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Raising the Bar
27 standout small plates to enjoy with your next cocktail, cold beer or glass of wine.

by Peter Proko

Once upon a time, grabbing a bite to eat at the bar typically meant some sort of fried snack, a plate of wings or maybe a sandwich. But these days, many establishments in South Jersey are showcasing much more refined dishes on their menus, proving that a bite at the bar can be both elevated and approachable. We made our way across South Jersey to uncover the best bar food, and the following selections are a great mix of sophisticated snacks that pair wonderfully with the adult beverage of your choice.


SPICY TUNA WONTON at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar
Fleming’s special bar menu is where you’ll find this delightful bite that features wonton chips topped with avocado cream, chunks of fresh spicy tuna and a decadent dollop of seaweed caviar.

MEATBALL STUFFED LONG HOTS at Giumarello’s in Haddon Township
In lieu of prosciutto or maybe sausage, here two fiery long hots are stuffed with meatballs and sharp provolone cheese for a simple plate that packs quite the punch.

BRATWURST SLIDERS at Braddock’s in Medford
Slices of grilled German sausage are topped with red dragon cheese—a Welsh cheddar with wholegrain mustard seeds—and slid in between toasted miniature buns.

AVOCADO FRIES at Kid Rip’s Tap and Tavern in Runnemede
We have been devouring orders of these for years now. A light breading of panko provides the perfect textural balance for ultra-creamy avocado, and it all comes together with a spicy dipping sauce to create one harmonious bite.

CHIMICHURRI NY STRIP SKEWERS at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill in Moorestown
Succulent New York strip steak is shaved, skewered and covered with a cilantro chimichurri sauce and pickled red onions before being plated over a bed of herbed potato cubes.

PROSUCITTO WRAPPED ARTICHOKE at Filomena’s Lakeview in Deptford
Marinated artichokes are enveloped by salty prosciutto and made whole with seared caciocavallo cheese and a mix of baby arugula and radicchio.

PAN FRIED CALAMARI at The Capital Grille in Cherry Hill
The posh steakhouse’s signature appetizer order consists of rings of calamari lightly breaded and fried until golden and then tossed with sliced hot cherry peppers for a slight burst of heat.

MAPLEBROOK FARM BURRATA at The ChopHouse in Gibbsboro
Rich, smooth burrata highlights this dish that also houses roasted tomatoes, aged balsamic reduction, baby arugula, roasted long hots and slices of crostini for stacking.

JALAPEÑO SMOKE BOMB at Cinderbar in Clarksboro and Williamstown
These are not the deviled eggs your aunt brings to every family get-together. Instead, the fiery filling is made with cayenne, Dijon, smoked paprika and hot sauce, and then piped into halved eggs and topped with a homemade pickled jalapeño.

GLAZED MEATBALLS at The Taproom in Haddon Township
This lively gastropub takes pride in making its own meatballs, which are glazed in a signature barbecue sauce to create a sticky-sweet symphony of flavor that is undeniably delicious.

GREEK CAJUN SHRIMP at Kaminski’s Sports Bar and Restaurant in Cherry Hill
Tender shrimp are well seasoned and charred on the grill, drizzled with olive oil and laid to rest over tzatziki sauce with Kalamata olives and pita chips.

NASHVILLE HOT NACHOS at The PourHouse in Westmont
Nashville hot chicken is all the rage, and here they capitalize on the trend with a heaping pile of nachos shrouded with diced chicken, hot sauce, sweet pickles, red onions, Vermont cheddar, scallions and a ranch crema.

STICKY RIBS at The Union House in Burlington
Pork ribs are glazed with tamari—a thicker, less saltier version of soy sauce—and fried crisp in this mouthwatering dish that pairs wonderfully with several of the bar’s specialty cocktails.

CHICKPEA FRIES at The Farm and Fisherman Tavern
Large, rectangular fries made of chickpea flour are lightly fried to create a crispy exterior, which gives way to the smooth, creamy interior. Be sure to dunk them into the accompanying red pepper romesco sauce with almonds.

PORK POTSTICKERS at Harvest Season Grill in Moorestown
These pan-fried, pork-stuffed dumplings are beautifully plated atop a roasted beet/sriracha aioli and hit with finishing touches of seared mushrooms, crispy onion, lime and drizzles of pomegranate molasses.

MEXICAN STREET CORN DIP at Iron Hill in Maple Shade and Voorhees
This clever twist on the popular elote showcases a ramekin full of fire-roasted sweet corn, sprinkles of queso freso and green onions. It comes with tortilla chips, but we wouldn’t fault you if you just wanted to eat it by the spoonful.

CRABBY RAY* at Dooney’s Pub in Delran and Voorhees
Forget those seasoned spuds from that other place and indulge in this order of fries coated in Old Bay seasoning and piled with lump crab meat and drizzles of a “house” sauce.

SALMON BITES at Ott’s on the Green in Washington Township
Chunks of salmon that’s been immersed in a sweet chili marinade are blistered on the grill and served with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce for easy snacking.

PIZZA DIP at The Madison Pub in Riverside
Oh baby, what’s not to love about this piping-hot skillet blend of melty mozzarella, pepperoni and marinara sauce? Pass us a couple slices of garlic bread and let’s get this party started.

DOLAMADES at Estia in Marlton
A pleasant medley of Valencia rice, pine nuts, currants, fennel and dill is packed inside grape leaves and served with tzatziki for a true Mediterranean treat.

SHORT RIB CHEESE FRIES at Terra Nova in Washington Township
The fries in this dish are actually circular potato discs that allow for more surface area to be cloaked by hefty amounts of short rib and a river of melted cheddar cheese.

STUFFED MUSHROOMS WITH CRAB MEAT at SweetWater Bar and Grill in Cinnaminson
We’re suckers for a good stuffed mushroom, and SweetWater makes some of the best we’ve tasted when homemade jumbo lump crab stuffing is placed on top of button mushrooms over a pool of cocktail sauce.

ROASTED FINGERLINGS at The Local in Mount Holly
This plate of firm, buttery fingerling potatoes comes loaded with toppings: Think candied bacon, green onions, buttermilk ranch and a homemade cheese sauce. You may want to consider two orders.

KENNET SQUARE MUSHROOM FLATBREAD at Chuck Lager America’s Tavern in Barrington
Celeb chef Fabio Viviani’s bar concept brings us this earthy flatbread replete with local fungi, silky caramelized onions, goat cheese, Parmesan cream and fried rosemary to provide further aromatics and depth.

HONEY CIDER BACON BRUSSEL SPROUTS at Redstone American Grill in Marlton
This hopping spot at the Promenade is where you’ll find us savoring these addictive Brussel sprouts elevated with applewood smoked bacon, drizzles of honey and a sriracha aioli.

WILD MUSHROOM ARANCINI at La Scala’s Fire in Glassboro and Marlton
The classics never run out of style, and this popular Italian eatery knows how to make simple ingredients shine as evidenced with these homemade rice balls filled with mushrooms and cheese, which are absolutely oozing with flavor. 

CORN NUGGETS at Chicken or the Egg in Marlton
The Burlington County outpost of the beloved LBI hangout serves up this dynamite nosh of battered and fried creamed corn nuggets with a side of sweet Thai chili sauce.

* Photo - Crabby Ray at Dooney’s Pub in Delran and Voorhees


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Published and copyrighted in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 20, Issue 8 (November 2023)

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