In the summertime, we love going out and grabbing a bite at an outdoor restaurant. Whether it’s a deck, a big patio, a rooftop, or a sprawling outside garden, we just like to sit outside, enjoy summer, drink beers and have some light food. We picked these favorites not just on culinary criteria, but on the setting and atmosphere. And since we live in Monmouth County, the focus is on those eateries that are easily accessible and within a short driving distance from us. We’re also interested in places where we can go with the kids. Here they are, listed from North to South:
OLD GLORY (Keyport)
Location: Located in Downtown Keyport, in a very interesting building (an old church). There are tables both on the top deck overlooking the street, and in the shaded courtyard to the side.
Why we like it: You don’t have to fight the beach traffic to get here and waiting is not too long. A busy area, but relaxing setting. The pizzas are very good!
ON THE DECK (Atlantic Highlands)
Location: Right by the docks in the Atlantic Highlands Harbor. The top deck overlooks the bay and the boats.
Why we like it: A nice breeze can make summer heats more bearable, and it’s fun to watch all the boat traffic, the ferries, the fishing charters coming and going.
McLOONE’s (Sea Bright)
Location: On Route 36 near the Rumson bridge, with a scenic top deck overlooking the Shrewsbury River.
Why we like it: A more upscale restaurant with a casual outside deck. Enjoy good food while watching the boat traffic.
TOMMY’s TAVERN+TAP (Sea Bright)
Location: In downtown Sea Bright, across from the main public parking lot. A few tables are at the front, good for people watching, but the best location is on the rear patio where you can feel the vibe from the bar.
Why we like it: Good food, good beer, great atmosphere. Perfect spot for a break And if you’re with kids, they have room to roam the open area stretching to the river.
RORY’s PUB (Sea Bright)
Location: Also in downtown Sea Bright, with a hidden, shaded courtyard.
Why we like it: Seems like Sea Bright’s hidden gem since many people don’t seem to be aware of it. Easy to find seating when the other places around have super long lines. Looks more like a French courtyard meets Irish pub.
ROONEY’s (Long Branch)
Location: Right on the Long Branch oceanfront by the Great Lawn. There are tables right by the boardwalk, and more bar-type seating on the main deck.
Why we like it: Because it’s right by the beach! Spend some time strolling around Pier Village or enjoying the beach and then come here for drinks and some food. And there’s not a big wait for the outside tables, since they belong to the bar and it’s first come first served.
AVENUE (Long Branch)
Location: On the boardwalk in Pier Village. The rear deck is right over the beach offering scenic views of the ocean in a relaxing setting.
Why we like it: It’s the most upscale and most expensive of the restaurants on this list. Perfect for a date night by the beach, especially if you love French food.
ASBURY BIERGARTEN (Asbury Park)
Location: Along Wesley Lake, with the rooftop bar overlooking the lake.
Why we like it: It’s the quintessential German-style beer garden. Lots of beers on tap, from all corners of Germany as well as Belgium, Netherlands and other European countries. Very lively atmosphere with happy people enjoying their 1l or 2l mugs.
MARINA GRILLE (Belmar)
Location: On the bay by the 9th Avenue pier. Two levels outdoors with shady umbrellas overlooking the marina. In the colder months there’s a firepit where you can roast marshmellows. Very short drive from the beach with (usually) ample parking.
Why we like it: It’s an awesome location, a great post-beach lunch or dinner place. There are plenty of craft beers available and while the food is light bar fare, it’s very good!
MARTELL’s TIKI BAR (Point Pleasant Beach)
Location: On the PPB boardwalk, stretching out to the beach. You can sit on the pier or at the patio tables near the sand.
Why we like it: Because it’s on the busy Point Pleasant boardwalk and it’s a good spot for some after-beach quick bites. The pier can be windy (it has space heaters) but you can listen to live music. We like the bottom beach tables when we go with kids because they can safely play in the sand all the way to the water while we relax with drinks and food.
SEA SHELL RESORT (Beach Haven)
Location: By the beach in the heart of Beach Haven. There are tables in the loud, crowded area by the pool where the bands also play, or a bit quieter in the sand towards the beach.
Why we like it: Because you really feel on vacation here. There’s nice shade both by the pool and in the sand, plus the children can play in the pool while you eat.
ENGLESIDE INN (Beach Haven)
Location: It’s across the street from the Sea Shell Resort listed above. Lots of tables on the patio by the bar and in the sand. Probably more of a sand bar feeling than Sea Shell.
Why we like it: Because we need to switch every day, between Sea Shell and Engleside. There’s also a pool though you can’t directly watch it from the tables, but the food is a bit more varied than across the street.
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