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The Nation’s Summer Capital can still be easy on the wallet

January 7, 2022

By definition, the business of eating must involve money. After all, if your favorite eatery doesn’t pay the rent, or ignores the electric and food bills, they’ll probably disappear after a very short time. The same thing applies to those of us who like to dine in restaurants. It’s a numbers game on both sides of the kitchen door.

Rehoboth Beach cherishes its fine-dining restaurants. After all, their entrepreneurial achievements helped make our little beach towns into respected culinary destinations. Even the snooty James Beard Foundation and Wine Spectator have nodded more than once toward our talented toques and sommeliers.

But back to the numbers game: Restaurants that survive year after year are the ones that cleverly position themselves at various price points in what is by definition a family-friendly resort. Like any well-run business, a restaurant must craft a concept that appeals to a large enough market to guarantee regular, repeat business – especially in the off-season.

There’s got to be something in between quietly placing your order in a fine-dining establishments and screaming your culinary wishes into a drive-thru speaker. Though the more refined eateries have certainly drawn critics’ attention to Rehoboth Beach, there are also a number of mid-priced spots that put out a consistently well-constructed meal.

Casual dining is a big part of any popular resort, and there’s no shortage of sandwiches, nachos, fried treats and tasty appetizers at Arena’s, Go Fish!, the Greene Turtle, Pete’s Steak Shop, Casapulla’s Subs, Capriotti’s and Zogg’s little bit of Key West. Ditto for Purple Parrot – with the addition of hilarious entertainment. Informal breakfasts at surprisingly low prices can also be had at Robin Hood, Crystal and Goolee’s Grill in Rehoboth. And let’s not forget the new kid on the block, Sunny Bay Café (where Sydney’s/Pig & Fish/Cuvee Ray used to be). And denizens of The Boardwalk still treasure longtime staple Gus & Gus’ Place.

Mexican food can be wallet-friendly, especially at the always reliable La Tonalteca in Midway. Straight-ahead. Efficient. No frills. Happy wallets also love Café Azafrán (say hi to singing bartender Holly Lane). By the way, Café Azafrán is also known for Chef Rich’s reservations-only Paella Feasts. They’re a regular event in season, and pop up occasionally in the winter.

Moderately priced vittles are not limited to the first and second blocks from the ocean. Claws Crab House, Catchers and Fins Fish House & Raw Bar keep everyone watered and fed with happy hours and eclectic menus. The Pond in the Safeway shopping center kicked up its menu after the big move, but the prices remain very close to before. Pizza is the undisputed king in the ocean block of Rehoboth Avenue. Longtime icons Grotto, Nicola and Louie’s continue to thrive (call Louie’s to double-check their hours).

And I come bearing good news! Sunrise Restaurant owner Ismet Bulut will not be closing his popular (and very reasonably priced) eatery in Dewey Beach. He will still be involved peripherally, but he’s handing the day-to-day spatula over to longtime assistant Rob Holson. Rob has proven that he can keep those exceptional omelets, pancakes and French toast platters flyin’ out of the kitchen. Not to mention really good coffee.

There are a lot more spots where you can fill up without bending or breaking the budget – but I’m rapidly approaching my allotment of ink for this week. So now it’s up to you get out there and treat yourself to Rehoboth’s high-end treasures – or, if your plastic squeals in protest, our mid-priced and super-casual eateries will definitely keep you smiling.

 

  • 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 byesbek@capegazette.com.

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