A stroll down the boardwalk in Atlantic City yields far fewer sit-down dining options than you might think. Very few of the restaurants located inside the giant resort-casinos allow access directly from the boardwalk, and the handful of low-rise eateries you’ll encounter on a stroll from Caesars to Resorts Casino Hotel are iffy at best. But when you finally reach Resorts, you’ll encounter two beachfront restaurants that are a breath of fresh air: Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, located inside Resorts but directly facing the boardwalk; and Landshark Bar & Grill across the boardwalk, right on the beach. We recently had the opportunity to have lunch at the Margaritaville, and it’s a solid option for those looking to have a fun meal.
Opened in 2013, the Atlantic City location of Margaritaville includes a restaurant, coffee shop, gift shop, a bar called 5 O’Clock Somewhere on the casino floor, and even a small casino, all of course named after the legendary Jimmy Buffett Song (Landshark across the boardwalk is also affiliated). Buffett has done a very good job of becoming the face of a massive lifestyle brand, and this Margaritaville perfectly fits the mold: A surfing-inspired theme, palm trees, speakers playing low-key country music and plenty of Buffett classics (with corresponding music videos on a handful of TV screens), and a large, tin roof-topped bar with plenty of tropical-inspired drinks on offer.
The menu is quite expansive and approachable, and definitely sticks to a Key West-inspired theme. Appetizers include a huge pile of chili cheese nachos, crab and artichoke dip, peel and eat shrimp, fried calamari, and chicken quesadillas. There are also a handful of salads; five different burgers (the classic Cheeseburger in Paradise with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickles seemed to be a popular item); sandwiches including a fish sandwich, Cuban, club, and a grilled chicken sandwich; and a variety of entrées including buttermilk fried chicken, fish and chips, shrimp and grits, chicken fajitas, and ribs. We started with Caribbean Chicken Egg Rolls filled with diced chicken, corn, red peppers, onions, and cheese, and while it was certainly tasty, it was overly greasy and the fried outer wrapper was pretty leaden. The entrées fared better: Fish tacos were topped with guacamole, habanero cream sauce, lettuce, and mango pico de gallo, and the fish (which I ordered grilled instead of fried) was coated in a spicy Cajun seasoning. The coconut shrimp were also tasty and crispy, and were exactly what you expect when you order coconut shrimp, complete with the side of creamy pineapple sauce.
Margaritas were properly made (the bartenders have obviously made a few in their day), and the flagship “Boat Drink,” the 5 O’Clock Somewhere, with silver rum, passion fruit tequila, 101 rum, orange and pineapple juice, sweet and sour, and grenadine, definitely went down a little too easy. The urge to have more than a couple sweet tropical drinks at this place is strong, and we imagine that after the sun goes down it turns into a full-blown party. You can also buy drinks in a take-home mini plastic blender for a few extra bucks.
As we’re sure Jimmy Buffett (and plenty of parrotheads) have said at some point or another, “Margaritaville isn’t a place; it’s a state of mind.” While it may not be Atlantic City’s finest restaurant (and it certainly doesn’t claim to be), the Margaritaville in Resorts Casino Hotel does a pretty good job of turning that state of mind back into a place.