Shore 2009: Seafood
In Sea Isle City After 127 years, Busch’s Seafood Restaurant — the SIC crab king — has earned its followers. Get the soft-shell crab or crab fingers or crab-stuffed mushrooms or crabmeat salad or she-crab or deviled crab or … well, you get the idea. Sea Islers also love Mike’s Dock Seafood & Raw Bar for steamed lobsters and creamy lobster bisque — especially the takeout crew. (Busch’s Seafood Restaurant 8700 Anna Phillips Lane, Sea Isle City, 609-263-8626, buschsseafood.com; Mike’s Dock Seafood & Raw Bar 4222 Park Road, Sea Isle City, 609-263-3458, mikesseafood.com).
In LBI Quaint Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company really has a bit of everything: chowder, steamed mussels, stuffed flounder, clam strips — plus a fish market that sells fresh catches from the nearby Barnegat Light docks for do-it-yourselfers. But bring your cash — no credit cards allowed — to both the Shellfish Company and its little takeout outpost, the Clam Bar, in Beach Haven. (Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company 7904 Long Beach Boulevard, Harvey Cedars, 609-494-7112,
harveycedarsshellfish.com; The Clam Bar 506 Centre Street, Beach Haven, 609-492-2459, harveycedarsshellfish.com).
In Brigantine A BYO with fried flounder, crab chowder, grilled tuna steak, lobster bakes, and specials that locals gush over, Hooper’s Seafood Café remains a favorite. (Hooper’s Seafood Café 3312 West Brigantine Avenue, Brigantine, 609-266-6826).
In Downbeach Takeout from Bobby Chez in Margate is fabu for ready-to-warm crabcakes, mashed potatoes and the fixin’s, even if you do have to take out a home equity loan to afford them. (Bobby Chez 8007 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-487-1922, bobbychezcrabcakes.com).
In Strathmere La Fontana Del Mare, a sweet BYO near the back bay between Ocean City and Sea Isle, is known for its excellent, rustic Northern Italian dishes — and among those, the fish dishes. Bonus: Across the bay is one of the prettiest sunsets you’ll see anywhere. (La Fontana Del Mare 1 South Commonwealth Avenue, Strathmere, 609-263-7700).
In Ocean City Po’boys, shrimp platters and a well-known fish market: Spadafora’s is an O.C. go-to. Hula Grill, which gets a tad packed on weekends, is great for a tuna platter on the picnic table outside the kiosk, in an alcove of the Boardwalk. (Spadafora’s 9th Street and Atlantic Avenue, Ocean City, 609-398-6154, spadaforaseafood.com; Hula Grill 940 Boardwalk, Ocean City, 609-399-2400, hulagrilloc.com).
In Avalon and Stone Harbor The name of the game in these burgs is easy, gratifying takeout. (Admit it: You love it too.) And for that, it’s fried shrimp from Avalon Seafood and crabcakes (with fries) from Sylvester’s. (Avalon Seafood 2909 Ocean Drive, Avalon, 609-967-7555, avalonseafood.com; Sylvester’s 503 21st Street, Avalon, 609-967-7553, sylvesters-avalon.com).
In Cape May Waits at the Lobster House can reach upwards of two hours. Order the fried flounder platter with baked potato at the takeout counter, and enjoy in the comfort of your rental. Or just do-it-yourself at home: You won’t find any fresher stuff than at the Lobster House’s Fish Market, where the seafood is supplied by the restaurant’s own fishing fleet. Another way to beat the lines and the hefty price tags at the L.H. is lunch on the deck of the restaurant’s 146-foot schooner. (Order the mayo-heavy lobster roll and a cold beer.) You can also try the elegant Ebbitt Room in the Virginia Hotel, where seafood isn’t the only thing on the menu, just the best. We suggest the chef’s special seafood tasting, a generously portioned $22 sampling of the menu’s finest fish-focused appetizers, including a cold blue-crab salad with fresh dill. (Lobster House U.S. Route 109 and Route 9, Cape May, 609-884-8296, thelobsterhouse.com; Ebbitt Room 25 Jackson Street, Cape May, 800-732-4236, virginiahotel.com/ebbitt.html).