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Pop's Seafood Shack & Grill

New England lobster with fingerling potatoes and grilled

New England lobster with fingerling potatoes and grilled corn are served at Pop's Seafood Shack & Grill in Island Park. The restaurant is at an old marina where guests can dine under umbrellas, dig their feet into the sand or sit by fire pits. (June 18, 2011) Credit: Jason Andrew

Pop's Seafood Shack & Grill is perched at a marina on the Island Park side of the Long Beach Bridge. Summery enough.

But, just to make sure, the casual restaurant has brought in enough sand between eatery and water to create a beachy scene complete with boldly colored Adirondack chairs. Relax, digest, warm your toes.

Pop's is that kind of spot, where the dining is informal, the selections familiar and the music ongoing. You may dine inside or out. On a sunny afternoon, the wood deck beckons. At night, the string lights overhead add to the effect.

Before you start daydreaming and designing little castles, nibble on some chicken wings or guacamole and chips. And contemplate the lobster roll in three versions. Best is the basic, warm lobster, New England variety, meaty and glistening from clarified butter, served on a toasted and buttered potato roll.

Competition comes from the crunchy fish-and-chips, made with cod. To ensure crispness all-around, have Tater Tots instead of the fries, which turn limp fast. The crabcakes are pretty mild, boosted with either toasted coconut and pineapple salsa or, in a sandwich, with apple-smoked bacon and an avocado riff on aioli.

Pop's sends out plenty of burgers, including a stuffed one with jalapeños, blue cheese, bacon and fried tomato; and a surf-turf number capped with crab salad. Your call. The house's "Chicago style" hot dog won't transport you to the Windy City's Hot Doug's or Murphy's Red Hots. But it's long, has some bite and allows ample time in the sandbox.

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