With Memorial Day come and gone, the Jersey Shore transforms into Little Philadelphia until Labor Day, when we take our GTL game back to the big city. But, for the next three months, we'll fight our boss and each other on a mad dash out the door every Friday to survive the AC Expressway.
Half of the time everyone is laying in the sand, the other half they're eating and drinking at seasonal spots in sleepy shore towns all along the coast. From white tablecloth meals in old world architecture to deep fried snacks on the boardwalk, there's something for everyone. Here are our picks for where to go when you're down the shore.
1) The Diving Horse
Where: 2109 Dune Drive, Avalon, NJ
What: Chef Jonathan Adams of Pub & Kitchen opened this seaside eatery a few years ago, and it's getting better with every passing summer. Expect lots of delicious oysters, tuna crudo, Barnegat scallops, and local Jersey corn. There's heartier fare, as well, with a beasty plate of short rib, dry-aged New York strip, and roasted bone marrow. The place is BYOB, so don't forget the wine and beer.
2) The Red Store
Where: 500 Cape Avenue, Cape May, NJ
What: Deanna Ebner has converted the Cape May Point General Store into a breakfast nook known as the Red Store on the Cape May point. With a menu consisting of farm fresh egg dishes, sausage, pies, and their famous sour cream biscuits, Ebner has created a destination for breakfast fans in a truly beautiful setting.
3) Philippe Chin French-Asian Bistro and Deck Bar
Where: 800 Bay Avenue, Somers Point, NJ
What: Former Philly star chef Philippe Chin left the city many years ago, popping up at various spots along the East Coast and in the deep South, but he has returned to open a place down the shore. If you find yourself at Somers Point, pop into his new spot that blends a little French-Asian fusion with seasonal seafood, and stunning views of the bay.
4) Formica Bros. Bakery
Where: 2310 Arctic Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ
What: Adam Erace said the reason Atlantic City bread is so good is because of the water they pump in from the pine barrens, but whatever the reason, Formica Bros. is a must-stop for their classic Italian breads. They'll try to push their other goods on you, including a serviceable tomato pie, but spend all your coins on the bread and try not to eat it before you get home.
5) Pure Tacos
Where:1138 Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ
What: High-end tacqueria living on the OC Boardwalk in between lots of run-of-the-mill french fry joints and mediocre funnel cakes. They are also quite aware of those who suffer from gluten-related issues, and offer healthy options for those who worry about keeping the beach body. They're heading to Philly in the future, but for now, you gotta eat in the heat.
6) Johnson's Popcorn
Where: 1360 Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ
What: Don't miss out on Johnson's Popcorn because it looks like a tourist trap. This is the best popcorn you're ever going to eat. The classic see-through plastic tubs scream "gift basket," but one taste of the cheddar cheese kernels and you'll be hooked forever. Plus, it's the healthiest food ever adorned with that nuclear orange color only found outside of nature.
Where: 9420 Third Avenue, Stone Harbor, NJ
What: Nothing goes better with shore temperatures than a big scoop of ice cream, and Springer's is the best along the Jersey Shore. Tucked away in the town of Stone Harbor, Springer's has been scooping their homemade ice cream for generations. Featuring almost 50 flavors each and every day, there's enough variety to eat here three times a day and not feel bad about it.