Feeling adventurous? Discover some not-so-local hidden gems

June 24, 2022

The Cape Region’s eclectic mix of big, busy restaurants; small, tucked-away eateries and rare fine-dining treasures can be a challenge for even the most adventurous diner. But there are some off-the-beaten-path spots that deserve our attention. I know … so many restaurants, so little time! So to make things a bit easier for the dedicated fressers out there, I’ve cobbled together a short list of delights that might make a little drive well worth the time.

That building a few blocks from the Clayton Theatre in Dagsboro has seen many tenants over the years, but Porto Pizza & Grill has settled in and is making waves with some of the freshest salads I’ve ever had. Get the Greek salad (you’ll need to split it with someone). Follow it up with their very good pizza or perhaps a generous cheesesteak. Straight-ahead and informal, Porto’s lineup of Italian entrees will not disappoint.

One of Ocean City’s new kids in town is Spain Wine Bar. This beautifully designed eatery tops the Cambria Hotel at the south end of St. Louis Avenue. The view of the Route 50 bridge, the inlet and Assateague is breathtaking. The bar program is delectably creative, providing a perfect backdrop for the tapas-centric menu which offers over 30 choices. Highlights include the pork belly, the albondigas (meatballs), the roasted heirloom carrots and the Gambas al Ajilo (rough translation: shrimp never had it so good). As you might expect, reservations are a must. Also in the southern hinterlands, denizens of north Ocean City love Ponzetti’s at 144th. This longtime local family has had many (many!) years to perfect that thin, cheezy round pie that reminds me of OC in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Remember the long-gone Panzetta’s on the OC boardwalk? If so, then you know what I mean.

One more OC newbie sports an excellent pedigree as a member of the Liquid Assets/Our Harvest family of restaurants. Annabelle’s BBQ and Creamery is at 64th bayside. This is legit BBQ with huge portions and lots of friendly smiles. Get the cornbread in the little iron skillets.

On the way back north from OC, don’t forget Jimmy’s Kitchen in Ocean Bay Plaza at 1300 Coastal Highway. Remember the famous creamed chipped beef at General’s Kitchen? It found a home at Jimmy’s. Huge breakfasts (get the Nor’easter and you won’t need to eat again for a day or two) are the stars in this spot where flip-flops and bathing suits are standard attire. There’s no set closing time; Jimmy locks the door when he runs out of eggs. Gotta love this place. (They used to listen to me when I was on the radio occasionally in OC. Another reason to love this place.)

Just a hop, skip and waddle to the northwest is the relatively new Synergy Café at 9 Church St. in Selbyville. Leigh Scott has created an upbeat destination with all sorts of fun activities like dining in the dark and pasta classes. The açai bowl and the southwest egg wrap regularly get e-kudos through’s contact page.

There are lots of hidden gems, but only so much paper and ink in my kit bag. But as a lovely parting gift, I will strongly urge you to give Chef Dennis Forbes a visit at his popular Cool Springs Fish Bar on S. State Street just this side of Dover in Magnolia. Not much more than around 35-40 minutes north, this restaurant is spotlessly clean and welcoming. Do your best to get a seat near the end of the bar where you can marvel at Forbes’ team working like a finely tuned machine to make your dinner. Oh, and start with the Fish Bait app. Sounds strange. Tastes great. By the way, if you are hit with the sudden need for a hamburger the size of a Chrysler hubcap, you can stroll next door where Dennis’ daughter Desiree operates Restaurant 55. Crunchy onion rings make the perfect addition to any of their 16 burger options. Feeling frisky? Go rogue and DIY with 34 (count ‘em: 34!) toppings from which to choose.

I told you it was a short list, so I urge you to uncover even more hidden gems to the north, west and south. After all, y’gotta eat, right?

Bob Yesbek writes and talks beach eats nonstop. He can be reached at

  • 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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