The Best of Delaware 2009
From crab cakes and cheesesteaks to prime rib and clam bakes, little Delaware is packed with great places to eat and terrific places to shop. Here’s the cream of the crop.
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Critics, upstate: Jake’s Hamburgers is a longtime favorite of Chen. “Growing up in Newark, I frequented the joint on (Del.) 273,” he says. “The decor is so simple, but the burgers are to die for. A 10-ounce Big Jake with cheese with fries and a black-and-white shake—’nuff said.” (150 S. Dupont Hwy., New Castle, 322-0200; 1100 Ogletown Road, Newark, 737-1118; 2405 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 994-6800)
Critics, downstate: The chefs at W.T. Smithers take a half-pound of certified Angus beef and grill it to order. There are eight variations of burger, including cool ranch, three-cheese (provolone, American and cheddar) and the ever-popular bacon cheeseburger. Brave souls attack the Double Stack: a 1-pound monster that’s been the subject of a few challenges over the years. “It’s a little bit ridiculous,” says co-owner Jason Thomas. “I’ll tell customers if they can eat the burger and all the fries, I’ll pay for their meal.” (140 S. State St., Dover, 674-8875)
Critics, over the line: The burgers at Brandywine Prime Seafood & Chops start their journey at the same place as the restaurant’s awesome steaks—on a cattle farm in northern Pennsylvania. Prime’s half-pound patties are made from scraps left after steaks are trimmed. That means the burgers contain prime beef such as New York Strip and ribeye. The charbroiled burgers, served on brioches from Le Bus, are topped with caramelized onions, Kennett Square mushrooms (grown about a mile away) and cheddar cheese. “It’s a pretty laborious task,” says owner Dan Butler. But customers appreciate the effort. Witness Friday nights, when the burgers sell for half-price in the bar. So many folks turn out that some have described the affair as a community event. (1617 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, Pa., 610-388-8088)