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Dining with a Latin accent can warm up cool nights

September 10, 2021

One of the relatively new kids on the block in Milton is Tequila Real. Located in the old GoodFellas spot at 122 Mulberry, this place is Milton’s only Mexican (and Tex-Mex) tequila-centric restaurant. Olga and her partners did not roll back any of the flavor of their food, unlike several places I’ve been where the food looks great on the plate, but has no taste. Tequila Real’s flavors are up front and work together nicely. It’s a Mexican restaurant, for goodness’ sakes, and it should taste like one.

We’ve got no shortage of Mexican, Tex-Mex and Salvadorean spots where bold, south-of-the-border spices are the order of the day. Take La Tonalteca, for example. (Very) loosely translated, “La Tonalteca” means “everywhere in Delaware.” And the Rehoboth installation carries on their tradition of consistently good chicken mole (a peanut/chili/chocolate sauce) and particularly good salsa. In downtown Rehoboth, Gladys Fernandez’ Cilantro on Rehoboth Avenue serves up a main course called Arrachera en Molcajete. This feast for two overflows with grilled chicken, steak, a pork chop, shrimp and chorizo with grilled onions. It marches out of the kitchen in a molcajete (sort of a bowl that doubles as a mortar & pestle). It’s flanked by rice, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and a stack of warm tortillas. This one will keep you busy for a while.

Yolanda Pineda at Mariachi on Wilmington Avenue dishes up a tasty combination of Mexican and Salvadorean goodies. Don’t miss her handmade tamales; her creamy masa cradles a variety of fillings. One of the alpha Mexican joints in downtown Rehoboth is certainly Dos Locos Stonegrill. Their Tex-Mex lineup with a seafood bent is popular with partying locals and vacationers alike. (It could also be those swimming pool-sized margaritas.) Feeling frisky? Get the Melt Your Face hot sauce. Use it sparingly!

Speaking of Salvadorean, I want to remind you of the tiny, short-on-décor but long-on-taste Cabañas restaurant. Fredy and Joachim share a tiny strip center on Coastal Highway with Go Brit! fish & chips shop directly across the highway from Bethany Blues. Pupusas and tamales are the stars there, but if you’re feeling curious, their specials never disappoint.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give proper kudos to Chris and Anthony Jacona’s selection of fish tacos at Zogg’s on Wilmington Avenue. Not really Mexican, but close enough. Dewey’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Sirveda is part full-time party and Mexican joint all rolled into one. If you order the nachos, be prepared to share. They could feed a small town. Just south is Jeff Treacy’s MezCali Taquería Y Mezcal Bar. There’s a choice of seven creative tacos and a few platters where you can mix & match. Mezcal, you say? Both tequila and mezcal are made from agave. However, tequila is made by steaming the plant in ovens before distillation. The agave for Mezcal is roasted in clay or earthen pits along with wood and charcoal before being distilled. This gives it a smokier flavor over regular tequila. See? The Business of Eating is also educational!

SoDel Concepts’ long-gone Papa Grande’s in Rehoboth lives on in Fenwick adjacent to their seafood mainstay Catch 54. Papa’s 21 (Count ‘em. Twenty-one!) choices of tequila make for the ideal margarita mixed with either blanco, reposado or anejo (referring to how long the tequila is aged in the barrels). While we’re down in the southern hinterlands, be sure to check out the relatively new Zoca up by the boardwalk in Bethany. It’s part of the Harvest Tide Steakhouse group. Big colorful margs and made-to-order guac. While in that area I can’t leave out the perpetually busy Salted Rim restaurant. Karen Fritz’ new digs are directly across from the Millville Volunteer Fire Dept. in the old Fat Tuna/La Tonalteca space. The outdoor dining area is lots of fun with games and music. I love the Fiery Burrito. Get extra sauce. Life is short.

Everyone’s keeping an eye on the towering “margarita promised land” – the new Agave – on Coastal Highway. If their guac and margs are equal to the Lewes mothership, then all will be well. The weather will be cooling (sometime) soon, and some of the best ways to celebrate are with a hot tamale, a crunchy taco, a frosty cerveza or jumbo margarita. Salud!

  • 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.

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