Top 5 ‘Hidden Gem’ Restaurants on LBI

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The unassuming entrance to Polly's Dock | Image by The Guarino Team

If you have been to Long Beach Island, chances are you know where the Chegg is. You probably have heard of Parker’s Garage, the Black Whale and Delaware Ave. Oyster House too. While these are all quality, mainstream establishments that I highly recommend, I wanted to compile a list of some lesser-known spots that have amazing food and may not get the credit they deserve.

Here are my top 5 hidden gems on(and near) LBI.

Dock & Claw Clam Bar

The bar you can bring your own beer to! | Image by Dock & Claw Clam Bar

Located in the heart of Beach Haven, I debated including this one because it’s not really tucked away, or in a random shopping center like some other places on this list. But the fact that it only has 110 Google reviews (as I write this article) was enough proof that not enough people have tried this place. If you are in the market for a unique dining experience on the Island, look no further. Possessing the rare(unprecedented?) combo of neighborhood bar vibes where you can bring your own alcohol(!)with a creative and fun food menu, this place is truly one of a kind.

 

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Everything I have tried here has been packed with layers of flavor. My favorites include the Crab Birria tacos, the “Double Dock Burger” and the street corn(maybe my favorite rendition ever on it). If you like spice, don’t forget to try the hot sauce– it’s made with fresh Jersey peppers and hits you with the perfect combo of heat and flavor. 

If you sit at the bar, chances are you will meet one of the passionate owners, Steve or Kevin, adding to an already enjoyable experience. As the popularity increases by the day, this may be the last year I can include D&C on this list. So make sure you get there this summer while it’s still hidden(ish). 

Restaurant Information:

Various delicious Sandwiches led by the illustrious Lobster Roll | Image by Dock and Claw Clam Bar

Viking Fresh Off the Hook

Picnic seating at the casual "Viking Fresh Off the Hook" | Image by The Guarino Team

Located on the northern tip of the island, it can be easily explained why Viking Fresh Off the Hook gets overlooked. Many folks simply don’t venture off to Barnegat Light. If there ever was a reason to head to the north end, “Off the Hook” is it. Located on one of the prominent fresh seafood hubs in the region, Viking Village, the “Fresh Off the Hook” name is not hyperbole. True to its name, the restaurant features seafood dishes in abundance. It offers fresh Lobster, Scallops, Salmon, Flounder, Tuna and Mahi Mahi prepared in sandwich, platter and taco form. 

My favorite is the scallop taco – a generous portion of melt-in-your-mouth scallops, topped with lettuce, a fresh pico, cheese, sour cream and chipotle mayo. Partnered with a generous handful of homemade potato chips, this entree is an ideal coastal lunch. I love these so much that I make the 25 minute trek up multiple times a summer to scratch the itch. 

I have heard rumors that people come from near and far for their albacore tuna salad. As someone who currently turns down Tuna salad, I cannot confirm it’s worthiness. However, I can vouch for the blackened mahi sandwich, salmon dinner and shrimp tacos as other tasty options. 

This is a seasonal business that is open Memorial Day to Labor Day so get here before it’s too late!

The highly touted Scallop Taco | Image by Viking Fresh

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Livin' on the Veg

Eccentric and welcoming vibes are in the air at the "Veg" | Image by The Guarino Team

Formerly located on the island, “The Veg” is now located just a short drive from the causeway bridge in Manahawkin. Tucked away in an unassuming shopping center, this eaterie fully embodies the “hidden gem” label. True to its title, LOV serves nothing but Vegan food(if you’re not a Vegan, keep reading). 

As someone who is not a vegan (and eats just about anything), I can honestly say this place has some of the best food in the area. Currently sporting a lofty 4.9 Google review, it’s clear the community agrees. Open for breakfast and lunch, I would say the lunch window is the Veg’s sweet spot. I’ve tried just about everything on the menu and can say it’s all fresh, well-presented and loaded with flavor. My absolute favorites are the Tempeh Ranch(their rendition of a buffalo chicken wrap), the Avocado Club, and Avocado Tempeh melt. For breakfast, the granola bowl, albeit basic, will exceed your expectations. 

They also offer daily specials that are always a great option, with the “Buffalo Soldier” and “Tofu Tolum” being two I’d keep an eye out for.

Some new additions to their offerings include “grab-n-go” dinners and 3-day organic juice cleanses.

In addition to their restaurant in Manahawkin, their products can be found in local businesses such as Pangaea Naturals Health Food, Agnello’s, Pearl Street Market and Black Sheep Studios

Restaurant Information:

A 'Veg' Staple - The Tempeh Ranch | Image by Living on the Veg

Polly's Dock

Dock seating at Polly's | Image by The Guarino Team

Located on the Beach Haven waterfront, Polly’s is surrounded by some of the island’s biggest stars. As amusement park-like lines form at neighboring restaurants, Polly’s remains secluded from the action. On an island mainly void of waterfront dining, Polly’s delivers with bayside dock dining at an affordable cost. 

At Polly’s, the recipe for a good experience is simple. Get the clams and garlic bread, bring your favorite alcoholic beverage and try to time it with a sunset. For those who aren’t carb conscious, I suggest ordering an extra side of garlic bread to mop up the remaining broth. 

If you are still hungry, get a handheld made with premium ingredients. Burgers made with “Okies” famous beef blend, cheesesteaks made with shaved rib eye, and fish sandwiches made with fresh cod or flounder will be sure to please. 

Polly’s is also boater friendly – offering boat rentals and a “Dock and Dine” option for boat owners. 

Restaurant Information:

The Famous Clams and Garlic Bread | Image by Polly's Dock

Crêperie de la Mer & French Café

The quaint and charming Crêperie de la Mer & French Café | Image by Crêperie de la Mer & French Café

Hidden amongst a sea of residential homes lies the lone business on Beach Ave, Crêperie de la Mer & French Café. Located in a building of a shuttered general store, this cafe exudes charm and good vibes. The model here is simple: do a few things and do them right. The menu consists of Crêpes, Pastries(imported from France!) and various beverages(coffees, teas, smoothies). This is the one place on the list I haven’t been a regular visitor of, but was so blown away on my first visit that I felt obligated to include it. I tried the “Butter and Sugar” and the “Lemon and Powdered Sugar” Crêpes and the “Complète” Gallettes (which essentially is a crepe/omelet hybrid). 

All 3 were delicious, but I have to give the nod to the “Butter and Sugar” style. Possessing a simple, yet powerful flavor profile, this confection set a new watermark for my Crêpe rating scale(which admittedly, as an Italian, may have been programmed improperly). 

They took the razor thin path of sweet and savory and navigated it to perfection. The flavor profile, partnered with the soft, tender texture really made this a delectable treat. The side of homemade whipped cream was the cherry on top, enticing the eater to up the sweetness. 

I did not get a chance to try the coffee or pastries, but I am told the pastries are imported directly from France. I’m inclined to think that any pastry making the 3500-mile trek across the pond has to be good, right? 

Although this business has year round hours, it’s worth noting the Crêpes are only available in-season(Memorial Day to Labor Day)–get here while you can!

Restaurant Information:

A Local Favorite - The Lemon and Powdered Sugar Crêpe | Image by Crêperie de la Mer & French Café

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