World-renowned chefs and venue variety keep Atlantic City sizzling with group dining options.

Appearing in this month’s Top Chefs section (see page 10), Jose Garces made his multimillion-dollar return to Atlantic City in March 2017 with three new concepts at Tropicana Atlantic City.

First achieving success in Atlantic City with four top-grossing restaurants at Revel, his globally influenced Tropicana trio includes flagship Olon.

Named after a beach town in his parents’ native Ecuador, the seafood-driven restaurant features a 43-seat ceviche bar and lounge, and ocean-facing 128-seat dining room. Garces combines his family recipes with his uniquely styled surf & turf, crab cakes and other seafood classics. Versatile spaces include the 48-capacity private room and outdoor deck.

Entered via a Tokyo-style candy store, 80-seat Okatshe ( is Garces’ riff on the traditional Japanese izakaya. Menu items include chicken, beef, vegetable and other yakitori skewers, ramen noodles, sushi and sashimi, while the well-stocked bar features Japanese whiskeys and some 50 sakes. Private options include the cabana-style “Busu” booths for 40-person receptions and seated dinners for 24 at the “Tomodachi” (Friend) Table.

Connecting the two restaurants, 60-seat Bar Olon, featuring a live entertainment stage, accommodates 85-person receptions.

Other Tropicana draws for large-scale group dining include New York City imports Carmine’s and The Palm.

In 2006, a decade after elevating Philadelphia to national culinary prominence, multi-concept chef-entrepreneur Stephen Starr brought his dreamy Modern Asian temple Buddakan ( and retro-styled The Continental to Atlantic City. Both group-capable restaurants are on the Playground Pier’s Level 3, which also features a 2,000-capacity, ocean-facing event space.

At Caesars Atlantic City, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grille offers private dining for 25- and 100-person buyouts. At Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, chefs lead groups in preparing their own meals at the renowned Viking Cooking School.

Resorts Atlantic City venues include Margaritaville and outdoor sibling Landshark Bar and Grill, the only year-round full-service restaurant on the beach. Party options include full venue buyouts, beach included, for 650. Back inside, Wine Spectator honoree Capriccio, Atlantic City’s oldest casino restaurant, features upscale Italian cuisine and ocean views.

Earlier this year, James Beard Award-winner Michael Symon opened his Italian-inspired Angeline at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, joining Wolfgang Puck American Grille, Bobby Flay Steak and other celeb-led concepts at the property.

Nearby, Golden Nugget Atlantic City offers an outpost of nationally acclaimed Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse. Also recognized by Wine Spectator and offering private dining, this sophisticated venue, along with the Golden Nugget, is part of the multi-brand Landry’s restaurant and hospitality empire, which also includes the property’s seafood-driven Chart House.

Old-school local classics include Dock’s Oyster House. Founded by Harry “call me Dock” Dougherty in 1897, Atlantic City’s oldest restaurant has private sit-down space for 60 and more for cocktail parties.

The Dougherty family also owns legendary 1912 Prohibition-era watering hole Knife & Fork Inn. Converted into a restaurant in 1927, this Flemish-Tudor landmark at Atlantic and Pacific avenues serves hearty steak and seafood while offering five time-capsule event spaces, including the mural-adorned main dining room and the Ladies Lounge.

Groups venturing “downbeach” to Margate City will find inventive steak, seafood and pasta and other dishes, private dining and bay views at popular local upscale Tomatoe’s.

Winner in October of New Jersey Monthly’s inaugural “Best Whiskey Bar in New Jersey” poll, speakeasy-style The Iron Room also features Wine Spectator-recognized wines, cocktails, craft beer and sustainable local fare. The restaurant can seat 20 for private events, or 40 standing, with buyouts available.
New on the scene, Little Water Distillery is Atlantic City’s first legal craft distillery, offering tours and event space.