Out of the Kitchen
Breakfast down the Jersey Shore always conjures up memories of sand, sun, and vacations any time of the year. For a true neighborhood experience and a great breakfast or lunch, try the Chat & Nibble in Asbury Park, NJ.
Owner and chef Christopher Gonzales said buying the Chat & Nibble started as a joke. His friend was selling the business in 2009 and Gonzales jokingly said he should buy it. A joke became a reality, and the former owner agreed to a trial period to see how Gonzales felt about owning a restaurant. The first week of December in 2009, Gonzales knew it was for him and became the new owner on January 4, 2010.
Christopher Gonzales was born in Peru and grew up learning to cook Peruvian dishes from his mom. He came to the US when he was 22 years old and still looks forward to going to work every morning. His passion for his restaurant shows in the repeat clientele he has built over the last 12 years. His sister and nephew, both in the hospitality business, help him on the weekends.
Gonzales does all the shopping and menu planning for Chat & Nibble. He buys locally sourced ingredients whenever he can and grows herbs on the restaurant’s patio. The Chat & Nibble’s original menu is now streamlined to accommodate the changing tastes of its patrons.
One of the most popular items on the menu are the Huevos Ranchero with black beans, avocado and tortilla. Gonzales said the key to great beans is to slow cook and never rush them. The “Where is my Cheese?” omelet is another favorite, with your choice of cheese. The omelets’ ingredients are mixed with the eggs, not just filled in the middle, creating an omelet packed with vegetables or meats. “The Heights” omelet is filled with broccoli, bacon, and cheddar.
There are weekend specials for the brunch crowd and those with a sweet tooth! Stuffed French toast with strawberries and cream cheese is a must have, as is chicken with waffles. Pancake lovers will not be disappointed; Gonzales said the secret to a good pancake batter is to let it sit overnight.
Gonzales changes the menu seasonally. From April until September, he makes his own tamales which have garnered their own following. In the fall and winter, he makes his own soups for a hearty lunch. There are gluten- free and vegetarian options as well as a kid friendly menu.
The café is BYOB. On the weekends, weather permitting, the patio is open for outdoor seating. The Chat & Nibble proudly displays the Rainbow Equality flag, flying in the beach breeze.
In 2015, the Asbury Park Pink Prom was held at the Hotel Tides to raise money for the Pride Center in Highland Park. The Chat & Nibble was among the donors who gave gift certificates to be auctioned for the event. Always a part of the community is the way Gonzales sees it.
Gonzales is currently working with Asbury Park to promote the first “Day of the Dead” festival to be held tentatively November 6, 2022. He said there is a need to unite the Spanish community. The festival will pay homage to those who have passed. Gonzales has chosen members of the community including his mom to be honored. There will be a sandcastle contest and a parade with a mariachi band. Participants will dress in the tradition of the Catrina skeleton dolls.
The restaurant industry has faced many economic challenges and, Gonzales said sadly, many do not survive. He plans on staying in his location and continuing to be an active participant in the community. By his success and drive the Chat & Nibble will remain a neighborhood staple, welcoming all to the Jersey Shore.