10 Hottest Restaurants on the Jersey Shore

By Zagat Staff  |  May 31, 2016

Whether you're digging into a pile of clam strips, grabbing a boardwalk slice or sitting down to a full dinner with bay views, there's something about the ocean air that makes everything taste better. From Jersey Shore classics to shiny newcomers, here's a look at some of the best beach eats of the season.

  • Cross & Orange
    The winter arrival of this elegantly rustic tapas house was a sure sign of Asbury Park’s continuing revival. ElBulli alum Sam Byrne is in the kitchen, putting out a menu that ranges from precisely arranged small plates like tuna tartare to giant steaks (including a 31-day dry-aged NY Strip), and the full bar offers city-style cocktails at beach-appropriate price points.

    508 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park, NJ; 732-361-5502

  • The Diving Horse
    Going into its sixth summer this Avalon mainstay from the Pub & Kitchen crew is the stuff that beach eating dreams are made of. Whether you’re dining on the breezy patio or in the sunny dining room the sustainably-focused seafood menu is always as fresh as it gets. Bonus points for a great wine store just down the block perfect for BYOing.

    2109 Dune Dr., Avalon, NJ; 609-368-5000

  • SAX at The Reeds
    Revamping the menu from prix fixe to a more casual a la carte dining experience, this Stone Harbor stunner offers sharable starters like buffalo shrimp and seasonal vegetable flatbreads along with substantial salads, burgers and seaside-inspired mains like crab linguini with heirloom tomatoes and cured egg yolk. 

    9601 Third Ave., Stone Harbor, NJ; 609-961-3010

  • Wingcraft Kitchen & Beer Bar
    Turn your Monopoly-tainted memories of Baltic Avenue upside down with a visit to this gastropub newcomer in the Tanger Outlets shopping district. Your break from Boardwalk breezes will be buffeted by comforting bites like crab guacamole and Pat LaFrieda burgers, along with pours from 14 taps or creative cocktails like The BLT (that would be bourbon, lemon and tonic).

    2010 Baltic Ave., Atlantic City, NJ; 609-541-2799

  • Steve & Cookie’s By the Bay
    At this classic with a bay view It’s all about old school elegance. Raw bar and seafood offerings are done right alongside Italian Market-sourced plates like Fiorella’s sausage casserole and burrata from Claudio’s. During the summer months Steve & Cookie’s grand piano room features jazz, swing and familiar covers every night of the week.

    9700 Amherst Ave., Margate City, NJ; 609-823-1163

  • The Red Store
    Scenic and out of the way, this general store and cafe by day, fine dining destination by night is manned by Lucas Manteca, an Argentinian born chef who keeps it close to home with a menu the features everything from Jersey produce and seafood to Cape May sea salt.

    500 Cape Ave., Cape May Point, NJ; 609-884-5757

  • Ebbitt Room
    Situated in the lovely Virginia hotel, this well-loved seashore dining room has taken farm-to-table to the next level: they their very own farm. With a wealth of locally sourced produce and pork, the kitchen puts out housemade charcuterie boards, entrees and seasonal vegetables — plus ice creams and sorbets churned in house.

    25 Jackson St., Cape May, NJ; 609-884-5700

  • Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten
    If they have great food and even better brew, beer gardens don’t need warm weather to be great. The operators of this Austrian/Hungarian beer hall must have known that when they launched the sibling to Hoboken’s Pilsener Haus & Biergarten at the end of January. Summer just makes picnic-table pretzels, wursts and steins that much better — especially when enjoyed on the open-air roof deck.

    527 Lake Ave., Asbury Park, NJ; 732-997-8767

  • Yozu Sushi
    For an area that’s right next to the ocean, the Jersey Shore has surprisingly little sushi, but this newcomer at the southern tip is filling the gap. Taking advantage of local favorite Gecko’s move to West Cape May, the BYO offers diners a show in the form of colorful raw-fish displays or hibachi performances featuring everything from lobster to filet mignon cooked on teppanyaki grills.

    3845 Bayshore Rd., Cape May, NJ; 609-898-8888

  • The Arlington
    Beach fare has a tendency to get monotonous after a while but this forward thinking Ship Bottom restaurant and cocktail lounge keeps it interesting with a menu that’s full of international influences from the American South to Morocco, Japan and beyond. Bonus points for barreled and bottled cocktails by the sea.

    1302 Long Beach Blvd., Ship Bottom, NJ; 609-494-8848