Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of the summer season at the beach, but traffic on Route 1 has been thick all spring.
Credit the number of new communities west of Route 1 and the spike in visitors. Earlier this month, Delaware Tourism reported record numbers in 2021, with almost 10 million overnight visitors to the state.
While the beaches are the primary draw, many come for the food, and here are some of the tasty newcomers to the Culinary Coast.
A growing number of new restaurants specialize in breakfast and lunch.
For instance, Danio Somoza and Thaina Bittencourt opened a second Zava Café. (The first is in Rehoboth Beach.)
The downtown Milton café’s breakfast and lunch menu reveals Chef Somoza’s fine-dining experience.
Consider blueberry-stuffed French toast and an Angus burger with a sunny-side egg, goat cheese, arugula and pear chutney.
In May, Café Pink Blossom took up residence in the Route 1 space formerly occupied by Beaches Seafood Market — which still has a Milton restaurant. The cute bungalow was also once the home of Jimmy Lynn’s Seafood
Owners Yulia Tarasova and Can Yalcin’s menu includes eggs Benedict with Nova Scotia salmon, breakfast paninis, avocado grilled cheese and an array of salads.
In Dewey, Ashley and Lo Skardo own The Dewey Post. While the Coastal Highway hotspot is a destination for brunch dishes, it’s open in the evenings for ice cream.
Proving that Delaware can never have enough Italian restaurants, Via Sophia by the Sea opens this month in the old 99 Sea Level in Bethany Beach.
The location in the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites Residence Inn by Marriott is an offshoot of the Via Sophia in Washington, D.C., which also has a Kennebunk, Maine, restaurant.
Menu highlights include Bolognese with veal and pork, cioppino with lobster and rigatoni with mussels, octopus, squid, saffron and espelette pepper.
On the move
Several restaurants have relocated, so if you haven’t been to the beach in some time, here’s where to find them.
JAM Bistro, for instance, moved from Baltimore Avenue to the location best remembered as Chez La Mer. However, after that landmark closed, the site held a series of restaurants, including Papa Grande’s Coastal Taqueria. Happily, the treehouse-like second-floor deck remains.
Nicola Pizza left downtown Rehoboth for new construction on Route 1 near Lewes — and the parking lot has been jammed.
RELATED STORY: 10 seafood towers to try in Delaware
Downtown Blues BBQ, a relative of Bethany Blues, has moved into the original Nicola space. The restaurant is still hiring.
And Nicola’s old Rehoboth Avenue location is now home to Tiki Jac’s Street Eats & Brews, the Jacona brothers’ latest project.
In & out
The Asian-inspired restaurant, which should open any day, offers dim sum, small plates, noodles and rice bowls.
Port 251 is out on Rehoboth Avenue, and Crushers has moved in. Owner Bryan Derrickson also has Conch Island Key West Bar & Grill, which moved from downtown to the Route 1 extension a few years ago. (Like JAM, it was the victim of hotel development.)
Crushers specializes in crabs and, you guessed it, crush cocktails. The little stand a few steps from the restaurant is now the Cup R Cone, an ice cream shack.
Near the Indian River Inlet, the state did not renew Hammerhead’s lease, and Dockside Marina Bar + Grill, managed by Big Fish Restaurant Group, took its place.
Starboard steps it up
Meanwhile, the Hammerhead’s property in Dewey is now Starboard Claw, which was built from the ground up. The attractive two-story space specializes in crabs, crushes and seafood.
If Steve “Monty” Montgomery and his partners continue opening restaurants in Dewey, they might ruin the resort town’s party-hearty reputation.
Or, perhaps college kids and families can happily coexist.
Share this Post