Whether you’re craving plump oysters on the half shell, succulent Peking duck or a plate piled high with ravioli, Delaware’s coastal restaurants have you covered. The area is known as the “Culinary Coast.” The only dilemma is deciding which one to try first. Here are a few recommendations.
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Start with breakfast, which is a tradition at the beach. In Rehoboth Beach, go old school at Robin Hood restaurant, which opened in 1968 in the former Robert Lee. Still owned by the Tsoukalas family, the Robin Hood is best known for Greek omelets, made with spinach and feta. Don’t forget the scrapple.
Sammy’s Kitchen is another popular breakfast destination. So much so that the restaurant expanded the dining room to reduce the number of customers waiting in line. You might be tempted to call the owner “Sammy,” but in fact, his name is Kevin Salamah. Sammy’s is open for breakfast and lunch. In summer, you can also come for dinner.
Just four parking meters from the boardwalk on Wilmington Avenue, Dave & Skippy’s has been dishing up breakfast and lunch for 17 years. Grab a smoothie and a breakfast sandwich en route to the beach. 302-227-2856 (For afternoon fun, make a pit stop at Zogg’s Raw Bar & Grill, which is owned by the same family.)
For a latte with Latin flair, head to Café a Go-Go on Rehoboth Avenue, right next to Avenue Apothecary & Spa, for coffees and espresso drinks with a dash of Mexican flavor.
Those who can’t live without a Starbucks macchiato are in luck. There is a location on Rehoboth Avenue and a new drive-thru on Route 1 between Lewes and Rehoboth.
Juice bars are well represented in Rehoboth. Consider GreenMan Juice Bar & Bistro on Wilmington Avenue, which serves breakfast from 8 a.m. until noon, when lunch starts. The restaurant was among the first to cater to vegans, vegetarians and those following a gluten-free diet. There is even a healthy kids’ menu.
The whimsically decorated Juicebox on Second Street also has vegan and gluten-free options, as well as bagels, pastries, smoothies, sandwiches, wraps and, of course, juices.
Many spots that serve breakfast are also known for their hefty sandwiches. At Arena’s, the sandwiches take two hands to hold. Try the “North Shore,” which includes ham, sliced chicken, Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on a Kaiser roll.
If you want to make your own sandwiches, pick up the fixings at Dinah Lingo’s Market at 30 Baltimore Avenue, on the corner of Baltimore Avenue and First Street. It’s a convenient old fashioned grocery store known for its pastries and other baked goods.
Grub Grocery on Rehoboth Avenue serves breakfast, as well as sandwiches made with Boars Head products. “The Chub,” for instance, includes turkey, pepperoni and Havarti on ciabatta with Dijon and mayo. Grub is owned by The Cultured Pearl, which is next door, so you can also buy grab-and-go sushi at Grub. The hospitality group includes The Cultured Pearl Liquor Company, where you can shop for a rosé to go with the sushi.
The Cultured Pearl Restaurant and Sushi Bar is one of the many ethnic restaurants along the coast. However, it’s also a pioneer. Susan Townley-Wood was living in Ocean City, Maryland, when she developed an addiction for sushi. Back then she had to drive to either Annapolis or Philadelphia. She decided to plug the niche in 1993. The restaurant, which has grown over the years, is located atop a 22,000-square-foot building on Rehoboth Avenue. The showstopper is an outdoor deck with a 15,000-gallon koi-filled “lake” that weaves throughout the space. (Tip: It’s a great place from which to watch the July 4 fireworks.)
Confucius on Wilmington Avenue, which opened in 2004, is another Asian icon. Owned by Shawn and Danielle Xiong, the restaurant is famous for Sunday buffets and a mix of Americanized dishes and house specialties.
Latin flavors are easy to find along the coast. For authentic Central and South American cuisine, stroll down Wilmington Avenue to Mariachi, which has views of the ocean from the second-floor balcony. Owner Yolanda Pineda is famous around town for her pupusas, which are stuffed griddlecakes, and fried plantains. You’ll find a variety of tacos, burritos and enchiladas.
For a side of fun, visit Dos Locos on Rehoboth Avenue, which offers a lengthy list of fajitas, including lobster, fish, tuna, duck, scallops—even Australian lamb. You’ll also find grilled fish, chicken or beef. There are margaritas so large that you can share one.
More often than not, a visit to the beach is not complete without a stop at a boardwalk favorite, and in Rehoboth, that includes Grotto Pizza and Nicola Pizza.
Dominick Pulieri founded Grotto, which has several locations in downtown Rehoboth, in 1960. At that time, the young Pulieri had trouble giving away 20-cent slices. People didn’t want pizza at the beach. Curiosity got the better of the locals, and the word spread. Now visitors can’t wait to see the pizza’s signature swirl, which has a blend of cheeses, including Wisconsin cheddar.
The family-run Nicola Pizza, which has two downtown Rehoboth locations, has become a beachside tradition since opening in 1971. Its most famous offering is the Nic-o-Boli, a package of dough bulging with ground beef, pizza sauce and cheese. (A vegetarian version is available.) The signature item is so popular that Nicola ships a case anywhere in the United States.
DiFebo’s Restaurant, located on the corner of First Street and Baltimore Avenue, is new to Rehoboth Beach, but it’s not new to the coast. The Italian favorite started in 1989 as a 40-seat deli/café in Bethany Beach. It was a labor of love for Lisa-DiFebo-Osias, who continually added to the menu and the space. Try the house-made ravioli, which is Lisa’s grandmother’s recipe. The meatballs are her father’s creation. In warm weather, the covered patio in Rehoboth is a great place for people watching.
Not surprisingly, seafood is easy to find along the coast. But some restaurants have made it a specialty. Henlopen City Oyster House is packed all year long. Some come for the libations at the bar—check the chalkboard for beers on tap—some for the generously sized fish sandwiches and lobster rolls. Nearly all come for oysters and a side of lobster mac ‘n’ cheese.
Down in Dewey, just two-and-a-half blocks from the ocean, the new Starboard Raw is catering to diners who want to belly up to a Baltimore-style oyster bar. This is a sister restaurant to The Starboard across the street, but the focus here is on the craft beer and the seafood, which is steamed up in plain sight.
After a dozen oysters, walk over to Woody’s Dewey Beach, which regularly wins awards for its colossal crab cakes. The intimate space only has a few tables; a bar dominates most of the dining room. But there are seats outside. Share the ballpark pretzel topped with crab dip and melted cheese.
Newer to the dining scene is The Blue Hen, right by The Avenue Inn. The restaurant is related to Henlopen City Oyster House, but it’s a different concept. The Blue Hen puts an emphasis on heritage meats, duck, chicken and pork. As with HCOH, you’ll also find great craft brews and boutique wines. Relax on the patio or beside the firepit.
These establishments are on Wilmington Avenue’s “restaurant row,” which also includes Salt Air, which is owned by Big Fish Restaurant Group. Not surprisingly, seafood is the star. But the list of “From the Farm” selections (filet mignon, short ribs, brined chicken and pork chops) is equal to the “From the Ocean” side of the menu. The open, beach-inspired atmosphere is as appealing as the cuisine.
Fudge, ice cream and chocolate are must-have indulgences at the beach. Kilwin’s has all of the above, and you can watch staff make the fudge right on site. Here’s another perk: boxes of fudge and chocolate are tasty souvenirs that you can savor back home.
Hopefully you enjoyed some of our recommended Coastal Culinary delights. We’d love to hear what you uncover during your visit. Please share your favorites with us in the comment section below.