It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, but just what makes a great neighborhood restaurant? Picture casual places that are often close to actual neighborhoods, places that often welcome the kids, and places where you’ll often find a burger, as well as food that approaches fine dining, but with prices that won’t break the bank. Find your new favorite here.
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How can you not love a place that puts beer in the ice cream and bacon in pretty much everything else? For 15 years, Stewart’s Brewing Company (219 Governors Place, Bear, 836-2739), the county’s first brewpub, has been providing customers with fresh-made, often fun and experimental beers from brewers Ric Hoffman and Eric Boice. The pub food—steaks, fish and chips, Cuban sandwiches and more—the nightly specials, the live music and the mug club enhance the atmosphere and keep regulars hooked.
Part seafood house, part bistro, part watering hole—it’s hard to slap a label onto Striper Bites (107 Savannah Road, Lewes, 645-4657). One thing’s for sure—it’s a Lewes classic thanks to a comfortable nautical vibe and thoughtful bistro cuisine that uses seafood as a primary influence. The menu centerpiece is blackened tuna pasta tossed in tomato and braised fennel cream. Try it on the cozy patio.
The revamped Summer House Restaurant (228 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3895) has grown up. Never fear: You can still order one of its famous Long Island iced teas, but now there’s a wine list, too. Good barbecue of all sorts, steaks, seafood, and all the salads and sandwiches you’d expect make it a solid entry.
A Christina pioneer, Timothy’s Riverfront Grill (930 Justison St., Wilmington, 429-7427) is still going strong 10-plus years later, and no wonder. We never could get enough of the tangy barbecued ribs, and any surf-and-turf variation that includes crab cakes never escapes our attention. When the weather cooperates, the patio seals the deal. And be sure to check out the new Timothy’s at the Beach (19598 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth, 227-3435).
Located in the Shops of Limestone Hills, Tyler Fitzgerald’s (5343 Limestone Road, Wilmington, 234-0240) is a good place for standard pub grub such as burgers and the usual sandwich suspects. Eat indoors or out. Get there early if you want to eat in peace. Stay late if you want to rock out.
Few restaurants embody the community spirit of Union City Grille (805 N. Union St., Wilmington, 654-9780). Chef-owner Matthew Curtis and executive chef Robert Lhulier injected hometown zeal as well as delicious, straightforward food when the pair took over in 2008. They’ve made Union City Grille a fixture at all the major community events, charities, loops and more. And that says nothing about the bistro-meets-steakhouse cuisine, which is consistently excellent.
Vascillating between cozy and crazy, Washington Street Ale House (1206 N. Washington St., Wilmington, 658-2537) is equally adept at hosting a quiet dinner for two or a rockin’ happy hour. The beer selection—packed with Dogfish Head, micros and imports—makes it a destination for suds-seekers. Think of the cuisine as pub-grub with a purpose: Wagyu beef burgers, lobster pierogies and fried grouper Reubens are all great.
Inexpensive beer isn’t the only thing W.T. Smithers (140 S. State St., Dover, 674-8875) has going for it. The Downtown Dover hangout, built into a Victorian house, still garners love from the locals for its customer service—bartenders will shake your hand when you belly up to the bar—its surprisingly daring menu (now with sautéed alligator) and its renovated outdoor dining area.