Lori Kowalewski of Secaucus recently celebrated her 10th wedding anniversary with some … football?
“I come here for the atmosphere,” she said of the Plank Road Inn in Secaucus. “The people are friendly and fun.”
Lori and her husband were not the only people at the bar on a recent Saturday. Like several area restaurants and bars, it has been drawing a crowd during the new football preseason by showing the games on TV and offering food specials.
At the Inn, their menu runs the gamut from the basic – wings, fried mozzarella sticks, and fried calamari – to the fancy: Thai beef salad, zuppa di mussels, stuffed mushrooms, and Gai Yang wings.
Much of the football crowd there orders from the affordable appetizer menu: $6.96 to $8.95, with $1.75 and $2.50 soups.
Going to the Plank Road Inn can almost be a “religious” experience for the pigskin fan on game day, with 30 flat screen TVs.
“I come here on a Sunday regularly during football season,” said Daniel Beschetti of Secaucus. “It’s standing room only … It’s a good atmosphere. The guys who come here just come to have a good time. They’re good guys.”
Kowalewski, there on her anniversary, had a different take. “It’s revitalizing to a mom to get out. I don’t get to do it often.”
Coach House Restaurant
The Coach House Restaurant in North Bergen is also popular with the football and hot wing crowd, according to owner Nick Pappas.
“We have football on all the time, and we’ve very focused on sports,” Pappas said.
And with nine televisions sets, and room for 20 to 25 at the bar, township and county residents don’t have to go far for their share of first downs and foot longs.
Come early, come late, the chips are always on the bar, according to Pappas.
“We have happy hour specials Monday through Friday – Mondays all night – and the rest of the week, Tuesday through Friday, we have them 4 to 8,” he said. “We have drinks and small-plate appetizers discounted. Basically, it’s half-priced cocktails, beer and wine.”
A full menu is available at the bar.
For the comfort food fan, nachos, Buffalo wings, barbecued ribs, and potato skins are available. “As a healthier choice, we have pork or veggie dumplings, pan-fried,” Pappas said. “Also, we have a salad bar that’s second to none.”
If the closeness between patrons at the bar is a bit much for you, there’s an alternative there too.
“We have a little bar nook, not at the bar, but close enough to it,” he said. There, a family of four can make dad happy by catching his game, but also have the privacy to enjoy dinner in relative quiet and at their own pace.
Football and basketball are the biggest draws for the Coach House. Last year’s NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs packed the place.
James Taylor, 41, of Jersey City has been coming to the restaurant for 20 years. On Saturday, Aug. 24, he was there to watch the Giants-Jets preseason match-up and “to eat a nice meal.”
“The food is delicious,” he said. “I’ve been coming for sports here about a good 10 years now.
“I’m a Giant fan, but I wanted to see (Jet) Geno Smith, see when he gets the starter job.”
Park Avenue Bar & Grill
The Park Avenue Bar & Grill in Union City, near the Weehawken border, is a little less corner bar, describing itself as “casual upscale.”
“You can have a date and have a nice dinner, but we also have jerseys on top of the bar,” said manager on duty Albert Martinez on Aug. 27.
They roll out two large-screen projectors on Sundays during football season to project onto two different walls, in the restaurant and in the courtyard.
“They’re really massive,” Martinez said. “One takes up the whole front window, and the other, a whole back wall.”
Fans will like the beer tower specials; $20 for a 100-ounce domestic beer mini-keg (Bud Lite or Park Avenue Lager); and $24 for a 100-ounce import (Stella, Blue Moon, or Samuel Adams).
“We get a pretty mixed crowd,” Martinez said. “We get Miami fans, Jets fans, Giants. We get some Patriots fans too.”
Other football favorites
Other places to view your pigskin favorites include the Big Apple Lounge & Restaurant, Bayonne; Beer Garden and York Street Tavern, Jersey City; and Applebee’s, Boulevard Diner, and Waterside Restaurant, North Bergen. Also, the Chart House Restaurant and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Weehawken; Lusso Pizza Bar Grill and Son Cubano, West New York; and Houlihan’s, Bayonne, Secaucus, and Weehawken.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.