A Cape Region survival guide for Santa

December 23, 2016

Dear Santa,

It’s that time again when good little girls and boys (not unlike myself) write you in hopes of fulfilling their fondest wishes. Set down your Google Maps-enabled phone, sit back and read my letter closely, because I’m about to fulfill your fondest wishes for great food. It’s the least I can do, Santa! See, our little town is a popular dining destination, and though sugar cookies with sprinkles are certainly cute, there are people around here who can do a lot better. With all the air traffic control hassles you will encounter on your flight from the North Pole, I suspect you will be a bit peckish by the time you get to our Cape Region airspace. 

Do note that 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 cartwheeling over the occasional smoldering yule log, but here in Rehoboth we’ve got bubbling fryers and hot grills. So keep an eye on what’s at the bottom of that stainless steel shaft! 

You won’t have to settle for a dreary plate of sugar cookies when you wiggle your way into the new Fork & Flask @ Nage restaurant. Chef Sean Corea has all sorts of new small plates just waiting for you to try. And his Saturday/Sunday brunch bacon, egg & cheese biscuit will definitely make you a bit more sanguine about the naughty among us. 

You are lucky that Christmas is on a Sunday this year! Several great choices for a quick morning bite await you. Don’t miss the buffet at Bethany Blues! If you’ve actually been checking that list twice, then you know that all-you-can-eat Pigs on the Wing at Bethany Blues are the stuff of Yuletide legend. Not to mention waffles, fresh fruit and made-to-order omelets. Another great Sunday morning spot is Gary and Lorraine’s Palate Bistro & Catering. You can’t miss it – just look for the big Safeway sign. Lorraine’s brunchy pastries will ruin you for cookies and milk forever. 

Don’t pass over the new Matt’s Fish Camp in Lewes! A heaping platter of Chef Maurice Catlett’s fried Ipswich clams is remarkably light, and you can’t get them just anywhere (it’s a long way to Massachusetts). Finish up with a chicken parm at Touch of Italy. It’s pounded impossibly thin, covered in Muenster cheese, and if you ask nicely, they’ll decorate the accompanying pasta with bolognese sauce. The Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich at Pickled Pig Pub is also an instant warmup. Start with the house-made fried pickles, of course. 

I can only assume that Mrs. Claus does her share of cooking, and it might be nice to smooth things over (you’ve been out all night, for goodness’ sake!) with some gourmet ingredients from Olive Orchard Tasting Room in First Street Station and the Spice & Tea Exchange down by the Boardwalk. Get a medium-size bottle of the Thai Lemongrass Mint white balsamic from Olive Orchard, and some of Spice & Tea’s hickory barbecue rub. 

Seems a pity to fly all the way here (on the not-so-pleasant end of eight tiny reindeer) and not tuck into a 20 ounce porterhouse at Tom Holmes’ 1776 Steakhouse. As if that were not enough, you can top it off with a piece of cheesecake that has been brûléed to a crunchy, golden brown. 

Your choices are clear at Café Azafran on Baltimore Avenue: Get the haricots verts (with blue cheese, butter and hazelnuts!) and Rich and Ryan Steele’s grilled veal sausage with white beans. Unless it’s paella night, then one must do what one must do. 

You don’t have to fly very low to see Crooked Hammock Brewery! The place is the size of a small airport. I suggest the chicken salad sandwich (or anything with short rib) washed down with a Mootzy’s Treasure. Just around the corner from Crooked Hammock is the deceivingly understated and comfortably informal Pat’s Family Pizzeria. But lurking behind that easy-going exterior is one of the best lasagnas in town. Owner Alex Kotanides calls the cheesier variety “Greek Pizza.” It’s a departure from the ordinary and especially good a bit well-done with pepperoni & mushrooms. 

You might not have noticed Rehoboth Ale House on previous visits; after all, until this season it was just your basic sports bar. But new owners Adam and Kyle are kicking up the menu one entrée and appetizer at a time. And you can use your phone to check on the availability of your favorite craft brew! 

Though you manage to visit millions of homes in one night, my resources are a bit more limited – I’m already running out of room on this page. So perhaps you and Mrs. Claus might consider donning your fur-lined flip-flops and sneaking down to the beach this summer. There are so many restaurants here at the beach that you will enjoy! (Leave the reindeer at home, Santa. We have quite enough deer.) 

In the meantime, we’ll listen closely late Saturday night, and hope you’re not too full to say, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

  • 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

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.