CREAM DOUGHNUTS Expect a line out the door when you show up on any given day at 8 a.m. at Kohler’s. A single whiff of these just-fried doughy delicacies, dusted with powdered sugar and oozing homemade buttercream (Mr. Kohler’s secret recipe), and you’ll remember why you, your parents and their parents have been braving the wait for more than 60 summers. Another sweet summer tradition that’s rough on the waistline but great for the soul. 2709 Dune Drive, 609-967-3694, kohlersbakery.com.
NEW DINING PROSPECT From Sandy Hook to the tip of Cape May, the new eating-out option that excites us most is the Diving Horse, a rustic-chic dinner-only BYOB by the guys who brought Rittenhouse the justly popular, thoroughly fun, deliciously outfitted Pub & Kitchen. Get on the reservation list now, or hope for clear weather for seats at one of the first-come, first-served community tables on the deck. However you get in, order the fried oysters. 2109 Dune Drive, 609-368-5000, thedivinghorseavalon.com.
PICNIC FOOD With the beach a few blocks away and no onion rings or cheese-steaks in sight, Isabel’s is a sub shop gone Avalon. This cafe-cum-BYO shuns pedestrian sammies for fancy-delicious panini. Our favorite: crabcake with garlic mayo on a ciabatta. Add a chocolate-chipper from the bake shop — and be sure to keep the gulls far, far away. 2285 Dune Drive, 609-967-5776, isabelsinavalon.com.
SEAFOOD BYOB Known for its full complement of fresh catch to-go, casual, side-street picnic-style-BYO-meets-fish-market Sylvester’s is justly famous for its crabcake (20,000 sold per season — holy crab), best enjoyed when the tide is high and the breeze is ocean — and the Jersey corn is sweet. 503 21st Street, 609-967-7553, sylvesters-avalon.com.
SEAFOOD The perfect blend of rustic boathouse and convivial restaurant (try for outdoor seating in the quaint back garden area), Quahog’s Seafood Shack offers some of the freshest — and most expertly prepared — seafaring fare at the Shore. The buttery lobster roll is a must. 206 97th Street, 609-368-6300, quahogsshack.com.
CRABCAKE Aficionados say Back Bay Seafood’s are the freshest. Regulars say call from the beach to get them by seven o’clock. We say: Bobby Chez, you got competition. 8305 3rd Avenue, 609-368-2022, backbayseafood.net.
TONY LUKE’S FIX During her first summer as the owner of old-school sub shop Nana’s Deli, Andrea Merendino couldn’t hold back the Italian in her. So she borrowed a family friend’s recipe for roast pork and began serving up the island’s favorite hot sandwich: $6.50 buys a long roll loaded with roasted reds, sharp provolone and garlicky pig. Extra napkins required. 5803 New Jersey Avenue, Wildwood Crest, 609-729-6200.
BURGERS AND WINE It’s not Rouge, but nautically upscale Dogtooth Bar & Grill has customizable burgers, an extensive wine list, and yummy sammies (yellowfin tuna, Cubano, avocado BLT) that are as close as you’ll get in Wildwood — and very worth the wait at the crowded bar. 100 East Taylor Avenue, Wildwood, 609-522-8383, dogtoothbar.com.
DINER The Star Diner has everything you want in the genre: a big parking lot, a bigger menu, comfy booths, perky waitresses, and a space-age atmosphere fit for the Jetsons. 325 West Spruce Avenue, North Wildwood, 609-729-4900, stardinercafe.com.
BISTRO Claude’s is a little French restaurant run by adorable marrieds Claude and Mary Pottier (he’s the French chef, she’s the American front-of-the-house) that’s a truly hidden gem, a teeny dose of Edith Piaf glamour formerly of Stone Harbor, now of North Wildwood. Who knew? 100 Olde New Jersey Avenue, North Wildwood, 609-522-0400, claudesrestaurant.com.