Take A Day To Drive And Dine Through 5 Charming, Small Towns In Delaware
A one-of-a-kind mecca for foodies, Southern Delaware has blossomed over the years into a beachfront haven so rich with award-winning restaurants, breweries, and creative dining establishments that it’s earned its own nickname: the Culinary Coast. But that label isn’t given lightly, and this region is no ordinary collection of restaurants. Nestled in between Delaware’s farm country and the open Atlantic, the eateries in this region are renowned for serving up hyperlocal farm-to-table eats and fresh, day-caught seafood that is positively unmatched. For a truly swoon-worthy dining road trip, eat and drink your way through Delaware’s Culinary Coast by paying a visit to each of these five small towns on the water:
Charming and peppy, the pretty coastal town of Lewes has so much to offer beyond the food, but its restaurants offer plenty of eye candy of their own! Whether you're hopping off a ferry from Cape May or coming from inland DE, a stop at Surf Bagel in Lewes is the perfect start to your culinary journey down the Atlantic Coast.
Soft on the inside and served piping hot, the breakfast sandwiches are a warm hug that says, "You're a poetic, noble land mermaid. You've got this." Build your own bagel stack to really jumpstart your adventures.
As you check out the local scenery and make an itinerary for the day, grab a baked-in-house pastry from Station on Kings. This sweet little shop is a lovely store-and-café concept, with dreamy garden setting that you might never want to leave.
After a morning of exploring, delectable dining plus a scenic view is a must when enjoying Delaware’s beachfront cuisine. Casual mid-day eats can be found at Crooked Hammock Brewery, a laid-back gem that is a coastal escape in itself!
You'll find lawn games, fresh, innovative fare (like the coconut-breaded Pineapple Express Wings in a pineapple jalapeno sauce), and a true taste of Delaware's magnificent coast. Try the funky peach jam, bacon, and pepperjack steak burger for a sweet escape with a kick!
For dinner, let your cravings be your guide. Lewes Oyster House is a true "tavern by the sea," serving up fresh seafood like you wouldn't believe. Or, for a taste that's south of the border, Agave Mexican Restaurant and Tequila Bar is all about local ingredients and hearty dishes with extra pizzazz.
Is date night on the menu? Award-winning Heirloom is a must-visit for their farm-fresh fare and ever-changing menu, or check out Bramble & Brine in the old Buttery for some outstanding seasonal eats.
Moving south! Slightly more "discovered" than Lewes, Rehoboth is home to a colorful, eclectic bevy of restaurants that can't possibly be experienced in just one visit. The variety here makes it an excellent stop along Delaware's Culinary Coast!
Get your morning doughnut fix at the Fractured Prune or a more hearty, decadent brunch experience at Egg before heading off to check out the iconic views of the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk and the exhibits at the Rehoboth Beach Museum.
But don't worry about straying too far from your next meal - it'll be easy to find as you explore the town!
For a taste of the sea, check out Henlopen City Oyster House for the raw bar and surf-and-turf options. For classic eats, try the fresh produce-infused small plates and finger foods at Federal Fritter, or head to Chesapeake and Maine for stellar brews and a deep dive into the world of lobster-topped burgers.
Just don't forget to grab a plate of classic fries at Thrasher's while you're out and about in Rehoboth! These iconic vinegar and salt drizzled morsels pair perfectly with sandy toes, salt air, and panoramic views.
For dinner, you'll have a hard time choosing just one spot (although calories don't count on vacation, so feel free to try them all!) We recommend keeping it classic with a romantic date night at Eden.
Dewey Beach, DE 19971, USA
Even at only one mile long and two blocks wide, Dewey Beach has earned a reputation for bringing the party. Whether it's the make-your-own Bloody Marys at the Starboard or the Dewey Donkeys and tasty Mexican-inspired "Marias" at SIRvida, here, the drinks are as vibrant as the coastline and they just keep flowing!
Not feeling the call of the brew? The dining scene is just as alluring, albeit more casual than many of its coastal neighbors - the laid-back
Dewey Beach Way of Life at its finest! In fact, some of the tastiest BBQ ribs on the beach are made in-house at the Rusty Rudder, along with incredibly juicy fried chicken and mind-blowing house-made mac n' cheese that will have you salivating for seconds…and thirds
And don't forget the stunning panoramic views of the water from nearly every seat in the house!
For a classic stop on Delaware's Culinary Coast, Woody's offers tantalizing jumbo lump crab cakes that are as iconic as they are delicious. It's also a local hotspot that has definitely earned its legendary reputation. But don't pass up Dewey Beer Co. when your hunger hits after a day spent soaking up sunshine.
It's not just drinks and bar peanuts here… unique and creative menu options are the name of the game! The Wild Salmon entrée is moist and delicious, the Plantain Nachos are out of this world, and the Roasted Beet Salad and Steamed Mussels are both surprising menu winners.
Beach vibes don't get much better than they do in Bethany, and the food is just as sensational. Keep it chill at the aptly-named Big Chill Beach Club, where the umbrella bar and divine seaside deck is only the start.
The menu is chock full of classic seafood dishes and equally colorful specialties, like the Big Chill Seafood Salad, the Sunset Sammy with cilantro-citrus chicken, grilled peach, and avocado, Baja Fish tacos with beer-battered cod and chipotle, and the juicy crab dip-topped burgers.
Please note this restaurant is open seasonally, so be sure and check the website to confirm hours before you go!
You might feel like you've tasted and experienced every delectable dish Delaware's Culinary Coast has to offer already, but DE's southernmost town still has plenty of sensational options up its sleeve. Our Harvest is a chic, rustic-inspired restaurant that is unique for the region, taking cozy comfort foods of the mid-Atlantic to a whole new level.
A bright, open kitchen allows diners to see and know exactly where their meal is coming from (hint: it's not far!)
If seafood is what you're craving, One Coastal has you covered and then some. Every item on the menu notes exactly where the ingredients came from, so you know every dish here is as fresh as it gets!
James Beard-nominated chef Matt Kern and his fellow chefs carefully craft each innovative dish from scratch, which regularly changes with the seasonal ingredients for peak flavors.
For a seafood experience that comes with a side of views, Catch 54 has a prime waterfront location that is absolutely divine during golden hour. It really makes those classic coastal entrees even better!
But you'll also find some unexpected southern-inspired bites at Catch 54 as well. Items like Shrimp & Grits, Buttermilk Fried Oysters, Seafood Gumbo, and (of course) crispy Southern Fried Chicken served with bacon corn gravy and ultra-fluffy whipped potatoes. Every dish is a plate of homestyle heaven!
Delaware’s Culinary Coast packs a world of flavors into such a petite slice of Southern Delaware, and we’re definitely in love with the variety and creativity found in these small beach towns! If you have any incredible restaurants that we missed in DE’s southern coast, let us know – we’d love to check them out.
Looking for a day trip across the state without the drive? Check out this
historic train ride through Hockessin!
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