Famous, Filling and Farm to Table: The 12 Best Cape May Restaurants

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The Washington Inn is one of the best Cape May restaurants.
Washington Inn Restaurant. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

Cape May, New Jersey is justifiably known for its magnificent Victorian-era architecture on the East Coast. Not surprisingly, the influx of discerning visitors has attracted restaurateurs offering a variety of dining options  – famous seafood restaurants, fine dining, farm-to-table restaurants and fun, hip casual dining.

Below is a select list of Cape May restaurants featuring some of the best dining in South Jersey.

SheBuysTravel Tip: From July through mid-October, restaurants are packed.  Plan ahead for dinner, make reservations early and expect a 90-minute to two-hour wait for dinner at restaurants that don’t take reservations.

The Lobster House overlooks Cape May Harbor and is one of the best Cape May restaurants.
The Lobster House overlooks Cape May Harbor. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

1. The Lobster House

906 Schellengers Landing Rd.

Nearly every traveler to Cape May enters the city via State Route 109 passing through the bustle and hustle of Cape May Harbor flanking Cape May and Wildwood. At dockside is The Lobster House serving up lobster and fresh seafood right from the dock for lunch and dinner year-round, seven days a week.

While the restaurant’s five dining rooms attract the majority of people, The Lobster House offers an unparalleled dining option on the Jersey Shore – dining on a 130-foot-long authentic Grand Banks sailing vessel, the Schooner American, moored dockside. On the Schooner is an outdoor cocktail lounge offering a full bar, luncheon menu and specialty appetizers during the evening.

SheBuysTravel Tip: For a dose of afternoon fun, grab a lobster roll from the take-out window or the fish market and head over at 1:00/1:30 pm for a 3-hour afternoon whale watching trip, either on Cape May Whale Watcher boat or Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center.

The Ebbitt Room is one of the best Cape May restaurants.
Ebbitt Room. Photo Credit: R.C. Staab

2. Ebbitt Room at the Virginia Hotel

25 Jackson Street

One of the most renowned restaurants in Cape May, the Ebbitt Room features classic American dishes with a modern twist. Once considered mostly a steakhouse, the restaurant has leaned into a more diverse, healthy menu with locally-sourced specials. Highlights include entrees such as Cape May Scallops, halibut, Bluefin tuna and roasted chicken for two. They also have a wide selection of craft cocktails, wines and beers.

Congress Hall is one of the best Cape May restaurants.
Congress Hall. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

3. Blue Pig Tavern at Congress Hall

200 Congress Place

Located in historic Congress Hall which has been serving guests for more than 140 years, The Blue Pig Tavern restaurant has a warm and inviting family-friendly atmosphere, with exposed brick walls, hardwood floors and a fireplace. There is also a large patio for outdoor dining in the summer. As a hotel restaurant, it offers breakfast including pancakes and french toast, lunch with burgers, salads and grilled cheese for kids and dinner with an outstanding raw bar.

Emien Physick House is one of the best Cape May restaurants.
Emlen Physick House. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

4. Vintage at Emlen Physick House

1048 Washington Street

In the last few years at the historic Emlen Physick house, Cape May MAC (Museums. Art. Culture) partnered with the KARA Group of location restaurants to debut Vintage, a modern, eclectic dining experience with in-house daily specials and gluten-free offerings. Unlike many restaurants in Cape May, Vintage is dog-friendly.

They are open 5-8:30pm for dinner, Tuesday-Saturday and brunch from 10am-2pm, Friday through Sunday. Because it’s new to the scene, one can often find reservations available through OpenTable.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Before eating, consider taking a trolley tour of Victorian Cape May, operated by Cape May MAC.  The trolleys stop at the Emlen Physick House and at Washington Street Mall.

Beach Plum Farm is one of the best Cape May restaurants.
Beach Plum Farm. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

5. Beach Plum Farm, West Cape May

140 Stevens Street

Two miles down the road from town in West Cape May is Beach Plum Farm.  If you want breakfast, brunch or lunch with ingredients fresh from an adjacent farm, stop here.  Drink choices are limited so if you like some wine at lunch, it’s byob. There’s a terrific market located in the main building.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Check the weather before venturing out to Beach Plum Farm because it’s all outdoor seating at picnic tables. Enjoy a self-guided tour of the farm before or after a meal.

Union Park is one of the best Cape May restaurants.
Union Park Restaurant. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

6. Union Park Dining Room

727 Beach Ave.

Climb up the steps to the Union Park Dining Room and enjoy an ocean view across Beach Avenue. Then step inside for a menu that changes seasonally to reflect the freshest ingredients. Winner of numerous awards from New Jersey Monthly Magazine and other publications, the restaurant features a 3-course prix fixe menu with plenty of options at each level of dining. Open every day for dinner except Tuesday.

7. The Washington Inn

801 Washington Street

Celebrate New Jersey’s bounty at The Washington Inn with fresh seafood, locally-sourced produce, and creative takes on classic dishes at this restaurant in a Victorian mansion. The appetizers include chilled shrimp with mango, papaya and pineapple, or roasted mushroom soup with cremini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

For the main course, there’s seafood cioppino, made with a daily catch of local shellfish in a white wine and tomato broth and Washington Inn crab cakes. Or, try the escargot gratin, served with garlic and herb butter and gruyere cheese. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options available.

8. Exit Zero Filling Station, West Cape May

110 Sunset Blvd.

Visiting this former gas service station, one can’t help but smile at the serendipity of the place. Dine by the former gas pumps, at a table in a Chevy Truck or enjoy dining indoors. Although known for its generous-sized burgers, Exit Zero offers Indian and Thai curry-inspired dishes along with Hot Chick and blackened salmon sandwiches.

SheBuysTravel Tip: To find this restaurant, ignore its name.  Exit 0 is the last exit to the south on the Garden State Parkway. Travel another 2.6 miles south into Cape May and west toward Sunset Beach to arrive at Exit Zero Filling Station.

9. George’s Place

301 Beach Avenue

This classic American diner has been serving up delicious food to Cape May locals and visitors for over 50 years. Some of the menu highlights include the pancakes, which are made with real maple syrup; the burgers, which are cooked to order on a flat-top grill; and the fish and chips, which are made with fresh, local fish. This eatery also has a wide selection of Greek dishes, such as the moussaka and the gyros.

10. The Mad Batter

19 Jackson Street

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner right off Washington Street Mall, The Mad Batter may be the most popular restaurant in Cape May, serving more than 75,000 people annually. It’s particularly busy on weekends when diners can order breakfast or lunch from 8 am to 3pm with pancakes, waffles, french toast, numerous egg dishes and a varied vegan breakfast menu.

11. Harry’s

1025 Beach Avenue

People from Philadelphia and all over New Jersey flock to the Shore looking to dine with an ocean view. In Cape May, that means Harry’s Ocean Bar & Grille with the only oceanfront rooftop bar in town. The award-winning restaurant and bar offers fresh local seafood, signature sandwiches and their famous orange crushes.

12. Sapore Italiano, West Cape May

416 S. Broadway

In yet another restored Victorian mansion, Sapore Italiano is a popular spot for traditional Italian fare. Entrée options include homemade pastas, seafood, chicken, veal and risotto dishes. A gluten-free menu is also available. It’s open for dinner seven nights a week during tourist season.

Grabbing a copy of "100 Things to do at the Jersey Shore before you die", like Mario Lopez, is one of many things to do in Cape May NJ
Mario Lopez with his favorite Jersey book. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

Visit Cape May with No. 1 Jersey Shore Travel Guide

What are the best attractions, boardwalks, cultural sights, nightlife and food to sample? Do what TV, film and stage celeb Mario Lopez does when he visits the Shore and pick up a copy of the book, 100 Things to Do at the Jersey Shore Before You Die. Visit www.100ThingsJerseyShore to order your autographed copy.

R.C. Staab is a New York-based author, playwright, musical theater writer and lyricist. His latest book, New York City Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for New York City’s Hidden Treasures, was published in Spring 2023. His first book 100 Things to Do at the Jersey Shore Before You Die was published in 2020 and is now in its second printing. In 2021, he walked the entire 139-mile coastline of the Jersey Shore from Sandy Hook to Cape May the book, generating more than 200,000 views on social media. He frequently contributes to New Jersey Monthly magazine and online travel publications. He is long-time member of the Society of American Travel Writers having traveled to 49 of the 50 US States and more than 60 countries. He specializes in cultural tourism, adventure travel and historical sites. His off-Broadway musicals and plays have been produced in New York, San Francisco, England and the Midwest. He is a two-time nominee for England’s Best New Song competition. He lives in New York City with his wife, Valari, and his dog, Skye.
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