Restaurant Review #173: Off the Hook (Highlands, NJ)

Long before Guy Fieri was blathering the phrase “Off the hook!”, there was the restaurant Off the Hook which is, in self-explanatory fashion, located just feet from Sandy Hook and the Gateway National Recreation Area. Admittedly, I had driven past this restaurant hundreds of times over the years. Each time, I would glance up at the place and think to myself, “I really have to try it some day.” That day finally came in February (a little late with this review, I know). Once again, my friend Patrick and I were looking for some food prior to paranormal investigating at the nearby museum. While driving around, I asked him if he had ever been there before. He said he had and it was good. So we headed on over.

There are two bars: one inside, and other outside on a deck that had been closed off due to the fact that it was winter. We grabbed a table beside the indoor bar. The menu had a normal selection for a place like that in this area. You may remember that my friend Dave and I have an inside joke when it comes to ordering nachos, but Dave wasn’t there, and that is what we started off with. I mean, there really is not much to say about a plate of nachos, but yes, oh yes, it is certainly possible to mess them up. These were fine. There was more than enough cheese which was adequately melted throughout. A small sprinkling of tomatoes, onions, and peppers added some color and pop. It was served with sides of salsa and what tasted like a chipotle cream sauce.

For his meal, Patrick had a half rack of ribs which came with rice. For only $13, the portion size was great. A full rack would have been ungodly. He said he enjoyed them—that the sauce was tangy and had some bite to it. The meat fell right off the bone. As for me, I had the grilled mahi tacos, also with rice. There were three, quite large, filled each with a strip of fish, pico de gallo, and a cilantro crema. The mahi was grilled perfectly, and was not chewy or fishy at all. Also priced at $13, this was a homerun in my book. My drink was a pint of Blue Moon, which they rang up at $6.50. This was certainly a lot higher than what I was expecting. Most places charge around $5, so it is a bit of a disappointment. The price one pays to eat so close to the ocean, I guess.

I’d like to give Off the Hook a 4-star rating, but this is one of those instances where I will need a second visit. For now, they are getting a respectable 3.5 out of 5 stars. Price of beer aside, this was a decent dinner. One aspect of their menu pricing that I did like was that they offer two different versions of their chicken entrees: one breast for $13, two for $17. This is a great option for those wanting smaller portions. I imagine a summer visit would be so much better because of the view of Sandy Hook, but for the middle of February, I’ll take it. I’d definitely go back again.

Off the Hook is located at 1 NJ-36 in Highlands, New Jersey.


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