Waterfront Patios, Sidewalk Cafes, Candlelit Terraces: Where to Dine al Fresco in NJ

From sidewalk tables just right for people watching, elegant patio dining under the stars, to decks with an ocean view — New Jersey has scores of eateries where you can grab a bite outdoors.

Here’s NJNext.com’s list of where to dine al fresco in the Garden State. Did we miss your favorite spot? Tell us at editor@newjerseynext.com.

The Cassidy Bar + Kitchen (Maplewood)

One of Maplewood’s newer businesses, The Cassidy is an American restaurant and bar located in the heart of the Village. From a prime perch at sidewalk tables facing the action of Maplewood Avenue, diners can indulge in a variety of cocktails, plates to share, and seasonally rotating entrees. The Cassidy’s current menu offers strawberry-rhubarb gastrique, clam pasta, chilaquiles and more.


Proving Ground in Highlands

Proving Ground (Highlands)

Proving Ground in Highlands offers waterfront dining with both city and ocean views. The restaurant gets its name from the Sandy Hook proving grounds, where the U.S. Army once tested artillery and other materials. In the spirit of testing new things, the restaurant often experiments with new and seasonal menu items, drinks, and events. It serves salads, a variety of burgers and seafoods, and “handhelds” like the “dynamite wrap,” which features beer-battered shrimp and avocado salsa.

McLoone’s Boathouse (West Orange)

McLoone’s Boathouse offers waterside dining and American cuisine. Located in the South Mountain Recreation Complex, its patio has a spectacular reservoir view. The menu, which features lunch, dinner, drinks and Sunday brunch, offers starters, soups and salads as well as seafood, burgers, pastas, and a variety of meat entrees and sides.

The outdoor patio at McLoone’s Boathouse overlooks the South Mountain Reservation’s reservoir.


Elysian Café (Hoboken)

Opened in a restored saloon from the late 19th century, this modern French bistro has sidewalk seating and live music as well as a rich history. It’s the oldest continually operated bar and restaurant in Hoboken, and its menu ranges from ravioli and rosemary-brined pork chops to omelets and quiche. Its bar menu features bahn mi and French onion soup.


Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen (Morristown)

Located in the 1917 Vail Mansion in Morristown, Jockey Hollow offers four different dining experiences, from fine dining in the seafood-centric daPesca, classic brasserie fare in The Oyster Bar and The Vail Bar, to beer hall realness in The Rathskeller. Each offers a different menu with locally sourced and high-quality ingredients. Drinks menus vary at the four options as well. The Rathskeller closes in June, after which patio seating is available. 


La Pastaria (Summit) 

This homestyle restaurant has a casual, happy atmosphere and outdoor seating in the warm weather. The Italian menu offers sliced shell steak, fresh fish, and pan seared shrimp. There are also pasta dishes like vodka rigatoni and penne putanesca, and a variety of pizzas.

Origin French Thai

Origin French Thai (Somerville)

The philosophy at Origin French Thai is that cooking is an art. This Somerville restaurant, praised for its ambience, serves fusion Thai food under the stars and in candlelight during the warmer months. Its dinner menu features escargot, grilled squid salad, and filet mignon along with pad kee maow, Thai curries and Bangkok duck.

Stella Marina (Asbury Park)

A popular Italian spot, Stella Marina has a prime perch right on the Asbury Park boardwalk. Check out their happy hour specials and delicious cocktails — all made even better by the terrific view.  Their “modern yet rustic” cuisine has been acclaimed by reviewers including NJ Monthly.  

Stella Marina, Asbury Park

Turtle & The Wolf (Montclair) 

Lauren Hirschberg, chef and owner at this restaurant, grew up in Montclair and wanted to cook seasonal food with locally sourced ingredients. The result was Turtle & The Wolf: an American upscale eatery with items like beef brisket tartare, crispy potatoes and duck confit pot pie. The restaurant offers patio seating and takes reservations.


Martell’s Waters Edge (Barnegat Bay, Bayville) 

As the name suggests, Martell’s is located on the water, with a great view of Barnegat Bay. The waterfront tiki bar has live entertainment seven days a week in the summertime, with salads, wraps, and grill and seafood items to complement the bar’s specialty drinks.

The restaurant also has a plethora of seafood options: lobster, tuna and kimchee spring rolls, salmon bruschetta, crab cakes and blue crab bisque are all on the menu.

The Mad Batter in Cape May 

The Mad Batter (Cape May) 

This award-winning bistro has a porch and terrace where you can enjoy its award-winning breakfast-to-dinner menu. Located in the Carroll Villa Hotel, The Mad Batter is known for its breakfast foods, which include orange & almond French toast, eggs Benedict, and corned beef hash. The lunch and dinner menus offer crab cakes, burgers, Wellington, ravioli, salads, and lobster, as well as several gluten free and vegan options.

Porta in Jersey City also has locations in Asbury Park and Philadelphia. 

Porta (Jersey City) 

Porta offers brunch, lunch and dinner at its three-story restaurant with a rooftop space. The rooftop menu boasts cocktails, beer and wine along with a variety of pizzas and modern Italian-inspired cuisine.


Gladstone Tavern (Gladstone)

This former colonial farmhouse, built in 1847, was restored and transformed into a full-service restaurant. Located in the Somerset Hills area, Gladstone Tavern offers the option to dine on a covered porch or patio in warm weather. The tavern has lunch and dinner daily and brunch on Sundays. Gladstone has an extensive drinks menu and serves American food with a twist: the food ranges from chicken schnitzel and moule frites to salads and burgers.