The care and feeding of summer visitors - in 12 easy steps
As the season shifts into high gear, the war zone that is my email box fills up with questions about where to take summertime guests.
Some are concerned about wallet friendliness, others want to impress their friends with the best we have. With everything from white-tablecloth dining to a quick bite handed to you through a window, our friends and neighbors who own and operate local restaurants are stepping up to the plate to make your dining experience as enjoyable as possible. So I’ve put together this (certainly not) all-inclusive list of a few culinary pick hits to keep your summer visitors happily chewing.
Many local eateries change their menus as often as the tides. So some of my picks might be on the menu, or might be history - at least temporarily. I trust you will govern yourself accordingly.
Lewes sports the almost-always-crowded Fish On restaurant at Five Points. We love the varying menu for happy hour, and the fish and chips, along with - yup, the burger - keep diners smiling every time. And wait ‘til you see their new outdoor dining area!
Venture a few blocks downtown to the wildly popular Raas Asian/Indian Fusion restaurant. It’s a challenge for me not fill up on Chef GG’s spectacular garlic/cheese naan before devouring the Chana Masala (chickpeas meet Boston baked beans) and the Lamb Rogan Josh. Start with the Mango Lassi cocktail.
1776 Steakhouse in Midway combines quiet elegance with expertly prepared steaks. The black ravioli stuffed with lobster is a must-get. This is currently among the most popular eateries in town - reservations are a must!
Behind the carryout façade, Semra’s Mediterranean Grill offers a quietly delicious dining experience. Semra’s grandma’s Turkish recipes are a rollercoaster ride of savory, nutty and lemony tastes. I recommend the Iskender platter and the perfectly prepared babaganouj. Hard to believe, but we actually have two excellent Turkish eateries in downtown Rehoboth. Aroma opened early last year in the old Stony Lonen spot. Murat, his daughter Yasemin and head barkeep Yuri keep diners smiling with their colorful and flavorful apps and entrees. The Piyaz Salad and the Aroma Dip Platter are both must-gets.
Up on the highway, Fins Ale House & Raw Bar continues the tradition of consistent, straight-ahead seafood and fun happy hour specials. Hungry? Get the Peacemaker: fried oyster po’boy meets bacon - the perfect marriage. Even better with Fins’ signature bloody mary. Just south, the new Atlantic Social is making waves with the apricot-glazed pork chop. Kick it off with the Fried Green Tomato Tower with a feisty Sriracha mayo. Oh, and the Watermelon Frozé cocktail.
A few miles north takes you to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal. After a complete revamp, it’s now host to Grain on the Rocks. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be consumed in their huge outdoor seating area that boasts a seamless connection to the indoors where live entertainment, the short rib grilled cheese and the citrus avocado salad can be found.
Speaking of ethnic eateries (were we?), one of the best is Minh’s Bistro at Route 24 and Coastal Highway. I can’t get past the summer rolls with peanut sauce, the salty lime wings (extra crispy, thank you) and the overstuffed banh mi sandwich. I will occasionally break out of my rut for the savory pho (pronounced “fuh”), the traditional Vietnamese soup. Owner (and bartender) Thinh Pham also mixes up a fine martini.
Bethany Blues Lewes shines with the Pigs on the Wing appetizer and the St. Louis ribs. Sides should include their smooth and creamy mac and cheese, and the not-too-sweet baked beans. Top it off with a frosty Fat Tire draft or a few fingers of one of Kevin’s rare bourbons.
I’m running out of real estate on this page, but I can’t finish without urging you to check out the Wednesday reservations-only paella feasts at Café Azafran on Baltimore Avenue. Chef Rich’s made-from-scratch-before-your-very-eyes paella is the stuff of Rehoboth legend.
So many restaurants, so little ink! But before you try my suggestions, be sure you’re OK with your friends moving here full time. They’re gonna fall in love with our beach eateries.