Everything tastes better with a little sunshine and maybe an ocean breeze at the Shore. It's prime season for outdoor dining across the Garden State! Working roughly from northern to southern New Jersey, here's a roundup of some great spots for food and outdoor ambiance.

These are not rankings, just a way to keep track of our many Jersey restaurants offering an outdoor option. Where's your go-to for outdoor dining in NJ? Better yet, send us a photo by tweeting me @ProudJersey and at @NJ1015!

1. Mohawk House (Sussex County - Sparta)
3 Sparta Jct, Sparta
Nestled in the heart of Sparta, the restaurant owners also own a farm in Lafayette and proudly claim, “We grow it, we live it, we serve it.” The menu changes with the seasons to showcase the best of what nature has to offer.

NJ restaurants outdoor dining Upstream Grille restaurant Lake Hopatcong
(photo from Upstream Grille)

2. Upstream Grille (Morris County - Lake Hopatcong)
161 State Rt. 181, Lake Hopatcong
Located at Lake Hopatcong’s North end, not directly on the lake. Upstream Grille is an American Cajun Fusion Restaurant led by Chef Ken Salmon. The outdoor patio area includes a large stone firepit, used to cook brisket, ribs and occasionally whole pig for weekend specials.

3. The Front Porch (Passaic County - Hawthorne)
217 Wagaraw Rd., Hawthorne
Chef Melissa Mak oversees classic American dishes, adding a subtle hint of Asian flavors. The yummy results include Sriracha Meatball Sliders, General Tso Tacos & the Galbi Burger.

4. The Plank Pizza Co. Beer Parlor (Bergen County - Saddle Brook)
383 Market St, Bldg D, Saddle Brook
Try a signature sourdough flatbread pizza and enjoy an impressively vast selection of the "finest craft beers this country has to offer."

5. White Maple Café (Bergen County - Ridgewood)
47 E. Ridgewood Ave., Ridgewood
The restaurant is open daily for brunch, lunch and dinner. White Maple Café is a BYO restaurant, that also serves wine by the bottle from Ventimiglia Vineyard (Wantage).

6. Bells Mansion (Warren County - Stanhope)
11 Main St., Stanhope
Enjoy lunch or dinner on the garden patio of this beautifully restored 1800′s mansion. The menu ranges from 'Pub Fare to Creative American Cuisine', which means burgers, pizza, sandwiches, steaks, lamb, pasta, seafood, duck, vegetarian dishes and more.

7. The Stirling Hotel (Morris County - Stirling)
227 Main Ave. Suite 1, Stirling
Near the shared borders of Somerset and Union Counties, this family owned business offers "Craft beer and Comfort food" with a devout customer base. There's outdoor covered seating for dining plus a tented beer garden with tables.

8. McLoone’s Boathouse (Essex County - West Orange)
9 Cherry Lane, West Orange (along Orange Reservoir, in South Mountain Reservation)
Keeping with the tradition of Tim McLoone's other locations, the menu offers American cuisine that appeals to the entire family.

9. Turtle + The Wolf (Essex County - Montclair)
622 Valley Rd., Montclair
Owner and chef, Lauren Hirschberg is a Montclair native who’s worked for fellow NJ native and celeb chef, Tom Colicchio. The mission at Turtle + the Wolf is to cook seasonal food with ingredients "sourced as locally as possible, whenever possible."

10. Fresco on Church (Essex County - Montclair)
15 Church St., Montclair
It’s an instant classic for Italian cuisine lovers. Fresco's chefs combine seasonal ingredients to create memorable and exciting menu items like Ricotta Vasi, Portobello Rustica, Pesce Alla Fresco, Gnocchi Calabrese and Fregola Fresco.(Formerly Tosca Italian Small Plates).

11. Stage House Tavern (Union County - Scotch Plains)
366 Park Ave., Scotch Plains
The Stage House Tavern bills itself as an attractive alternative to chain restaurants and taverns in the area. The menu offers 'rustic American fare' in a vibrant tavern setting, with hearty portions, great cocktails and ice cold beer, while emphasizing extreme value.

12. River & Rail Cantina (Union County - Cranford)
230 South Ave. East, ​Cranford
For Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine with serious outdoor appeal, River & Rail has been a big hit since opening its doors. The menu includes Enchiladas Banderas, a 'triple threat' of chicken, beef & cheese enchiladas. It gets bustling, as a magnet for festive crowds.

13. Topgolf (Middlesex County - Edison)
1013 U.S. Route 1 Edison
It’s a new meaning to sports bar, a spot to practice your swing, eat, drink & hang out. 100+ climate-controlled hitting bays, Full-service restaurant & bars, a rooftop terrace with fire pit, plus over 200 HDTVs and private event spaces.(NJ is getting a second Topgolf in Mount Laurel).

14. Lory’s Lakeside (Middlesex County - North Brunswick)
97 Church Lane, North Brunswick
The North Brunswick spot prides itself on using the freshest ingredients for lots of 'from scratch' comfort foods, in generous portions.

15. Sophie’s Bistro (Somerset County - Somerset)
700 Hamilton St., Somerset
Sophie's offers hearty comfort food with a focus on French staples, simple and unpretentious. The décor is modeled after classic French Bistros.

16. Social Restaurant (Somerset County - Somerville)
156 N Gaston Ave., Somerville
A wide variety of appetizers and sushi , plus a fusion of contemporary dishes, where "sharing" is highly suggested. Entrees range from pasta to steak, burgers, chicken, seafood and risotto of the day.

17. The Clean Plate Kitchen (Hunterdon County - Clinton)
49 Main St., Clinton
This Clinton spot is a go-to for crowds with varied menu needs. Predominantly gluten-free, The Clean Plate offers many dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options using organic and locally sourced ingredients.  Dishes include "Not Your Grandma’s Meatloaf," "Nama-Steak" and "We Got the Beet."

18. Langosta Lounge (Monmouth County - Asbury Park)
1000 Ocean Ave., Asbury Park
Right on the Asbury boardwalk, sample the ‘vacation fare’ of Langosta. Devour a Lobster Carbonara Pizza or some Langosta Poutine. It's one of the properties of noted NJ restaurateur and humanitarian, Marilyn Schlossbach.

19. Moonstruck (Monmouth County - Asbury Park)
517 Lake Ave., Asbury Park
Classic Mediterranean inspired food, with a gorgeous view of Wesley Lake. The menu features Italian staples and beyond. Favorites include the Seafood Risotto and the Black and White Crème Brulee.

20. 9th Ave Pier (Monmouth County - Belmar)
9th Avenue, Belmar
‘Belmar's ultimate Restaurant & Patio Bar’ is located at the Belmar Marina. Enjoy a spectacular view from the pier, with a rum bucket and fresh seafood, or maybe an asian or baja style "pier bowl."

21. Tavern On The Lake (Mercer County - Hightstown)
101 N. Main St., Hightstown
Tavern on the Lake offers a full menu of pub foods, from apps to burgers, pizzas, wraps, pasta and more. Plus, there's a world-class selection of beers, including 25 taps and another couple dozen bottled beers. Beer flights and towers are available.

22. Vidalia Restaurant (Mercer County - Lawrenceville)
21 Phillips Ave., Lawrenceville
Vidalia is an authentic Italian eatery, featuring ‘dishes made from scratch & desserts to die for.’ Maybe start with the Gamberi con Bourbon, (Bacon-wrapped Jumbo shrimp, topped with a cognac barbecue cream sauce) and be sure to save room for a cannoli!

23. Blooming Grove Inn (Mercer County -Ewing Township)
234 W. Upper Ferry Rd., Ewing Township
After a massive restoration, this historic site is charming customers all over again as Blooming Grove Inn. The property dates back to 1741, when it was Blooming Grove Farm. (For over two dozen years, it was Lieggi's Ewing Manor). The menu offers a full range of American and Italian fare for lunch and dinner.

24. Mud City Crab House (Ocean County - Manahawkin)
1185 E Bay Ave., Manahawkin
Gather around a picnic table for some of the freshest seafood and shellfish at the Shore. In Manahawkin, minutes west of Long Beach Island, Mud City offers a casual and fun dining experience. Stop in for lunch, dinner, or carry out.

25. River Rock Restaurant & Marina Bar (Ocean County - Brick)
1600 New Jersey 70 #70, Brick
River Rock is right on the Manasquan River, so the view is clear and beautiful. Dock your boat and pull up a seat for drinks, great food, and entertainment. The River Rock offers fresh seafood, steaks, and family fare, year-round.

26. The Shrimp Box & Outside The Box Patio Bar (Ocean County - Point Pleasant Beach)
75 Inlet Drive Point, Pleasant Beach
This Pt. Pleasant Beach staple is another must for delicious seafood or sandwiches, with a stunning view. Outside the Box Patio Bar promises 'We Overlook Nothing But The Harbor'.

27. Robin’s Nest (Burlington County - Mt. Holly)
2 Washington St., Mt. Holly
Enjoy a delicious lunch, intimate dinner, Sunday brunch or evening cocktail at this historically charming restaurant. Outdoor terraces of the restored Victorian overlook the Rancocas Creek. The menu offers eclectic cuisine peppered with a French American flair.

28. Mott's Creek Inn  (Atlantic County - Galloway)
200 E Motts Creek Rd., Galloway
Talk about a local gem! Boat access and waterfront dining for all. A restaurant that’s both kid and dog-friendly (on-deck), with live music.

29. The Crab Trap (Atlantic County - Somers Point)
2 Broadway, Somers Point
There's deep roots for this South Jersey landmark restaurant. The Crab Trap has been serving up meals and hospitality since 1967.  The restaurant is open for lunch & dinner, with Crabby Jack’s deck bar (on the bay) offering lighter fare from the Crab Trap menu.

30. Frankie’s on the Bay (Atlantic County - Ocean City)
1050 Bay Ave., Ocean City
A family friendly restaurant providing pasta, burgers, lasagna, homemade soups, salads, and variety other special entrees. An extensive breakfast menu includes specialty eggs benedict and omelets.

31. 2 Mile Landing (Cape May County - Wildwood Crest)
1 Fish Dock Road, Wildwood Crest
The deck at 2 Mile Landing offers an ocean view and very family friendly atmosphere. Enjoy all kinds of dishes, from pizza and sandwiches to seafood and steaks.

Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee.  A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.

Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook as ProudJersey.


More From Beach Radio