Among all of New Jersey’s seaside gems, Cape May has always been a mega-hotspot for summer vacations. Its historic downtown, proximity to many other coastal towns, and abundance of rental properties means it will be booming all summer long. One thing that you certainly don’t want to think too hard about is where you’re going to dinner. After a long day out in the sun, you’re liable to work up a big appetite, so let us help you out. We’ve put together an epic list of the best Cape May restaurants to visit in 2021. These spots range from outdoor dining oases to chic happy hour hits and beyond. Stick around until the end, and you’ll see our bonus picks from Cape May County, too.
Best Restaurants in Cape May
Harry’s Ocean Bar and Grille
As the only Cape May restaurant with an oceanfront rooftop bar, Harry’s Ocean Bar and Grille is a fitting first for our list. The interior is decked out in nautical decor, giving it a rustic and cozy atmosphere. The patio transitions into a more modern style and the brick red rooftop bar overlooking the Atlantic is quite literally the cherry on top. You can expect fresh seafood on their menu, specifically locally harvested oysters and clams. Some of their other mouthwatering meals include a smoked trout dip, bacon-wrapped scallops and Thai curry mussels. Top it all off with a specialty cocktail or one of their Cape May-brewed beers, and you’re all set.
If you’re looking for a fine dining restaurant in Cape May, Sea Salt could be the spot for you. Their main dining area is sleek and modern with textural accents like stone pillars and upholstered walls. Under the dark and moody lighting, you can enjoy elevated seafood with modern twists. Sea Salt has a substantial raw bar for seafood fiends, as well as classics like ceviche, crab cakes, and steak. They also offer a wide range of refreshing cocktails that focus on bright and fruity flavors.
Key West Tacos
Inspired by the Florida Keys, Key West Tacos brings bold flavor to their Cape May restaurant. Their tiny shack is decked out in beachy decor, and a few tables are tucked inside. Outside, you can enjoy a taco at one of their picnic tables while looking out onto the Atlantic. Whether you’re on your own or with friends, Key West Tacos gives you plenty of options. You can take on a single taco, or get a platter to share. Try their Joey B’s steak taco, or Pepe’s shrimp and chorizo. KWT also offers nachos, salads, burritos, quesadillas, and, of course, killer sides.
Hot Dog Tommy’s
After a long day on the beach, you won’t have to walk far to get to Hot Dog Tommy’s. This hot dog stand is just a few minutes from the ocean, and it has more options than you would think. You can customize your dog, pick from HDT’s specialty menu or grab one of their bowls. This hot dog shack has vegan and gluten-free options for their customers, as well as classic deli sandwiches. Despite being a dog stand, Hot Dog Tommy’s makes a commitment to use only the freshest ingredients in all of its food, so you can recharge after a long day in the sun.
The Rusty Nail
The Rusty Nail is a Cape May favorite with a massive outdoor dining area and frequent live music. Tables flow from the indoor space, out to the patio, and onto the beach-lounge area. Settle in under their bright blue and orange umbrellas, or set up next to the fire pit on the beach. The Rusty Nail specializes in oceanside comfort food with the freshest possible ingredients. They boast dishes like strawberry hot wings, gooey boardwalk fries and stuffed flounder. Finish off a hearty meal with one of their craft cocktails or local brews in hand.
Fins Bar and Grille
Popping off the pavement with a bright blue facade, you can’t miss Fins Bar and Grille. This Cape May restaurant flaunts bright accents that continue into the dining hall, where the bartop is glowing aqua blue. The multi-level space makes room for a social bar area, private tables and casual corners for lounging with a drink. You can count on fresh chops and seafood at Fins, where barramundi, pork chops and lobster BLTs are all on the menu. If you’re cozying up around the fire, try a Sundrifter cocktail or a pear mule to cap off the night.
Tall ceilings and large windows make Hemingway’s one of the brightest restaurants in Cape May. The massive bar is the central hub for this hotspot, and it flows into an open dance floor, perfect for socializing or jamming out. Hemingway’s is known for its range of steaks and fresh seafood, and even the kids’ menu is stellar. Try the Jersey flounder, braised short ribs or the balsamic roasted chicken.
The Ebbitt Room
Located on Jackson Street, The Ebbitt Room is hands-down one of the best fine dining restaurants in Cape May. Their elevated cuisine is award-winning, and their philosophy is centered around farm-to-table ingredients. Lounge at a cocktail table or sit down for a full meal in the dining room. Their raw bar is unmatched, boasting dishes like hamachi crudo. Not only do they serve up satisfying seafood, but braised wagyu beef cheeks and aged peking duck are also on the menu. The Ebbitt Room is also known for their refreshments, so sip on a Hemingway daiquiri or a classic French 75 while you dine.
Tucked into the Victorian facade of Jackson Street, the Mad Batter is the go-to spot for a whimsical meal. Dine on their front porch while overlooking passersby, or on their garden terrace. The main dining room is flooded with natural light, which shines through colorful stained glass and ornate window designs. At this zany spot you can get a fresh-squeezed cup of orange juice to start off your day. Or stop by for dinner service, where you can find Tuscan roasted tomato linguine or grilled salmon and spicy shrimp. Mad Batter also offers a vegan menu to its guests.
Beach Plum Farm
Beach Plum Farm is a prime example of a Cape May restaurant that cares about farm-to-table eating. When you dine at their picnic tables, you can see the greenhouse where your dinner was harvested. Lush greenery and rustic landscaping cover the farm’s expansive lot. Their kitchen is located in a large Amish barn, and the menu changes with the seasons. In the summer, expect gorgeous Jersey-grown tomatoes, or maybe some fresh-picked fruit. You can also check out Beach Plum Farm’s dinner series on their website.
5 West Pub
Centered around the all-important bar, 5 West Pub is serving up tasty dishes and delicious cocktails all night long. Their low-hanging lights and glowing marquee signs create an authentic pub feel, and live music adds to the atmosphere. This Cape May restaurant’s intimate outdoor dining area includes a roofed patio with space heaters, and it has the option of high-top or low-top tables. Enjoy some pulled pork sliders with a hot honey watermelon mule or a corona sunrise. 5 West Pub is also known for their happy hour deals, so don’t miss out.
New Jerseyans and diners simply go hand in hand, and George’s Place is no different. This Greek diner is accented in green tabletops, and it’s been the OG of the Kara Restaurant Group since 1968. Visited by the one and only Guy Fieri, George’s Place serves up diner fare with fresh ingredients and heaping portions. Stop by to try their banana french toast, their herb and brie omelet, or their chicken gyro.
410 Bank Street
Walking through the sprawling vines and into the moody lighting of 410 Bank Street, you might have to remind yourself that you’re in Cape May. Based on French New Orleans cooking and Caribbean cuisine, this restaurant puts an emphasis on surf and turf. Their smoked swordfish medallions, gulf stream crab terrine and catfish creole are just three of their fish-forward dishes. You can also try their Jamaican steak or herb-crusted rack of lamb.
The Boiler Room
Known for its brick-oven pizza, The Boiler Room is a must-visit Cape May restaurant. Bare brick and stone walls, stainless steel tables, and exposed rafters give an industrial feeling to the dining area. While known for their pizza, this Cape May restaurant’s menu items change based on each day’s ingredients, sourced from a local farm. Appetizers like meatballs and truffles wedges are satisfying starters, while cocktails and beer make the perfect pair with any slice. Try the lavender and lemon cocktail, the mezcal smoky marg, or locally-brewed Cape May beers.
You might have to do a double-take when you pull up to Exit Zero. Their outdoor dining area looks like a gas station, giving the feel of a road trip trucker stop. But once you see the astroturf and high-top tables, you’ll know you’re in the right place. Patrons of Exit Zero can dine privately in a 1958 airstream with ‘50s and ‘60s decor inside. Munch on one of the Indian or Thai curries that put this Cape May restaurant on the map, or try their ever-popular “Hot Chick” sandwich. As you vibe out to live music, featured daily, you can also sip on a Cape May-brewed beer or specialty cocktails like the wicked watermelon or a whiskey punch.
Blue Pig Tavern
Blue Pig Tavern has a comforting farmhouse atmosphere and bold flavors to boot. This historic site near Congress Hall was the first tavern in Cape May. Now, you can feast on American fare ́next to the fireplace in the dining room or up against a wall of bright windows. Start with their charcuterie board or beer-battered calamari. Entrées like bacon-wrapped meatloaf and their lump crab cake scream Americana. Don’t skimp out on the dessert menu either, because they’ve got all of the guilty pleasure classics.
Good Earth Organic Eatery
At Good Earth Organic Eatery, the name of this Cape May restaurant speaks for itself. The family behind Good Earth believes in eating organic and supporting local growers. 100 percent of their food is organically produced, and their style is minimal, focusing on the freshness of their ingredients. The menu at Good Earth changes with the seasons, but they’ve always got fish on the menu. Because their operation is produce-focused, you’ll always be able to find vegan options, and gluten-free dishes are a staple as well.
This self-proclaimed “tiny-but-iconic” restaurant has been dishing up fresh food in Cape May since 1980. Walking into Louisa’s Cafe you’ll see a clear color palette of blues, whites and neutral wood tones. The walls and tablecloths have fish galore, and the outside pops as the only yellow building on the block. Their outdoor dining area sits atop a brick patio and looks out onto the bustling Jackson Street. While the menu at Louisa’s changes frequently, you’ll always find local ingredients and fresh seafood. Before you head out, make sure to stop by their chocolate bar, stocked with American-made sweets.
Located on the Washington Street Mall, Tisha’s has been a staple since 1988. With 30 years of business under its belt, this fine dining restaurant is by far one of the best in Cape May. Their New American style encompasses cuisines from across the States while keeping a strong focus on the delectable seafood that the cape is known for. Appetizers range from classic mushroom risotto to cajun fried oysters. For dinner, try the filet au Poivre for a classy French-inspired meal, or scallop sambuca for an Italian play.
Best Restaurants in Stone Harbor
Stone Harbor Bar and Grill
If you’re searching for that classic sports bar atmosphere, Stone Harbor Bar and Grill is the place to be. They boast a whopping 25 televisions for watching every game under the sun. Neon signs and beer plaques cover every wall, and when the warm weather rolls in, their giant garage doors roll right up. Despite being a sports bar, Stone Harbor Bar and Grill doesn’t mess around with its ingredients. They promise locally sourced fresh produce and seafood, as well as fresh-baked bread. You can try their cheesesteaks and burgers for classic bar grub, and wash it down with one of their signature cocktails or an ice-cold beer.
The Watering Hull
Inspired by cuisines from across the Atlantic, The Watering Hull has a huge variety to offer its guests. The modern touches flow from indoors to the outdoor balcony, with cozy booths and sleek tables peppered around the dining room. Blue accents remind you that you’re dining close to the beach, as does the vast array of seafood on the menu. The Watering Hull offers small plates like crab rangoon and bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp. They’ve also got options for steamers, a raw bar and build-your-own poke bowls. Try one of their four Jersey-fresh tacos, their half rack of ribs or their seafood festival entrée for a taste of everything.
Best Restaurants in Avalon
After over 32 years of service, the Concord Cafe has become a casual dining hotspot for shore-bound families. Sit and sip at the bar while watching the game, or settle into a private booth with the family. Their appetizers are no joke, with dishes like fried mac and cheese wedges and cheesesteak dumplings up for grabs. They’ve also got plenty of surf and turf options like their Maximus burger, lobster rolls and fried flounder. You can also opt for one of their specialty pizzas, whose toppings are piled onto freshly made dough.
The Octopus Garden
The Whitebrier is a collection of restaurants in Avalon, and its outdoor dining area, the Octopus Garden, is absolutely massive. As one of the largest patios on the shore, the Octopus Garden packs a lot into its ample space. There are plenty of family-sized tables topped with umbrellas, as well as intimate high-tops. This casual spot is known for an animated happy hour, incredible sushi and groovy live music. On their menu, they’ve got a ton of shareable plates like claw fries, Whitebrier wings and mango shrimp. Make sure to grab an ice-cold cocktail to round out your post-beach happy hour.
Best Restaurants in Wildwood
Starting fresh, Trio has recently renovated from the ground up. Reopening just weeks ago, they’ve hit the ground running with the American gastro fare that they’re known for. Trio hopes to fill the gap between fancy fine dining and casual bar food. Their high-quality ingredients and global influences make up a varied menu that’s hard to find elsewhere. Try their small plates of Shanghai wings, Cuban press sliders or hunter’s terrine to start. For a bigger meal, opt for their king salmon or prime pork chop.
Gearing up for its 22nd season in North Wildwood, Maui’s Doghouse is still going strong. Their bright yellow canopy lures customers into their picnic tables year after year. They hope to make memories with their patrons who love their dogs, burgers, sausage, chicken and fries. The staff at Maui’s also pride themselves on making almost all of their 29 toppings in-house. Mix and match your own toppings, or try one of their signature dogs like the cheesy drunk horse or the j-bell.
When you step into this colorful storefront, it’s immediately clear that Hatillo’s is about community. From the whimsical colors and cows on the walls to the sign that says “Welcome Home,” you know you’re going to leave with a full belly and a happy heart. Hatillo’s serves a wide variety of Latin American cuisine. You can find your well-known favorites like empanadas and barbecue kabobs, but you can also get mofongo or pernil. No matter what you choose, if you get a side of beans and rice, you’ll leave happy.
Did any of your favorite Cape May restaurants make the list? Let us know in the comment below.