Delmarva’s beaches are famous for the surf, the sand and the boardwalks. But the resort-area towns also have become a destination for foodies. Here are 33 eateries we think are worth a visit.
Dewey Beach continues to live up to its reputation as a party town. Just visit The Starboard on any weekend in the summer, when live musicians hit the stage and bar-goers toss back crushes and dance. Owner Steve “Monty” Montgomery, who started working at The Starboard when he was 18, bought the bar with partners in 1999 when he was 29. Today, it’s as well known for its brunch as it is for the nightlife. Former owner Chip Hearn, who now owns Peppers, a hot sauce boutique, started The Starboard’s much loved bloody mary bar. Chasing a hangover? Try “The Full Monty!”: two eggs, plain or raisin toast, French toast or pancakes, bacon and sausage, and hash browns.
2009 Coastal Highway, Dewey Beach, Delaware, 302-227-4600, thestarboard.com
Across the street, don’t let the long bar in tiny Woody’s Dewey Beach fool you. The star is the award-winning crabcake, made with jumbo lump crabmeat. Get it on a roll or alone.
1904 Coastal Highway, Dewey Beach, Delaware, 302-260-9945, deweybeachbar.com
Drive south over the Indian River Inlet Bridge and look for the canary yellow umbrella atop the concession stand at the Delaware Seashore State Park. The giant umbrella, which can reportedly withstand 100 mph winds, belongs to Big Chill Beach Club, which boasts the best views at the beach. A partnership between La Vida Hospitality Group and Delaware State Parks, Big Chill features menu items from Taco Reho, La Vida’s food truck. Recommended tacos include chicken tinga or Baja fish. You’ll need a state park pass or will have to pay to park in the lot. On the bright side, the price is less than you’d pay to park in downtown Bethany.
27099 Coastal Highway, Bethany Beach, Delaware, 302-402-5300, bigchillbeachclub.com
Matt’s Fish Camp is nestled among a stretch of upscale homes north of Bethany Beach. The late Matt Haley, founder of SoDel Concepts, which owns Matt’s Fish Camp and 10 other area restaurants, was inspired by the roadside seafood stands you find in New England. The one-story building has a comfortable retro vibe. Go old school with the lobster roll (cold or warm) and a Matt’s Homemade Soda float. Or jazz things up with the lobster Reuben, served on rye with Gruyere and coleslaw. Save room for dessert. Executive Chef Maggie Cellitto is also a pastry chef. There’s a second location in Lewes, but the menus differ slightly.
28635 Coastal Highway, North Bethany Beach, Delaware, 302-539-2267, mattsfishcampbethany.com
Located in the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites Residence Inn by Marriott, 99 Sea Level is a romantic date-night destination. The restaurant’s picture windows front the boardwalk and beach. The restaurant favors seafood, and to start, build your own seafood tower by choosing from the oysters, mussels, shrimp, clams, crab legs and crabcakes. Executive Chef Danio Somoza also is an owner of the newly opened Zoca, a Mexican concept in Bethany Beach, and Harvest Tide Steakhouse in Lewes.
99 Hollywood St., Bethany Beach, Delaware, 302-539-0299, 99sealevel.com
Lisa DiFebo-Osias started DiFebo’s in 1989, when she decided to live at the beach full time. The restaurant showcases dishes that her Italian grandmothers made for Sunday dinners in Wilmington, Delaware, and Philadelphia. Her father, Bob, still prepares the meatballs and the “gravy” each morning after Mass. Expect classic Italian cuisine with a refined twist; DiFebo-Osias is a Culinary Institute of America graduate. She now has other locations in downtown Rehoboth Beach and Berlin, Maryland.
789 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach, Delaware, 302-539-4550, difebos.com