May 26, 1978, when the casino opened for the first time, the lines waiting to get in “the only game in town” extended for six blocks. Then, once inside, finding a vacant slot machine or seat at a table game proved to be an even bigger challenge. There were only 84 games in the whole casino — nowhere near enough to accommodate the enormous crowds.
Another problem was the accumulation of coins in the slot machines and a shortage of employees to keep emptying the hoppers fast enough for the next round of players.
Within minutes of the ceremonial ribbon cutting by then-New Jersey Gov. Brendan T. Byrne, entertainer Steve Lawrence rolled the dice and became the very first gambler to place a bet in the casino. (By the way, in case all of you trivia buffs want to know, he rolled a five and immediately sevened out.)
Top entertainment from the get-go
Back in the day, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were frequent performers in the Superstar Theater. They shared the spotlight with a long lineup of other top entertainers such as Don Rickles, Johnny Carson, Steve Martin, Natalie Cole and, of course, Frank Sinatra.
Resorts was a property that continued to evolve
Over the years, Resorts Atlantic City underwent multiple ownership changes. As other larger and flashier casino properties opened in Atlantic City, Resorts began showing its age.
It became increasingly apparent that in order to survive in the rapidly changing and highly competitive market, it would have to broaden its appeal to include a younger generation. And there was a time when it even looked like Resorts’ days were numbered. But fortunately, Resorts stepped up to the plate in a big way. Otherwise, it could have easily become one of the casualties of 2014.
In 2012, Resorts Atlantic City entered into a partnership with Mohegan Sun to manage the property. The same year, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville also found a new home at Resorts. Guests could choose between Margaritaville, Landshark Bar & Grill, and 5 O’Clock Somewhere bar and almost feel they were at a Jimmy Buffett concert.
Another noteworthy innovation was the addition of the first casino iGaming lounge in 2015. The room is unique because it gives visitors to Atlantic City who are new to online gambling a chance to try it in a relaxed setting where they can enjoy social interaction with other gamblers. Then, if they like the experience, they can sign up for an online account at ResortsCasino.com and/or MoheganSunCasino.com, and many of them do.
On the other hand, not everything at Resorts is different from the good old days. A case in point is Capriccio, a gourmet Italian restaurant, which is still going just as strong today as when it opened in 1978.
Celebrate 40 years with Resorts Atlantic City
Whether you were around for the grand opening of what is now Resorts Casino Hotel in 1978 or not, you’re invited to be part of the big celebration this weekend. Every day of the big holiday weekend, Resorts is planning something special. So why not pick what appeals to you most from the following and come out and join the fun!
Friday, May 25
- 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.: Mini Beach Ball Giveaway in the Promotions Booth. First come, first serve, while supplies last. One lucky Beach Ball holds $500 in slot cash!
- 2 p.m.: On the Casino Floor. Re-enactment of the first roll of the dice that officially opened the casino.
- 5 p.m.: Annual Beach Ball Drop. Thousands of beach balls will be released onto the Boardwalk.
Special contests and games on the Boardwalk, Resorts showgirls, Philadelphia Mummers, and other strolling entertainers will add to the festivities. In addition, Bar 1 will serve up drink specials and disco music from the 1970s.
Saturday, May 26
- 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Free pull on Atlantic City’s first slot machine located in the Margaritaville lobby for a chance to win $2,500 in slot cash.
- Noon: 40th Anniversary cake cutting in the hotel lobby.
- 8 p.m. Concert by the Village People in the Superstar Theater.
Sunday, May 27
- 2 to 8 p.m.: 40th Anniversary T-shirt giveaway in the Horizon Room. This offer is open to all Star Card members who earn at least 5 tier points on that day.
- 9 p.m.: Fireworks on Resorts Beach!
Play at Resorts Online Casino
This holiday weekend is also as good a time as any to try your luck in the Daily Games on ResortsCasino.com. You can play the Slot Game, Wheel Game, or both.
In addition, every Wednesday, 1,000 players are randomly picked in a drawing to win a $10 bonus. Visit the Resorts website for the full details on both promotions.
Like the prize in the Wednesday drawing, most of the prizes up for grabs in the Daily Games are also small, but you never know. You could win up to $10,000 in the Slot Game or win up to $3,000,000 in the Wheel Game!
By the way, you do not necessarily have to live in New Jersey to participate in the Daily Games, but you do need to be a registered ResortsCasino.com player with access to the NJ gambling website. Residents of New York, Florida, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico are not eligible.
Whether you plan to visit Atlantic City, play online, or both this weekend, as Resorts celebrates its 40th year here in Atlantic City, so should you.
After all, if it wasn’t for Resorts paving the way and being this region’s first casino back in 1978, Atlantic City would not be the great gaming capital of the East Coast that it is today. Congratulations to Resorts on 40 great years!
Sport Analytics & Data’s FastPick game is about as close to traditional sports betting as one can legally get without falling outside of the parameters of “fantasy sports.”
FastPick made its online debut at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City last week. According to the Associated Press, Resorts plans on adding betting kiosks throughout its NJ casino in time for football season.
The launch of FastPick has been in the works for several months. As Dustin Gouker of Legal Sports Report noted, by launching before New Jersey passes a fantasy sports bill, FastPick will be able to operate uninterrupted during the licensing process.
“Had the platform not launched before [Gov. Chris Christie] signed [the bill] … it would have delayed the launch until after Resorts procured a fantasy sports license,” Gouker wrote. “The launch allows FastPick/Resorts to operate without interruption… [and] take action on the upcoming NFL season.”
What is FastPick?
FastPick is a parlay-style DFS game that diverges from traditional daily fantasy sports contests in two key ways:
- Users do not assemble a team of players but rather choose players in a slate of head-to-head matchups.
- FastPick is played against the house, not against other DFS players.
Here’s how it works.
FastPick players choose anywhere from three to 10 head-to-head matchups. Like parlay betting in traditional sports books, the more matchups a player selects, the higher the payout for a winning ticket.
Once the parameters of the wager are made, the next step is to choose one of two pre-selected players from each matchup. The player not chosen by the customer is assigned to the casino. If a customer’s player earns more points than the casino’s player, the customer wins that matchup. If a customer beats the casino in all of their selected matchups, they will win money.
The maximum payout is $100,000, which can be won on a $200 bet with a 10-player parlay.
A precursor to legal sports betting?
With sports betting limited to Nevada, and multiple states challenging the federal prohibition, products like FastPick are inevitable.
Daily fantasy sports first sprang into being to take advantage of a fantasy sports carveout in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Now that states are legalizing daily fantasy sports, DFS companies are growing more emboldened. And now land-based casinos are looking to explore opportunities in the space.
New DFS products are further pushing the envelope and trying to blur the line between DFS and sports betting.
It’s unclear how players will receive games like FastPick. But the bigger question is whether these products can thrive in a casino environment if sports betting is legalized, which is looking more and more possible by the day.
But how does a casino like the Mohegan Sun operate legally within the state of New Jersey when it is located in Connecticut?
Mohegan has land-based connection in Atlantic City
The Mohegan Sun (mohegansuncasino.com) may be located within the state of Connecticut, but it exists under an umbrella corporation that operates Resorts Casino Hotel, which is located within the state of New Jersey.
It’s through that relationship and New Jersey gambling license that Mohegan is able to offer an online casino in NJ.
You can rest assured that when you deposit funds on MoheganSunCasino.com they are completely safe and the games you play are fair, regulated, and legal.
Inside Mohegan’s online rewards program
The Mohegan Sun Casino has six membership levels when you sign up for an account. The first level is Amber Membership, for which you meet the requirement just by making your first deposit. Then, by earning a qualifying number of “Gems” in a month, you will move up to the next level, Garnet.
As you move up the ranks in Mohegan Sun’s loyalty program, you will receive larger and larger amounts of money for the number of Gems you earn. For example, when you are Amber level, 100 Gems will earn you $1 in cash, but when you reach Garnet level, it will only take 67 Gems to receive the same award. Mohegan Sun’s top rewards level is Sapphire, and you will receive $1 for every 14 Gems you earn. This comes out to be one of the best rewards programs New Jersey has to offer.
Also, keep in mind that Mohegan Sun has a competitive welcoming package that includes a 100-percent match bonus of up to $1000 for players depositing into their accounts for the first time.
PokerStars operates under same NJ license
PokerStarsNJ.com has an excellent welcoming package that includes at 100-percent match play for new players up to $600. You can also receive a free $30 with bonus code “FREE30” when you deposit $20 on its site. To receive the match play bonus, simply deposit money with bonus code “STARS600,” and you will be good to go.
Online poker in the state of New Jersey is not as popular as casino gaming, most likely due to smaller prize pools, but PokerStarsNJ.com has come up with a great new way to play poker that addresses this issue.
PokerStars’ Spin & Go’s start when three players are seated. The prize pool is then selected at random for an amount of up to 10,000 the initial buy-in. This makes Spin & Go’s a fun and exciting way to play poker and win slot-sized jackpots.
Alternatives in the NJ online casino market
If you are not sure you want to play at Resorts Casino Hotel or an affiliated casino, you may want to take a look at some of the other casinos available.
VirginCasino.com and TropicanaCasino.com will both let you try out their software with a free $20. When you sign up for an account on VirginCasino.com, enter bonus code “20BUCKS” for a free $20 to try out its software, and enter bonus code “PLAY20” on TropicanaCasino.com for a free $20 there.
Image credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock, Inc
In fact, the state’s regulated online gambling market fell just short of its all-time high.
Revenue gains for NJ online gambling sites
According to the November press release by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, not only has online gambling in the state continued to grow, it is growing by leaps and bounds.
In the month of November, the state pulled in $17.2 million for its online casino win, up 29.9 percent from last November’s $13.2 million.
Breaking the numbers down further, online casino revenue shot up 34 percent year-on-year to $15.1 million, while online poker revenue gained a respectable 6.4 percent to $2.1 million. The year-to-date overall online revenue is now $178.3 million, up an encouraging 32.3 percent from last year.
How this affects overall NJ gambling numbers
As the revenue figures continue to climb, they have begun to offset the losses Atlantic City casinos are posting on the land-based side.
With the online market taken into account, the total November win for the state came in at $197.3 million. This number represents a year-over-year loss of 3.5 percent. Without online casino revenues, however, the state would have lost 5.8 percent.
Although the offset may appear insignificant to some, as New Jersey’s online gambling market continues to grow, we can expect revenue from the online sector to take on a larger and larger role in Atlantic City casinos’ overall success.
Best individual performers
The Borgata has been at the top of the state’s revenue ranks since it opened, with the exception of the Golden Nugget usurping the title this September and October.
The leader in revenue this November was again the Borgata, retaking the top spot from the Golden Nugget. That said, it was only by a minuscule margin.
The Borgata-linked sites brought in a total of $3.809 million ($3.2 million in casino win and $632 thousand from poker) and the Golden Nugget brought in just $7,000 less with its casino-only site.
Other online casinos also continue to do quite well. Caesars was not far behind the Borgata and the Golden Nugget, with $3.36 million in revenue for the month. Resorts was just belowRes Caesars, bringing in $3.2 million, almost a million of which was from its online poker brand, PokerStars.
In the last place were the Tropicana casino-only sites, which brought in just under a $3 million win.
The future of online gambling in New Jersey
New Jersey racetracks are looking to capitalize on the growing online market by opening “Internet Cafes” at Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford and Monmouth Park in Oceanport.
If Assembly Bill 4255, introduced in October by Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-District 12), goes through, we can expect online gaming numbers to skyrocket.
The bill would allow for “horse racetracks to be available for placing wagers at casinos in Atlantic City using the internet.” New Jersey racetracks could “enter into an agreement with a casino located in Atlantic City or such a casino’s Internet gaming affiliate.”
Critics of the state’s plan to expand online gaming to the racetracks have pointed out that just last month voters rejected North Jersey casino expansion by a huge margin. They argue that by offering online gaming at the tracks, New Jersey politicians would be circumventing the democratic process.
Proponents of the bill, on the other hand, argue that their new plan would not require amending the state constitution, as there is nothing inherently illegal about racetracks partnering with existing Atlantic City properties.