Far-flung culinary stars that are worth the trek

February 18, 2022

When Mr. Spock flip-phoned Captain Kirk that there was “no intelligent life down here,” it might have been a commentary on non-Rehoboth restaurants. But what if you beam down somewhere inland and you’re feelin’ peckish? Who y’gonna call?

There is intelligent (dining) life west of Rehoboth on Route 24 where Baywood Greens pastry chef Ellie Keck brings her singular creativity to the Clubhouse. Her inspired desserts are well worth the short trek. Keep driving and you’ll end up in Long Neck, where veteran beach chef Kevin Reading and beer guru Ryan Maloney have brought their brewed-on-the-premises crafts and Kevin’s unique menu to Brick Works No. 2 at Taormina Square center. The mothership is in Smyrna. Kevin created the long-gone Espuma in downtown Rehoboth, and Nage (now Fork & Flask) on The Highway.

Breakfasts and lunches are dished up with a decidedly Southern accent just a few steps east of Brick Works at Taste of the South Bistro. Freshly baked goodies grace the cases every morning. Owners Darren and Brandon Tatum-Poole both hail from the South – so they know their grits ‘n’ stuff. Get the crème brûlée french toast. Just get it.

Proceed to downtown Millsboro, where relatively new kid on the block Frank Dubinsky’s Plate & Palette resides in the old bank building that formerly housed The Pint. Frank’s a hands-on kind of guy who, in spite of staffing shortages throughout the industry, still provides an upscale take on his classic pub-inspired restaurant.

Just a hop, skip and a waddle to the south in Dagsboro is a little gem that I recently unearthed. Porto Pizza and Grill on Route 20 at Route 26 offers a lot more than pizza (though their pies are exceptional). Rehoboth Foodie pick hits at Porto are the country fried steak, the Greek salad (big enough for a meal!) and the cheesesteak. I like the pepperoni, sausage and ‘shroom pie. Just sayin’.

Johnson & Wales culinary graduate Michael Oxbrough went from fine-dining toque to short-order cook when he opened Café on The Circle in Georgetown across from the courthouse on E. Market Street. All the Sussex breakfast and lunch staples are well executed, but when he whomps up a special, it’s always good. The place is tight with just a bit of seating, but it’s well worth squeezin’ in there. Just 10 minutes west on Route 9/404 is Fat Daddy’s BBQ experience. Mamma Frey and Fat Daddy do not stand on ceremony! If this place were any more informal, it would be in a tent. I love their Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich and that cornpone.

One of the friendliest spots in Milford is the Puerto Rican-flavored My Sister’s Fault bakery. Rous and Angie Robles are the on-premises bosses, and are proud of their made-from-scratch Sobao and Mayorca breads. Stars of the show at that hard-to-find spot are the intensely flavorful empanadas and pretty much anything sweet. Speaking of hard to find, things don’t get much more small-town Delaware than Milford’s Westside restaurant. Greek-born Medula loves to tempt her guests with her Facebook pop-up commentaries. These down-to-earth, often distracted soliloquies have gained a cult following. And there are few better pancakes around these parts. The stuffed green peppers and pot pie specials are not to be missed.

As I sit here typing, more and more places come to mind. Abbott’s on Broad Creek in Laurel. Bon Appetit in Seaford. The amazing donuts at T.S. Smith & Sons in Bridgeville. Mission BBQ, Cool Springs Fish Bar, and Restaurant 55 in Dover. Tequila Real in Milton. Grove Market in Bishopville, Md. Wayback Burgers in Milford and Millsboro. Boxcar on Main and Blacksmith in Berlin, Md. Mulligan’s Pointe in Georgetown. Gadzooks! My weekly ration of ink is running low, so this list should tide you over until you beam back east. Live full and prosper.

  • 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

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