My family and I, our worlds just revolve around food – especially when we’re on vacation. After eating one meal, our first step is to plan the next, then it’s onto what we’re going to do in between. We visit Long Beach Island, New Jersey (LBI) nearly every summer, and I personally spent two full summers there.
As such, we’ve come up with a pretty good go-to list of where to eat when we’re on the island. LBI has a lot of summer visitors, and they have a lot of places to choose from. Even though most people rent a house, and thus, have a kitchen, many choose to eat out anyway. Hopefully, with my list, they can hit all, or at least some, of the good places.
I chose not to rank the restaurants because they’re all kind of different. They’re different price ranges, atmospheres, styles, and dress codes. So really, which one you visit relies upon a lot more on other factors than on just the food. Plus, they’re all really good. I mean, picking a favorite restaurant would be akin to someone picking a favorite child.
Check out the interactive map of my picks below!
Fred’s Beach Haven Diner
Fred’s is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. They have a large and diverse menu (making it a true diner in my mind) and the service is super friendly.
As my mom, Gretchen Engel, says, “I love that it’s a diner. I love that there’s 13 million gazillion different things on the menu!” She’s been visiting LBI since she was in middle school, and when she’s there, she goes to Fred’s on a regular basis.
Fred himself can often be seen running drinks, helping clean tables, and seating people, which adds a homey element to the restaurant. They’re also “open (pretty much) all year” – one of the few restaurants that can be counted on in the off season.
Black Whale Bar & Fish House
Black Whale is a nicer restaurant on the island. It’s a popular place to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays. My family and I always try to hit Black Whale at least once during our visit. The majority of their selections are seafood and a lot of it comes right from Barnegat Bay. When I asked my dad and my sister what their favorite menu item was, both told me that the oyster shooters are definitely it. This restaurant isn’t something you should wear your flip flops and shorts to (though some people do), so that’s something visitors should keep in mind.
The Chicken or The Egg (Chegg)
Chegg also kind of falls into the “diner” category with its massive and diverse menu. During season, they’re open 24/7 and they’re hoppin’ 24/7. Chegg is popular with people of all ages and it’s not unusual to wait to eat – they even made an app so you can check the wait time and put your name in line so that you’re not just standing out front waiting.
As my friend Caitlin Lustenburger says, “the long drive and long wait is always worth it to sit at the tables and laugh and eat wings and be able to leave with high spirits!”
People don’t often spend a lot of time there as service is really fast. It’s almost a controlled chaos, frantic atmosphere inside, which can be irritating to a lot of people.
Bistro 14 is conveniently located in Bay Village, so it’s a popular dinner spot after a day of shopping. They have indoor and outdoor seating, so if it’s nice outside, you can bask in the sunshine as you eat. The majority of seating is upstairs, giving you a nice view of Barnegat Bay as you eat, not to mention the fantastic sunsets nearly every night. Because most seating is upstairs, this may not be the best place for handicapped patrons. The menu is fairly small, but I’ve never had a bad meal there.
Gazebo Grill and Sushi Bar
Gazebo is a cafe style restaurant located in Schooner’s Warf. Their menu is mostly quick meal items such as burgers and chicken strips, but they do have some pasta dishes. And, of course, there’s the sushi. The kitchen is open, so you can see your food being made, and the sushi bar is also open. Gazebo is a good place to grab lunch while you shop, however, most of their seating is outside, so it might not be as good in rainy weather. If you’re here in the evening, you can catch some spectacular sunsets on Barnegat Bay while you eat.
Spice it Up!
Spice It Up makes sandwiches like no other. Dan, the owner, is in the back, making his masterpieces. Gina, his wife, is usually up front, helping customers with a smile and a laugh. If Dan doesn’t like it, it’s not on the menu – and Dan has good taste! There are sandwiches for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, plus salads and kids items. This is a good place to grab lunch on the way home, or you can bring it next door to Ship Bottom Brewery and eat your sandwich with a locally crafted beer.
The Engleside Inn and Restaurant
The Engleside is one of the higher-class restaurants on the island. It is attached to a hotel, but their food is more than just typical hotel fare. Like Black Whale, The Engleside is a good place to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. Their prime rib is my grandmother’s favorite on the island – and she eats a lot of prime rib. Though The Engleside is located on a beach, this is another restaurant that you don’t wear your beach clothes to (though some people still do), so dress is to be considered when deciding where to eat.
I know many people who haven’t been to LBI, and never plan to go there, but for those who are interested, especially new visitors, I hope that my list helps them to make some good decisions on where they eat. My family and I have spent a lot of time cultivating a good go-to list of where to eat, and we’ve never been failed by the ones on this list.