Long Branch, NJ Kosher Vacation (Pier Village)


There is something unique about a group of people who do not know each other that find places for vacation, the commonality being their religious practice. Is this a synagogue retreat, the way Christians might join their church on a trip? No, actually, I don’t even know these people who have gathered together at a hotel in Long Branch, NJ. (Well, with Jewish geography I could probably connect to everyone in two, maybe three steps.)

Long Branch, NJ is part of a high concentration of Jews extending to Deal and Allenhurst with a plethora of synagogues and kosher eateries. Also, situated on the beautiful Jersey shore with nice size waves, the location is akin to traveling to Miami without a plane required . . . and the food is better in Long Branch.

One other thing – there are few pictures in this article because I went without my phone for the duration of the trip. I almost stopped reaching for my phone which wasn’t there after a few days.

Where to Stay

Pier Village is a center of kosher eateries (more on that below) with a minyan on Shabbos during the summer months at The Bungalow hotel, one block from the beach. The minyanim are Friday night, Shabbos morning (9am), and afternoon Minchah followed by Maariv. There is a hot kiddush in the morning and seudas shlishi provided as well as havdalah. The minyanim were on time and lively, held in what is otherwise the bar of the hotel. I was there in August and there were about 60 people at each minyan, the program being run by Chabad of Long Branch (very well, I just added).

Within three miles are a few other large synagogues and within ten miles, one can find about a dozen such synagogues.

According to Chabad, there is an eruv extension around the Bungalow hotel. According to JSOR (Jersey Shore Orthodox Rabbinate) there isn’t, or, at least it isn’t on their website as of this writing.

What to Eat

As a preface – I like quality food and I’ve been to many places, staking out the food. In some places you’re best off going to Whole Foods, doing your own cooking or even buying a portable grill for $20 and throwing it away after. In this area, the food was good to great in every place we tried. (Sefardim know their food.)

In Pier Village there are a plethora of kosher eateries mostly under the JSOR kashrus (Jersey Shore Orthodox Rabbinate). Here are a few that we tried in no particular order:

The Baked Bear (15 Morris Ave Unit 115, Long Branch, NJ 07740) – custom ice cream sandwiches. Choose your ice cream. Choose your cookies. The ice cream is placed between the cookies. It was excellent (and not a bear).

Salt (15 Morris Ave unit 106, Long Branch, NJ 07740) – this is a fancy restaurant with $52 down payments required to make a reservation. They’re open until 3pm and then open again at 5pm. You can often tell how good the food is by how you feel afterwards – do you feel disgusting or good? I can completely tell you that I felt good. The ingredients were quality and the taste was great. For a fancy-schmancy restaurant the prices actually weren’t too bad and they don’t have this mandatory 20% tip thing that has become common. The tip here is actually for service rendered though that’s for a rant in a different article. Highly recommend Salt.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory (Pier Village, 56 Centennial Dr, Long Branch, NJ 07740) – It’s a chocolate store with a lot of … chocolate. Fudge, covered fruits, truffles … very good stuff. Not so cheap. It’s all under kosher certification.

SugarPop Candy Bar (40 Centennial Dr, Long Branch, NJ 07740) – check which products are kosher. The ice cream is, the bins of candy, are not … though this isn’t authoritative. We requested their frozen Greek yogurt – they said taste it first and see if we liked it. It was great. (There’s another location with just ice pops under the circle-K and everything paerve. It was also great.)

There are some other ice cream and donut places kosher in Pier Village as well as a takeout meat place across from Salt called LBK.

Not too far away from Pier Village is Grandma’s Cheese Cafe. You get in line, place your owner, and go to your table where you’re served. This is my favorite style of restaurant at this point because you don’t have to find a waiter / waitress to place an order or get some water that may or may not arrive and the price on the menu is the price you pay. (See my almost-rant about tipping above.) Much of the cheese, juice, etc, is homemade. It was on the better-than-good side of life.

Still going south is Primavera Restaurant (118 Norwood Ave, Deal, NJ 07723). We were here motzei Shabbos – it’s a dairy cafe. Waiter was excellent worthy of the 20% mandatory tip (okay, 18% … I never gave 20% … I’d give 18 though). The salads / greens were very fresh despite being after Shabbos and something as simple as mozzarella, tomato, and balsamic vinegar was made perfectly. I’m not sure why so many restaurants just … aren’t good. This one was though they played “I like it when you call me Senorita” on perpetual repeat so I woke up with it stuck in my head the next day.

Going further south, on the beach itself is Paralia Kitchen (100 Ocean Pl, Loch Arbour, NJ 07711). Haven’t tried it though members of my family did and they weren’t so impressed with the price and quality. Upside: it’s right on the beach.

See also my review of Down To Earth, another excellent restaurant.

A note about shomeros haAyin and Tznious

On Friday afternoon, the beaches were almost empty and we had plenty to ourselves. (The large waves were also a lot of fun though staying near a lifeguard is a good idea.) We thought we might try the beach again early on Sunday morning though it was to no avail. The beaches were already packed, especially around Pier Village so it was a “no go” for those that practice shimeras haAyin and avoid mixed swimming.

It is also a nice walk along the boardwalk though, again, on the weekends the boardwalk can get busy. Having said that, there are many a frum Jew traversing the boardwalk for a shpitzere after Shabbos lunch (or whatever Sefardim call it). The boardwalk wasn’t bad in terms of tznious, at least in comparison to anywhere else in New Jersey in the summer, with exceptions here and there. Pier Village was more of a problem though walking one block in on Ocean Ave to get to and fro was fine.

For other related articles see:

Bradley Beach

Deal , NJ Beach

Israel Separate Beaches


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