Thanks to that nasty bitch Sandy, the Jersey Shore has given us more of a reason than ever to hit the parkway this summer. Do yourself a favor and forget about the nonsense guido sirens and Jaegerbombs or whatever other predetermined stereotype you might have conjured up based off of cable TV. Well, just to clarify, there are plenty of Jersey Shore and Real Housewives cast-offs, but that’s only a small portion of what you’ll find.
Most importantly, there are plenty of places to eat that make the trek well worth your while. In less than 90 minutes from Midtown, one can find themselves somewhere within the 217 miles between the Atlantic Highlands and Cape May. Forget taking the train, it’s far too limiting for any bouncing around you want to do between the beach, the bar, and most importantly, the meals.
The most interesting juxtaposition is the mix of old standbys that have graced the Jersey coast for decades and those more recent dining destinations that have popped up in the past few years. Take Asbury Park as the best example of a transformed abandoned seaside town that’s now become a burgeoning dining destination, perhaps the most explosive thing to hit the shore since Springsteen first played the Stone Pony. Here are the best places to eat at the Jersey Shore (the northern part of it at least). * * *
Pete & Elda’s Bar/Carmen’s Pizzeria
96 Woodland Ave.
Neptune, NJ 07753
People search long and hard for the perfect bar pie and asking anyone in Jersey about which is best will only net you a long list of opinions. However, just a few miles northwest of the summer rental hotspot, Belmar, everyone agrees. Get the XXL, and not because you want the silly t-shirt you get for finishing it -- get it because it’s so damn good, you WILL finish it! The paper-thin crust is perfectly crisp, but this pie is not meant for takeout. Finish it all because unlike the restaurant, the leftovers don’t stand the test of time.
Hoffman’s Ice Cream
800 Richmond Ave. (Multiple Locations) Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742 732-892-0270
It’s perhaps the Jersey Shore’s biggest staple after clams and spray tan. You’ll no doubt see dozens of ice cream shops as you drive town to town on Rt. 35, but none come even close to what you’ll find at Hoffman’s. It’s a Jersey Shore classic for nearly 60 years serving up more than 40 flavors of rich, dense and sweet ice cream. This year’s go-to has been the Jersey Monkey --banana ice cream infused with peanut butter and chocolate chips – a little aggressive, but that’s how we do in the Garden State.
So it goes like this. You just spent the night partying, woke up face down on a worn-out hotel carpet and only have about $15 left in your pocket from the 2am run at the blackjack table that left your bank account in peril. Have no fear. On your way out of town, right before you head over the bridge stands the world famous White House Sub Shop, and its White House Special complete with thick cut extra Salami, Provolone, Ham, Capicola and the perfect hangover curing hot pepper giardiniera. If that’s not your game, go for the regular Italian, which according to them is 80% fat free… whatever the hell that means. The lines can get long, but it’s well worth it.
Raucous Party Atmosphere
Cheap Lobsters, Steamers, Shrimp and a variety of sliders (burgers, slicedsteaks, sausages) are ideal for the Friday night transition from work to aweekend down the shore. This three floor party fortress has been standing strong for nearly 135 years offering awesome finger foods out back by the bar. The front porch offers a full seated dinner menu, but like a good mullet, it’s business in the front and party in the back. Definitely hit this spot early, a) because it closes at midnight, and b) before it turns into a full-on frat party and you’ll want to head elsewhere.
Packed Lunch For The Beach
510 Route 35 South
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
With huge sandwiches, awesome prepared foods options and the best mozzarella south of Hoboken, Joe Leone’s is far and away the best stop by the beach to fill your cooler for the day. The whole place is just jacked with the finest Italian specialty items on the coast. Almost anything is worth a shot, but the sandwiches, stuffed breads and chef’s case prepared salads are what ya want here.
Plain and simple, there’s nothing beach-y about it. Beyond that, there’s nothing even Jersey Shore about it, except for the fact that it’s home to its best burger. Huge, simple and cooked with a perfect char.
80 Bridge Ave
Bay Head, NJ 08742
Breakfast options are endless along the shore. Diners and pancake houses, yup. Quick stop at a deli for a Taylor ham egg and cheese, of course (and if you don’t know what that is, it’s really time to learn). However, for many, breakfast at the shore is defined by Mueller’s and their heavy misshapen, meatball sized sweet crumbs that sit atop their perfect crumb cake.
It took until last year to discover that the barrier islands between Mantoloking and Seaside Park actually had a worthy beachside seafood shack. Unfortunately true, believe it or not. Despite this area of the shore being the absolutely epicenter of Sandy’s wrath, this tiny red crab shack and its picnic tables remain, serving up an excellent lobster roll, lump crab mac & cheese and great fried clams… all just a block from the beach.
Local Seafood/Plastic Bibs
Red’s Lobster Pot
57 Inlet Drive
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742
Forget fine dining and leave the yacht club attire at home when you’re down the shore. In the end, it really won’t match the plastic bib you’re donning when you’re diving into scallops, clams and lobsters picked from Jersey waters. Red’s is a BYO dockside seafood shack at its absolute best. Just make sure you have a good wheat ale, crisp white wine and a fat appetite in tow.
Midway Steak House
Webster Ave & Broadway
Seaside Heights, New Jersey 08751
So while all those other clowns are waiting on line at The Shore Store, hoping to snap a pic of Sammy Sweetheart autographing a tube top, you should find yourself at the corner of Webster and Broadway indulging in the greatest attraction in Seaside Heights. Go either way -- cheesesteak and/or the sausage and pepper sandwich – when at Midway. Nothing personifies the Jersey Shore more than the boardwalk… and nothing is more essential to the boardwalk than its very best dining option. You won’t do better than Midway.
Michael Sinatra loves food, lives in New Jersey, and goes by @iateitmyway on the internet. So, yeah, you can probably imagine why he's our go-to resource on all things Jersey.