Exploring New Jersey: Sea Bright

Welcome to Sea Bright, a beachy three-mile-long peninsula, located in Central New Jersey. We’re flanked by the Atlantic Ocean to our east and the Shrewsbury River to our west. An hour or so drive or a ferry ride, from Manhattan, can bring you to some of the best beaches on the Jersey Shore. Don’t let size fool you though, within this small stretch of land lies some of the best restaurants New Jersey has to offer!  Small in stature but big in flavors, we have choices a plenty; seafood, American, modern Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Thai, southwestern, juice bars, sports bars even an Irish pub – we have a little bit of everything to please any palate! On any given day Sea Brighters can wake to a beautiful sunrise and toast to an equally beautiful sunset, and we take them both very seriously! We can also brag about having our very own oceanfront library, where else can you get that!? We have two great gyms in our town, Perspirology and AB Fitness, yoga on the beach(in season)and Monmouth Squash Club & Swim School. Gracie and the Dudes ice cream parlor and Sea Bright Wine and Spirits. Windows on the Water is our premiere oceanfront special events/wedding venue with absolutely spectacular views. We have Bungalow Road, Northshore Sea Bright and Lucky Dog Surf for your retail therapy. Giglio’s Bait and Tackle for everything fishing, Wildflower Hair Studio, Pedego Electric Bikes, even a Dunkin Donuts and 7-Eleven.  Bains Hardware is our one stop for everything, if Frank doesn’t have it, no one does. And finally, we have Sandy Hook Yachtjust in case the mood moves you. If a day’s journey isn’t enough time to soak up our relaxed atmosphere, there’s room at our hotel, BeachWalk at Sea Bright, a newly renovated laid-back style inn, complete with beach, pool and tiki bar.   

Sea Bright has one main road – Ocean Ave – and from here you’ll encounter all our offerings.  Whether driving, strolling, biking, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding or surfing you’re not far from any of it! 2nd Jetty Seafood, is the first restaurant you would encounter entering from the north end of Sea Bright. A BYOB restaurant with a casual, laid back atmosphere serving the freshest locally sourced seafood around with a bit of a Caribbean flair!  Dishes are creative, beautifully presented and taste even better! An absolute must try! Traveling south on Ocean Ave., the next restaurant you see is The Rum Runner, it’s here that Bruce Springsteen rehearsed for his “Tunnel of Love” tour.  The Rum Runner has been around since 1986, but was destroyed during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. With a definite Sea Bright can-do attitude, McLoone’s Rum Runner was rebuilt better than ever.  A must stop for sunset cocktails, beautiful river views, and an extensive menu – open and airy in the Summer or with a beautifully lit fireplace in the Winter, makes no difference! 

photo courtesy of 2nd Jetty

Continuing the journey southbound on Ocean Ave, is our downtown. The first restaurant you see is Tommy’s Tavern & Tap, a large restaurant filled with TV’s running along the bar with every imaginable sport there is. Fun for the whole family too, with booths large enough to hold everyone.  Loud, but fun, they have rum buckets (year round), corn hole, cabanas and palm trees(in season). They serve everything from pizza to burgers to sushi! They also have outdoor seating overlooking Ocean Ave, in the front, and in the back with sunset views overlooking the Shrewsbury River. A fun time had by all.

In the center of Sea Bright and across from our public beach you’ll find Moo Yai Thai, a casual BYOB, with delicious authentic Thai food. I love their spring rolls and of course their Pad Thai!  

Sea Bright Pizzeria with the best, and I mean THE best, Grandma pizza around! Actually, all their pies are delicious, I’m just a little biased.  Fair warning they’re cash only – but don’t let that stop you! Anjelica’s Restaurant, a premier Italian restaurant which was voted Top 100 in America by Opentable!  Anjelica’s is also a BYOB, with hard to come by reservations, so planning ahead is recommended. A quintessential Italian vibe and THE best baked cappellini and Cacio e Pepe ever! Weather permitting they have a beautiful outdoor dining area to soak up “La Dolce Vita”!  An absolute must! (PS – they cater a lot of my parties!). Right next door is the Ocean House Tap and Grill with an eclectic menu and a definite beach vibe. Upstairs has the most beautiful view of the ocean and public beach. A fun place, diverse menu choices – can’t go wrong! Woody’s Ocean Grille, one of the few restaurants in Sea Bright that sits on the ocean side, it’s a laid back feel with an upscale look. Southwestern flair with California cool all mixed in.  Woody’s and Sea Bright are intrinsically connected, it was here, after SuperStorm Sandy, that Woody constructed a makeshift restaurant, tents and all, to feed the workers and the residents of Sea Bright when there was nowhere else to go! He started “Sea Bright Rising”, for the residents to help offset their cost of construction. He’s truly one of a kind! Must try – Woody’s Orange Crush drink and his coconut rice served with anything! 

Photo courtesy of Ocean House

Alice’s Kitchen, the best Irish breakfast and soda bread. Homemade muffins, a cozy and comfy feel, what else could you want. Oh did I mention her Beer Battered Fish & Chips! Yumi,a byo, they describe themselves as modern sushi, but they are so much more. Creative, and cutting edge are just some of the words I’ve heard describe them. I absolutely love Yumi and their octopus carpaccio, white tuna ceviche, sea urchin and of course their tuna pizza. Fresh seafood, wagyu beef and even chicken lettuce cups can be found here, Sea Brighters are lucky Sheun and Bowie found us! Super Golden Chinese restaurant – what can I say, when you’re in the mood this is the place!  Rory’s Pub, I think the name gives it away.  A fun Irish pub! In season they have live music in their string-lite courtyard, which, by the way, allows dogs. A big bar inside, tv’s all around, football, Guinness, and an eclectic menu.  Our newest addition to Sea Bright is Yolks On You Kitchen serving breakfast, lunch and ice cream. It’s here you get live music with breakfast! There’s a little bit of everything here including what they call Mike’s Greek Corner – you guessed it, a nice selection of some Greek favorites. If breakfast is your choice of food, you’re in luck, it is served all day along with a large selection of lunch choices. GiGi’s NY Style Pizza, GiGi’s is so much more than pizza.  They open at 10 and close at 9, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. And it’s all good, I mean, All Of It, besides their pizza and pasta my personal favorite is The Cubano sandwich, yum!  Melonhead, an all-natural health food bar serving Acai, Pitaya & Green bowls, along with juices and smoothies.  Always fresh and delicious. It’s the perfect “no guilt feel” after a workout!  Donovan’s Reef, with open-air bars and decks, a beachfront tiki bar, live music, swaying palm trees and ocean breezes. Spending your time inside or outside you’re sure to have fun.  They’ve been around since 1976, and have completely re-built after Superstorm Sandy hit. Donovan’s has been voted as one of the 21 Best Beach Bars in America by Thrillist. Cash Only.

On the south end of Sea Bright, you’ll find Eventide Grille at Navesink Marina. Talk about beautiful sunsets. Imagine sipping your favorite cocktail, inside or outside, with a beautiful sunset and live music as a backdrop. Eventide’s atmosphere is casual, and laid back.  There is dock-n-dine here or dock-n-drink, if you prefer, make sure to call the marina for info.  P.S. Some of our best sunset pictures come from Eventide!

photo courtesy of Samuel Catalano

Last but not least you’ll find Drifthouse by David Burke one of Sea Bright’s only oceanfront restaurants.  The Drifthouse shares space here with The Driftwood Cabana Club, one of the many beach clubs that dot our ocean side here in Sea Bright.  David Burke, as you may well know, was inducted into the James Beard Foundation of the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America in 2009. The Drifthouse is elegant, yet casual with a fun, creative and varied menu, you’ll find his “clothesline” bacon here plus my personal favorite artichoke salad. There’s an extensive wine list, a custom-made lobster tank and an oyster tank, and even a patent in the dry-aging process for the steak lovers.  The bar is a nice place to catch the sunset too.  Also located here is NautiBar by David Burke, a smaller beachfront restaurant, casual, laid back, but oh so fun, think, Tiki Bar!  NautiBar sits only yards away from the Drifthouse, it is only open to the public from May-October. Can get very crowded, but that’s what I love about it.

This year Sea Bright had the distinct pleasure of being named one of “The Must-Visit Small Towns in Every State” by Thrillist Travel.  An honor for sure, but hey, Sea Brighters already knew that! 

photo courtesy of Eventide Grille

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