BAKERY Three generations of Brittons run rightfully crowded Brittons Gourmet Bakery, led by chatty matriarch Marie, who’s always on hand to share a story and a smile. The place can be a zoo from opening at 6:30 a.m. till about 10, but then again, it’s worth braving the din for one of Marie’s legendary apple fritters fresh from the fryer (they sell hundreds of boxes a day), treats elevated to Hall of Fame status after then-President Ronald Reagan sent a handwritten thank-you note after snarfing down a few back in 1983. And if you can’t trust the Gipper, whom can you trust? 5600 Pacific Avenue, Wildwood Crest, 609-522-5600.
BYOB Those in the know have already reserved summertime Saturday-night tables at Sean’s, a colorful and cozy spot where the menu is chalkboard, the scallops are local, and the staff couldn’t be nicer. 314 Beach Avenue, Cape May, 609-898-0017.
DINNER WITH THE KIDS Sure, the inimitable Lobster House first comes to mind. But if your mini Julia and James turn their noses up at white-bread grilled cheese and instead request extra roasted garlic on their shrimp pizza, or politely inquire if the clams on the linguine are local (they are), they’ll adore Lucky Bones. As for you, you might also appreciate the curbside takeout. 1200 Route 109, Cape May, 609-884-2663, luckybonesgrille.com.
FISH MARKET Straight off the fleet, just off your grill, Cassidy’s cherrystones, scallops, tilefish, shrimp, tuna and flounder taste like summer itself. 18th Street and Bayview Avenue (in Viking Village), 609-494-8140.
TAKEOUT SEAFOOD When there’s two feet of snow on the ground, when we’ve been stranded inside for what feels like eternity, we dream of the dockside picnic tables outside Off the Hook, and of one massive, two-hand-assisted bite of fresh flounder sandwich, followed by a fistful of fresh-from-the-fryer fries. A little farther into the summer, we’re just as happy to call in an order for quick pickup, and dine at home in our bathing suits. Get extra onion rings for the ride home. 1905 Bayview Avenue (in Viking Village), 609-361-8900, vikingoffthehook.com.
GROCER Little, summer-only White’s Barnegat Light Market packs in a mind–blowing array of vacation must-haves (prime rib, bagels, olive oil, SPF 50) along its narrow aisles, making this our first stop once we get to the island’s north end. Insiders know to request the -triple-smoked bacon at the deli counter — -heaven. 1507 Central Avenue, 609-494-2752.
DINER Now that Debbie and Bill Smith have their James Beard “America’s Classic” award, we’re more hopeful than ever that they’ll never, ever leave Mustache Bill’s Diner. We’re glad to know our kids will be ordering Bill’s famous -animal-shaped pancakes — and we can count on the coleslaw, roast beef, mac-and-cheese and eggs over light — for years to come. West 8th Street at Broadway, 609-494-0155.