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kid-friendly (but decent food) in Monmouth County?

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I am bringing my kids to visit relatives in the Spring Lake area for a couple of days. Any decent, kid-friendly restaurants in Spring Lake or nearby for lunch or dinner? We like casual clam-shack type of places, pizza, BBQ, diners, etc. (The relatives are not necessarily chowhounds, so I don't want to rely on their recommendations.) The only place I've heard of so far is Susan Murphy's ice cream...

Also, if it rains on Friday, we may do some indoor things in Highlands or Cliffwood. Any suggestions around those towns would be an added bonus!

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Boy. That's a toughie. I'll defer to those who are more familiar with the Spring Lake area for food suggestions.

    There are virtually NO indoor things to do in Highlands on a rainy day, although a visit to Twin Lights might be an option. The views are absolutely wonderful on a clear day and there is a nice little museum attached. It is fun to climb the lighthouse steps, too (but watch your head), and kids love it.

    http://twin-lights.org/home.htm

    If you are in that area at lunch time, I like Inlet Cafe quite well. Picturesque, casual, pretty good food.
    http://www.inletcafe.com/

    Avoid Windansea right next door.

    My favorite pizza in the area closer to Spring Lake is Pete and Elda's on Rte 35 in Neptune City. It is a casual, family-oriented place.

    http://www.peteandeldas.com/

    And Vic's in Bradley Beach is respectable Northern Italian.

    http://www.vicspizza.com/

    Good luck with the weather. Getting me down.

    1. Deb's got it exactly right when it comes to pizza. Pete & Elda's is *the* place to go in the Shore area. And the Italian food served there is not too shabby either.

      http://www.peteandeldas.com

      The Mill at Spring Lake Heights has been around for a long time (used to be called The Old Mill Inn). I had studiously avoided it over the years because I didn't think the food would measure up. But in '04, after they had refurbished the interior and overhauled the menu, along with changing their name, I went there for dinner with some friends. The ambiance was very nice, seating in the main dining room was really comfortable, service was excellent, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food was quite good. It is a big place, family-friendly, and you can dress casually.

      http://www.themillatslh.com

      Unfortunately, the weather forecast for the coming weekend is not looking too promising. A soggy end to the summer season. :-(

      1. Hello:

        I would consider heading south on rt 35 to Point Pleasant. Even on a rainy day my kids love the indoor arcades and other diversions on the boardwalk. The aquarium alone, while not even close to the big ones, is a nice way to pass an hour or two.

        As far as food goes, you have two choices there - eat the typical boardwalk junk right there ( the butterfly fries, dippin dots, and sausage sandwiches are my kids favorites ), or you can hop back in the car and drive a mile or two to one of the local seafood places. We like Red's Lobster Pot by the water and Stewart's of Kearney back up Arnold Ave two blocks past rt 35.

        seal

        1. Klein's in Belmar, on the inlet/boat dock, has an informal outdoor cafe, just went there for lunch last week. Fish sandwiches, platters, clams, through lobster. Watch out for sneaky seagulls.

          The Circus, Rte 71, at North side of SL, has high school girl car-hop service, and many deep fried basics.

          North of SL a few towns, Nagle's, Ocean Grove, Main St, old apothecary shop serving diner food, ice cream sundaes. Dry town, incidentally, but very cute architecture.

          La Trattoria, Rte 71, Manasquan, for pizza, pasta, fresh rolls/bread basket, big servings, byob.

          Sweet Cow, Rte 71, near 'Squan, or Hoffman's, Rte 71 SL, or Blarney Stone, SL off Third Ave, for ice cream.

          Drew's, Rte 71, shopping center with SL post office, has meats, ready to cook prepared stuff, italian deli sandwiches, etc.

          Oh, and hot dogs at any Windmill, or at Max's up in Long Branch, followed by ices from any of the places conveniently nearby.

          2 Replies
          1. re: i8dumplings

            The Circus is a great idea. Just featured on one of the (lamer) FoodNetwork shows, it has the best soft shell crabs around.

            1. re: i8dumplings

              In Belmar, the only word for the fish'n'chips at Thompson's is, "Perfection!"

              http://www.thompsonsfishnchipsofkearn...

              Cold Creme, a block west of Thompson's, sells sensational homemade gelato. Sadly, they will be closing after Labor Day.