The Restaurant Issue: 96 Favorites
In our tiny state, 96 restaurants may seem like a lot, so let’s put this in perspective: The Delaware Restaurant Association counts 1,900 members, everything from pizza joints to Zagat-listed classics. How do we choose 96? Editors considered the atmosphere, novelty, quality of cuisine, reputation, longevity, wine program, service and value at 200 top-tier restaurants (plus a few just over the state line), including past Best of Delaware winners. We didn’t include every neighborhood tavern—we’ll get to them in another issue—nor every neighborhood Italian place. (Find them at www.delawaretoday.com/Delaware-Today/February-2008/Dining-Guide-World-Class/.) Left standing: a diverse roster of places you simply must visit—if you haven’t already.
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Fins Fish House and Raw Bar
Fins knocked it out of the park when it opened. Diners went bananas over the raw bar (good ones have always been surprisingly rare at the beach), which sources nearly 35 types of oysters from around the world, including briny faves from Chincoteague. Entrées range from well-prepared standards such as crab cakes, fried oysters, and fish and chips to spicy cioppino. The bar, created in classic English pub style, is just plain fun. 234 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-3467
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
Big bar, big dining room, big beef. And all that beef is grilled over an open flame for the big Western flavor that inspired the concept. Lobster-spinach queso is a bold alternative to crab dip. Bison is an authentic touch. If a handcut filet, strip or ribeye doesn’t move you, there are delicious salmon and chicken dishes. Potatoes are de rigueur. 1225 Churchmans Road, Newark, 366-7577
Like all of Matt Haley’s SoDel Concepts restaurants, Fish On! is contemporary in decor: big, bright windows, sleek black banquet, clean maple chairs, white tablecloths. The cuisine is a perfect match. Pan-roasted halibut with a maple-sherry glaze is teamed with shiitakes and caramelized Brussels sprouts. The tomato-based seafood stew is a fave, as is shrimp and grits studded with chorizo. If fish isn’t your thing, opt for a filet or really good cheeseburger. The caramel toffee cheesecake is beyond description. 17300 N. Village Main Blvd., Lewes, 645-9790
This is an ordinary chippy that’s so much more, thanks to horseradish-crust salmon, organic cider, and a heck of an environmental conscience. (The place is powered by windmills.) Icelandic cod and thin batter is used to make the fish and chips sweet and crispy. Rich sticky toffee pudding is owner Alison Blyth’s gift to the world. 24 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-1044
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