Yesterday I had a rare weekday off of work, so I did something that I don't do very often - I headed down the Garden State Parkway to check out Atlantic City's newest destinations.

On the itinerary were stops at The Ocean Resort Casino and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Of course, neither are necessarily new per se, but rebranded existing properties.

The Ocean Resort Casino

The Ocean Resort Casino, the former Revel, was my first stop.

The only nit picking that I'm going to do as a whole is with the name. "The Ocean Resort Casino" doesn't exactly lend itself to shorthand. "The Ocean" doesn't really tell a listener much if they're not familiar with the fact that you're talking about a building and not, well, the actual ocean.

The Ocean (which I am going to refer to it as in this article at least) holds on to much of The Revel's feel. Inside the impressively soaring glass building, it feels classy, clean, and still brand new despite the building's 6 1/2 year age already.

The casino floor features actual windows lighting the whole east side of the floor (a rarity in the casino industry), it feels airy and open, but still echoes with the satisfying bells and whistles of the hundreds of slot machines.

I had lunch at Distrito, a taco truck parked literally in the middle of the casino.

With celebrity chef Jose Garces, best known to TV audiences as one of the Food Network's Iron Chefs, as the man behind the van, I was excited to try the food.

I can say that my chicken quesadilla would have probably been really good if it hadn't been cold (and I mean, "some of the cheese wasn't even melted" cold). Sure, I could have complained and sent it back, but bordering on hangry by the time the food arrived, I didn't want to delay my feeding any longer.

It's not to say that Distrito's food isn't good, when it's piping hot it's probably great. I'll chalk it up to being just a not great day for the staff.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

If someone didn't tell you, you'd never know that the Hard Rock occupies the space of the former Trump Taj Mahal.

While The Ocean oozes classy and sophisticated, Hard Rock screams rock and roll.

And that's not a bad thing.

The literal soundtrack of the casino is Journey, Joan Jett, Nirvana, and more music greats on the impressive sound system.

Things are a little closer together on the casino floor, but if you're there for the rock and roll vibe you'll feel right at home, like you're in the crowd at an Aerosmith concert.

Hard Rock felt more like a group experience, with people crowding around to watch when someone hits big on a hot slot machine and players not afraid to shout their approval for big payouts.

Both properties felt fresh and new, even if the actual shells that they're housed in aren't.

The big question, as it always has been with Atlantic City casinos, is will they last?

Only time can answer that question, but if you've been wondering what the buzz is like in AC these days, I'd recommend taking the quick hour trip down the Parkway to check it out for yourself.

 

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The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of 92.7 WOBM, Townsquare Media, its employees, or advertisers.