Jersey knows how to do boardwalk dining right, and the OCNJ boardwalk is no exception. The Ocean City, New Jersey Boardwalk stretches 2.5 miles along the beach and is known for its family-friendly atmosphere. The Boardwalk serves as the perfect spot for biking, jogging, walking and, of course, eating. Some of the best places to eat in OCNJ are right on the boardwalk. Pizza, ice cream, candy — the list of classic boardwalk foods is nearly endless. Boardwalk food isn’t necessarily known for its health value, but splurging when you’re here is worth it. To use your calories wisely, check out the best boardwalk foods in OCNJ.
Caramel Popcorn at Johnson’s Popcorn
You can find Johnson’s Popcorn simply by using your sense of smell. Just sniff the air, and follow the scent of rich, hot caramel mingling with fluffy popcorn. Johnson’s Popcorn is a popular stop along the Boardwalk, and for good reason. The shop opened in 1940, and still to this day makes fresh caramel corn to delight Boardwalk visitors.
The popcorn gets hand mixed in copper kettles. Stop and watch the process if you get a chance to sneak a peek. Kids especially will enjoy seeing how the popcorn gets its sweet, rich caramel coating. Leave with a huge bucket of caramel corn – ask for the “lid off” to enjoy an extra helping of crunchy goodness. You won’t be disappointed.
Salt Water Taffy at Shriver’s
You can find salt water taffy at fairs, festivals and candy shops all over the country, but the Jersey shore does taffy like no one else. It’s only natural since the sweet, chewy treat originated right up the coast from OCNJ in Atlantic City, NJ.
The exact origins are a little hazy, but one popular story centers around a candy shop along the Atlantic City Boardwalk. The store became flooded with ocean water during a storm. When a little girl stopped in the next day to buy taffy, the owner jokingly offered her a piece of “salt water taffy,” which she accepted and loved. The name caught on when other staff in the shop heard it. Salt water taffy is still a staple along boardwalks around the country, including right here on the OCNJ Boardwalk.
While you can pick up salt water taffy at many Ocean City Boardwalk shops, we suggest trying out Shriver’s. This shop has a rich history of serving Boardwalk visitors. In fact, it’s the oldest business on the Boardwalk, opening its doors in 1898. Shriver’s still cranks out its famous salt water taffy, with a wide range of flavors to satisfy all of your cravings. Just a few of the flavor options include root beer, bubblegum, cranberry, licorice, teaberry, cremesicle, mango, coconut and sea salt caramel. Kids and adults alike love browsing the bins, picking out flavors of the sweet wrapped candies. Do yourself a favor and go for a larger box, so you can try all of the flavors.
If you want to learn a little more about salt water taffy, check out the factory portion of Shriver’s, where you can actually see the taffy being made. This is a must if you have kids in tow. They’ll love watching the taffy pulling process. It’s not pulled by hand like it used to be, but watching the taffy being made is a fun little activity during your day on the Boardwalk. Load up on the salt water taffy in the retail store. You’ll definitely want extras to take home as a reminder of your time on the Boardwalk. Each chewy bite will take you back to the sand and salt water. Shriver’s also sells fudge, macaroons and various types of chocolate, in case you want to take home a little more variety.
Kohr Brothers – The Original Frozen Custard
Since 1919 Kohr Brothers have been serving up twists of the famous cold treat. Their 5 locations on the Ocean City Boardwalk are testament to its popularity. For 6 generations, Archie Kohr’s original recipe made from premium quality ingredients has been delighting customers.
Kohr Bros. Original Frozen Custard is lower in fat and sugar than ice cream and is still made the same way as it was in 1919. Vanilla and chocolate flavors are just the beginning for a visitor to one of the 5 Boardwalk shops. Let your imagination take over and twist one of those flavors with a flavor of the day.
What better treat can there be on a warm summer evening? Twists of their famous Original Frozen Custard are not the only treats you can find at Kohr Brothers. Why not try a shake, malt, “Cruising Smoothie”, “Snowstorm”, or a tempting sundae. They’re all made with the Original Frozen Custard so you’ll be sure to enjoy.
Donuts and Breakfast at Brown’s Restaurant
Located across from the Life Guard Station at the north end of the Boardwalk, Brown’s Restaurant is an Ocean City icon. Folks know to line up early for their homemade donuts, or to have breakfast in the restaurant. If you’re looking for a classic Ocean City locale for your morning treat, Brown’s is it. Take advantage of the early morning hours to ride your bike or stroll up to the corner of St. Charles Place and the Boardwalk. Coming up from the south with a headwind, you’ll notice the mouthwatering aromas of donuts frying and bacon sizzling in the restaurant.
Husband and wife Marjorie and Harmon Brown, Pennsylvania teachers looking for something to do in the summer, founded Brown’s Restaurant in 1976. What started out as a “Mom & Pop” restaurant with just a few tables, deck and of course, the donuts, has grown into a popular morning spot currently managed by Marjorie and Harmon’s son, Jim and his wife Melissa. Brown’s continues to be a favorite of locals and tourists alike who enjoy the homemade fare.
Curly Fries at Curly’s Fries
Two locations are home to some of the best potato fries on the Boardwalk. For 22 years owner Norman Lawland has been satisfying his customers’ cravings for this classic Boardwalk treat. What makes these fries so special is the care that goes into selecting and preparing just the right potatoes.
Case upon 50-pound case arrives at Curly’s Fries every day in the summertime. They’re hand-cut with the same old-fashioned machine used at Nathan’s on the Coney Island Boardwalk, then soaked in cold water before being cooked to order at a closely-guarded and undisclosed temperature. After a light dusting of salt, these tempting treats are served up in cups or large “barrels” ready to top with ketchup, mustard or vinegar.
Pizza at Manco & Manco Pizza
Pizza and boardwalks go hand-in-hand. When you’re looking for a piping hot slice of pie with the perfect balance of ingredients, head to one of the three boardwalk locations of Manco & Manco. This pizza place started on the Boardwalk in 1956. It used to be known as Mack and Manco’s, and while the name may have changed, the famous pizzas have not. This is the place to get pizza on the Ocean City Boardwalk, but prepare to wait. Manco & Manco often has long lines of people waiting to get their hands on a slice. People staying in vacation rentals by the OCNJ boardwalk can skip the wait by calling for delivery.
What makes this pizza better than the rest? It starts with the fresh tossed dough, which is formed into a thin layer, topped with cheese, and it’s finished with a swirl of sauce on top. They actually use a hose to apply the sauce. If you’re looking for fancy gourmet pizza, keep looking. At Manco & Manco, the pizza is simple. While the menu has variety in their toppings, many people lean toward the plain or the pepperoni. Prepare yourself when you take your first bite. Manco & Manco slices come out piping hot.
Apple Cider Donuts at Oves Restaurant
Don’t let the out-of-the-way location fool you. Anyone who has heard about the apple cider donuts at Oves Restaurant knows it’s worth the trek. Oves started serving their famous apple cider donuts back in 1970, and they make the donuts fresh every day. Once you get a taste, you’ll want to go back for all the options, including powdered, cinnamon, chocolate iced, vanilla iced and plain.
Oves offers a wide range of breakfast foods if a donut isn’t enough to satisfy your hunger. You’ll find all the classic breakfast foods, including eggs, toast, pancakes, home fries, waffles, omelets and French toast. Ove’s serves breakfast until noon, so you can sleep in or spend some time on the Boardwalk before eating your eggs. Arrive early, though, if the donuts are on your must-eat list. Order the donuts while you sit down to a full meal at Ove’s, or walk up to the separate donut window to buy a dozen to go. If you dine in, expect great views of the ocean at this open-air restaurant.
If you can waddle your way down to the beach after filling up on the delicious donuts, rent an umbrella and chair from Oves. You can enjoy the view while you let the food settle. If you prefer to work off the calories right away, rent a bike or surrey from Oves. They offer single, tandem and kids’ bikes. Surreys come in singles for two adults and two small kids or doubles for four adults and two small kids. Pedal along the Boardwalk to feel a little less guilty about all those donuts you’ll definitely eat.
Ice Cream at George’s Candies
No trip to the boardwalk is complete without ice cream, and George’s Candies is the place to get it on the OCNJ boardwalk. Just don’t wait too late in the day — many flavors sell out quickly, so you may miss out on your favorites. Why is the ice cream so special at George’s Candies? For one thing, the ice cream is homemade with the perfect consistency. Instead of just adding flavorings, many of the ice cream flavors feature the real deal mixed into the ice cream. You’ll bite into real raisins when you order the rum raisin ice cream, for example.
Ice cream is a relative newcomer to George’s Candies. For years, folks have flocked George’s to sample their famous coconut or almond macaroons. Don’t miss the opportunity to try these decadent macaroons while you’re there. George’s Candies is famous for their delicious macaroons, which come in plain or chocolate-dipped varieties. Cool off with the ice cream, and bring home a variety of macaroons to enjoy later. They freeze well, so in the long winter months ahead you can nibble on a macaroon and count the days to your next visit.
Fried Food at Jilly’s French Fry Factory
French fries make Jilly’s famous, but this Boardwalk staple, which opened in 2001, offers so much more in the world of fried foods. Let’s start with the fries, though. The staff washes, hand cuts and cooks the fries fresh for your order — no frozen fries here.
The deep-fat fryers at Jilly’s handle more than just fries. If you’re looking for the classic boardwalk funnel cake, Jilly’s has you covered. Kids especially enjoy pulling off pieces of the swirled, cakey masterpiece. If you’re looking for more fried dessert options, try Jilly’s fried Oreos or peanut butter cups.
Jilly’s also serves up another Boardwalk staple — fresh-squeezed lemonade. Choose between regular, sugar free and strawberry varieties. Jilly’s rounds out the Boardwalk offerings with soft pretzels and cotton candy. This is definitely a one-stop shop for many of the Boardwalk classics.
Crabcakes at Ike’s Famous Crabcakes
A trip to the shore is not complete without some delicious seafood. Ike’s Famous Crabcakes is just one of many seafood options along the Boardwalk. Ike’s focuses on using fresh, fine seafood. Like many OCNJ Boardwalk restaurants, Ike’s offers a fun, casual atmosphere suitable for the whole family.
Brush off the sand from a day on the beach, and check out the seafood options. Definitely try the crabcakes — it’s in the name, after all. You can order a crabcake meal, or you can select a different seafood meal and add a crabcake on the side.
Banana Whip at Bashful Banana
While most of the best food on the OCNJ boardwalk comes with a high calorie count, the banana whip from the Bashful Banana is a major exception. This chilled delight is basically ripened bananas that are frozen and turned into a type of banana custard. Think of it as guilt-free ice cream, perfect for those hot summer strolls along the boardwalk. Just because it’s a healthy option doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on flavor, either. The banana whip is delicious and very popular among Boardwalk visitors.
If you’re concerned about the banana whip being too boring, the Bashful Banana has you covered. You’ll find a variety of options on the menu. Choose from a variety of toppings for your banana whip, or choose from one of the menu items. Some of the options include:
- Banana whip splits
- Sundae whips
- Upside down cereal bowls featuring Cheerios and berries on top
- Fruit cup whip with fresh fruit and granola
- Brownie topped with banana whip
You can also add flavor to your banana whip by choosing other frozen fruits to go in the mix, including strawberry, blueberry, peach, pineapple and raspberry.
The Bashful Banana may be known for its banana whip, but the restaurant also serves up a variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options that don’t start with the frozen banana treat. The fresh-squeezed fruit juice and all-fruit smoothies are also solid choices.
Fries at Chickie’s and Pete’s
There’s something so satisfying about the perfect salty French fry. When you start to feel the craving, head straight for one of the two OCNJ Boardwalk locations of Chickie’s and Pete’s. Sure, they serve all sorts of seafood, including crab — no surprise there. A relative newcomer to the Boardwalk’s food scene, Chickie’s and Pete’s is popular for both their seafood items and their Crabfries.
The real star of the menu, though, are the Crabfries. The name is a little misleading if you’re not familiar with them. You won’t find any actual crab anywhere in the fries. Crabfries are crinkle cut fries (they hold the flavor better) with a secret — a delectable blend of crab-inspired spices coating each crispy fry. Only Pete knows the secret combination. We don’t need to know what goes into the blend, so long as Chickie’s and Pete’s keeps serving up the hot and fresh fries. The complimentary white creamy cheese sauce puts the Crabfries over-the-top in the flavor department.
The history of Crabfries is quite interesting. Pete started experimenting with the fries early on in 1977, when they only served crab during the summer. Pete starting testing out blends of the leftover crab spices during the off-season, asking for opinions from his regulars until he got the blend just right. Who would have though a quest to use up crab seasoning would turn into such a phenomenon?
Crepes at Opa Gyros & Crepes
With more than 20 crepe varieties on the menu at Opa, everyone in your group can find a suitable flavor. Order the cheesecake crepe if you’re in the mood for a sweet treat. Strawberries, bananas, chocolate sauce and whipped cream complement the cheesecake filling. Other sweet varieties include Nutella, s’mores, tiramisu, peanut butter and Carmelita.
If you prefer a more savory route, try one of the sandwich crepes on the menu. The savory crepes come in a variety of types, including ham, turkey and multiple types of chicken.
If you have people in your group who don’t like crepes, Opa has many other options to satisfy your hunger, from wraps and seafood sandwiches to various types of cheesesteaks and pita sandwiches. Opa is the perfect lunch spot for everyone in your group because of the delicious variety.
Options for Everyone in the Family
When looking for places to eat in Ocean City, NJ, don’t miss the iconic food options on the Boardwalk. With so many options, wandering down the Boardwalk can pull you in many different directions, from the alluring aroma of fresh caramel popcorn to perfectly cheesy slices of pizza. Have a plan in mind, so you don’t miss any of your top picks, but don’t be afraid to give in to the spontaneous craving for a funnel cake or fries. Whether you head to the Boardwalk specifically to eat and shop or you’re in the area for a day at the beach, you can fill up on many different types of food.
Hungry for more Ocean City, NJ, information? Explore our site for more information on all of the finest things in Ocean City. As a leading boutique real estate brokerage offering boardwalk real estate in OCNJ, Goldcoast Sotheby’s International Realty is always excited to share our favorite things about Ocean City, from the best activities to the iconic Boardwalk food.