Milk & cookies? Really, Delmarva - you can do better than that
I’m sure your elfin spies have told you that I am an equal-opportunity diner. I love to support those brave souls who open restaurants in a seasonal resort. So in the spirit of Christmas (and filling this page with good tastes ...), I’d like to prepare you for your upcoming visit to the Rehoboth Beach area. Lewes Dairy egg nog and Touch of Italy cookies by the fireplace are certainly delicious, but I assume you will be more than peckish after your long trip on the comparatively unpleasant end of eight tiny reindeer.
You won’t have to settle for the ordinary when you wiggle your way into Aroma restaurant. Do not miss the Piyaz salad and the Aroma Platter. Pair these Turkish delights with pretty much any of Yuri’s creative cocktails. If you’re still in the mood for Middle Eastern noshes, the Iskender Platter and the Chicken Gyro Cheesesteak Wrap (yes, you read that right) at Semra’s Mediterranean Grill are both Rehoboth Foodie pick hits.
Be ready for a custom-built cocktail from bartender extraordinaire Rob Bagley at Harbour restaurant on the canal in Lewes. Can’t decide between a whiskey sour and a Manhattan? You’re in luck: Rob will mix up his very own Cider House Sour. Then head south to Café Azafran for Rich Steele’s signature haricots verts. (Think green beans kicked up to notches heretofore unbeknownst.) And his veal meatballs will satisfy your carnivorous wishes. Too bad Christmas isn’t on a Thursday this year; you’ll miss crooning barkeep Holly Lane.
Chef Andrew Guffey is making his mark over there at Blue Hen in Rehoboth. This guy has worked with the best around, and it shows. His grilled kurobuta chop (a Japanese heritage pork chop) is expertly crafted from pork belly, squash and maitake ‘shrooms. Make a U-turn around the corner to check out the tiny in stature but big in taste Federal Fritter & Bistro (where Modern Mixture used to be). It’ll have you smiling all the way back north. Blue Hen is tucked away in The Avenue Hotel at First & Wilmington. Flying south, as you turn into Matt’s Fish Camp Bethany, don’t get snagged on the cobalt-blue towers of the Indian River Inlet bridge. But you do want to snag a bowl of Chef Maggie Cellitto’s Shrimp & Grits with a secret Cajun sauce. You can’t get that just anywhere – and it’s a long way to New Orleans.
The Rehoboth Bandstand will be your landmark for a touch ‘n’ go at Indigo Indian Restaurant. You’ll be just in time: They’re closing in January for remodeling, but I’m sure Raghu Kumar and his dad will happily provide you with a basket of onion kulcha and their so-good-you’ll-forget-they’re-meatless samosas. Judging from the ample shadow you cast on the new-fallen snow, I suspect you like cheese. Alex Kotanides’ Greek-style pizza at Pat’s in Lewes is loaded with creamy cheese. And Mrs. Claus will appreciate that it reheats perfectly on a 500-degree preheated pizza stone ... assuming there are any leftovers.
It’s a little hard to find, but just look for the endless crowds at Woody’s Dewey Beach. They say it’s the go-to place for crabcakes, but don’t miss Jimmy’s Hot Roast Beef Sandwich – just like mom used to make (if mom knew how to cook ...) on white bread with gravy and fries. Then point those reindeer north toward Minh’s Bistro. You’ll chortle with happiness when you taste Thinh Pham’s extra-crispy lime wings and a swimming pool-size bowl of chicken Pho. Thinh’s broth is deeply rich and savory. While you’re in an ethnic mood, ladle up a bowl of Sawanya Conway’s Green Curry. This veggie-laden dish is spicy, rich and satisfying. Speaking of rich, the black ravioli with lobster is the perfect quick snack at 1776 Steakhouse. If you ask nicely, co-owner Johnny Farquhar will have a cool and frosty Trappist brew waiting for you at the bar. I suggest the Rochefort #8.
You’ll notice a few changes on The Highway. What looks like a huge parking lot is in fact the brand-new Agave Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar where the old Jake’s Seafood used to be. It looks like a parking lot because it’s always crowded. The fresh guac and a frosty margarita are just two of the reasons people are streaming in there to check it out.
Still hungry, Santa? Go downtown to chow down on Yolanda Pineda’s tamales at Mariachi. In the interest of critical dining, compare them with the equally delicious tamales at Cabanas Salvadorean spot on The Highway. I’m guessing you have a fridge on your sleigh, so swoop down to Big Fish Market to grab a case of Black Angus steaks from Diamond State Meats. Local boy Billy Savage makes these restaurant must-haves available to the public! Order in advance at DiamondStateMeats.com. By the way, Santa, if you’re still working in the wee hours, perhaps you can convince Haken Ak and his team at Honey’s Farm Fresh in Lewes to cook up an order of their Challah French Toast – being served at the moment with fresh blueberries. Get them to include a slice of their own style of potato latke. This ain’t yo’mama’s latke, I promise!
I know, Santa; so many restaurants, so little space on this page! You’ve got a busy night, so fortify yourself with an orange crush at Starboard, maybe a fine bourbon from Bethany Blues’ award-winning mixologist Ryan Minnick, or a velvety wine from Eden, Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar, or Raas Asian/Indian Fusion restaurant in Lewes. If that doesn’t make you exclaim, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night,” nothin’ will.