While Wilmington’s city life took a hit during the pandemic, the dining scene has soldiered forward.
If you’re feeling more confident — or fully vaccinated — now is the time to check out what’s been happening over the past year.
Some places are open, and some plan to open in the months ahead.
Unless you’ve been in full quarantine and incommunicado, you probably know that Le Cavalier opened on Sept. 1, 2020. The restaurant made headlines for moving into the iconic Green Room’s location in the Hotel du Pont. Chef-owner Tyler Akin, a Tower Hill alum, has created a French-inspired menu with a modern flair.
Steak frites, for instance, are seasoned with Sarawak pepper, and duck frites with bearnaise is a fun take on the old bistro dish. Interestingly, the cheeseburger with Dijonnaise sauce and Cooper sharp cheese is a top seller and $19 to boot.
Le Cav serves breakfast, dinner and brunch. Don’t miss the Parisian-worthy sidewalk dining setup.
42 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 302-594-3154
Fans of Jewish delicatessens were ecstatic last October when Rosenfeld’s Delicatessen opened next to the Washington Street Ale House. The flagship restaurant is in Ocean City, Maryland, and there’s a second in Rehoboth Beach. The Wilmington site has a similar menu.
In May, Warren Rosenfeld and partner Big Fish Restaurant Group will open a South Bethany site in the old McCabe’s Gourmet Market. And next year, they plan to open in Goat Kitchen & Bar’s old space on Marsh Road in Brandywine Hundred.
No matter the site, Reuben sandwiches — large enough to share — are a specialty, as are the famous giant eclairs. And fans of latkes say you can’t miss with an order of them.
1204 N. Washington St., Wilmington, 302-427-7477
Just a few blocks down Washington Street, Dorcea opened just as the pandemic rolled into town.
Located in Domaine Hudson’s old digs, the restaurant soon attracted Wilmington Hospital staff and the Mid-Town Brandywine community. Tony Bomba often works the bar, while brother Michael commands the kitchen. Meatloaf with a spicy tomato glaze is a specialty.
What’s with the name? Check out the artwork and plug the house cocktail names into a Google search.
1314 Washington St., 302- 691-7447
On Market Street, Tasties 302 is delighting customers with fried turkey chops, turkey wings, fried chicken, rice-and-gravy and potato salad.
The restaurant is owned by Barbara Devan, a Philadelphia native, who has opened several restaurants under the Tasties brand since 2013. The Market Street site is her first Wilmington endeavor.
825 N. Market St., Wilmington, 302-482-2584
On the Christina River, Joe’s Crab Shack has closed, and Big Fish Restaurant Group plans to put Taco Grande, a Tex-Mex eatery, on the site.
Big Fish owner Eric Sugrue has been considering the concept for some time. Then again, he has no shortage of ideas, and he has more plans for the Wilmington Riverfront.
600 S. Madison St.
Peruvian Chef Juliana Jimenez is heading up Pachamama’s culinary team, which is also preparing Peruvian stir-fries and traditional desserts.
The target audience includes local neighbors and businesses, catering clients and delivery customers.
3 S. Orange St., Wilmington, 302-762-1608 (Serena’s); 302-655-3800 (Pachamama)
Pachamama is part of Hakuna Hospitality, which has extended and weather-proofed the patio at Santa Fe Mexican Grill off Pennsylvania Ave.
2000 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, 302-482-1954
Close to Wawaset Park, Park Café opened earlier this year in Moveable Feast’s former location.
The cute café is part of Jamestown Hospitality Group, which also has Tonic Seafood & Steak. The renovated dining room opens to a redone patio that’s inviting in warm weather.
Expect creative sandwiches, soups, salads and prepared foods for carryout.
2510 W. Fifth St., Wilmington, 302-543-2233
In the Trolley Square area, Goober’s Diner is up and running. The two-story stainless-steel structure, created by Atlanta-based Dinermite Diners, is next to a garage of classic vehicles owned by Goober’s partner Vance Kershner.
Kershner is also a Buckley’s Tavern partner, and Chef Tom Hannum oversees both kitchens. According to Hannum, the diner offers “regular food made of high-quality ingredients served by friendly staff.”
And, of course, breakfast is available all day.
Hannum waxes nostalgic with dishes from his youth — but with a twist. Instead of stewed tomatoes, you’ll find tomato jam. Fish sticks are made with fresh flounder, and the grilled cheese wears a buttery coating of grated parmesan and panko crumbs.
1203 Lincoln St., Wilmington, 302-274-2692
Locale BBQ Post
Locale BBQ Post — featured on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” — is about to cruise from Little Italy to Trolley Square. By June, the hotspot should be offering takeout at the former Scrumptious. (Old-timers will remember it as Sandy Hollow Herb Co).
While concentrating on carryout, owner Dan Sheridan plans to pursue a full-service restaurant in the space with outdoor dining and a larger kitchen.
The Post, as it will be called, will have a menu that ventures beyond barbecue but stresses local fare.
Ciro Food & Drink
Last summer, Venu Gaddamidi and chef Michael DiBianca opened Ciro Forty Acres in De La Coeur Café et Patisserie on Lovering Ave. The café is a sister location to Ciro Food & Drink on the Wilmington Riverfront.
The second location is small but mighty. Consider croque madame with ham, brie, a fried egg and onion fondu or a fried chicken sub. You can’t go wrong with a bracing mug of La Colombe and a funnel cake donut.
1836 Lovering Ave., Wilmington, 302-543-8948