15 Spectacular Spots for Sunset Dining Down the Shore

Shore spots to satisfy hunger and thirst and ease on down as the sun does the same.

As daylight fades, patrons cozy up on the patio for the sun's extended bow.
As daylight fades, patrons cozy up on the patio at 9th Avenuue Pier in Belmar for the sun's extended bow.
Photo by James J. Connolly

Shore fun mostly points us east, where the sun greets the day. But we’ve found terrific spots along rivers, inlets and bays to watch day fade to night over memorable food and drink. Here are our picks, north to south.

Tommy’s Tavern + Tap, Sea Bright

Tommy’s has a festive, sports-bar vibe and a great location on the Shrewsbury River. Walk straight through the enormous open dining room to the river side; that’s where the party starts. The expansive dining patio leads to an even more expansive yard, where people of all ages play beanbag toss, waiting to be buzzed for dinner. (Be prepared to wait a full hour for an outdoor table on the river side. There’s also outdoor dining street side, but no sunset views.) Once seated, you can watch the boats come and go while the sun sinks below the homes on the opposite shore. Tommy’s, completely rebuilt since Hurricane Sandy, is a local landmark, but it feels anything but old; 24 rotating taps, a whiskey room, a coal-fired pizza oven, a sushi bar and an energetic crowd make Tommy’s a great destination.—Lauren Payne
1030 Ocean Avenue, 732-842-5044

Eventide Grille, Sea Bright

Located smack-dab in the middle of the Navesink Marina, Eventide Grille offers an unforgettable sunset view. Throughout the summer, the outdoor bar and patio will be jumping. Grab a beer, find a seat at one of the communal picnic tables, and strike up a conversation with whomever you encounter. It’s that kind of place. Plus, there’s often live music. Indoors, a wall of windows along the cavernous, west-facing dining room makes certain the sunset over the Shrewsbury River is easily viewed from every seat. From salads to seafood to pizza, the moderately priced menu has something for everyone. There’s a nice neighborhood vibe here; many arrive on foot or by bike.—LP
1400 Ocean Avenue, 732-530-1414

9th Avenue Pier, Belmar

Photo by James J. Connolly
9th Avenue Pier in Belmar.
Photo by James J. Connolly
At 9th Avenue Pier in Belmar, Genevieve Clifton and daughter Magolia, 2, grab a bite.
Photo by James J. Connolly

Perched on the Shark River just off Route 35, 9th Avenue Pier provides panoramic views of the Belmar Marina. High and low tables, some anchored with bright orange umbrellas, encircle the center bar, where you can choose from a robust selection of rum buckets, the signature drink. Specialty cocktails, such as the Pier Tiki Tea, are available along with several beers on tap. Enjoy a cold one with such summer staples as coconut shrimp baskets, lobster rolls, protein bowls, salads and sandwiches. Order and pay at the kitchen window near the entrance; your meal will be delivered to your table. Before or after, putt a round of mini golf at the nearby green ($7 per person, $5 for children under 10). Live musical acts perform throughout the summer; check the website for schedule. —Maryrose Mullen
905 Route 35 South, 732-749-3800

Jack Baker’s Wharfside, Point Pleasant Beach

Thanks to good food and a great view, this family-friendly restaurant is always packed with locals and tourists alike. The restaurant sits directly on Manasquan Inlet, overlooking Gull Island. It’s a great spot to watch the tidal change (the island disappears and reappears with the tide) and check out the boats cruising through the inlet. To watch the sunset, grab a table in the covered outdoor dining area—first come, first served. It’s not a direct view, but it’s a fine show nonetheless. The menu tilts toward seafood; all dinners come with soup or salad and a side. You can also head next door to the restaurant’s Patio Bar for its enormous wraparound bar, order-at-the-counter food (burgers, sandwiches, wraps, etc.) and live music.—LP
101 Channel Drive, 732-892-9100

River House, Brielle

The interior is a popular wedding venue, but outdoors, the River House is a hopping drinks-and-dinner gathering spot. The spacious deck has plenty of tables overlooking the Manasquan River and Inlet. River House takes reservations only for 10 or more, but there’s rarely a wait of more than 30 minutes. (No docking for boats, unfortunately, but Hoffman’s Marina is next door.) You can eat at the bar—which puts you closer to the makeshift stage, where live music peals on the weekends. The menu includes sandwiches, wraps and pizza, as well as entrées like blackened mahi-mahi and pan-seared scallops. River House is the kind of place to take your parents; the food is reliable, the crowd is respectable and the view is breathtaking.—LP
1 Ocean Avenue, 732-528-7000

River Rock Restaurant & Marina Bar, Brick

There’s something for everyone at this sprawling indoor/outdoor restaurant on the Manasquan River. This bustling spot is equal parts family restaurant, sports bar (55 screens) and late-night hang. They don’t take reservations, but the spacious deck can accommodate a large crowd; if there happens to be a wait, diners can entertain themselves with games—beanbag, horseshoes, etc.—or grab an Adirondack chair and a cocktail at the outdoor tiki bar on the manmade beach. Food is standard Shore grub—burgers, wings, thin-crust pizza, pasta and grilled or fried fish—but the sunset over the river is exceptional. For those arriving by boat, River Rock employs a dockmaster to help direct traffic and secure lines.—LP
1600 Route 70 West, 732-840-1110

Channel Marker Café, Lavallette

Here’s the ultimate spot to watch the sunset over Barnegat Bay. The Channel Marker is tucked away off busy Route 35, adjacent to Ocean Beach Marina. Many patrons arrive by water and tie up in one of many available boat slips. Those who don’t can enjoy the view—docks, open water marsh—from inside the compact restaurant or outside on the roomy deck. Dinner entrées are a step above the norm; top choices include lobster and crab mac and cheese, seafood pot pie and crab cakes. Prices are a step up too. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Channel Marker takes reservations only for 5 or more (outside tables always claimed first) and is BYO, so arrive early for the best seats.—LP
3245 Route 35 South, 732-793-7559

Baker’s Water Street Bar & Grille, Toms River

Baker’s has a perfect location at the head of the Toms River. It’s easy to reach by boat, and there’s plenty of dock space. Arrive by car and you’ll enjoy abundant parking. The cavernous (and often loud) dining room has loads of seating, along with two enormous bars. The specialty is crispy, brick-oven, wood-fired pizza, complemented by a vast selection of craft beers. The spacious, covered dining deck has ample tables and chairs, but arrive early if you want a waterside seat. This is yet another dependable restaurant from Chefs International Group, operators of the aforementioned Jack Baker’s Wharfside, among others.—LP
4 Robbins Parkway, 732-240-4800

Daymark, Barnegat Light

Sleek yet unpretentious, with faux-weathered walls and tiled floor, Daymark opened last summer at the site of the former Rick’s American Cafe at the funky northern tip of LBI. It’s a welcome addition. A wall of windows facing west affords a good sunset view—just ignore the nondescript condos across the road. The family-style tables make Daymark a good choice for large groups; the wood-bench booths work for smaller parties. The large, central bar offers a selection of creative cocktails, craft beer and wines by the glass. The modestly priced menu leans toward seafood soups, apps, sandwiches and entrées. —Ken Schlager
404 Broadway, 609-494-2100

Parker’s Garage + Oyster Saloon, Beach Haven

Parker's Garage is a fine place to park yourself as evening approaches. The restaurant's investment in the Barnegat oyster collective has produced an oyster it can call its own, the Parker's Pearl.

Parker’s Garage is a fine place to park yourself as evening approaches. The restaurant’s investment in the Barnegat oyster collective has produced an oyster it can call its own, the Parker’s Pearl. Photo by James J. Connolly

LBI’s best setting for a sunset meal, Parker’s Garage opened last summer with the promise of fresh oysters on a pleasant waterfront. It delivers on both. Thanks to an investment in a local oyster co-op, this summer they are offering a signature oyster—Parker’s Pearl—served raw on the half shell. The Tuna Cracker—raw yellowfin with citrus mayo on housemade crackers—is a popular appetizer. The menu also features fish stew, fried whole belly clams, crab cakes, surf-and-turf roll, fresh fish and prime steaks. The west end of the spacious and airy dining room opens to a view of Barnegat Bay. The sun sets dramatically over the boats rocking at the neighboring slips. Open daily for dinner; reservations suggested; BYO.—KS
116 Northwest Avenue, 609-492-1066

Deauville Inn, Strathmere

Situated on Strathmere Bay, the Deauville Inn boasts a full bar, making it a popular destination for those staying in the neighboring dry town of Ocean City. The Deauville has four dining areas. For the best sunset views, you have two bayside options: the Beach House, a casual space in the sand with plastic tables and chairs, or the outdoor deck. Reservations are accepted only for the indoor dining room. The menu includes peel-and-eat shrimp, steamers, oysters, crab soup, clam chowder, wings, burgers, hot and cold sandwiches, broiled and fried seafood, and heartier steak entrées. You can park your boat at the Deauville’s own dock, but most people arrive by car. Local musicians regularly hold forth. Service can be slow, but the Instagram-worthy sunsets are worth the wait.—Shelby Vittek
201 Willard Road, 609-263-2080

Sunset Pier,  Sea Isle City

Sunset Pier in Sea Isle City.

Sunset Pier in Sea Isle City. Photo by James J. Connolly

 

This ultra-casual, family-friendly BYO near the southern tip of Sea Isle City lives up to its name. It’s on a pier (with a tackle shop and boat rentals)—and the sunset is the main attraction. Come early on weekends to snare one of the 12 outside tables along the southern side of the pier; seven are picnic tables suitable for large parties. The simple dinner menu includes fried seafood served in baskets, fish tacos, sandwiches, burgers, and grilled or broiled entrées. Portions are generous, service friendly and prices reasonable—especially considering the view. Once the sun drops behind the Intracoastal, strings of Edison lights amp up the ambience on the deck. Reservations accepted for parties of 10 or more. Boaters can park dockside. Sunset Pier is also open for breakfast and lunch.—KS
86th Street and Bay, 609-263-5200

Water Star Grille, Stone Harbor

Enjoy drinks at the bar or land a table on the large outdoor deck and you’ll be perfectly positioned for a dramatic sunset over the tranquil waters of Shelter Haven Inlet. Executive chef Juan Hernandez’s new summer menu includes an extensive raw bar, plus salads and mains portioned for sharing. The emphasis is on fresh seafood. Water Star is one of five dining options at the Reeds, Stone Harbor’s luxury hotel.—KS
9601 Third Avenue, 609-368-0100

Brine, Wildwood Crest

Located on the aptly named Sunset Lake, Brine offers a full bar and cocktails—try the Shake a Leg (vodka with strawberry and rhubarb)—plus live music daily. The back deck is an excellent vantage point for photos of the sunset over the bay, and the large, garage-door windows fill the dining rooms with light. Dinner options range from seared scallops to orecchiette pasta with shrimp in a cornflower pesto to a plate of ribs large enough for two.—Andrew Elmers
8100 Bayview Avenue, 609-522-1287

Harpoons on the Bay, North Cape May

Key West meets South Jersey at this laid-back beach bar and restaurant on Delaware Bay. Formerly Harpoon Henry’s, this popular watering hole offers full views of the sunset and a festive send-off to the day. Live bands channel Jimmy Buffett nightly; patrons dance by the bar and, as the sun drops from view, Andrea Bocelli’s “Time to Say Goodbye” swells from the sound system. The high-tops in the bar and the outside tables on the deck are the best seats for sunset. They go fast, so arrive early; there are no reservations. The moderately priced menu features local seafood and classic comfort food. Standouts include the crab cakes, seafood platter and burgers with fries. A Harpoon Sunset (a rum-and-passion-fruit-liqueur cocktail) will help you wind down along with the day.—Lynn Martenstein
91 Beach Drive, 609-886-5529

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