The entire state was expecting to be able to dine indoors this weekend – at 25 percent capacity. But Gov. Phil Murphy called a late audible and continued the ban on indoor dining until the forseeable future. That ban has resulted in a flood of indoor only spots suddenly offering dining al fresco. Here in South Jersey, there are a number of spots that were onboard with the outdoor dining concept before it became the only game in town. Here are 5 of the best spots.
1 Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grille Inside Tailgaters is a sports lover’s dream — flatscreen TVs, framed jerseys from every sport you can think of and a solid selection of pub grub and beers, including many local craft favorites. Since it first opened, Tailgaters has also offered an adjacent outdoor section for those seeking an open-air experience. That space has been expanded since their recent reopening, and you’ll want to head down and treat yourself to some wings, or one of the best bacon cheeseburgers in all of South Jersey. Tailgaters Sports Bar & Grille is located at 337 W. White Horse Pike in Galloway. Go to TailgatersNJ.com.
2 Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall While it may be best known for its extensive selection of craft beers and funky artwork inside, this popular Orange Loop spot also features a massive outdoor space complete with a firepit, Adirondack chairs and live music from some of the area’s top acts. Add to that some of the best gastropub fare in town thanks to Chef Charles Soreth’s incredible menu of kicked-up burgers, hot dogs and more (don’t sleep on the superb Kentucky Ave. Chicken Sandwich that features kimchi slaw of all things). It’s a home run of a spot to soak up the sun at this summer. And they have new food and cocktail menus worth exploring, too. Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall is located at 133 S. Tennessee Ave in Atlantic City. Go to TennesseeAvenueBeerHall.com.
3 Maui’s Dog House Maui’s never offered anything but outdoor seating, so they didn’t have to reinvent their entire business model when the indoor dining restrictions were in place. In case you have not stopped in at this North Wildwood hot dog mecca, the whole place screams fun. Maui’s sports an incredible list of hot dogs and burgers and the like, each served in dog bowls and loaded with a variety of unusual and unusually tasty toppings. Our favorite is the Surf and Turf, which features their signature dog with fried shrimp beneath it, topped with cole slaw and their “mac daddy” sauce. It’s odd … yet oddly delicious. Maui’s Dog House is located at 806 New Jersey Ave. in North Wildwood. Go to MauisDogHouse.com.
4 Back Bay Ale House Though they have a cozy interior, the fact of the matter is the outdoor space at Back Bay Ale House in Atlantic City has always been the best place to hang out when the weather cooperates. Nestled in Gardner’s Basin and overlooking the water, Back Bay puts out a chill, Key West vibe, which is only enhanced by their potent and massive Basin Mason cocktails, which come in a variety of tasty flavors, and often feature fresh seasonal fruits. And since Gardner’s Basin has now been included as part of the open container section of Atlantic City, folks can take a drink to go. But before you go, grab a bite. The food here is excellent, with menu standouts including Jamaican Jerk wings, a tasty ribeye steak sandwich and some of the best cream of crab chowders we have ever tried. Back Bay Ale House is located at 800 N. New Hampshire Ave. in Atlantic City. Go to BackBayAleHouse.com.
5 The Lobster House Pandemic or no pandemic, one of the most relaxing experiences at the Jersey Shore is to head to this Cape May landmark, grab a table at their outdoor dockside deck and enjoy a bounty of some of the freshest seafood around. Items like fresh-caught local scallops, clams, swordfish and more are all up for grabs and each is sure to leave you dreaming of a return trip. The Lobster House is located at 906 Schellengers Landing Road in Cape May. Go to TheLobsterHouse.com.