The first thing you should know about Bad Monkey is that they bake their bread in-house every morning. All their bread — breakfast rolls, sandwich rolls, baguettes — comes fresh right out of their downstairs kitchen and ends up on your plate at Bad Monkey, or Fager’s Island or the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin, businesses that are all owned by the same guys. It’s all baked fresh at the Monkey.
The second thing you should know about Bad Monkey is that, while the restaurant only opened in 2014, it’s already a beloved Ocean City staple that seems as adored by tourists as it is by locals. 2014 was four years ago, but it usually takes decades for an Ocean City restaurant to earn the respect, much less the adoration, of us cranky, skeptical locals.
In the kitchen, there’s no monkeying around.
I stopped in one morning to get a video of Ray, the restaurant’s chief bread baker, in action. I took a Facebook live, and was surprised to see that the comments on the video were overwhelmingly positive. It was my first time at Bad Monkey, and while I’d heard only good things about the place, it’s not uncommon for me to post about a local business I think is good and receive a fair number of angry reacts and naysayers in the comments section. It’s something I’ve come to expect, but this was not the case for Bad Monkey.
The gist of these comments was “I love Bad Monkey!,” “Bad Monkey is the best” and, my personal favorite, “Our Bowling buddies Ray and Christine making delicious bread. Love the Bad Monkey.”
The first time’s the charm.
My birthday rolled around a few weeks later, and I still hadn’t eaten at Bad Monkey like I’d been meaning to. So on the fateful day of May 15, my 23rd birthday, my wonderful co-workers initiated me into the world of the Monkey.
I’d been meaning to embark on a Happy Hour Adventure of my own, a particularly cool feature of this site that was established by my predecessor Tony Russo a few years ago. I figured this was as good an opportunity as any. I don’t make it a habit to drink on the job, but it was my birthday for Pete’s sake, and now I might have to do this Happy Hour Adventure thing more often.
We ordered an appetizer, the crab dip with fresh-baked baguette, and my life came full circle. It wasn’t the exact baguette I had seen being molded into shape several weeks ago (that wouldn’t be very fresh), but it was a baguette, and it was soft and delicious. Everything that bread should be, and that the holiness that is Maryland crab dip deserves to be served on, this baguette was.
We had seated ourselves upstairs at an “outdoor” table, which feels like a balcony when the floor-to-ceiling windows are opened up on a nice day. It was nice enough on this day, warm but overcast and a little windy, two days before the official start of Cruisin’ Ocean City. Ann remarked that she’d been eating at almost that exact table during Cruisin’ OC last year, and from that spot, she’d been able to watch all the cool old cruisers zooming down below. It’s noisy during engine-revvin’ events like these, yes, but definitely not a bad location if you’re trying to see a parade, cruisers or even just vacationers walking the sidewalks below.
Our food came — a sub called the Treehugger, a salad with blackened mahi, a pair of fish tacos and a pair of La Espanola tacos — and we spent a good 10 minutes photographing our plates as any self-respecting employees of a local tourism site would do. (It’s nice when I’m not the only one doing it and I can share the pain of having people look at me while obviously thinking, “ugh, another millennial having a photoshoot of her meal for Instagram!” Not that there’s anything wrong with that anyway, but I digress.)
The food was as good as it looks — really, really good.
We ate, paid our check and went downstairs to take a look at the Bad Monkey merch before heading out. Not only do they carry a plethora of t-shirts featuring our favorite cigar-smoking monkey in sunglasses, but they’ve also got mugs, pint glasses, socks and Bad Monkey hot sauce. Which I didn’t buy any of this time, but I do plan on coming back for breakfast sometime in the near future…
In short, trust the monkey.
Whether you came to Ocean City for an event like Cruisin’ Ocean City or you’re just here to lounge on the beach for a few days, you can’t go wrong starting your day with a hearty breakfast or ending it with craft beer and cocktails at the Bad Monkey. Trust me, and the Monkey, and your Ocean City vacation will be made.