If you avoid rush hour traffic, the drive from Brooklyn to Atlantic City, NJ takes only two hours. But why stop there? Continue cruising down the Jersey shore’s southern-most stretch and you’ll pass bungalows, motels and mansions, miles of boardwalk, 100-year-old marvels like Margate’s Lucy the Elephant, and plenty of seemingly untouched wetlands worthy of a ramble. More importantly, the area boasts some excellent snacking for those ready to pull off the road. These five spots will sustain you from the casinos of Atlantic City to the stunning Victorian homes that line the shady streets of Cape May.
Formica Bros. Bakery
2310 Arctic Ave., Atlantic City, NJ
If there’s a line at White House Sub Shop — the 68-year-old sandwich counter is an Atlantic City must-visit for many — consider it a chance to taste another A.C. classic. Just across the street (and two blocks from Trump Plaza) sits the 95-year-old Formica Bros. Bakery, which has a retail counter where you can order coffee, pastries and the breads they’ve been baking since 1919. Their tomato pie — a dense square of pizza ($1.65) topped with just grated hard cheese and a thick smear of sweet tomato sauce — is in a class of its own.
Rick’s Seafood House
435 W Spruce Ave., North Wildwood, NJ
Locals hit this take-out seafood market for its fried-to-order sandwiches and heaping platters of seafood — like stuffed shrimp, scallops, clams, deviled crabs or soft-shelled crabs in season — served with potatoes, slaw, apple sauce and horseradish-spiked cocktail sauce. (Platters range from $9.95 to $22.95 for French-fried lobster tails.) Though there’s no dining room, there is a picnic table out back or you can walk across the street to the tiny overlook on the banks of Beach Creek. After you eat, continue south on Spruce Ave. and it’ll lead you straight to the Rat Pack-era motels and kitschy piers that draw countless co-eds to Wildwood.
H & H Seafood
956 Ocean Dr., Cape May, NJ
This dockside seafood market — an offshoot of H&H Fisheries inside Cape May’s remote Sunset Marina — offers waterfront dining at its very best: No frills, no fuss, no worries. You eat outside under an umbrella and it’s BYOB, to boot. Steamed crabs are sold by the dozen (currently around $24 to $48, depending on size and species) and arrive in a plastic tub with a mallet. (They’re stored live in tanks yards away ’til you order them to stay or to go). H & H also sells a few sides and local oysters, scallops and fish, which they’ll steam to order, served with a side of drawn butter. After you eat, the marina is just a 15-minute drive from Cape May Point State Park, home to 244 acres of preserved waterfront land and the Cape May lighthouse.
Cape May Brewery
1288 Hornet Rd., Rio Grande, NJ
Hidden in an office park near the tiny Cape May airport — worth a trip just to see its parking lot filled with decommissioned planes from previous wars — this four-year-old brewing outfit supplies many local bars and restaurants. But if you go straight to the source, you can take one of the daily tours of the brewery. They also serve pints in its low-key taproom, where they’re typically pouring more than a dozen Cape May beers like Escape the Cape pale ale or South Jersey Succession session. A tour with tastes and a souvenir pint glass is $10.