It’s the truth: Size doesn’t matter

September 22, 2023

Sometimes the best gems are hidden right in front of us; we just have to look closely. One of the fun things about writing this column is introducing you to some of our smaller eateries that might be hidden in the shadows of our larger restaurant groups. You might have to venture into the nooks and crannies, but the effort is worth it. As part of my ongoing campaign to keep you chewin’, I’ve assembled a short list of off-the-beaten-path delights here at the beach. Note the words “short list.” This is just to inspire you to get out there and explore on your own.

If you blink in downtown Rehoboth, you might miss The Federal in a tiny slot just east of First Street Station. I urge you to venture past the counter with the fritters (little arancini-like orbs of happiness) into the tiny restaurant where fine-dining Chef Todd Gray dishes up haute cuisine that’s as pleasing to look at as it is to taste. You can count the tables on one hand, so reservations are strongly suggested.

One of our newest kids on Baltimore Avenue is Lydia’s Grab & Go, the fulfillment of longtime beach server/manager Lydia Croce’s dream of owning her own place. There are still lots of warm days ahead where you can grab your freshly prepared lunch and go down to the sand. Like breakfast? Give Goolee’s Grill a try. George “Goolee” Stakias fries eggs, flips omelets and sizzles bacon at the corner of Wilmington and First, next door to Freddie’s.

Rose & Crown in Lewes’ Hotel Rodney is one of those places that keeps on keepin’ on with a minimum of fuss or drama. It’s a lunchtime fave in the First Town, and now you can enjoy the weekly off-season dinner specials. Across Second Street and behind King’s Ice Cream are two tucked-away spots, Eggcellent and Olive & Oats. Though they both specialize in breakfast and lunch, the concepts are entirely different. Life is short – try them both! Keep your eyes open as you venture west on Savannah Road, or you might miss Patty’s Carryout at the gas station across from Bryan Hecksher’s Auto Gallery. Do not leave there without an oatmeal raisin cookie. Up near Five Points are Sticky Rice Thai restaurant next to Capriotti’s, the brand-new Emmanuel’s in the former Casa Amici/Full Belly spot, Villa Sorrento Italian restaurant and Kick n’ Chicken right next door. They’re hard to spot at that busy intersection of so many roads, but all are well worth visiting.

As you motor back south, check out the strip center across from Bethany Blues where Cabañas Salvadorean place hides. My pick hit for your first visit is the combo platter with a handmade pupusa, avocado, refried beans, a tamale (delicious, trust me!) and a sweet fried plantain. A few weeks ago, I waxed rhapsodic about cheesesteaks and got my hand slapped for skipping over the popular Pizza Villa in Midway Shopping Center. This is certainly a hidden gem for cheesesteak lovers.

Hammy’s Burgers & Shakes in the Safeway center is a true hidden gem, because the layout of the strip center makes it hard to see from the highway. But enter the parking lot and you’ll be rewarded with fire-grilled burgers (the Onion-tended Consequences Burger is my favorite), amazing wings (jerk and Thai are the best) and delightfully adult milkshakes. Farther south and a bit east, some of the best pizza in Rehoboth comes out of the DaNizza truck at the well-hidden Revelation Craft Brewery where Hebron and Canal Crossing roads meet.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: So many restaurants, so little time! Eat. Explore. It’s good for you. I suggest you clip this article out of the newspaper and pin it to your shirt for instant reference when seeking out our Cape Region eateries that might be small in stature, but (here it comes…) certainly big in taste. Sorry, I couldn’t resist!


  • 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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