Best of Delaware 2019 Editors’ Picks: Food & Drink
Heirloom is a 2019 winner for best Lewes restaurant.//photo by Moonloop Photography
An antipasto salad is hardly a salad, which is probably what makes it so enticing. The blend of cured meats, cheeses and veggies doused in oil and vinegar seems easy to prepare, but there really is an art to this traditional Italian appetizer. No one does it better than restaurateur and chef Tony Causi of Café Sitaly. Spend the extra $2 to get it chopped—it’s so good, don’t be surprised if you find yourself scraping the bottom of the bowl for every last bit until your entrée arrives.
1710 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 475-1120, cafesitaly.com
Beer Can Designs
If your Instagram feed has been a little sad these days, then click “follow” on Dewey Beer Co.’s colorful page. The quirky can designs are futuristic, retro and extraordinarily colorful. The illustration-based designs (with minimal text) are the brainchild of Lt Grey Creative, an advertising agency located in Ocean City, Maryland. Take advantage of the brewery’s pre-sales, where you can order your favorite styles before they sell out.
2100 Coastal Hwy., Dewey Beach, 227-1182, deweybeerco.com
Tucked in a quiet suburban shopping center, Corner Bistro beckons discerning foodies with delicious fare that’s grown locally and sustainably. Treat your taste buds and your health with lunchtime favorites organic beet salad and tangy black bean soup, or a main dish like Atlantic cod, roasted chicken or cassoulet with white beans and herbs. From 3 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, $5 appetizers, drafts and wine make for some truly happy hours.
3604 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 477-1778, mybistro.com
Breakfast in the City (Wilmington)
Wilmington’s iconic Kozy Korner may have changed locations over the years, but the family-owned establishment is still serving up the same stellar breakfasts we’ve been craving since 1922, and more. Traditional types will enjoy dishes like the homemade chipped beef and the Western egg, while modern foodies won’t want to miss—well, anything.
906 N. Union St., Wilmington, 658-0812, kozykorner-restaurant.com
Upstate: Whether you like your burger grass-fed or ground from beans, Kid Shelleen’s Charcoal House & Saloon knows how to grill a patty for every palate. Meat-lovers will go wild for The Cowboy drizzled with barbeque sauce and cheddar, while vegetarians will feel guilt-free indulging in a black bean burger with avocado, pea shoots and tzatziki. For the rest of you, there’s 10 other equally delicious options.
1801 W. 14th St., Wilmington, 658-4600, kidshelleens.com
Downstate: Restaurant 55 goes beyond the basic burger toppings and bun. In fact, their grill masters have experimented with gourmet fixings we’d never think to group together but that are doggone delicious. Be sure to try the Sante Fe with root beer barbeque sauce, the Willie Nelson with Jack Daniels and the turkey cobb—we bet you can’t pick one favorite. They’re all best paired with a seasonal craft brew.
2461 S. State St., Dover, 535-8102, myrestaurant55.com
Business Lunch in Newark
The stuffy working lunch has no place among Newark’s bustling college town vibe. Instead, Taverna, with its exposed brick and rustic wood accents, offers a casual alternative. Clients’ mouths will water at the long list of pizzas and Italian specialties while the warmth of the surroundings will fill them with goodwill and an eagerness to sign on the dotted line.
121 E. Main St., Newark, 444-4334, tavernamainstreet.com
For a hearty taste of New England right here at home, look no further than Nantuckets Restaurant in Fenwick Island. Stirring up its signature comfort soup of clams, scallops, corn, celery, onions and meaty potatoes in a creamy broth for more than a quarter of a century, this coastal spot also offers mouthwatering seafood entrees to satisfy every craving.
601 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, 539-2607, nantucketsrestaurant.com
Complementing the warm interiors and black-and-white photographs of Columbus Inn’s cozy cocktail lounge is a menu of spirits that feels equally as midcentury. Enjoy them neat or on the rocks — or have your bartender stir them into one of a bevy of classic cocktails like an old fashioned, Manhattan, sidecar or dirty martini.
2216 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, 571-1492, columbusinn.net
Pizza connoisseurs know that it’s all about the crust—and nothing is tastier than a crispy, coal-fired pie (the more charred, the better!). At Newark’s Taverna, pizzas are fired in a 900-degree coal oven, perfectly baking fresh toppings like portabella mushrooms, pan-fried peppers and robust meatballs into a savory sauce. Bite into a classic margherita or Neapolitan, or venture from your comfort zone with the San Danielle, topped with prosciutto, mozzarella and arugula.
121 E. Main St., Newark, 444-4334, tavernamainstreet.com
Upstate: The First State may have been one of the last places to jump on the ramen bandwagon, but boy are we sure glad they finally did. If you haven’t yet, check out Ramen Kumamoto, a tiny restaurant tucked away off of Newark’s Main Street. Here you’ll devour massive bowls of the steamy, salty, savory soup unlike anything you ate in college. Chef Sam Ho, formerly of Zento Japanese Contemporary Cuisine in Philadelphia, manages the eatery and makes you feel at home whether it’s your first time or your 50th.
165 E. Main St., Newark, 733-0888, ramenkumamotode.com
Downstate: When Warren Rosenfeld brought Rosenfeld’s Jewish Delicatessen—a revered Maryland restaurant—to Rehoboth Beach, we knew our waistlines were in trouble. But the food at Rosenfeld’s is like a bear hug on a chilly, rainy day—it warms you to your core. As much as we adore the colossal sandwiches that are stuffed with 8 ounces of meat, it’s the matzo ball soup that really speaks volumes—the flavorful and fluffy matzo balls swim in a salty broth that you never want to end.
18949 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 645-1700, rosenfeldsjewishdeli.com
For the ninth consecutive year, University of Delaware’s Courtyard Cafe at the Marriott takes the cake for best crab cakes. Made in-house with Old Bay seasoning, the “special menu” item is served each night for dinner, with two sides. Enjoy them indoors or al fresco.
400 David Hollowell Drive, Newark, 737-0900, udel.edu/hotel/Dining
Crabs Over the Line—Maryland
Jonesing for some of those authentic Eastern Shore crustaceans? Hop in the car for the quick trip to The Wellwood in Charlestown, Maryland, to take in not just unreasonable amounts of crab, but also the expansive views of the North East River. Take your pick between a fine dining experience in the traditional dining room, or an up-close river view with a more casual crab house vibe at The River Shack.
Date Night Restaurant
Who could forget the incredibly romantic scene from the Disney film, “Lady and the Tramp,” when Lady and Tramp nuzzle over a plate of spaghetti? Diners might look at you funny at Lupo Italian Kitchen if you and your honey start slurping the same noodle, but trust us when we say they food at this romantic Rehoboth restaurant will inspire you to do so. Linger over a bottle of wine and be sure and save room for dessert—the tiramisu is transcendent.
247 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-2240, lupoitaliankitchen.com
Best Restaurant in Dover
Celebrating its 20th year, Cool Springs Fish Bar & Restaurant marries quality seafood and simplicity to create old-style dishes in a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Find everything from soup to award-winning desserts. The well-rounded menu features “Something Fishy” and “Nothing Fishy” options to tantalize meat- and seafood-lovers alike, including prime rib, rack of lamb, roasted half-chicken and more.
2463 S. State St., Dover, 698-1955, coolspringsfishbar.com
We think the name sells La Casa Pasta a little short. This longstanding family-owned restaurant boasts a rich array of fine Italian fare and an ambiance as warm as the fresh-baked bread and cozy feeling you get from the house wine. But when pasta is what the palate wants, you’re definitely in the right house. From fusilli to fetuccelle, and every noodle in between, La Casa serves them under delicacies like clams, lobster and shitakes.
120 Four Seasons Parkway, Newark, 738-9935, lacasapasta.com
Excuse to Go out to Dinner on a Monday
Upstate: If Monday were a food, it would be a grilled cheese sandwich without the cheese. But Middletown’s 1861 Bar/Food/Friends gives you something to look forward to after a miserable first day back at work: every Monday the restaurant features a new burger, bourbon and beer special for just $15. Past burgers have included mac n’ cheese, pepperoni pizza and nacho-inspired ingredients.
423 N. Broad St., Middletown, 376-7956, 1861restaurant.com
Downstate: Spend way too much money at the beach this weekend? Luckily, you can still afford to go out to dinner, at least on Monday. Blackwall Hitch’s Crab Cake Monday will fill you up without emptying your pockets. Enjoy a single crab cake entree for $12 or a double crab cake entree for $22. Each entree is served with roasted corn salsa, cherry pepper remoulade and the restaurant’s signature sea salt and cracked black pepper fries.
52 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-0550, theblackwallhitch.com
One taste of the fresh seafood at Just Hooked, and you’ll just be hooked. Fenwick Island’s sea-to-table restaurant boasts a creative culinary mix, featuring fresh catches of the day, feel-good healthy produce and a modern twist on classic coastal fare. A modest libations and wine list is the perfect companion to dishes like cioppino, rockfish tacos and pan seared scallops.
1500 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, 581-0098, justhookedfi.com
Fine Dining Over the Line
In a world of casual dining, sometimes it’s called for to dress things up. The Mendenhall Inn Restaurant, just up Pa. 52 at the lodgings of the same name, emphasizes that cloth napkin, white tablecloth experience with classic ambiance and impeccable service. Dishes reach across the Atlantic to France for inspiration, while maintaining a healthy selection of new American and Italian-inspired selections, making it worth the border crossing.
323 Kennett Pike, Mendenhall, Pa., (610) 388-2100, brandywinehotels.com/mendenhall-inn/
At The House of William & Merry, a husband and wife team prepare lunch and dinner with ingredients procured from local farms and markets. The house setting makes you feel like you’re dining at the home of family or friends, while the modern cuisine, crisp microbrews and modest seasonal selections lend an upscale vibe. From cheese plates and chicken liver mousse to Chesapeake catfish and butter blade steak, there’s a dish or few for foodies of all kinds.
1336 Old Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, 234-2255, williamandmerry.com
In our youth we spent hours waiting in line at the Rusty Rudder, and not just because they make a mean orange crush. The margaritas were golden, the brew list had all the best summer hops and we got to see our favorite local live bands for free. All of that remains true for the modern-day music lover: This summer, catch acts like Wyland, Everette and Levi Hummon—sans cover charge.
113 Dickinson St., Dewey Beach, 227-3888, rustyrudderdewey.com
Guest Bartender Nights
Looking to sling a few beers for your charity? A few nights a month at BBC Tavern and Grill, community members with a cause step behind the bar to raise money with friends, family and fellow philanthropists. From school fundraisers to cancer research foundations, guest bartenders have a few hours to earn big tips to turn over to their charity — and dinner guests who mention the cause will also have a portion of their bill donated. Cheers!
4019 Kennett Pike, Greenville, 655-3785, bbctavernandgrill.com
The creative craft cocktails at One Coastal are sure to lift your spirits. While you can still find your favorite mojito, Manhattan and margarita, an updated spin on these modern classics comes in the form of a Honey Bourbon with seasonal cider and bitters, the Zaragoza with mezcal and citrus, the Coastal Crush with elderflower and basil, and much more.
101 Coastal Hwy., Unit 6, Fenwick Island, 537-4790, onecoastal.com
Upstate: A good happy hour consists of a few basic necessities: a handful of food and drink specials and multiple days (and hours) to enjoy said specials. Tonic Bar & Grille offers all of this and more. The Wilmington restaurant boasts happy hour every day of the week (yes, even weekends), with $6 select wines and the best deal of all—$5 mixers of Rock Town Vodka which tastes just like Tito’s. Food specials range from $6 to $9—the fried pickles are addictive and the Angus beef sliders are superb.
111 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 777-2040, tonicbargrille.com
Downstate: What’s not to love about Chesapeake and Maine’s happy hour? For one, it is ALL DAY on Wednesdays—yes, you read that right. The bar bites are splendid—get the $6 buffalo bites or an order of oysters at a $1 a piece. Dogfish beers are only $3 and the creative bartenders whip up some of the tastiest cocktails you will have at the beach for only $7. Get there early if you crave a seat at the bar.
316 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-3600, dogfish.com/restaurants/chesapeake-maine
King of the comfort pasta dish, “nyow-kee” dumplings can be made with simple semolina or wheat flour, or filled with flavorful potatoes, breadcrumbs, eggs or cheese. At Vincenza Margherita Bistro (better known as V&M), they’re handmade with potatoes and served in a classic meat sauce—and they’re simply delicious.
1717 Marsh Road, Wilmington, 479-7999, vmbistro.com
Upstate: Perhaps the greatest joy of opening the menu at Wilmington’s Capers and Lemons is the breadth of choices without being as thick as an old New York City phone book. Looking for your classic favorites? They’re there, rendered in all their red sauce glory with a freshness few other places approach. If you’re looking for lighter and brighter, the salads, seafoods and the signature chicken piccata (starring the restaurant’s eponymous ingredients) never fail to satisfy.
301 Little Falls Drive, Wilmington, 256-0524, capersandlemons.com
Downstate: Sometimes, when it comes to the restaurant in your hotel the best choice is to just keep moving. At the Hotel Rehoboth, that would be a mistake, because you’d bypass the Italian treasures of Lupo Italian Kitchen. Tapping the bounty of the sea, the bay and Sussex County farms, Lupo brings it all together with a flawless list of Italian wines (recipient of a 2018 Wine Spectator Award for Excellence) and house-made pastas to create a uniquely Delaware beach version of Mediterranean cuisine.
247 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-2240, lupoitaliankitchen.com
A successful kids’ menu must balance needs that may seem irreconcilable: parents are looking for nutrition but also something their children will eat without making a scene. Iron Hill Brewery excels with items that are flavorful, healthy and fun too, which is why its menu is a winner. Entrees include items like fish and chips, baked haddock and even chicken pot pie. The side dishes are also a main attraction—options include sweet peas, smashed potatoes, fruit cups and more. Make sure the kiddos save room for Iron Hill’s signature ice cream!
620 Justison St., Wilmington, 472-2739; 147 E. Main St., Newark, 266-9000; 19815 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 260-8000, ironhillbrewery.com
Best Restaurant in Lewes
Even before becoming a James Beard Award finalist this year, Heirloom was already known as something special among Delaware diners. This bright, homey space in Lewes, just blocks from the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, has been the setting for locally-sourced culinary delights since it opened its doors in 2015. Maintaining a tight menu to complement the intimate surroundings, Heirloom still manages to please every palate.
212 Savannah Road, Lewes, 313-4065, heirloomdelaware.com
The DiFebo's family managed to import what had already become a legendary culinary pedigree from Wilmington to Sussex County, taking what had been a region dominated by highway chain restaurant Italian and injecting a much-needed dose of Nana’s homemade red sauce into the dining scene. The menus at both the Bethany and Rehoboth locations of DiFebo’s don’t just lean on the classics, instead adding fun, contemporary takes on seafood—witness the pan-roasted salmon with lemon risotto jam, shaved Brussels sprouts, baby watercress and pistachio pesto, or the classic clams and pancetta.
789 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach, 539-4550; 12 N. 1st St., Rehoboth Beach, 226-4550, difebos.com
Mouthwatering Instagram Page
As if the real, live food wasn’t delicious enough, scrolling along the Instagram page for Wilmington dining standout Bardea Food + Drink will definitely make your stomach growl, even without the accompanying yummy smells. Mixed in with the tasty delights are sightings of all sorts of Delaware glitterati (waving at you, Joe Biden!).
Why is it so hard to get a good plate of nachos? Restaurants either skimp on ingredients, or the chips are soggy. That’s not the case at Stewart’s Brewing Co., where the Malt House Nachos are a work of art. The massive platter of house-fried corn tortilla chips is topped with tomatoes, black beans, scallions, fresh jalapeno peppers and cheddar-jack cheese. Pony up the extra $6 for the barbecue brisket.
219 Governor’s Place, Bear, 836-2739, stewartsbrewingcompany.com
Nationally Nominated Restaurants
Heirloom and Bardea Food + Drink put the spotlight on Delaware's dining scene with their 2019 nominations for the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards. Bardea was a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category, and Heirloom's Matthew Kern was a semifinalist in the Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic category.
Originally one of our favorite places to dine out or host a party, Piccolina Toscana (better known as “Toscana”) became a beloved neighborhood staple when it added the to-go market to the menu. Now that we can enjoy all the same great dishes at our home dining table, we can’t get enough of the fresh, crispy salads, saucy pizzettes and creamy pastas.
1412 N. DuPont St., Wilmington, 654-8001, piccolinatoscana.com
Already creating a buzz, Bardea Food + Drink owners Scott Stein and Antimo DiMeo aimed to open a space that captured the energy of downtown while drawing the community together through quality Italian food and cocktails. Using fresh ingredients from local purveyors, the duo has designed a menu that features delicious small plates, charcuterie boards, woodfired pizzas and family-style feasts. The beer and wine lists are plentiful, and the signature drinks are as old-world as the cuisine.
620 N. Market St., Wilmington, 426-2069, bardeawilmington.com
Oceanfront dining brings to mind certain expectations—knotty pine décor, a “no shoes, no shirt, no problem” sense of style and lots of beer. But Victoria’s Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach’s Boardwalk Plaza hotel flips the script, allowing for Victorian elegance—there’s even an afternoon tea—and upscale dining choices in direct view of the expansive Atlantic from nearly every point in the three-level dining room.
2 Olive Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-0615, boardwalkplaza.com/dining
One-Stop Shop for Food
Upstate: You just checked your calendar and realize that you’re hosting book club this week and your husband’s new boss is coming to dinner on Friday. Keep calm and go to Janssen’s Market. This Greenville staple has everything: gourmet cheeses, dips made from scratch, savory soups, and a tasty variety of heat-and-eat entrées, from salmon to steak. Don’t leave without a stop at the bakery or a show-stopping floral arrangement.
3801 Kennett Pike, Greenville, 654-9941, janssensfinefoods.com
Downstate: Planning a day at the beach and you don’t feel like spending hours preparing lunch and snacks? Make it a point to stop at Fifer’s Farm Market Café in Dewey Beach, which is just two blocks from the ocean and within walking distance of Silver Lake. Stock up on grab-and-go salads, made-to-order sandwiches, fresh fruit and veggies and locally roasted coffee, too. The cafe is also open for breakfast, so start your day with a breakfast sandwich or Slower Lower, Fifer’s apple cider doughnut sliced and filled with crispy Delaware scrapple.
200 Cullen St., Dewey Beach, 227-8680, fiferorchards.com
Don’t be fooled by the modern façade. Inside Capers & Lemons you’ll find a fusion of old-world charm and contemporary cool, creating the ideal ambiance for fine Italian dining. But the best part of the experience comes from the kitchen—most notably, a delicious seasonal menu of homemade pastas that are as fresh as the bread that comes before them. The Summer Corn Agnolotti is not to be missed.
301 Little Falls Drive, Wilmington, 256-0524, capersandlemons.com
Place for an Intimate Celebration
Looking to throw the ultimate bridal shower, baby shower or birthday party? The Station on Kings in Lewes is hard to beat. The cafe, market and home-and-garden store is like a Pinterest board on steroids. The cafe is intimate and airy, thanks to the peaked glass ceiling. The pastries are precious, the food is elegant and the coffee is divine. If you can dream it, The Station on Kings can help make it happen.
720 Kings Hwy., Lewes, 645-0300, thestationlewes.com
Potato Latkes That Will Change Your Life
Deciding what to order for breakfast at Honey’s Farm Fresh is no easy task—the omelets are jam-packed and the brand new juice bar serves up the freshest orange and grapefruit juice, lemonade and unique blends that rotate with the seasons. But nothing can prepare you for the potato latke. The unassuming breakfast side will change your life—the colossal heap of golden goodness is crispy and decadent and seasoned perfectly with just the right amount of garlic and onion. You will never look at a side of breakfast potatoes the same way again.
329 Savannah Road, Lewes, 644-8400, facebook.com/honeysfarmfresh
Some things taste better with age. At Walter’s Steakhouse—Wilmington’s oldest steakhouse—tradition outweighs culinary trends when it comes to juicy cuts that are as flavorful as they are tender. The chefs/steak connoisseurs have long held the secret to preparing the finest prime rib, steaks and chop house offerings. Try them sliced a la carte, tossed on a salad or with a tasty side dish, and pair with a glass of vino rosso from a small, hand-selected list.
802 N. Union St., Wilmington, 652-6780, walters-steakhouse.com
Few things pair as well as countless wine and beer offerings and some hearty pub grub to help soak it up. At Buckley’s Tavern, savor timeless comfort foods like Rhode Island crispy calamari, the house nachos and Philly cheesesteak egg rolls. Nestled in Centreville, this longtime favorite also features al fresco seating where you can drink in your cocktail and the summer air.
5812 Kennett Pike, Centreville, 656-9776, buckleystavern.com
Best Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach
How do we know Delaware’s culinary Renaissance isn’t a fluke? Not only did we have two James Beard Award nominees this year, but Hari Cameron, the man behind Rehoboth Beach’s a(MUSE.) has been nominated no less than three times. Credit his unique spins on Delmarva classics like crab cakes and soft-shell crabs, his embrace of meatless entrée options, as well as his playful but sophisticated presentation. He’s not just raising the bar at the beach, but for the state.
44 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-7101, amuse-rehoboth.com
Restaurant off the Beaten Path
Upstate: When celebrated chef and restaurateur Dave Weir passed away suddenly last July, diners feared Goat Kitchen & Bar might close. But the dedicated staff has kept this neighborhood gem alive, which is tucked away in a humble shopping center off Marsh Road. The menu is funky and fun, with plenty of vegetarian options, soups, salads and pizzas.
1845 Marsh Road, Wilmington, 746-7847, goatkitchenandbar.com
Downstate: We were saddened when chef Brenton Wallace decided to sell his restaurant, Crust & Craft, to SoDel Concepts. The handcrafted pizza kitchen is a hidden gem, largely due to its corner location in a strip mall on Del. 1 heading away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Rehoboth (other businesses in the shopping center include a DXL Men’s Outlet and GameStop). But dedicated diners have confirmed that even though the restaurant has changed owners, the menu is still solid (this could be because Nina Maddox—formerly of Lupo Italian Kitchen—is now the head chef).
18701 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 313-5029, crustandcraftrehoboth.com
Scrapple as a Menu Item
Scrapple for breakfast. Scrapple for brunch. Scrapple on a sandwich. Yeah, it’s Delaware. But aside from the sheer audacity of adding such a dish to a menu at a purveyor of fine cuisine like a(MUSE.) in Rehoboth Beach, the willingness to incorporate the First State’s signature meat product (sorry, chicken) with Asian preparation as scrapple fried rice is nothing short of genius. Alas, with the restaurant’s ever-changing menu, it might be a while before you see it come around again. When it does, be prepared to pounce!
44 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-7101, amuse-rehoboth.com
For bottomless seafood options, dive into Banks Seafood Kitchen & Raw Bar on Wilmington’s Riverfront. It’s no wonder the waterside restaurant has become so popular for lunch, supper and late-night libations—the atmosphere is chic, the cuisine is fresh and innovative, and there are as many wines to pair with your poisson as there are dishes. From steamer pots and salads to sandwiches and savory entrees, we’ve never seen seafood served in so many different ways.
101 S. Market St., Wilmington, 777-1500, banksseafoodkitchen.com
Selection of Gourmet Foods
For slow-cooked “fast food” that’s as healthy as it is savory, swing by Janssen’s Market in Greenville. Much of the market’s menu changes daily, and you’ll always find a smorgasbord of fine meats, fish and vegetarian dishes, plus modern takes on traditional sides. The upscale grocer also offers gourmet items like cheeses, jams and homemade frozen family dinners that you won’t find elsewhere.
3801 Kennett Pike, Greenville; 654-9941, janssensfinefoods.com
Boasting farm-fresh fare in an upscale bistro setting, James Beard finalist La Fia has become best known for its gourmet small plates—offering patrons the perfect opportunity to sample a little of everything. The pickled fennel with mixed greens makes the Farmers Salad, while the Salt Cod Fritter, Beef Tartare, and Goat Cheese and Date Toast are all tasty treats to be tried.
421 N. Market St., Wilmington, 543-5574, lafiawilmington.com
When those in the know chicken want their fried chicken done right, they head straight to one of the two Walt’s Flavor Crisp Chicken Express locations. But for the real Southern experience, you’ve got to have those classic sides, too. Mac and cheese? Check! Collard greens? Yes! Beans and rice? Yeah, baby! And let’s not forget the shrimp and fish that sends any of those fast-food chain imposters away squawking. There’s no excuse not to finish with banana pudding so good it’ll make you want to slap your mama!
2601 Carpenter Station Road, Suite 50, Wilmington, 439-3452; 103 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington, 429-2587, waltsexpress.com
Bardea Food + Drink, a 2019 winner for best spot for a birthday celebration.//photo by Moonloop Photography
Spot for a Birthday Celebration
Looking to celebrate your birthday someplace cool and intimate with dynamite food? Luckily, you don’t have to travel to Philly anymore, because Wilmington’s Bardea Food + Drink is it. The Italian restaurant, which opened in September, is also a James Beard semifinalist in the best new restaurant category. The menu is peppered with plenty of small plates and snacks ideal for sharing, and to top it off the birthday girl or boy gets bathed in attention when the homemade dessert arrives with a crackling sparkler. Take that, Chuck E. Cheese’s.
620 N. Market St., Wilmington, 426-2069, bardeawilmington.com
Steak in Dover
If you like your steaks a cut above the rest, Michele’s Steakhouse is a must-try. With a new intimate location in Dover Downs Hotel & Casino’s Lobby lounge, the award-winning fine-dining spot serves up first-class service and first-rate steaks. A tasty complement to the signature 20-ounce Tomahawk rib-eye is a glass of cabernet from the robust wine list.
1131 N. DuPont Hwy., Dover, 857-2120, doverdowns.com/dining/restaurants/Micheles
Our only complaint about Deerfield’s Sunday Brunch is that it isn’t year-round. From October through early May, imbibe and indulge in the ultimate brunch experience featuring signature bloody Marys and mimosas, traditional breakfast dishes and made-to-order eggs, a sweet and spicy house-made bacon and—best of all— a donut wall.
507 Thompson Station Road, Newark, 368-6640, deerfieldgolfclub.com
Without flash or pretense, Hockessin gem Okura manages to take everything that’s special about sushi—the freshness and finesse of a properly prepared roll—to new heights. Locals have long known of the tasty treats to be found within its modest shopping center location, so we’re sorry (well, not really) for sharing your well-kept secret.
Wellington Plaza, 703 Ace Memorial Drive, Hockessin, 239-8486, okura.us
Upstate: Looking for a Champagne brunch where you can drink in an epic view? Delaware Park’s At the Rail Wine Bar & Grille features fine fare, specialty cocktails and a shaded veranda where you can imbibe al fresco while taking in the action on the fairway. Sundays serve up a leisurely buffet brunch until 2 p.m.
White Clay Creek Country Club, 777 Delaware Park Blvd., Wilmington, 994-2521, whiteclaycreekcc.com
Downstate: There’s something about salt air and the sound of lapping waves that elevates any dining experience. At Catch 54, the mouthwatering land-and-sea cuisine—the Fenwick spot is best known for signature crab cakes, buttermilk fried oyster and a house burger topped with secret sauce—a panorama of the bay creates an idyllic setting for fine dining and imbibing on their extensive wine and cocktail offerings.
38931 Madison Ave., Selbyville, 436-8600, catch54.com
What makes Pizza By Elizabeth’s wine list so divine? For one, almost all varieties are available by the glass. The Greenville restaurant also offers suggested pairings for many of its monthly specials. To top it off, the list is balanced and diverse—sip a fresh, crisp California Sauvignon Blanc or a sumptuous Italian Chianti.
3801 Kennett Pike, Greenville, 654-4478, pizzabyelizabeths.com
Wine List in Newark
Oenophiles will delight in the extensive “dessert” list at Caffe Gelato, where a thoughtfully curated selection of more than 200 wines helped earn the longstanding establishment a Wine Spectator award. From ports and pinot noir to rose to chardonnay, there’s a varietal or blend to please every palate. And if you’ve got room for more, the gelato options are almost as impressive.
90 E Main St., Newark, 738-5811, caffegelato.net
Ulysses Gastropub is a 2019 winner for best Wings.//photo by Moonloop Photography
Ulysses Gastropub might be known for its scrupulous beer list, but its food menu is no joke. Take for example the smoked chicken wings. Ulysses has found a way to elevate this once-boring bar snack to something oozing with flavor. If your taste buds are timid, the buffalo flavor offers just the right amount of bite. Try out the other flavors (Creole BBQ, Sriracha and the dry rub) at happy hour when an order will only run you $6.
1716 Marsh Road, 691-3456, ulyssesgastropub.com