Downtown dining on any budget

May 31, 2018

We cherish our downtown fine dining in Rehoboth Beach. Indeed, it is through their efforts that The Nation's Summer Capital (that's us) has become a respected culinary destination. Even the snooty James Beard Foundation has noticed our chefs and restaurateurs! So what better time than Coastal Delaware Restaurant Week (up and running from this coming Sunday 6/3 until Friday 6/8) to pay homage to the entrepreneurs who brave the vagaries of oceanside commerce to bring you their best?

Elegant dishes with a beachy flair are the theme at Back Porch Café, 208 Social, Blue Moon, Victoria's, Red Square, G Rehoboth, Eden, Zebra and a(MUSE.). It's no secret that nightly visits to these shining stars could prove to be a bit prohibitive for the vacationing family of 10, so our hometown mid-priced spots are there to keep you nourished just in case. After all, there's got to be something between yelling into a speaker out on the highway and the artfully crafted and understandably pricey creations from the likes of McNitt, Leonard, Gardner, Thompson and Cameron, just to name a few.

Norman and Eric Sugrue's Summer House, Salt Air and Stingray dish up consistent quality and reasonable prices, while Sam and Mariah keep the affordable flags flying at Dogfish Head Brewpub and Chesapeake & Maine. Father & son team Suraj and Raghu Kumar at Indigo will happily order for you if you've never tried Indian food. I promise you'll return!

Across the street Semra Tekmen puts out the welcome mat for international noshing at her namesake eatery. Behind Semra's on Baltimore Avenue, small plates with a Mediterranean accent are the theme at Café Azáfrán. Rich Steele's paella nights (reservations only) are the stuff of legend.

James Beard nominees Joe & Chris continue their tradition of quality food at their crazy crowded Henlopen City Oyster House and Blue Hen, while across the street at Confucius, Shawn & Danielle Xiong's made-to-order entrées echo the cuisine of Hunan Province. Bryan Derrickson serves up amazing conch chowder and fritters (not to mention his burgers!) – with a side of live music - at his Conch Island Bar & Grille. Around the corner, Arena's can always be depended on for towering sandwiches (and nachos). Ditto for Purple Parrot – just add hilarious entertainment. Blackwall Hitch has taken the ocean block by storm with creative apps & entrees – including unique cocktails from veteran barkeep Pat Hurley.

New kids in town include rustic Italian fare at Azzurro, the soon-to-open Cuvee Ray Wine Bar (in the old Sydney's spot) and Jeff Hamer's El Jefe Gordo (part of the Fins family of eateries) next to the equally tasty (and a bit quirky) Catcher's. Any conversation with boss Roland Buckingham is sure to make you smile.

Speaking of quirky, look up at the corner of First & The Avenue and you'll see Cooter Brown's Twisted Southern Kitchen overlooking the center of town. Their signature sense of humor is served up with down-home dishes like Frito Pie and the Gator-‘Mater sandwich (alligator sausage and fried green tomatoes). This place will also make you smile.

Half-price pasta Wednesdays (year-round!) are not to be missed at Lupo Italian Kitchen, and Lisa’s family recipes at DiFebo’s have been a must-get for over 20 years. Mexican food is wallet-friendly and downtown steps up to the plate with Yolanda’s Mariachi, Dos Locos, Gladys Fernandez’ Cilantro and Leo Cabrera’s newly remodeled Modern Mixture.

Downtown is a gold mine of happy wallets, including Jeff & Mark’s JAM Bistro, Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls, Five Guys, The Pond, Chris & Anthony’s Zogg’s, Shorebreak Lodge, and Susan & Rob’s Cultured Pearl. Even the humble Grub Grocery has gotten into the act with a new menu touting such delicacies as The Mob and the Banh Mi. I’ve had both. And I went back for more.

You’re at the beach! Treat yourself to Rehoboth’s high-end treasures, but if your budget needs a breather, our mid-priced eateries won’t disappoint.

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