Updated May 17, 2016
My Kitchen Witch, Monmouth Beach
Contrary to the pattern at most Shore breakfast spots, it might actually be easier to score a table at My Kitchen Witch in the summer than the off-season. That is because the crowds at this popular witch-themed haunt two blocks from the beach are at their thickest and unruliest around Halloween. Chef/owner Karyn Jarmer is a Shore native who lived in Manhattan for a spell and developed a catering business for the glamour set there. She still has TV and film-industry clients. At her quirky-cozy restaurant, she serves the healthy comfort food that appeals to both celebrities and civilians. For example, the most popular item on the breakfast menu is Our Famous Eggs Bene’witch—griddled olive bread topped with fat-free lemon-artichoke spread, organic arugula and poached eggs, with small roasted potatoes on the side ($8.95). But you also can tuck into a stack of four-grain buttermilk pancakes that don’t skimp on the powdered sugar ($6.95). 29 Beach Road, 732-229-3033.
Pop’s Garage, Asbury Park
Beating the weekend crowds to a beachfront parking space is easier if you get there before 9 am. But that is not the only reason to arrive early. Another is getting a table at Pop’s Garage, which is situated right on the boardwalk. In summer, Pop’s serves breakfast Thursday through Sunday, beginning at 9. If you’re a fan of Mexican fare, you’re doubly in luck: Owner Marilyn Schlossbach’s popular spot adheres to its south-of-the-border sensibilities at all hours, including the ones just before you need to break out the sunblock. On the breakfast menu you’ll find a burrito of pan-seared chorizo, cheese, and rice and beans wrapped in a warm flour tortilla ($9; $11 with scrambled egg). Another AM treat is Pop’s Aguacate, a baked, skinned avocado, split in half, stuffed with black beans and sautéed shrimp, and topped with a poached egg and hot sauce ($9). Bloody Marys ($9) and mimosas ($6) oil the mental machinery so you can ease into your beachy-keen day. Third Avenue Pavilion, 732-576-2181.
The Starving Artist, Ocean Grove
No one starves at the Starving Artist. Heaven forfend! The place isn’t even all that artsy. Co-owners Arnold Teixeira and David Fenicola chose the name mostly because they run a theater company, Nina Productions, at the Jersey Shore Arts Center in town—and because Ocean Grove itself, says Teixeira, is “kind of nice and artistic.” There are an ample 55 seats outside and another 50 inside. Popular dishes include the oversize spinach-and-feta omelet ($8.25) and crabcakes with two eggs, any style ($8.95). The emphasis, Teixeira says, is “clean food that’s fresh and made to order.” Perfect for the beach, which is an easy two-block jaunt from the restaurant. 47 Olin Street, 732-988-1007.
The Buttered Biscuit, Bradley Beach
Donning a swimsuit after eating a hot biscuit made with what owner Liz McAllister calls “tons of butter” takes guts. But that is the house specialty, and McAllister and her husband, David, do a brisk biscuit business at their New Orleans-style restaurant six blocks from the beach. Besides the house-made, Southern-style biscuits, served with house-made cinnamon honey butter and strawberry jam ($1.95), the café offers substantial plates like the Bradley Breakfast Burrito, a cornucopia of scrambled eggs, onions, jack cheese, black beans, sausage, sliced avocado and homemade salsa ($9.95). Fresh-squeezed grapefruit and orange juice are available for (BYO bubbly) mimosas every morning (small $3, large $5). “A lot of people come here in the mood to celebrate,” McAllister says. 700 Main Street, 732-807-4069.
Ray’s Cafe, Sea Girt & Spring Lake
The original Ray’s opened in Sea Girt in 1993. “About a million eggs later,” as the website has it, the Mulligan family opened a Spring Lake outpost. The shared menu is geared for traditionalists: two eggs, toast and home fries (the No. 1, $5.25); three pancakes and choice of ham, bacon, sausage or pork roll (the No. 5, $8.25). Steak and eggs—a 6-ounce rib eye with two eggs and home fries—goes for $12.95. Next to those, the three-egg Italian omelet with mozzarella and Romano, toast, home fries and bruschetta ($8.50) is positively exotic. The Spring Lake location is a three-block walk to the beach, Sea Girt about six. Sea Girt: 523 Washington Boulevard, 732-449-1717; Spring Lake: 1321 Third Avenue, 732-359-7700.
Klotz’s Kitchen, Point Pleasant
Coleen Klotz’s breakfast-and-lunch hangout is a solid mile from the beach, but you wouldn’t know it from the number of regulars who saunter in wearing swimsuits. (Mystery solved: the Point Pleasant Community Park is across the street.) The breakfast favorite is a concoction called Barnacle Crunch: a fat stack of pancakes, French toast or Belgian waffles topped with fresh-cut fruit, granola and a whisper of powdered sugar ($7). Check the chalkboard for specials like Cinnamon Raisin Barnacle French Toast, also topped with fruit and granola ($8); or a breakfast bowl brimming with eggs any style, cheddar and sausage gravy on a bed of home fries ($8). A selection of omelets served with home fries and toast varies daily, but sometimes includes the popular Ooey Gooey, made with pork roll, hash browns and American cheese ($7.75). 2247 Bridge Avenue, 732-714-0633.
Mustache Bill’s Diner, Barnegat Light
Does a place become an institution when its mustachioed owner has been slinging pancakes and hash for more than 40 years? When Guy Fieri shoots a segment of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives there? Or when the James Beard Foundation anoints it one of America’s Classics, as it did in 2009? If so, Bill Smith’s classic diner qualifies on all counts. Yet it’s still a place where kids can get pancakes shaped like lighthouses or sharks. Specialties include the Cyclops, two fried eggs held captive in the center of a fluffy pancake ($6.95); and the house-made creamed chipped beef, a classic served over home fries or toast ($7.25). If you have a good throwing arm, the well-loved establishment is a stone’s throw from the beach, the bay and Barnegat Lighthouse. Eighth Street and Broadway, 609-494-0155.
The Chicken or the Egg, Beach Haven
It’s hard to go wrong at the Chegg, as devotees call this offbeat spot for egg sandwiches and pretty much anything else you might hanker for. Mark Cohen, who owns the place with his brother, Craig, attributes the Chegg’s luminous standing not only to its vast menu but also to its being open 24 hours a day (from Memorial Day through Labor Day), with breakfast available around the clock. Another nicety—since there is almost always a wait (sometimes up to two hours)—is that the Chegg will text you when your table is ready. Once you’re in, feast your eyes on the egg-centric wall art, or on your plate, where the Goshdarnwich (one egg, bacon and cheese between two fat slices of French toast, with maple syrup and home fries, $7.99) might await you. The ocean is just two blocks away—not enough to walk off all those calories, but Cheggers are not waistline worrywarts. 207 North Bay Avenue, 609-492-3695.
Neptune Market, Harvey Cedars
Convenience is certainly part of the appeal of this tidy spot a block from the beach. In addition to your three-egg broccoli-rabe-and-cheese omelet ($6.95), you can pick up a roll of paper towels in the general store or a half-pound of Swiss in the deli. Swimsuits and flip-flops are the norm at the breakfast counter, where a pair of cooks crank out house specials like pork roll, egg and cheese ($4.95). Kids’ breakfasts include round-eared Mickey Mouse pancakes with chocolate chips ($4.95). Sip the AM ambrosia—an extra-large glass of fresh-squeezed OJ ($5.95). 8014 Long Beach Boulevard, 609-494-2619.
Sandbox Café, Ship Bottom
Among the comments Dana DiSalvio, owner of this 60-seat, outdoor-only breakfast-and-lunch spot, hears often is that the Sandbox reminds people of Key West. She quite agrees. “Our roof is made of olive branches and wisteria,” she notes, “and there’s a lot of beautiful displays in the trees.” Nice as it is, the ambience does not upstage the quality and creativity of the food. Daily specials may include pumpkin-bread French toast with pear chutney; crabcakes benedict; and clam hash and eggs. The signature is the Sizzler, the Sandbox’s deep-dish pancake filled with a swirl of sweet cream cheese and fresh fruit (breakfast items range from $7.95 to $13.95). Sandy feet are fine—the beach is a block away—but please wear a shirt. “A lot of the stuff we’re serving is hot,” DiSalvio warns, “and we don’t want to burn anybody.” BYO booze or bubbly to stir into Bloody Mary or mimosa set-ups. 2604 Long Beach Boulevard, 609-361-2425.
Teplitzky’s, Atlantic City
Big appetites are encouraged at the Chelsea Hotel’s stylish breakfast and lunch shop, named for the Boardwalk boutique hotel’s original, Depression-era proprietors. Belly up to the 1950s-ish curved counter and take the Big Teplitzky’s Challenge: Finish four pounds of breakfast food in 30 minutes, and not only will the house pay the $30 tab, you will win a Teplitzky’s–logoed T-shirt. (You’ll probably need the XXL.) The challenge plate includes four pancakes, four slices of French toast, six eggs, six bacon strips, six pork-roll slices, four turkey sausages, hash browns and four slices of toast. Normal eaters have plenty to choose from, too, including monkey bread with warm crème anglaise and homemade jam ($8) and a berry smoothie ($7.50). Beverage options range from double espressos ($5) to Bloody Marys ($10). 111 South Chelsea Avenue, 800-548-3030.
Johnny’s Café, Margate
Breakfast at John and Joanne Liccio’s homey restaurant may lack the live music and dancing offered at dinner, but the couple’s motto (“Home cooking without the fuss”) still applies. So does their commitment to variety. The breakfast menu, served till 2 pm, includes Snap, Krackle & Pop French Toast, a signature dish of French toast dredged in cinnamon sugar and Rice Krispies ($6.95). Then there’s the Fish Platter Deluxe, with smoked salmon, whitefish salad, tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, capers, cream cheese and two toasted bagels ($15.95). Bloody Mary’s ($6), house wines ($6 a glass) and mimosas ($6) make for merry mornings and a tittering tiptoe one block to the beach. 9407 Ventnor Avenue, 609-822-1789.
Cape May County
Brown’s Family Restaurant, Ocean City
Governor Christie is a repeat lunch customer at Brown’s, on the Ocean City boardwalk. “It’s low-key for him; everyone politely ignores him and his entourage,” says Harmon Brown, who owned the 100-seat restaurant with his wife before their son, Jim, and daughter-in-law, Melissa, took over a few years back. Melissa says the shop’s beloved house-made donuts, just 85 cents each, are the fastest-selling item on the menu: “You can watch the boys making them,” she says, “and a lot of people will get on their bikes and come in for coffee and a donut real early. They come back later, when the rest of the family is up, for a full breakfast.” That breakfast might include house-made chipped fried beef on English muffin with home fries ($8.50) or three fluffy pancakes with ham, bacon, pork roll, sausage or (yes!) scrapple ($7.70). 110 Boardwalk, 609-391-0677.
At Seaglass—the beachfront Golden Inn’s poolside restaurant and bar—tall glass doors retract to let the ocean breeze waft over folks enjoying breakfast Bloody Mary’s indoors or on the deck. The ambience is stylish, the presentation polished. Three-egg omelets include the You Call It, which comes with three add-ins and a choice of cheese ($10). The popular Seaglass 7-Mile omelet features crab, provolone, tomato and onion seasoned with Old Bay ($12). Built to Order two-egg sandwiches come on bread, bagel or in a wrap. Choose bacon, sausage or pork roll; add American, Swiss, provolone or cheddar ($11). For traditionalists, there are bagel and lox ($11), French toast ($9), malted waffle ($8) and three types of pancakes ($8). The undecided may sidle up to the breakfast buffet. Oceanfront at 78th Street; 609-368-5155.
Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, Stone Harbor
Since Bill Donohue opened the original Uncle Bill’s here in 1962, the restaurant has grown to eight locations (two in Ocean City). Nowadays another Bill is in charge—Donohue’s son-in-law, Bill O’Hara. Each location offers more than 15 varieties of pancakes ($6.50-$10.50) and waffles ($6.75–$10.50). Standbys like blueberry, peach, peanut butter and chocolate chip share the crowded menu (which may vary from location to location) with surprises like Iowa corn pancakes ($7.75) and pecan pancakes (Uncle Bill’s Nutty Novelty, $9.25). There’s also a gluten-free stack ($8.50), omelets ($6.50 to $9), creamed chipped beef on home fries or toast ($9.75), egg sandwiches ($3.50-$6.50), fruit ($3-$5.75), and cereals and pastries ($1.50-$4.25). Also in Avalon, Cape May, North Cape May, Ocean City, Strathmere and Wildwood; 609-368-8129.
Breakfast in the Sky, Wildwood
At Mariner’s Pier amusement park you can literally get high on breakfast—150 feet high, to be precise. As you enter the Ferris wheel’s gondola, you will sit down to a hot breakfast served on china and white linen. For about an hour, as the wheel slowly lifts you above the waves, eases you down, and repeats, you will dine on the offerings of Wally Jurusz, executive chef of Morey’s Piers. Choices include spinach-and-fontina quiche with Lancaster County bacon, home fries and toast; Belgian waffle with fresh fruit; shrimp and lobster omelet with cheese, homes fries and toast; and steak and eggs with onions, peppers, queso blanco, home fries and toast. All come with bottled water, coffee, tea or iced tea; choice of juices; breads and condiments. Available Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, July 25 to August 24, Breakfast in the Sky costs $90 for two people in a gondola; $130 for three; $170 for the maximum of four. Children must be at least 60 inches tall and accompanied by an adult. You order your food when you make your (mandatory) reservation. Boardwalk at Schellenger Avenue, 609-846-1624.
Alosi’s Bistro, Wildwood Crest
Adjoining the sleek lobby of the oceanfront Pan-American Hotel, part of the Morey’s Piers boardwalk empire, Alosi’s offers lots of morning light and traditional as well as contemporary breakfasts. In the tried-and-true category are eggs Benedict ($9.50) and creamed chipped beef over toast with home fries ($7.75). Updates include cinnamon-raisin French stuffed with bananas ($7.25) and seven types of crêpes ($5.75-$8.25). Choices for kids include silver-dollar pancakes ($4.95) and timeless PB&J sandwiches ($4.50). Espresso and cappuccino ($3.25-$3.95) are available in addition to regular coffee. 5901 Ocean Avenue, 609-729-5333.
The Jellyfish Café, Wildwood Crest
Breakfast is served until 2 pm at this popular corner café sporting sand-colored walls and a trompe l’oeil sand-dune mural. Locals love it, so expect a wait. Crowd pleasers include plump 3-egg omelets ($6.50-$8.25), short or full stack pancakes or French toast ($4.25; $5.50) topped with fresh fruit (add $2), and the Man o’ War combo of pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage ($8.95). Specials might include nutmeg sweet-potato pancakes, naturally sweet so they barely need syrup. Undersea videos on the monitor remind you why you’re in Wildwood Crest. The house-made muffins are worth grabbing to go for the five-block walk to the beach. 5911 New Jersey Avenue (at Aster Avenue), 609-435-5467.
The Red Store
, Cape May Point
The Red Store, one of NJM’s Top 25 restaurants, does breakfast as distinctively as it does dinner. Husband-and-wife proprietors Lucas Manteca, the chef, and Deanna Ebner often offer morning specials. “What we do is very farm-to-table driven, so the food is always revolving,” says Manteca, a 2014 James Beard Award nominee as Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. The Latino plate, a nod to Manteca’s Argentine heritage, is a belly-buster of eggs any style, rice, beans, guacamole, home fries, pico de gallo, crema, fried plantains and grilled tortilla ($12). It is just one of more than a dozen alluring dishes the couple offer to their often sandy-toed clientele. The bread is baked on premises, where croissants are rolled by hand and bacon and sausage are made as well. Gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian requests are happily accommodated. If breakfast, to you, means ingesting only “clean” calories, consider one of the smoothies or freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juices ($5-$7) 500 Cape May Avenue, 609-884-5757.