Boardwalk Bites

by Sage Hurley

Do you and your friends ever spend hours struggling to decide where to go to satisfy your sweet tooth? I know mine do. This week, I went out on the boards scouting some new sweet spots so next time a craving hits, we’re prepped and ready. I’ve been strolling past Monkey Bread, Paradice Shave Ice, Sweet Charlie’s, and Playa Bowls all summer and now it’s finally time to go in.

In the morning, the Boardwalk is always packed with people starting their day with a run, bike, or just a casual walk. After getting in a morning exercise it’s absolutely essential to treat yourself, and I know just the place.

The scent of warm gooey treats drifting out of the oven at Monkey Bread immediately grabbed my attention. As I walked up, I was pleasantly surprised by all of the options. I didn’t know there could possibly be so many variations of monkey bread! It was so hard to decide between banana, s’mores, Oreo, and all the other creative flavors. The friendly person at the counter shared her favorite, so I took her advice and went with chocolate chips. Before it was served to me, I was asked if I wanted it heated up.

Of course I did. Possibly the only thing better than monkey bread… is warm monkey bread.

My first bite of the chocolate chip monkey bread was warm, cakey, and moist with the best combination of icing and chocolate. I offered some to my little sister, and she ate even more than me. As we teamed up and continued to dig in, we found the warm, chocolate filled center. It truly put the treat above and beyond expectations. After a morning on the boards, this treat hit all the right notes. Try pairing it with a fresh cup of Ocean City Coffee. Sounds like quite the duo to me.

Another must-eat Boardwalk treat is Playa Bowls. Located in the Promenade Food Court, Playa Bowls is the perfect beachy hideaway with their shaded picnic table seating surrounded by beautiful blue ocean murals. I always see people posting pictures of their perfectly crafted colorful bowls, and I knew I needed to try one for myself. Playa Bowls was founded by Jersey Shore natives Robert Giuliani and Abby Taylor. It started with a blender, a patio table, a fridge, and a freezer in front of a pizza shop, and has since expanded to over 65 stores.

Their chalkboard full of options spurred my excitement as I decided between a bowl with an acai, pitaya, coconut, or green base. I eventually chose the Electric Mermaid. Sounds so cool, right? The finished product lived up to its awesome name. The Electric Mermaid is a pitaya blend topped with granola, kiwi, pineapple, mango, coconut flakes, and honey. It came out looking like a piece of art, with the vibrant colors of the hot pink pitaya, green kiwi, and yellow pineapple and mango complementing each other.

 Somehow, it tasted even better than it looked. The first thing I tasted was the drizzle of honey. The taste of the fruit covered in honey and coconut flakes paired with the thick, ice cold pitaya blend and crunchy granola made for such a refreshing treat. Because of how full the bowl was and the health benefits of pitaya as a superfood, Playa Bowls can be either a snack or a whole meal. Aside from their picturesque bowls, Playa Bowls offers oatmeal and poke bowls if you’re looking for something more savory. I can’t wait to go back and try their Rock-N- Roll Shrimp bowl for lunch.

There are so many ice cream options on the Boardwalk, and I know from experience how hard it can be to choose where to go each night. I recently decided to ‘roll’ into Sweet Charlie’s, an ice cream spot known for their unique rolled ice cream. From the moment I walked in, it was pure entertainment. I was captivated by the art of rolling the ice cream on the less than 20 degree trays. Because the trays are so cold, employees are able to create the unique rolled shape that sets this place apart from the others.

I’ll admit, one of my flaws is being completely indecisive when it comes to deciding which flavor of ice cream to enjoy. Luckily, the staff at Sweet Charlie’s were extremely friendly, and helped me decide on the Namaste flavor, which is strawberry cheesecake. I told them I wanted it to look as pretty as possible, and employee Andrew DelGuidice took the challenge. He worked with the ice cream and cold tray with ease, and made sure to include a pretty heart design before putting it into rolls. After that, he offered me toppings from the free toppings bar, and I asked him to surprise me. He covered it with the most colorful combination of whipped cream, strawberries, and fruity pebbles. Yum!

The appearance was so unique, and the flavor matched that. I’ve never had strawberry cheesecake ice cream before, and the flavor did not disappoint. I ate the ice cream roll by roll, enjoying the ice cold treat and the fresh-tasting strawberries on top. Going to Sweet Charlie’s ice cream was an easy, entertaining, and tasty experience.

As the day heats up, Paradice Shave Ice is the perfect way to cool down. Paradice is more than just ice, it’s an unforgettable experience.

I’ve eaten countless shave ices this summer, and each time I’ve gone I’ve been greeted by the friendly faces of one of Paradice’s five employees. Twenty-three-year-old owner Bobby Lattanzi is almost always there with a smiling face and good conversation. It’s clear through his customer interactions and the sparkle in his eye when he shaves ice that he is passionate about making visits to Paradice Shave Ice a positive experience for all.

After choosing a size (kiddie, regular, large, or if you’re brave enough- big kahuna), the most important thing to do is to keep your eye on the big blue machine on the counter. The employees grab a big block of ice, put it in the machine, then the magic happens. The ice block spins around and snow falls into the colorful cup. Watching the creation of the Shave Ice is almost as good as eating it.

 After it’s all shaved, there is a whole wall of flavors in glass bottles to choose. One of the most popular flavors is rainbow, which is blue raspberry, lemon, and red raspberry. It’s colorful appearance and tropical taste makes you feel like you’ve been transported to the beach in Hawaii. Paradice has a free toppings bar as well, including chicken feet, shark, lobster, and butterfly gummies.

Next time you’re on the boardwalk, hungry for something new and exciting, check out one, or all, of these flavorful foodie destinations.