16 tips for the care and feeding of your summer visitors
We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s the bright sun of summer. Along with the beaches and the surf, for many of us who live here it also brings a flood of wistful housing requests from friends we didn’t know we had. Though I keep a nicely mimeographed list of local hotels, motels and B&Bs within grabbing distance, sometimes there are the occasional guests with whom you don’t mind sharing your home.
Allowing them into the inner sanctum also affords the opportunity to make them jealous over the variety of good eateries we have here by the Atlantic. I get numerous emails from people who want their summertime houseguests to taste the very best of our Culinary Coast (thank you, Southern Delaware Tourism Inc., for that great description of our resort eateries). So I thought it would be nice to list a few of my pick hits that do a good job representing what our Cape Region has to offer.
Note that some menus here at the beach change about as often as the tides. So some of the dishes that follow might be history. But I promise that you’ll find something to make your palate smile.
If you’re looking to splurge a bit, get reservations at Michy’s Relaxed Dining. I suggest the chardonnay-poached pear salad to start, and then chef/owner Richard Davis’ amazing Forever Braised Short Ribs with caramelized fennel. And their new outdoor dining area is rather festive.
Tom, Tammy and Johnny’s 1776 Steakhouse in Midway combines quiet elegance with expertly prepared steaks. Don’t miss the black ravioli stuffed with lobster and drizzled with a shrimp & crab cream sherry sauce. I can never get past the New York Strip, but I have to tell you that the crab cakes with cranberry relish are one of the sleepers at 1776. Belly up to the bar and ask Johnny or master barkeep Matt Sprenkle about the Trappist beers.
Just a few minutes south is one of SoDel Concepts’ shining stars, Bluecoast Rehoboth. The chilled blue crab claws give you the energy to tuck into Bluecoast’s signature shrimp & grits - parmesan grits, yet, with chorizo. Don’t miss the cheesy crab dip or Chef Doug Ruley’s own crispy baby-back ribs.
We’re lucky to have two (count ‘em, 2!) good Turkish joints in downtown Rehoboth: Aroma (where Stoney Lonen used to be) and Semra’s by the Boardwalk. Leave your preconceived ideas about Middle Eastern cuisine at home. These places will have you coming back for more.
One of my go-to spots is Minh’s Bistro at Route 24 and Coastal Highway. Owner Thinh Pham is constantly adding goodies to his authentic Vietnamese menu. One of the latest (just added last week!) is the lemongrass chicken vermicelli platter. Go. Order it. You can thank me later.
Henlopen City Oyster House rarely - if ever - disappoints. Get the smoked bacon clam chowder and the lobster reuben. And when your guests insist that you take them back a second time, you can impress them with the roasted beet salad and the Chicago Dog on an actual poppy seed roll.
One of the best Sunday brunch deals in Delaware is at Bethany Blues in Lewes. Check out this year’s Mother’s Day and Easter Brunch-To-Go specials. They’re known for generous portions just perfect for leftovers. Relatively new-kid-in-town Sydney’s dishes up a particularly good fried chicken at Paynter’s Mill in Milton. It’s served up with a side of live music.
Father and son team Suraj and Raghu Kumar have been dishing up their native Indian cuisine for over 25 years, and we’re lucky to have their Indigo Restaurant just steps from the Boardwalk in Rehoboth. No frills here: straight-ahead northern Indian food with some of the best naan you’ll ever eat. Indigo is right next door to Blackwall Hitch, where brunches are punctuated with live jazz on the first Sunday of every month. A few doors west is Cooter Brown’s Twisted Southern Kitchen. Fried green tomatoes. Frito pie (in the bag!). The place will make you smile. Get the ribs.
Looking northward, it’s hard to pass up the amazing hamburger at Fish On (yup - a hamburger at a fish joint. Fasten your seat belt!). Down Savannah Road is the relatively new Raas Asian/Indian fusion restaurant. Chef GG is always willing to please, and if they’re not busy, you never know what impossibly flavorful off-menu bite he’ll bring to your table.
I’m already running out of real estate on this page, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t suggest the pupusas, tamales and frozen margs at Yolanda Pineda’s Mariachi. Just up the road is Shawn and Danielle’s Confucius where the crispy whole fish is one of the shining stars. Rich Steele will soon resurrect his reservations-only paella feasts at Café Azafran on Baltimore Avenue. These events literally sell out in hours. Watch for the announcement on RehobothFoodie.com.
So many restaurants, so little ink! But beware: Make sure you really like your visitors, because they might want to move here full time. Our eateries are just that good.