Shore 2009: Breakfast and Brunch

The best starts to long days at the beach

At teeny-tiny Ready’s on 8th Street in Ocean City, folks wait in line to sit at a counter with their eggs and home fries, served by a staff that still thinks it’s 1959. A tad off the beaten path, it’s managed to stay old-school authentic — an oasis for folks still mourning the closing of the Green Grille on 17th Street a few years back. Another one worth the wait: George’s Place (below) in Cape May, where breakfast service inside the narrow eatery is speedy, so even though you’ll have to wait outside, people-watching at Perry Beach, it’ll go fast, and you’ll be rewarded with house-made creamed chipped beef on toast. Best be an early bird, though — there are limited orders available. If you miss out, stand up, tip your waitress for her trouble, and head down a few blocks to the Mad Batter, a classic known for brioche French toast dipped in an OJ batter and topped with sliced almonds.

In Brigantine, brunchers like the view of the beach at the Pirate’s Den as much as the big Belgian waffles and eggs Benedict. Meanwhile, the Margate intelligentsia kibitzes at Downbeach Deli over whitefish salad and bagels, although Lox Stock & Bagels in Ventnor has a dizzying variety of the freshest bagels. At nearby Annette’s, crowds line up for the quintessential Shore start: fluffy pancakes with a big glass of fresh-squeezed OJ. (The inevitable wait is worth it.) And conventional wisdom has that you sort of just have to join the masses at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House outposts — if not for the flapjacks, then because it’s a universal Shore experience, like shooing the gulls or playing Skee-Ball (though the banana pancakes are tasty). Or join the early risers at Fishin’ Pier Grille, where morning joggers and the sunrise beach crew like to grab their sunny-sides-up right there on the short Avalon Boardwalk, easing into the day with hot coffee. (Ready’s 415 East 8th Street, Ocean City, 609-399-4418; George’s Place 301 Beach Drive, Cape May, 609-884-6088; The Mad Batter 19 Jackson Street, Cape May, 609-884-5970,; Pirate’s Den 1219 East Brigantine Avenue, Brigantine, 609-266-1927; Downbeach Deli 8 South Essex Avenue, Margate, 609-823-7310,; Lox Stock & Bagels 6433 Ventnor Avenue, Ventnor, 609-822-8621; Annette’s 104 North Dorset Avenue, Ventnor, 609-822-8366; Uncle Bill’s Pancake House Multiple locations; 609-967-8448; Fishin’ Pier Grille 32nd Street and the Boardwalk, Avalon, 609-967-8144).