Our favorite spots for that first meal of the day

Dick Wagner, 78, now living in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. eats his breakfast of Taylor Pork Rolls with egg, at the Varsity Inn in Ocean City May 10, 2014. He first came to Ocean City as a three month-old visiting his grandfather. ( TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer )

Mustache Bill’s

Eighth and Broadway, Barnegat Light 08006; 609-494-0155.

Why here? Everything at this 90-seat diner near the Barnegat Lighthouse is made from scratch, from the delectable pancakes to the seafood omelets — which may be why it won a coveted James Beard Foundation award in 2009.

Open: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Also open Memorial Day. Starting July 1, open daily 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Payment: Cash only (ATM across street).

Price range: Under $10.

Gilchrist’s Downbeach Restaurant

9400 Atlantic Ave., Margate 08402; 609-449-8679.

Why here? The dying art of the fluffy pan-fried omelet (as opposed to paper-thin griddled wraps) is well-tended here, with plump half-moons that hold fillings ranging from Greek feta, spinach, and tomatoes (a.k.a. “the healthy choice”) to Italian sausage, peppers, and provolone (a.k.a. “what I really want”),” says Inquirer critic Craig LaBan.

Open:Daily 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Website: www.gilchristrestaurant.com

Payment: Cash, Visa, and Mastercard

Price range: Under $10

Ozzie’s Luncheonette

2401 Atlantic Ave., Longport 08403; 609-487-0575

Why here? Opened in 1948, this little place has braved plenty of storms and become a breakfast tradition with customers coming from far and wide for old-school omelets and friendly service.

Open: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day

Payment: Cash only.

Price range: $10-$30


110 Boardwalk, Ocean City 08226; 609-391-0677

Why here? LaBan recalls the doughnuts from his Memorial Day visit: “Who could resist the mesmerizing sight of those rings of batter dropping from the doughnut machine into a shortening bath, flipping midway through cooking for an even tan, and finding their way into the hopper, where they were hand-dipped and then neatly stacked in Styrofoam containers?”

Open: Daily for breakfast (7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and lunch (11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Website: http://brownsocnj.com

Payment: Cash only

Price range: Under $10

Samuel’s Pancake House

1610 Surf Ave., Wildwood 08260; 609-522-6446

Why here? There’s all the usual breakfast stuff on the menu here. But the pancakes are the thing. They’ve been making those big, fluffy ones like your grandmother used to make since they opened the place in 1980. The strawberry kiss crepes are really good, too.

Open: Friday through Monday, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Website: http://samuelspancakehouse.com

Payment: Cash or credit card.

Price range: Under $10

Uncle Bill’s Pancake House

261 Beach Ave., Cape May 08204; 609-884-7199

Why here? The fare is pretty standard at this small chain that has locations in several Shore towns. But this spot along Beach Avenue stands out because it isn’t a Victorian building, but a mid-century modern one with an interesting circular layout and big, wide picture windows that overlook the sea.

Open: March through January, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

Website: http://unclebillspancakehouse.com/cape-may.html

Payment: Cash only.

Price range: Under $10.

Chicken or the Egg

207 N. Bay Ave., Beach Haven 08008; 609-492-3695

Open: 24 hours a day.

Website: http://www.492fowl.com

Payment: Cash and all credit cards

Price range: $10-$20.

Cafe Beach Club at 13th and Boardwalk

1282 Boardwalk, Ocean City 08226; 609-398-7700

Why here? “Steve Nicoletti’s excellent western omelette was sweet with clarified butter, his addictive home fries were greaseless, and his pancakes supple, and his creamed chipped beef was sublimely silky-creamy. With a meal like this how could anyone still be grumpy?” wrote LaBan.

Open:Daily for breakfast 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (serving dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings).

Website: http://www.cafebeachclub.com

Payment: Cash, travelers’ checks, Visa, Master Card, American Express, and Discover Card.

Price range: $10-$20.

Mako’s American Grille

4914 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City; 609-263-3287.

Why here? This bright, cheery, casual yearling for Sea Isle City has been a hit with locals for all three meals, but breakfast especially, with crab Florentine Benedict.

Open: Monday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Website: http://makosgrill.com

Payment: Cash and credit cards.

Price range: $10-$30

The Red Store

500 Cape Ave., Cape May Point; 609-884-5757

Why here? Chef Lucas Manteca is “churning gelati from local berries and simmering down fresh tomatoes with brown sugar and cumin into an addictive “jam” to be drizzled over house-ground sausage sandwiches on fresh-baked biscuits."

Open: Thursday-Sunday breakfast and lunch from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday to Saturday dinner from 6 to 9 p.m.

Website: http://www.capemaypoint redstore.com/

Payment: Cash only (ATM on site).

Price range: $10-$30.

Varsity Inn

605 E. Eighth St., Ocean City 08226; 609-399-1500

Open: Daily 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Payment: Cash and credit (Visa, Master, Discover).

Price range: $10-$30.

The Lobster House Coffee Shop

906 Schellenger’s Landing Rd., Cape May 08204; 609-884-8296.

Open: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Payment: Cash and credit (Visa, Master Card, Amex, Discover).

Price range: $5.95 to $7.95 for breakfast.


Listings compiled by Inquirer features intern Cooper Hall