The Memorial Day 2019 Restaurant Roundup
Well, what a remarkable ride it’s been! Though it seems like the most consistent business is making “For Lease” signs, a closer look reveals new startups all over the place. Yup, it’s time for my annual Memorial Day restaurant roundup, and, as usual, make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in an upright position: It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
208 Social is history. Chef Nate is presently cooling his heels at Crooked Hammock, but keep an eye on him. He’ll be back one way or another. Speaking of Crooked Hammock, Rich Garrahan and partners are busy building CH number two in Middletown. It’s gonna be a doozy.
Rehoboth wouldn’t be Rehoboth without the name Derrickson popping up here and there, and Regan’s new Nalu has popped up on Rehoboth Avenue to very good reviews. The menu mirrors his Dewey Beach digs, but wait ‘til you see the interior – especially at night! Of course all this hoopla inspired his rock ‘n’ roll brother Bryan to kick up the food game even more at Conch Island, and he’s done just that! Wait ‘til you taste those Steak-nite Sundays and Teriyaki Tuesdays! Start with the conch chowder. Trust me on this.
Gary and Chris Desch’s Chaps Pit Beef is going strong on the north side of Iron Hill Brewery. Wallet-friendly prices and consistently good food are doing the job at this Baltimore favorite. The pit turkey and ham sandwich is a pick hit. By the way, this isn’t BBQ. Give it a try. Just before SoDel Concepts’ Scott Kammerer threw the first shovelful of soil to christen the beginning of his new Thompson Island Brewery, he swooped down and took the already-successful Crust & Craft off of founder/owner Brenton Wallace’s hands. Everyone is happy - especially C&C regulars. Everything stayed the same - including the beautiful demeanor of none other than GM extraordinaire Katie Sherman.
The Buttery in Lewes had seen better days, and nobody knew that better than owner Wilson Gates. He has resurrected that grand ol’dame to be the brighter and more upbeat 2nd Street Tavern. Small plates, a bigger bar and a modern austerity are the hallmarks. Right next door, it won’t be long until Raas restaurant turns the key. Internationally acclaimed chef GG brings Asian and Thai stylings to Lewes – with an Indian twist!
Looking for smiling ElDorado owner Aquiles? Stop. Aquiles has moved on. Dos Locos’ Mit Patel, his brother and partners have opened a smaller Dos (Dos dos, if you will) in that space right next door to Gray Hare. GH’s tavern license invites you to buy some Mexican goodies from the new Dos and schlep them next door for a sip and some entertainment. Speaking of live entertainment, Fork + Flask is making waves on the third Saturday of every month with the new Brunch with the Band. House minstrels 2nd Time Around trio welcome a local guest performer from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on those Saturdays.
Playa Bowls is finally open! This Jersey-originated spot touts a surf vibe and whips up fresh juices, açaí bowls and the like. You’ll find them tucked away on the south side of the third block from the ocean on Rehoboth Avenue. A bit farther west is the much-anticipated Rise Up Coffee Roasters in the old 7-Eleven spot on the circle. So far, my emails and texts suggest that people are lovin’ the food, the drinks - and the virtually unlimited free parking.
Tomato Sunshine is returning - and they’re bringing tomatoes! Ernie DeAngelis will not be a regular fixture, but his wife and son will be. They will be in the little West Rehoboth complex occupied by Revelation Craft Brewery and Jay Bond’s new Boulevard Furniture.
If you like the crabs (and the crab cakes!) at Surfin’ Crab in Lewes, then you’ll love the new Steamin’ Blues soon to replace the old downtown Jakes at the corner of Baltimore and First. Donny Vechery is outfitting the place with seasoned, longtime RB restaurant guys.
In Dewey Beach, Maria D’Ambrogi’s new SIRveza ran afoul of another eatery with the same name. The other place had it first, so Maria is re-christening her little Mexican spot as SIRvida. Everything else (including Maria’s welcoming smile and those big-enough-to-feed-the-5th Regiment nachos) will remain the same.
By the time the ink is dry on this page, longtime beach restaurateur Greg Talcott and Big Fish Restaurant Group will probably have opened their new Sazio in the old Zebra space on Lake. The Italian concept sports a wood-fired oven. On the southern side of things, Dennis Kangayi’s new Breakfast Guru is up and running in the old Cultured Pearl spot on Wilmington.
About 16 miles west, TV Chef Bill Clifton and partner Miguel Kaltreider have hit the ground running with their new Counting House eatery. They kick off outdoor music and eats high atop the historic Brick Hotel starting this weekend.
Most of the buzz has been about the merger between our own Dogfish Head Brewery and Boston Beer Company (home of Sam Adams brew). This is in fact a victory for lovers of craft brews, so keep your eye on the facts, not silly rumors. Last and certainly not least, Planet Smoothie will soon open next to Fins Ale House on Coastal Highway. The colorful franchise whomps up a variety of frothy potions bearing monikers like “The Last Mango,” the “Vinnie Del Rocco” and of course the requisite “Shag-A-Delic.” Kid-friendly? You bet.