The first images that usually come to mind when thinking about Cape May are the beach and Victorian architecture. The wave of visitors brings something else: an extraordinary number of restaurants, making it challenging to discover where to get a great meal. So we have made it easy with a guide to the best dining spots in Cape May, NJ. The guide is divided by category, so if you are looking for a celebratory dinner, you can look at fine dining, or if you want seafood, we have your lobster fix.
Of course, the fun of being a foodie is discovering your special place. But when there are so many choices, you have to start somewhere! Getting reservations is always a good idea, especially during the summer. In the off-season, be aware that some restaurants are closed to rejuvenate and renew inspiration.
410 Bank St
Dining at 410 Bank Street is like visiting another time and place with a lushly foliaged 1840s carriage house. The cuisine is French New Orleans with a Caribbean twist. You can expect dishes like Gumbo File or Jamaican Grilled Steak. Save room for the in-house desserts.
The Ebbitt Room is in the renovated 1879 Virginia Hotel. Although the decor is Victorian, the flavors are contemporary, using local seafood, and produce from Beach Plum Farm. The menu changes, but dished could include Cape May scallops, braised lamb shank, or a Coconut curry vegetarian option.
Jardin at the Hugh
Jardin at the Hugh is the highly acclaimed French-influenced dining room open to just a few diners nightly. The food is highly ambitious and artfully plated. Examples of offerings are black garlic Carnaroli risotto and duck Balinese. The meal is prix fixe and paid in advance.
Peter Shields Inn
The Peter Shields Inn is in an elegant 1907 Georgian Revival mansion with an ocean view. Expect solicitous service and impeccably prepared food like grilled venison loin, pan-seared branzino, and wild mushroom bisque.
Tishas Fine Dining
Tisha’s Fine Dining is in a cozy location along busy Washington Street. They serve sophisticated dinners like Grilled Salmon and Shrimp with Thai Chili Sauce or Short Rib Bolognese with pappardelle. Tisha’s is a BYOB establishment.
Union Park Dining Room
The Union Park Dining Room is located in the Hotel Macomber and offers classic American cooking. Pricing is prix fixe for a three-course meal. Offerings include Poached Lobster Tail, Flat Iron Steak with mustard crema, with desserts like Basque Burnt Cheesecake.
The Washington Inn has been a popular dining spot for over 20 years. It was built to look like George Washington’s Mt. Vernon. The menu changes, but you can expect items like Whole Roasted Branzino, Lamb Cavatelli, or Local Oysters Rockefeller.
Beach Plum Farm Kitchen
The Beach Plum Farm Kitchen is a few miles outside the downtown blocks and has a different atmosphere than you will find shoreside. It is true farm-to-table as a working farm, applying sustainable production practices. The menu will reflect what is fresh and available at the farm.
Blue Pig Tavern
The Blue Pig Tavern is in Congress Hall, one of the oldest operational seaside resorts in the country. The atmosphere is rustic, as would fit a former gambling space. The menu is classic American with Meatloaf and Crabcakes.
The Cricket Club is difficult to categorize, with an upscale contemporary American menu. You will find burgers and salads, but also short ribs with kim chi and cheese curds, and swordfish over crabmeat quinoa tabouleh.
Good Earth Organic Eatery
The Good Earth Organic Eatery can accommodate any dietary need. Choose from soups, salads, homemade bread, pasta, and more. BYOB (bring your own bottle, you are free to bring outside alcohol). Cash only and reservations are recommended.
Lucky Bones Backwater Grille
Lucky Bones Backwater Grille is owned by the same folks as the prestigious Washington Inn. The food and atmosphere are family-friendly, and the menu includes pizza, crabcakes, sandwiches, and many cocktails.
Although iconic for its spectacular breakfasts, the Mad Batter is also popular for lunch and dinner. Choices are eclectic with Crabcakes, Filet, and Tuscan Penne. In addition, you can find live music during the season at the bar.
Mayers Tavern was renovated in 2018 and now has a limited but tasty menu that includes fried scallops, burgers, and a raw bar.
The Rusty Nail
The Rusty Nail is for you if you are looking for familiar food with a super beach vibe. There is an outdoor fire pit in the summer with weekly pig roasts. In addition, there is stuffed flounder, chili, and chicken parm for dinner, along with other favorites.
The YB (stands for Younger Brother) is owned by the, yes, younger brother of George’s (see Other Ethnic Choices). This BYOB restaurant has upscale American choices like Turkey with Chorizo Stuffing and Coconut Crusted Halibut.
Cape May Fish Market
The Cape May Fish Market is exactly what the name implies; so many choices of seafood. Of course, there are hamburgers, but why pick something pedestrian when you can have soft taco wraps with fish or crab cake, lobster rolls, or oyster shooters?
The Lobster House
The Lobster House is the traditional seafood restaurant you would expect dockside on Fisherman’s Wharf. They have a fleet of fishing boats, so your seafood entree will be fresh. So dig into your favorite seafood–clams, lobster, shrimp.
Louisa’s Cafe’s limited menu is seafood, and the small restaurant only seats 34. However, the atmosphere is homey, and the food is freshly prepared, so the wait is worth it. There are vegetarian options, and do not skip dessert.
Iccara Italian Bistro
Iccara Italian Bistro is named for the owner’s hometown in Italy, where he learned cooking from his grandmother. You will find traditional Italian favorites and more contemporary twists, such as Lobster with shallots and mushrooms served over squid ink fettucini or lump crabmeat with tomatoes, capers, and artichokes served over pearl couscous.
Sapore Italiano is in a Victorian-style building on South Broadway. They are known for making pasta and have traditional dishes like eggplant rollatini, linguine alla vongole (with clams), or pollo alla saltimbocca. BYOB.
Other Ethnic Dining Spots
Black Duck on Sunset
The Black Duck on Sunset is a bit off the path of the busy downtown, but the atmosphere is relaxing. The dishes are Asian-inspired and seafood-heavy, so expect Roast Duck Breast or Shrimp Toast with Cucumber Crab Salad. The Black Duck is a BYOB establishment.
Exit Zero Filling Station
The Exit Zero Filling Station is famous for its curries, but there are standard American-style dishes and some unique cocktails.
George’s Place started as a small beachfront location and operated at four Cape May addresses. All offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a Greek flair. For dinner, specialties include Chicken Souvlaki and Spanakopita. All locations are cash only and BYOB.
The Magnolia Room at the Chalfonte Hotel
If you are looking for Southern cuisine, the Magnolia Room is your choice in Cape May. Their homemade dinner rolls are impeccable, as is the family recipe for fried chicken, collards, and lemon meringue pie.
Your mouth has to be watering after glancing through this guide to the best dining spots in Cape May, NJ. You can plan a trip just for the food! After you finish your fabulous meal, there is always the beach and Victorian architecture to enjoy.