The Jersey Shore is home to several authentic, Southern-style barbecue spots that definitely bring the heat. May is National Barbecue Month, so dig in and celebrate at one of these favored Jersey Shore spots. And check out a few beyond-the-shore options at the end of the list, too!
At the Shore
Jersey Shore BBQ
811 Belmar Plaza, Belmar
Jersey Shore BBQ started out as a catering company but quickly expanded into the restaurant business. Its fall-off-the-bone, Texas-style barbecue is seasoned, then slow-smoked for hours in a pit lit with local hardwoods. Owner Douglas Walsh spent years in Texas mastering his talent and thankfully brought it to our plates at the Jersey Shore. Indulge in their signature baby back or St. Louis pork ribs, plus a variety of other barbecue options like brisket, pulled pork, and chicken—try their slow-smoked meats on one of their tasty sandwiches, too. The restaurant also has a second location in East Brunswick.
244 West Front Street, Red Bank
The Local Smoke BBQ team has competed at barbecue events around the country and brought their knowledge to Local Smoke’s three restaurant locations in Red Bank, Neptune City, and New Hanover. “We like to say that we bring the best of the rest of the country to New Jersey,” says owner Steve Raab. “A Texas-style brisket, a North Carolina-style pulled pork, and Midwestern-style rib—a St. Louis cut with a Kansas City rub.” The restaurant slow-smokes their BBQ using sugar maple and cherry woods. Sample their best BBQ options with the Pig Out Platter, where you can try their brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and more. Local Smoke also offers unique barbecue options like slow-smoked hot dogs and “family to-go” barbecue packages for those who prefer to eat at home.
Back Bay BBQ (Opens for the season, Friday, May 11, 2018)
135 Somers Point-Longport Boulevard, Somers Point
This seasonal spot is a favorite among both tourists and locals. This no-frills joint serves everything using plastic plates and cutlery and offers only the BBQ classics: ribs, pork, brisket, and chicken. Shrimp and scallop skewers are available too, plus a surprising pastrami option, but that’s it for main dishes. Southern sides like baked beans, corn bread, and mac and cheese are also on the menu, but you won’t wish for anything more than the basics here; everything is slow cooked, and the ribs practically fall off the bone before you can take a bite.
Shore Points Coastal BBQ
816 Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach
Shore Points prides itself on putting a shore spin on a classic barbecue joint. As if deciding what type of meat to order isn’t hard enough, Shore Points also mesmerizes with its eight different sauce options. Enjoy barbecued meats, such as St. Louis ribs and pulled brisket, or choose something a little more outside the box, like their chicken-and-waffles sandwich with a side of citrus asiago fries. This place is open for breakfast, too, so stop in and chow down on their delicious biscuits and gravy if you have a chance.
Surf BBQ (pictured at top)
132 E River Road, Rumson
Surf Woodfire Restaurants consider themselves to be a place where beer, BBQ, and bourbon are appreciated. Dine on their “traditional old school” BBQ options, such as ribs and brisket, or indulge in their smoked pork shoulder or pastrami short rib. This spot also offers an extensive whiskey and bourbon selection, plus standard American fare for those not in the mood for BBQ. Pair your dish with their fire-roasted baked beans or “swine fries” made with pulled pork, cheddar, and cilantro ranch.
The Hickory Hog
2310 Bridge Avenue, Point Pleasant
The Hickory Hog offers several types of ribs, but they warn about the addictiveness of their Memphis Cajun dry rub rack. “We slow smoke all the ribs and meats with hickory, mesquite and apple wood in our state-of-the art smoker for hours,” says owner Maureen Cassidy, whose husband, Mike, has been cooking barbecue for more than 30 years. If you’re unsure of what to order, Cassidy says some other customer favorites are their baby back ribs, mesquite-smoked St. Louis ribs, and Carolina pulled pork. Top off your meal with a side of creamy mac and cheese or a baked potato, and you’ll definitely want to make another trip back.
Jamaica Me Hungry
Beachfront at Atlantic & Jefferson, Wildwood Crest
This seasonal, beachfront spot serves southern fare with a Jamaican twist. Their flame-grilled ribs are rubbed in a spicy Jerk seasoning and hickory smoked to create the perfect tenderness. Beyond the classics like pulled pork BBQ chicken, this spot dishes out authentic Caribbean cuisine. Try their Jerk chicken, conch fritters, or deep fried sweet plantains for a true taste of the islands. This spot is BYOB and encourages you to “bring whatever makes you happy.”
Beyond the Shore
These local favorites aren’t at the beach, but they’re worth a stop.
More Than Q
13 Klines Court, Lambertville
Pitmaster Matt Martin opened up Lambertville’s More Than Q in 2014. This BBQ joint serves Texas-style ‘cue in the form of ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and more. Plus, they’ve got all the fixin’s, including sides like burnt-ends baked beans, macaroni and cheese, and southern-style collard greens. The restaurant lives up to its name by offering flavorful, unconventional options, such as smoked chicken thighs with honey lime chili sauce or fried pickles served with homemade Cajun remoulade.
Henri’s Hotts Barbeque
1003 Black Horse Pike, Folsom
Henri Hott’s got its start in 2009 and has been serving up slow-smoked BBQ ever since. Enjoy Texas-style ribs, pulled pork, and brisket, or choose two meats with their combo platter option. Henri Hott’s also serves several chicken options (including Jerk and fried). Plus, the restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat buffet every Friday starting at 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 12-6 p.m. where you can sample all the BBQ options this joint has to offer. Wings, sandwiches, and homemade sides complete the menu. Catering is also available.
—by Julia Mullaney