There’s something special about the stops we make when going to the beach. Jose Garces composed a single course of the Volvér menu around that concept: the KFS, or Kentucky Fried Squab, inspired by the fond memory of his family stopping at KFC while headed to Chicago’s Belmont Harbor. For many Philadelphians, this stop is a quick one at Wawa, and for many others, it’s some quirky shack on the side of one of the Horse Pikes that vein through New Jersey towards the coast. But to whomever and to whatever it may be, these shore stops are tradition, they are habit, and most of all, they are important.
To those who don’t know the lay of the land, here are some options you’d might want to consider:
Penza's Pies at the Red Barn Cafe (Hammonton, NJ)
A part of me didn't want to add this farm-cafe to my list because I want nobody else in the world to know about it. Creak past the rocking chairs and rustic knick-knacks into the back room, where you'll find a display of exquisite homemade pies that'll make every part of your being want to dive into them head-first. Breakfast is essential here—the pancakes might be the best in the whole state, but if you get a late start, consider the comforting chicken pot pie. Make sure to save room for the any of the dessert pies, though; they, themselves, are what make New Jersey a place worth visiting.
Farm Stands (Multiple Locations)
Whether it's to the beach, or from the beach, make sure this is a stop in either or both directions. Grab a big, fat watermelon, a few peaches and some strawberries, and chow down when you get comfortable in the sand, or snatch some sweet Jersey corn on the way back for grilling. There's nothing like the feeling of handing a farmer cash for something he's grown on the giant field you see right behind him.
Henri's Hotts Barbeque (Folsom, NJ)
The man behind the meat made quite a name for himself—after all, Jersey isn't known for its barbeque. Claiming authentic Texas style, Douglas Henri operates his smoker like the best of America's pitmasters. The meat is, surprisingly, from Sam's Club, but he trims it himself, and with his handy thermometer, he draws the most intense flavors you'll find in all of Barbeque: New Jersey.
Cold Cow Cafe (Cedar Brook, NJ)
The peanut butter topping here is what did it for me as a kid, but anything they offer is perfect for the beach road trip, to and fro. Located, as is NJ tradition, in a little strip mall on the side of Route 73, the Cold Cow Cafe has ice cream every way you want it: hard, soft serve, sugar-free, hard yogurt, soft serve yogurt, water ice, flurries and smoothies. They have chocolate covered bananas, something called "Cow Chow" bites, and a bunch of fancy cones: M&M cones, pretzel cones, Reeses Pieces cones and chocolate chip cones.
Down the Shore [Foobooz]