Peppered along the 150-mile-long Jersey Shore line are original restaurants that have been summer staples for decades. These spots are go-tos after a long day spent enjoying waves and soaking up the sun. Places that have been around for years are what give shore towns their personality. They have stood for ages, serving locals and the lucky tourists who have been pointed in the right direction.
1. The Parker House (Seagirt, NJ)
The Parker House is the place to go after a long day on the beach. A block away from the water, it is not unlikely to find customers who still have sand on their toes. Its giant wrap-around porch offers a cool breeze and ideal people watching. In the heat of June and July, there is nothing better than taking a break in the shade under its famous green awnings.
Established in 1878, the Parker House has been “serving fine food and good times for 139 years.” When it comes to grub, you cannot go wrong with any of the fresh seafood specials. As for the good times, hop downstairs to their basement bar. Last call is at 11:30 p.m.
2. Hoffman’s Ice Cream (Spring Lake, NJ)
Hoffman’s is one of those places that always has a line out the door. It attracts the young and old—most, sporting a tee-shirt thrown on over a wet bathing suit. Patiently waiting in the sun, you will be counting down the steps until you reach the glass door and finally feel the AC inside. You’ll then join the rest of the line in pressing your face up against the ice cream display glass and spending five minutes deciding on a flavor—of which there are roughly 40. All of Hoffman’s ice cream is homemade.
3. Kohr’s Custard (Seaside Heights, NJ)
Another frozen treat favorite: Kohr’s Custard. Centrally located on the Seaside Heights boardwalk, Kohr’s always serves hoards of customerswho have just made their way over after playing hours of boardwalk arcade games. There is something about standing under the wooden hand-painted sign, listening to the squeals of kids excited about the stuffed dragon they just won playing skee-ball, and feeling the breeze off of the ocean that presents the perfect summer atmosphere.
Since 1923, Kohr’s has been serving up its original custard to the people of the Jersey Shore.
What to try? The orange cream custard twist. This is one of the first flavors that still remains a bestseller on the menu. Sweet, but refreshing—it’s the perfect combination.
4. The Breakers on the Ocean (Spring Lake, NJ)
The Breakers (in a postcard at top) is on the classier end of the spectrum, and serves Italian cuisine alongside steaks and seafood. This restaurant, which runs out of a historic hotel, sits adjacent to the beach. Indoors, a sea of white table-cloths forms the Seashell Dining Room. A pianist sits at a grand piano in a far corner, playing softly under the clinks of glasses and friendly chatter. Outside, you hear waves crash into the sand, thumping louder and louder as the tide rolls in for the evening.
5. Howard’s Seafood (Beach Haven, NJ)
Howard’s Seafood restaurant is simple, but exquisite. Its giant glass windows offer a perfect view of the marina next door—and at sunset, one of the prettiest views throughout Long Beach Island. The interior of the restaurant transforms as it becomes cloaked by pastel color reflected off of the ocean. Dinner with a view is an understatement.
The food at Howard’s compliments its atmosphere. Seafood specials are updated regularly, allowing customers to try the freshly caught. However, original plates, like Howard’s French Fried Lobster, are a consistent crowd favorite.
One of many shore-side eateries in New Jersey, Howard’s has earned its credibility through longstanding presence. For more than 60 years, its brought delicious seafood to the people of Long Beach Island.
Image: Boston Public Library, CC-BY
Elizabeth Chambers is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.