Last year we did a piece about the Seven Best Restaurants in Point Pleasant. This year we chose Manasquan and the process was as challenging or even more so. The decisions regarding which eateries to pick, as the best restaurants in Manasquan, were based somewhat on personal opinions, but also on the opinions of others. Food taste and presentation is of course key, but so are consistency, service, cleanliness and several other factors. We read all of the review sites, like Trip Adviser, Google Places, Yelp and Open Table in detail, eliminating those opinions that appear to be fake, snarky, mean or make unfair comparisons. We also ask people whose opinions we value. The first few choices of best restaurants in Manasquan are easy because they will be fine dining establishments with stellar reputations. It gets more difficult when the choices are narrowed down, not because any of them are not worthy, but because they are very close to being equal. The only real rule is that they all must serve dinner.
Many people who vacation in Manasquan think of it as a small town extending along the beach from the inlet and west to Main Street and a little beyond. In actuality, places with a mailing address in Manasquan extend up the Manasquan River beyond Harpoon Willy’s and North. In selecting what we consider restaurants in Manasquan would be those with a Manasquan mailing address which may not be within the borders of a town map. I wish we could give mention to every establishment but there are so many it would be nearly impossible.
A Multitude of Choices
All that being said, Manasquan has no shortage of places to feed all the hungry visitors in the summer and plenty of places enjoyed by locals year round.
At the inlet, Carlson’s Corner is still serving up its famous hot dogs and the Riverside House in satisfying everyone with fish sandwiches, cheese steaks and much more. In town, the classic Squan Tavern has been serving fine Italian food since 1964. Across the street, Maria’s has also been serving delicious Italian cuisine since 1969. Manasquan has many other eateries where good pizza, pasta and subs are available like Rocco’s, Manasquan Pizza and Andy’s.
Manasquan has two Chinese takeout restaurants, George Lu and Golden Cheung, both of which are very good. There is also Szechuan Tokyo serving Chinese, Japanese along with Korean BBQ. Celito Lindo provides authentic Mexican right next door to Asahi Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi on Taylor Ave. Let’s not forget the awesome coastal cuisine of Surf Taco right around the corner.
Looking for an Irish Pub? The Brass Rail on East Main by the train station is always a great choice. Want breakfast or brunch? There is the famous Committed Pig, Peach Pit Café, the classic Paramount Diner and the eclectic Max Devros. For a special treat Sunburst Pie Company is a must. Since opening his shop last year, owner and baker Jay Mack has been turning out the best pies, scones, empanadas and more. You can grab a table inside or out and enjoy a pork roll and egg empanada, just one of many breakfast choices.
At the beginning of Atlantic Ave just past the west end of Main Street, the Pit Stop Grill operates in the same building as Dairy Queen. This spot is decorated with an auto racing theme and has received raves from locals and visitors for great sandwiches served in a squeaky clean environment. Continue up Atlantic Avenue, just beyond the circle, and you will find the iconic Hincks Turkey Farm. This establishment is the classic “Thanksgiving every day” eat-in or take-out, that has satisfied the hunger of generations with roast turkey, stuffing, homemade pies and deli sandwiches. If you have never been to Hinck’s where have you been? Also try the rotisserie chickens to take home. They are the best.
Are you still in the mood for Italian? Try Antonio’s Trattoria on Route 35 or Via Veneto on the same side a little further north in the Pier One shopping center.
For the beach crowd Leggett’s serves great pizza outside on the veranda every day, weather permitting. The Beach House on East Main has a lively club as does the famous Osprey on First Ave.
The Seven Best Restaurants in Manasquan
It is time now for us to move on to the best restaurants in Manasquan. They are listed in alphabetical order only without preference.
- Blend on Main – Owner Chef Lou Smith has been displaying his culinary creativity since taking over the BYOB location formerly occupied by Firefly which is now located in Point Pleasant Beach. He focuses his menu choices on the best seasonal ingredients, turning out new dishes regularly while maintaining the old favorites. Placing Blend on Main on the list was an easy choice to make. Our review
- Esposito’s – Here is a place that is underrated. Aside from serving national and international award winning sesame crust pizza, they turn out quality Italian cuisine and for a very moderate price. The focus is on fresh like heirloom tomatoes and fresh seafood. The chicken parmigiana with vodka sauce will feed you for two days. I do not understand why Esposito’s is never mentioned in the local pizza competitions with the press. I guess you have to be part of the club. The atmosphere is simple and clean on the inside and there is plenty of seating outside under the lights. Our review
- The Four Winds – With the rustic charm of an old Jersey Shore haunt, the emphasis at the Four Winds is on comfort and quality. This is an American restaurant, with Italian mixed in, where you can get a turkey dinner on Sunday or a cowboy cut prime rib that would challenge the appetite of a pro linebacker. The burgers and steaks a popular as is the fish which is often locally caught and always fresh. Do not expect white linens: this is an old farmhouse that became a restaurant. Expect friendly service in a cozy atmosphere. There is a full bar. You can view the entire menu online Read our review of the Four Winds.
- Kathy and Lou’s Kitchen – I must admit I have not been here yet but after reading the consistent positive reviews by customers both local and not, I could not leave this little beach café off of the list. They have a limited menu but also offer specials every day. The stuffed flounder gets many raves as do all of the other dishes. I will have to get here before Memorial Day to see for myself, but for now I will let the people speak and speak they do. They speak not only about the food and also the cordial personalities of the owners. Until we get there, read about them here on Trip Adviser. There is no online menu. It is written by hand daily. Update: Read our recent review of Kathy and Lou’s.
Please Note: Kathy and Lou’s closed permanently. The good news is Kathy and Lou are operating Waves on Main in Belmar. Please visit them there. You will not be disappointed
- Lubrano’s Trattoria – One of Monmouth counties best and most popular Italian Restaurants. The food is well prepared classic Italian. Expect the noise level to be high.
- Remington’s – This is the cornerstone of Manasquan’s culinary scene. Recently Chef Sean Foley added his creative flair to the seasonal menu focusing on locally sourced organic produce and meats, fish from the best fish mongers and locally crafted cheeses. The menu is an eclectic fusion that will never disappoint even the most adventuresome diner. There is a full liquor bar and a very complete wine list supported by knowledgeable sommeliers.
- Scarborough Fair – I know, this place is technically in Sea Girt even though it sits on Meeting house Road between Hinck’s, Cluck U and Four Winds which are in Manasquan. By far the most romantic restaurant in the area and also one of the very best. The menu items range from spanakopita and escargot as appetizers to local monkfish and duck breast a la cerices, and classic steaks served with a choice of preparations.
It was a very difficult decision when we got to the final selection. There were four places that were in the mix however the creativity and fresh ingredient factors nosed out the competition. We hope you will make a choice and try any of the places mentioned and let us know what you think. Thanks for reading. Eat fresh, eat local, enjoy.