Livin’ on a Prayer? Yes. Livin’ the healthy life at the Jersey Shore? Not so much. No surprise, the Jersey Shore isn’t exactly known as a beacon of natural health. (A good slice of thin boardwalk pizza, now that’s a different story.) But peel back a layer of salt-water taffy and there are a number of restaurants, farmers markets, fish markets and stores catering to those of us looking for healthier options.
For proof that Jersey isn’t all about fried pickles, check out these 10 spots that up the health-food anti.
1. The Diving Horse, Avalon
With dishes like watermelon and heirloom tomato gazpacho, an organic wedge salad and 12 oz New York “Butcher’s Wife” cut steak, The Diving Horse delivers a farm-to-table experience (most of their food comes from nearby farms and local fisherman) to a laid-back area of the Shore. Even their décor is sustainable: The restaurant is filled with salvaged materials including pine floors dating back to the 1880s—and what’s more, the hostess station is an old miner’s cart.
2. Living on the Veg, Beach Haven Terrace
Not only is this place the sole vegetarian cafe on Long Beach Island, serving tempeh bacon and tofu “egg” salad sandwiches, but like any good beach haunt, you can walk in right off the beach with just a bathing suit. No shirt required, of course.
3. Twisted Tree Café, Asbury Park
Homemade granola. Tofu meatball wrap. Vegan cupcakes. Smoothies. What doesn’t the Twisted Tree Café have? This Asbury Park Mecca for all things healthy is just few blocks from the historic Stone Pony and only a few blocks from the beach. With a big fan base, the Twisted Tree was voted the best Healthy Eatery in Monmouth County two years in a row.
4. Kaya’s Kitchen, Belmar
Committed to using only organic and vegetarian ingredients, this uber-popular pit stop is a local favorite. Stand outs on the menu include “Mississippi Ribs” (made of seitan), “Karma wings” (tofu strips) and the “Mellow Portabella” mushroom sandwich. For anyone looking for a greasy standby, you’ll be satisfied by the “Jersey Devil,” a pork roll, egg and cheese style sandwich.
5. Higher Grounds Café, Cape May
With its cult following, Higher Grounds Café is more of a destination than just your average Starbucks. Specializing in organic, Fair Trade coffee, the café offers veggie sandwiches, outdoor seating, free Wi-Fi and a mellow vibe.
6. Cassidy’s Viking Village Fish Market, Barnegat Light
(Image by Hayley Krischer)
Cassidy’s locally caught fish and seafood not only is a staple for locals and bennies (yep, that’s the word for us tourists), but their straight-off-the-boat catches make for my family’s favorite—their incredible fish tacos.
7. Nature’s Corner Natural Market, Spring Lake Heights
Run by a certified nutritionist, the Nature’s Corner Natural Market houses the area’s only organic cafe and sandwich shop, as well as operates an organic juice and smoothie bar. Produce, vegan options and body care are also available.
8. Point Pleasant Farmers Market, Point Pleasant
When you think of Point Pleasant, you typically think of Jenkinson’s Boardwalk with it’s rides, aquariums and clubs. But in their sixth year, this little farmers market has made a name for itself in Point Pleasant, attracting all locals looking for healthier options. Booths include produce, gluten-free baked goods, pet treats, pies, honey and local seafood. (Open Sundays 10-2 in the train station parking lot.)
9. JAH’S Creation Organic Farm, Egg Harbor Township
Exit 38 off the parkway (this Parkway exit thing is for real, folks!), and only 20 minutes from Atlantic City, this certified organic farm first began at the turn of the 20th century and now offers 150 varieties of mixed fruits and veggies. A huge plus: They deliver organic produce right to your door. (As of late May, 2011 CSA shares were are still open.)
10. West Cape May Farmer’s Market, Cape May
Check out the historic city of Cape May, the furthest point on the Jersey Shore, for their annual Tuesday farmers market. This is not your run-of-the-mill market: While produce is the main draw, other booths include fresh crab cakes, BBQ offerings and massages. (Every Tuesday at 3 pm until sunset, July and August).
top image: akfoto