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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A secret handshake among locals who know how amazing it is, Shawn Xiong’s Confucius goes toe-to-toe with Rehoboth’s classiest restaurants. Like its simple, bright and sophisticated interior (eggshell walls covered sparsely with local artwork), Confucius’ dishes have an inescapably clean quality—beautifully plated, never greasy, never muddled with sauce. Fried dishes are only lightly fried. Peking duck is a signature dish. Go when you want to see where the town’s best chefs dine out. The surprise: Sunday brunch, a $10 three-course meal that may include items like steamed pork buns, stuffed eggplant, and dumplings. 57 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3848
Cool Springs Fish Bar
Dennis Forbes and crew offer perfectly consistent fish-house fare with a twist. From the open kitchen, chefs create tried-and-true recipes such as stuffed rockfish, prime rib and seared tuna, plus more adventuresome oyster sashimi—sushi-grade tuna pounded flat to top a raw oyster piqued with wasabi sauce. Call ahead to find out whether Cool Springs is doing your favorite seafood special, be it highly coveted shrimp and grits or grilled halibut with shrimp succotash. Forbes bakes eight desserts daily. 2463 S. State St., Dover, 698-1955
Mickey Donatello’s masterpiece has a little quirk, which provides North Wilmington a bit of cool and affordable made-from-scratch cuisine. Classic bistro offerings—steak frites, split game hen—are handled well. Affordable wines by the glass are plentiful. CB’s relaxed atmosphere allows diners to have an audible conversation. Regulars know to save room for homemade desserts, from classic Key lime pie and “the cake” to layered delicacies like dulce de leche-laced banoffee tarts. 3604 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 477-1778
Authentic Chinese cuisine is more common in big cities, but Hockessin is home to one of the area’s best examples of beyond-General-Tso Chinese. Think of it as soul food from the East—seafood-bean curd soup, salt-crust baked pork chops, fat braised egg noodles and mushrooms. 228 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 239-3825
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