The South-of-the-Border Seven

May 26, 2023

I love it when I hit a nerve. A few weeks ago I scribbled on this page about Bryan Derrickson’s new Crushers eatery in Rehoboth Beach. I sort of built things around one of the spicier dishes on his menu, and I even treated you to a bit of spice chemistry. Well, proving once again that being a columnist is a thankless job, I got a barrage (is 11 a barrage?) of emails suggesting that I give equal time to some of the other purveyors of food with ... let’s call it “extra personality.” (Oh, and by the way, please don’t stop emailing me with your comments! After 13 years of rearranging the ink on this page, I need all the inspiration I can get.)

So, speaking of spice, be careful what you ask for: I love Mexican food. Of course, there’s lotsa hot stuff out there that isn’t necessarily Mexican, but I’ve only got a few hundred words, so Mexican’s what we’re doing.

Tequila Real breezed into Milton several years ago. Parking is a bit of a challenge, but it’s well worth the search. Crunchy chips and a particularly good salsa kick things off (get the queso, too). I find it hard to get past the Burrito Degollado: stuffed to bursting with perfectly spiced chorizo, chicken and beef simmered with beans, rice, tomatoes, onions and peppers. And then they cover it in their smooth and cheesy queso. I love their little “wink wink” tribute to Mariachi’s Yolanda Pineda on their menu. That sort of thing warms my heart (or it could have been the jalapenos…), and it isn’t unusual around these parts. Our businesses of eating here at the beach are a closely knit community.

Speaking of Yolanda Pineda, no mention of Latino dining is complete without shouting out to the delightful boss (and often the cook!) at Mariachi restaurant on Wilmington Avenue. This lady dishes up a tasty combination of Mexican and Salvadorean goodies. Check out her Sunday brunch (Eggs Benedict with chorizo!). And leave room for dessert: Yolanda’s Tres Leches Cake is the stuff of Rehoboth legend. And she really means it when she exclaims to her guests, “Mi casa es su casa!”

Just up the road, Billy Lucas calls his Taco Reho menu “Baja style,” but that’s close enough to our southern neighbor to make it into this article. Taco Reho was born as a truck, but the brick-and-mortar version on Coastal Highway just north of Route 24 is so successful, it’s about to get a little sister in Middletown. Tacos, burritos, bowls and “dillas” (Billy’s way of saying quesadilla without using too much energy) top the menu. My pick hits have always been the Chicken Tinga taco (chipotle-tomato braised chicken, salsa verde and queso fresco) and the bacon-wrapped Danger Dog, generously slathered with black beans, cheese, avocado, mustard, chipotle mayo, queso fresco, pickled red onion, pico de gallo and cilantro. Make sure your affairs are in order before you tuck into this big boy.

One of the oldest Tex-Mex joints in town is Dos Locos Stonegrill. Mit Patel and partners took over from Joe and Darryl several years ago, but you’ll always see familiar faces there, especially behind the bar! I recommend the Tres Amigos (three huge enchiladas with your choice of chicken, beef, pork tomatillo or black bean chile) and the lunchtime DIY tacos. If you order the 42-oz. Big Girl margarita, keep your Uber or Lyft phone numbers close at hand.

(Very) loosely translated, “La Tonalteca” means “everywhere in Delaware.” And the Rehoboth La Tonalteca carries on the tradition of good chicken mole (a peanut/chili/chocolate sauce) and particularly tasty salsa. I get the Burrito Azteca. Like its kindred (and aforementioned) spirit in Milton, it’s stuffed with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and zucchini topped with green sauce, cheese dip and pico de gallo. You can choose steak strips, grilled chicken or carnitas. The place is a madhouse in-season, so bring Wiffle bats and a piñata filled with warm churros to keep the kids busy.

Gladys Fernandez’ Cilantro on Rehoboth Avenue serves up an appetizer called Taquitos Dorados. Think traditional taquito, but on steroids. It’s loaded with all sorts of fresh goodies and is sure to please. I have two favorites on the apps menu: first, the Camarones al Cilantro: plump shrimp sautéed with olive oil, white wine and fresh garlic, finished with cilantro and a nice marinara. My second go-to is the Elotes Locos, Gladys’ version of street corn, coated with mayo, queso fresco and piquin chilis, a bright-red little pepper that rates around 30,000-60,000 Scoville heat units (the spice chemistry I wrote about a few weeks ago). For those who are curious, that’s just a bit hotter than red cayenne pepper.

Since we went north earlier in this article, it seems only fair that we give the southern hinterlands equal time. Our friends from OC’s Liquid Assets, Our Harvest and Annabelle’s recently opened Barrio Taco. It’s behind Annabelle’s at 64th Street bayside. Other than Yolanda’s handmade tamales at Mariachi, I love Barrio’s tamales best. You can get them with your choice of pork, chicken or shrimp, lovingly encased in smooth, flavorful masa. Pair it with the Pozole Roja side dish: Cacahuazintle corn (a large-kernel corn native to Toluca, Mexico), carnitas, chili broth, cabbage, cilantro, lime and avocado.

I’m out of room, so I’ll set you free: Get out there and celebrate the summer with a hot tamale and a cold margarita. Salud!

  • 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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