Talk all you want about boardwalks and sandy beaches and boating and fishing, but Jersey Shore conversations always lead to food — specifically, to casual dining.
Even more specifically: the easy-to-eat, usually calorific staples such as baked goods, pizza, subs, and ice cream. Diets tend to take a holiday at the Shore.
Notice that a "small" ice cream cone seems larger there than a small back at home, and pizzas generally start at 16 inches (a traditional "large").
I will offer the cinnamon bun from Mrs. Brizzle's Buns in Sea Isle City as a prime example of decadence. For $3.75, you get a perfectly crispy-gooey-on-the-outside/butter-soft-on-the-inside bun topped with a wad of cream cheese frosting large enough to top a small wedding cake.
To compile this roundup of Shore food favorites, I quizzed dozens of locals and longtime visitors from Long Beach Island to Cape May. Many stops are institutions (Brown's doughnuts and Manco & Manco's for pizza), though a few newbies delight the shoobies.
Clearly, your favorites may not be listed here. In fact, I'm fairly certain they're not. Share your go-to Shore stops with us in the comments section on Philly.com.
For made-to-order doughnuts.
For a cake called the Lady Lord Baltimore.
Light, hot, delicious
For cinnamon ring doughnuts.
The Crazy Turtle. Or chocolate chip. Or sugar. Or all of them.
For sticky buns.
Cinnamon rolls par excellence, plus outstanding subs.
For customizable doughnuts.
A favorite morning stop.
For sticky buns and doughnuts.
For buns. (How about a bacon cinnamon bun?)
Steve & Cookie's baked-goods outlet.
Mini and regular-size doughnuts emerge from a machine.
Your basic pizzeria, with a decent selection of slices.
For bar pizza and a dose of nostalgia.
Hectic dining rooms, thin-crust pies.
For Neapolitan pizza out of a brick oven.
Classic Shore pizza.
A favorite for coal-fired Neapolitan pies.
A touch more elegant than Carluccio's, for wood-fired Neapolitan pizza.
Multiple varieties, including vegan.
Pies and local beers outdoors. New this year: entertainment on the second floor.
Assortment of creative thin-crust pizzas.
Topflight wood-fired pies.
A boardwalk staple for 60 years.
For thin-crust pizza and the more substantial nonna focaccia.
For thin-crust pizza.
Serving frozen custard since 1919.
Great food, too.
Old-time dairy bar.
Center City-rooted Thai rolled ice cream shop, opening Memorial Day weekend.
A 1950s-era landmark, redone more than a decade ago.
For 60 flavors of ice cream, plus baked goods.
Makes its way onto many best-of lists.
For ginormous sundaes, the arcade, and mini golf.
For great subs, but also some of the best pizza and sandwiches anywhere.
Where you often must brave long lines. For a reason.
Especially for the tuna.
Where the subs are overstuffed.
For an Italian.
A veggie sub worth writing home about.
A takeout with first-rate sandwiches as well as Italian foods.
Always service with a smile.
For well-built sandwiches in a heavenly smelling Italian deli.
Great vegan selections.
Almost a diner. Feast on everything from crab cakes to acai bowls.
Family-friendly bar open almost all night.
Breakfast and lunch by day, Mexican at night.
Bar with a patio and live music.
Do not skip the baked tomato soup at this OC institution.
A beach shack offering casual grub, plus a breakfast restaurant.
Seafoodery with harbor views has been around since the Nixon years.
Mexican food in bright environs.
Menu with something for everyone.
Varied menu in a fun setting at Cape May County Airport.
Not the fanciest-looking taqueria around, but ...