WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? NACHOS AND BEAN SOUP

092416carlosoconnor2Carlos O’Connor’s Tijuana nacho platter is served on a funky, tie-dye clothed table. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?A mainstay on Monmouth Street in Red Bank, Carlos O’Connor’s Mexican Restaurant seems to be standing the test of time due in part to the vibrant, celebratory, mismatched decor that delivers an instant party atmosphere.

PieHole stopped in and found that the newest owner, Hugo Parades, has made a few changes to the dining room by opening a wall that divided the restaurant into two closed off rooms, giving the space a brighter, less claustrophobic feel.

Another change: it’s now open for lunch on weekends.

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RED BANK: SMALL KITCHEN YIELDS BIG FLAVOR

112415jamians1Mixed green salad on the specials menu at Jamian’s Food and Drink is available for lunch or dinner. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

112415jamians3PieHole dipped a spoon into a bowl of black bean soup at Jamian’s Food and Drink in Red Bank while waiting for a recent weekly trivia game to begin, and swooned. Jalapeno heat and cumin-infused flavor told us that someone new was working in the kitchen.

Owner Jamian LaViola hired 46-year-old chef Andy Doelger to run the three-person kitchen two months ago, and customers are starting to notice the difference. We’ve been asked by more than one satisfied diner if we’ve tasted the braised short rib grilled cheese yet. Yes, we have and it’s seriously good.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? POUR HOUSE REUBEN

pour_houseJust one of a huge selection of daily specials at the Pour House, the Hot Pastrami Reuben is affordable and satisfying. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

morsels mediumAs downtown Red Bank becomes more and more a shopping destination for one-percenters and a food court for homesick Staten Islanders on the jones for steaming piles of red sauce and garlic, the 99 percent who actually live here occasionally need to get creative and cross into neighboring towns for a good lunchtime fix.

And so it was that PieHole headed across the border to Tinton Falls for lunch at our current favorite oasis of reasonably priced eats and lack of pretension: the Pour House.

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