Skipjack Review, Tijuana Taco Shop’s New Home Plus Coffee Cravings in Hockessin

Chef Donny Merrill blends zany tastes with a soulful base at his new restaurant in Newark.



One Semi-Reformed Krazy Kat

Chefs and musicians share more than a few strands of DNA. Their bodies and brains grind through a rigorous creative process, after which they offer themselves up for public, often mindless, consumption. Theirs are projects of passion, performance and chops. The stream of adrenaline, the kind that only hits in front a live crowd, unites their worlds. Donny Merrill travels between both. For six years, the head chef steered the ever-eclectic ship at Krazy Kat’s in Montchannin while somehow finding time to hammer the drum kit behind Delaware’s legendary party band, Fat Daddy Has Been. With a penchant for big, percussive flavors, the drummer’s rock star wiles translate exceptionally well to the chaos of the kitchen. At Krazy Kat’s, Merrill tested the limits of his imaginative, hyperactive songbook. His uptown spin on Chesapeake cuisine pivoted around local ingredients, even before it was de rigueur. And behind every blood orange “caviar” or key lime gelée stood a fantastic crab cake or a fresh oyster. It wasn’t hard to imagine Merrill, with his inked-up arms, trucker hat and flowing beard of rock, going Dave Grohl on some jalapeno mousse or buzzing some anchovy emulsion to smithereens. Flavors ran wild and free—even a little unhinged—and the hits followed. Thankfully Merrill didn’t forget the rock kit when he renovated a Newark storefront to open his own restaurant late this summer. At Skipjack, in the Shoppes at Louviers near Newark, the chef still found ways to slide mango pickles or chipotle gouda onto someone’s plate. But Skipjack also revealed a more matured, more soulful side. Hidden beneath Merrill’s love of zany were some traditional offerings. Which makes it a place you need to visit. Click here for a more in-depth review. 456-1800, skipjacknewark.com

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Tempting Tacos—and More

Here’s a warm bienvenidos (welcome) back to the former Tijuana Taco Shop in Wilmington, now Margaritas Grill at Prices Corner. Authentic Mexican food prepared under the direction of the exacting DeMucha family translates perfectly to the new location. See more in the January issue. 660-7915, facebook.com/pages/Tijuana-Taco-Shop/10150105681110173

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Coffee Crazy

When the Columbian-American barrista mentions that her baby bottle was filled with coffee on her first birthday, you know you’ve entered heaven for coffee geeks. The Drip Café in Hockessin’s Lantana Square Shopping Center is hell-bent on changing coffee sulture—and food. Again, check the January issue. 234-4430, dripcafede.com

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Happy Food Year

Here’s a New Year’s Eve menu we find hard to resist, from one of our favorite new restaurants, Mona Lisa Euro Bistro. Order a la carte. A glass of bubbly comes free. To start, choose from onion soup gratinée, oysters on the half with a mignonette or oysters broiled with sweet pea coulis and pancetta, tuna tartare Niçoise, escargots and more. Entrees include Dijon-crusted lamb chops with roasted asparagus and leek-potato mash; pheasant coq ua vin; filet mignon with wild mushroom duxelles, shallot-truffle butter and frizzled Vidalia onions garnished with escargots; and more. Don’t get us started on dessert choices, just call for a rezzie post haste. Cheers. 888-2201, monalisaeurobistro.com

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STAFF WRITER MARK NARDONE DISHES ON THIS WEEK’S
BEST WINE EVENTS AND MORE

About This Blog

Mark Nardone
Wilmington, DE

From chocolate festivals to wine tastings to new restaurant openings, Dining Insider has the Delaware dining scene covered. Delaware Today's Mark Nardone shares the scoop each week on the food and wine events you simply can’t miss. Contact Mark at mnardone@delawaretoday.com.

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