So here we are — the last hurrah … the final countdown … the finish line. While it’s tough to even speak these words, the fact remains that there is but one week left in this year’s 50 Bites+ promotion.

While it certainly brings a tear to our collective eyes to be forced to wave goodbye to so many delicious morsels, we have some serious plans to go out with a bang.

Up until now we have been taking the easy route, popping in to casinos and local stops around A.C., knocking out eight or nine bites at a clip without much effort. That was fun while it lasted, but it’s time to step up our game and head out of our comfort zone of Atlantic City to explore the Bites that the mainland has to offer.

Oh, and we forgot to mention one little detail … there are 16 of them.

Now before you all pass out from the thought of having to hit 16 restaurants in one day, we have mercifully split them into a two-day adventure. Yes, that’s right, this week is the last week, and frankly one night of Bites simply will not do.

We start day one of our adventure at The Cove in Brigantine where their whole smoked wing serves as a lovely app to start our quest. Next we buckle up for a ride over to the Oyster Creek Inn — a seafood shack tucked deep in the marshlands of Leeds Point that offers a well-themed Bite known as the “Jersey Devil Shrimp.” It’s spicy and a little intimidating, much like the JD himself.

From there we shoot out to Egg Harbor City where one of the most unique and delicious Bites on our whole tour lives — Assaggio! The Bite is a ravioli carbonara, which is filled with a mixture of ricotta and an egg yolk along with pancetta in a cream sauce. It is near perfect.

Working our way east to Egg Harbor Township, we stop at Chickie’s and Pete’s for a few pints of beer and their legendary Crabfries before heading to Flat Stone Tavern where the pulled pork stackers combine the smoky goodness of pulled pork with sweet potato fries for a home run of a Bite.

We take a moment to catch our breath, and reminisce about our favorite Bites before jumping back in the car and cruising down to the Caribbean Clam Bar where the shrimp and roasted corn chowder is a warm reminder of how perfect a chowder can be. Soup drunk, we throw down an outrageous tip — that can only be justified by the deliciousness of what was served — and we stumble out, ready to head over to our next bite at Sublime Seafood in Egg Harbor Township. Upon arrival the folks at Sublime present us with their avocado toast, which is like eating a mini grilled shrimp sandwich with guacamole. It slides down easy and leaves just enough room for the final bite of the day, the crab bisque at Hi Point Pub in Absecon. It’s an awesomely creamy, crab-filled way to end the day.

Allowing a two-day rest period for digestion purposes, we proudly stand before our vehicle, lanyards checked and tattered, but still somehow holding together, preparing for our final day of Bites. It’s likely to be bittersweet … along with many other flavors.

Stop one is at Sam’s Rialto Grill in Pleasantville where some of the finest soul food in town can be found. They proudly serve us their bite — a pork spare rib with collard greens. Frankly if this was the last morsel we consumed on earth we would die happy. Washing it all down with an ultra-satisfying mason jar of grape Kool-Aid (a must if you visit Sam’s) we head down to Pho 9 in Northfield for the complete opposite end of the taste spectrum, the beef pho. Don’t like beef? The chicken version is available as a Bite as well and is equally tasty.

Next up we prepare ourselves for some hearty Italian fare courtesy of the good folks at La PizzaTega in Linwood. They don’t disappoint either as their homemade cheese involtini is the stuff of legend. Just for fun we order up a full portion of it. We head back to the car, and without any hesitation steer our way to Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar in Somers Point. Gregory’s may be the Burger champ of the area, but today the Bite they serve is mahi mahi fish tacos, a tasty take on a Mexicali favorite which proves that they are no one-trick pony. We quickly leave our gratuities on the table and head over to Tavern on the Bay for the Kobe beef nachos, a sort of kicked-up version of your classic bar munchie.

With just three stops left on our entire culinary journey, we can’t help but ponder a bit at what next year’s promotion might bring. Could there be even more Bites? Who knows?

Margate sets us up with an easy one-two-three with each of our stops being on the same block. We start at Johnny’s Café for the spaghetti marinara, a simple yet satisfying Italian classic, followed by some seriously delicious oysters at Shuckers. With our stomachs nearing the point of absolute fullness, we muster up the strength to down the final Bite — the beef taco at Tipsy Taco. It goes down smooth, yet a lone tear can be seen rolling down each of our cheeks as we make the hard decision to remove our lanyards and place them ever so gently in the corner trash can. It’s a sad sight, but the fact is they are of no use to us anymore and to keep them lying around the house would simply be too painful.

So long until next year …

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