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The Cape Region can do a whole lot better than milk & cookies by the fireplace

December 21, 2018

Dear Santa, 

This letter is being provided to you as a public service to prepare you for your upcoming visit to Rehoboth Beach. You see, our little town is a popular dining destination, and though egg nog and snickerdoodles by the fireplace are certainly cute, we can beat that. Assuming you arrive from the North Pole by air, I’m guessing you’ll be a bit peckish by the time you land. 

First of all, many of the places on your list will not have chimneys. But a ventilation hood is a fine alternative (if the exhaust fan isn’t on!). I’m sure you’ve gotten pretty good at somersaulting over the occasional smoldering yule log, but here in Rehoboth we’ve got bubbling fryers and hot grills. So beware of what’s at the bottom of that stainless steel shaft! 

You won’t have to settle for the ordinary when you wiggle your way into Fork & Flask restaurant. Chef Sean Corea’s going to whip up a batch of his legendary deconstructed bacon, egg & cheese biscuits. Pair them with pretty much any cocktail mixed up by barkeep Ginger Breneman. 

Be ready for a spicy cucumber martini from bartender David Engel at a(MUSE.). While he’s mulling the cukes ‘n’ peppers, slip over to Grandpa MAC for a Delmarva Dog. Carb-loading is always better with a martini. If you’ve been checking your list twice, you know that just next door is the Blue Moon (watch out for that mirror ball!). Enjoy a plate of Chef Lion Gardner’s to-die-for gorgonzola-stuffed dates wrapped in apple-smoked bacon. Diagonally across the street is Café Azafran. Your night won’t be complete without Rich Steele’s signature haricots verts and those veal meatballs & plump cannellinis. Directly across the street you’ll find some amazing beef short ribs at JAM Bistro. Nice people in there – with desserts from talented pastry chef Olivia Henning. 

As you make your approach into Matt’s Fish Camp Bethany, don’t get snagged on the stately towers of the Indian River Inlet bridge. But you do want to snag a heaping platter of Chef Maggie Cellitto’s fried Ipswich clams. They’re remarkably light, and you can’t get them just anywhere (it’s a long way to Massachusetts). 

The Rehoboth Bandstand will be your landmark for a touch ‘n’ go at Indigo Indian Restaurant. Sadly, you’ll have missed the Sunday Indian buffet, but I’m sure that Raghu Kumar and his dad Suraj will happily provide you with a basket of onion kulcha and their so-good-you’ll-forget-they’re-meatless samosas. That will put you in the mood for some barbecue, so follow the plume of hickory smoke to Bethany Blues in Lewes. The Pigs on the Wing riblets are the perfect Christmas Eve snack. Wash ‘em down with a shot of Pappy Van Winkle … if you can figure out the combination to Kevin Roberts’ bourbon vault. Judging from the ample shadow you cast on the new-fallen snow, I suspect you like cheese. Alex Kotanides’ Greek-style pizza at Pat’s Pizza in Lewes is loaded with creamy cheese. Get it a bit well done – you won’t be sorry…. 

As you head south, you can enjoy a two-fer at Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli and Minh’s Bistro. After all, all this hoopla started with a Jewish kid, so a corned beef/pastrami reuben will be right on point. Next door at Minh’s, tuck into an order of Thinh Pham’s spring rolls (actually summer rolls - I’m working on that…) and a bowl of chicken Pho. Thinh’s new recipe is deeply rich and savory. Speaking of rich, the black ravioli with lobster makes for the perfect quick snack at 1776 Steakhouse. If you ask nicely, co-owner and barkeep extraordinaire Johnny Farquhar will have a cool and frosty Trappist brew waiting for you. I suggest the Rochefort #8. 

Still hungry, Santa? Chef Nate Leonard (of Michelin Star fame) at 208 Social whips up an unexpectedly amazing burger that plays very well with anything that celebrity bartenders Sierra West or Andy Fabriziani can whip up. Directly across the street, make room for Fran and Tonya Agostino’s salt-crusted baked branzino at Azzurro Italian Oven. Just a block east you can chow down on an order of Yolanda Pineda’s tamales at Mariachi, or a bowl of mac and cheese (with buffalo wing antennae!) at Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats. Chef Ciro Verdi’s Robiola ravioli at Touch of Italy will also help fill in whatever empty space is left. All this nibbling will make you thirsty, so stick with the Christmas theme by sipping one of Pat Hurley’s egg nog martinis at Blackwall Hitch. They pack a punch, so make sure Rudoph’s navigation software is up to date. 

I know, Santa; so many restaurants, so little time! (I’ve been saying that for about 13 years now.) You’ve got a busy night ahead, so have yourself a bit of vino at our two great wine bars (Vineyard and Cuvee Ray - both are amazing!). If they don’t make you exclaim “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”, nothin’ will.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at byesbek@capegazette.com.