Ship to Shore Dining: Tie Up to a Great Meal

Mar 23, 2018
Photo by: supplied Stewart’s Root Beer in Tuckerton at head of Tuckerton Creek.

Pleasure boaters are finding an increasing number of choices for lunching or dining along the length of Barnegat Bay from Forked River to Little Egg Harbor and south to Leed’s Point in Great Bay.

Here is the guide to pleasant seaside spots where boaters can dock their crafts at bayside or creek-side restaurants to enjoy family dining or hoot-and-holler bar scenes.

From North to South on the Mainland:

Martell’s Waters Edge: Completely reconstructed after Superstorm Sandy, Martell’s Waters Edge restaurant and tiki bar is located east of buoy 37 in Barnegat Bay and at 125 Bayview Rd. in Bayville if going by car. The restaurant is “casual first class dining,” so dress appropriately. It is open for lunch and dinner. Large selection of entrees, such as “Angry Clams,” pairing steamed clams with Italian sausage and red peppers in a garlic butter sauce, as well as steak, lobster and special butcher’s cuts. Martell’s can accommodate big parties and weddings in its banquet rooms. Entertainment in the tiki bar in season.

When coming by boat, there is free docking, or tie up to a mooring and a water taxi will bring you and your party ashore. Reservations are recommended; call 732-269-3000.

Forked River: Joey Harrison’s River House, formerly known as Latitudes, on the Forked River is an indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar located in Southwinds Marina near Tice’s Shoal in Barnegat Bay. It features casual fine dining with a full menu from appetizers to desserts and a beach bar that includes happy hours from 3 to 6 p.m. and live entertainment. Landlubbers find them at 361 Lacey Rd. in Forked River. Call 609-242-2648 for more information.

Captain’s Inn: Farther up the Forked River is the Captain’s Inn, with 30 boat slips dedicated for guests. “Enter as Guests and Leave as Friends” is its motto. A wide range of menu options includes gluten free and “allergy friendly” choices. An early bird menu served from 3 to 6 p.m. is called the “Sunset Comfort Menu.” Build a complete meal from such choices as petite filet mignon, stuffed flounder or Cajun sea bass.

Happy three hours (3 to 6) in the tiki bar offers half price drinks and appetizers. They also offer party packages for special events and an Easter Day brunch and dinner buffet. It’s located at 304 East Lacey Rd. in Forked River. Call 609-459-0378 to make reservations.

Antoinetta’s on Dock Road: Elegance is the watchword for Antoinetta’s Italian and Seafood Eatery on the bay on the Staffordville/Eagleswood border with fine views of Long Beach Island across the bay. This is a BYOB, and reservations are highly recommended. Call 609-978-9785. By car, find it at 523 Cedar Run Dock Rd., Eagleswood.

Mainland Midpoint Tuckerton Creek:

Panini Bay: Italian cuisine on the Tuckerton Cove. Panini is a great place to watch the sunset from the second-story dining room with views of Tuckerton Cove and beyond. An elevator is available. Lunch is more casual, but put on the party dress for dinner because it is not a flip-flop and shorts kind of place. Visit by land or sea, 101 Parker Rd., Tuckerton Beach. 609-294-4281.

Tuckerton Beach Grille: Dock the boat at neighboring Sheltered Cove Marina for free (call there first – 609-296-9400) and walk across the street. The TBG has two dining areas. One is an informal sports bar and pub atmosphere with HD plasma TVs; it features live entertainment on Wednesday and Saturday nights, a three-hour happy hour, large sandwich board and craft beers. A more formal dining room features a grand piano and musician. Dinners here range from seafood and pastas to steaks to Duck l’Orange and rack of lamb. By car: 1000 South Green St. Call 609-296-9400.

Dockside Café: This is a casual spot for breakfast and lunch (7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) midpoint on Tuckerton Creek. Expect typical American fare with the added treat of wildlife watching as many ducks, geese, herons and swans congregate just outside the windows. Come by car, boat or kayak. Located at 338 South Green St. in Tuckerton. Call 609-294-1859.

Tuckerton Seaport: This re-created maritime village built at the head of Tuckerton Creek offers 16 free boat slips. During the off-season, signs direct boaters to the Visitors Center for a ticket to explore the Seaport’s exhibits, including the Tucker Island Lighthouse. But there is no charge to stop for breakfast, lunch or coffee and treats offered at the Union Market and Gallery in the re-created “Skeeter’s Cottage.” It opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast.

During Food Truck events in season, there is still no charge to dock, but boaters pay the nominal fee to participate in the festivals. Call 609-296-8868 for more information. The Tuckerton Seaport is located at 220 West Main St. in historic Tuckerton.

Stewart’s Root Beer: This retro-style 1950s drive-in is fun for all ages. Elvis and Marilyn Monroe statues greet visitors to the open-air dining experience on Tuckerton Creek, facing Lake Pohatcong and Tuckerton’s Main Street. Fish tacos and lobster rolls fill out the American-fare lunch and dinner menu, plus 24 flavors of ice cream plus soft-serve custard and, of course, Stewart’s root beer. Frequent ’50s cruise nights with live music and impromptu dancing draw antique and classic cars. Children’s meals are served in cardboard cars. Stewart’s is located at 102 West Main St. in Tuckerton. 609-296-7895. It opens for the season on March 30 at 11 a.m.

Across the Bay:

Possibly the most unusual place to eat is Polly’s Dock, on the bay in Beach Haven on Long Beach Island where you can dock your boat or rent a boat if you don’t have one. For many years, Polly’s Dock was strictly a rowboat rental run by Herman Joorman and his wife, Polly, where local fishermen would hang out. Recently Polly’s Dock restaurant has been added, offering salads, burgers, dock fries and wings, and raw clams and clam dishes from their own clam beds. Try the “Hearty Herman” if you dare: three patties, bacon cheddar cheese, and fried onions, topped with a fried egg. Breakfast starts at 7 a.m. and the business stays open until sundown. Maybe you’ll meet “Big Bird,” an egret that has been returning to Polly’s Dock for 50 years, they claim. Call 609-494-2194 for more information.

Heading south from Tuckerton into Great Bay:

Great Bay Marina: If it’s an authentic place you’re craving, the scuttlebutt from local fishermen and clammers goes well with the delicious buttermilk pancakes served at the Great Bay Marina Restaurant. This is a family-run business open seven days a week by Tom and Anna Paxton. On a clear day you can see the skyline of Atlantic City as you have breakfast or lunch overlooking the marina, totally rebuilt since Sandy. The restaurant opens at 6 a.m. weekdays and 5 a.m. on weekends to accommodate fishermen and closes at 2 and 3 p.m. respectively. Located near the end of Radio Road and Graveling Point beach. Dock, dine and walk about. Call 609-296-2392, or visit by land, 45 Montana Drive, Little Egg Harbor.

Breezes Bar and Grill: Located on the grounds of the Viking Yachting Center and Marina down the Bass River, Breezes is a promising watering hole with ample docking, owned by Win Allen of Allen’s Clam Bar in New Gretna. Breezes is the home of “The Buck-a-Shuck” Happy Hours from 3 to 6 p.m., when raw oysters and clams are just $1 each.

Salads, tacos, wraps and sandwiches include the signature “Surf and Turf Burger,” combining Angus beef with crabmeat plus Gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onion.
Live music weekends on the outdoor patio.  Call 609-296-0372. By land, 5724 Route 9 in New Gretna.

Mott’s Creek Inn Deck and Bar: This is the salty place in the marsh with the greenhead logo “Beware of the Locals.” But don’t be put off; it’s all in fun. The bar is the focal point with dining around it inside or out. A full line of “munchies” includes a dish called “Drunken Clams,” and there are burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads, plus buffalo wings in a range of heat.

Dock boys are employed to tie boats together, and getting off and on the deck means climbing from one to another, so watch your alcohol intake. Hard to do with such offerings as Creek Swat Tea, Mosquito Mania and Sex on the Deck signature drinks.

Live band entertainment encourages dancing. Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to closing. “Creek depths vary, but we have accommodated 50-foot boats.” Call 609-652-1555.

Oyster Creek Inn: The farthest we will travel by boat is Leed’s Point, where the established Oyster Creek Inn with its boat bar has kept going since 1938. Located off the beaten path at 41 Oyster Creek Rd. (by land), it’s known for luscious seafood where crab cakes are all crab and no filler, and fried oysters are sweet and tender. Sushi bar weekends from 4 to 9 p.m. This is a family-friendly restaurant with little hoot and holler. Good reviews on its Facebook. Call 609-652-8565.

— Pat Johnson

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