Best of Delaware 2018: Food & Drink Upstate


American Restaurant

Readers, upstateHarry’s Savoy Grill

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2020 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 475-3000


Authentic Japanese

Editors, upstate: Pioneering Okura Japanese Cuisine Restaurant set the standard for all that would follow. We can’t get enough of the steamed gyoza dumplings with shrimp, and Okura is one of the few places that serves dusky sea urchin sashimi. A variety of teriyaki and tempura dishes keep it real, but those with a taste for other Asian cuisines will find a stir fry or curry to suit their tastes. 

703 Ace Memorial Drive, Hockessin, 239-8486


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Asian Dumplings

Editors, upstate: Made with love by The Wandering Chef Catering Cart, these pillows of umami goodness are lightly drizzled with a rich cream sauce and sprinkled with fresh scallions. Fair warning: Once you’ve tried them, there’s no going back. The dumplings from your neighborhood Chinese restaurant are almost guaranteed to pale in comparison. Lucky students often find the cart outside Smith Hall at the University of Delaware. Now you know.

(908) 295-7787



Readers, upstateBing’s Bakery

253 E. Main St., Newark, 737-5310

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Readers, upstateTwo Stones Pub

300 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 239-2200; 2 Chesmar Plaza, Newark, 294-1890; 2502 Foulk Road, Wilmington, 439-3231


Barbecue Place

Readers, upstateLocale BBQ Post

1014 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington, 510-4929


Beer Selection

Readers, upstateTwo Stones Pub

300 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 239-2200; 2 Chesmar Plaza, Newark, 294-1890; 2502 Foulk Road, Wilmington, 439-3231



Editors, upstate: Charming La Fia is the kind of place every downtown should have—cheerful, casual and delicious. We’re crazy for dishes such as tender grilled octopus atop layers of potato and prosciutto with tomato ragout and the mousse of seared foie gras with pickled onion. The scallop carbonara is notable for the silky egg sauce. We should note that the dish’s spaghetti is handmade—as is absolutely everything else on the menu.

426 N. Market St., Wilmington, 543-5574


Breakfast Place

Readers, upstateDrip Café

144 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 234-4430


Breakfast Sandwiches

Editors, upstate: At Centreville Café, you’ll love the bird-themed names of the sandwiches as much as what’s inside them. The Sandpiper is packed with eggs your way, and your choice of breakfast meat and bread. We are partial to the flaky home-baked croissants. Best enjoyed in the café’s garden, where you can hear the real birds sing.

5800 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, 777-4911



Readers, upstateIron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

147 E. Main St., Newark, 266-9000; 620 Justison St., Wilmington, 472-2739



Readers, upstateKid Shelleen’s Charcoal House & Saloon 

1801 W. 14th St., Wilmington, 658-4600


Build Your Own Bowl

Editors, upstate: How many different varieties and flavors can you create when you build your own bowl at El Diablo? Probably too many to count, but we can assure you, this tiny Mexican hot spot will never let you down. There’s usually a line out the door during lunch, which should give you just enough time to contemplate your order. (Adobo chicken or short rib? Pico de gallo or chipotle ranch?). However complex or simple your order, just don’t forget the guacamole.

127 E. Main St., Newark, 266-4050; 5329A Limestone Road, Newark, 235-8121; 13A Trolley Square, Wilmington, 699-5321; 1812 Marsh Road, Wilmington, 439-4648



Readers, upstateKid Shelleen’s Charcoal House & Saloon

1801 W. 14th St., Wilmington, 658-4600



Editors, upstate: It’s official: You can bring your own libation to tiny, delicious Southeast Kitchen, where you’ll enjoy Vietnamese and Thai dishes such as grilled squid with minced lemongrass, homemade chicken dumplings with ample ginger and scallions, and amazing pad Thai. 

1901 Delaware Ave., Wilmington, 691-7728



Editors, upstate: We are crazy for classic bayou fare such as gumbo at cozy Cajun Kate’s, as well as CK signatures such as crispy macaroni and cheese with Andouille sausage, applewood-smoked bacon and Tasso ham. The softshell crab po’boys are outrageous, but you have to get them when you can. The specials change frequently, so there is never a reason not to go back—not that we need one.

722 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, 416-5108


Candy-Chocolate Shop

Readers, upstateGovatos Chocolates

4105 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-5324; 800 N. Market St., Wilmington, 652-4082



Editors, upstatePiccolina Toscana does it right, starting with buttery beef, then adding standard accompaniments such as Reggiano and raw onion. But it’s the truffle oil that gets us. We could eat it all day.

1412 N. Dupont St., Wilmington, 654-8001


Casual Classic

Editors, upstate: The games are on TV in the lounge and the dining room is packed with friendly regulars at Stanley’s Tavern, an institution in North Wilmington for more than 80 years. The menu covers all the pub grub and comfort faves: wings, chili, boardwalk fries, burgers, ribs with your choice of tantalizing sauces and much more.

2038 Foulk Road, Wilmington, 475-1887



Readers, upstateBachetti Bros. Gourmet Market & Catering

4723B Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 994-4467


Charm Factor

Editors, upstate: Located in the arrondissement of Forty Acres, De La Coeur Café et Patisserie feels like a slice of Montmartre, thanks to a riot of blossoms at the door and chalkboard menus inside. The small menu of French toasts, tartes, omelets, and sweet and savory crepes changes daily, but never disappoints. Aficionados of baked goods, you’ve just been admitted to heaven.

1836 Lovering Ave., Wilmington, 660-7178



Readers, upstateClaymont Steak Shop

3526 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, 798-0013; 57 S. Main St., Newark, 453-9500; 2720 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-1515



Readers, upstateRobbie Jester, Stone Balloon Ale House

115 E. Main St., Newark, 266-8111


Chinese Restaurant

Readers, upstateThe Crownery

228 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 239-3825


Cocktail Selection

Readers, upstateGrain Craft Bar + Kitchen

270 E. Main St., Newark, 737-2931; Grain H20, 3006 Summit Harbour Lane, Bear, 365-5795


Coffee Shop

Readers, upstateBrew HaHa! • Read more about one of Brew HaHa!’s friendliest baristas.

3838 Kennett Pike , Greenville, 658-6336; 45 E. Main St., Newark, 369-2600; Christiana Hospital, 4755 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark, 733-2739; 1812 Marsh Road, Wilmington, 529-1125; 3636 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-7227; 222 Delaware Ave., Wilmington, 777-5137; 824 N. Market St., Wilmington, 777-4499; 5329 Limestone Road, Wilmington, 234-9600; 1400 N. Dupont St., Wilmington, 384-6344


Contemporary Italian

Editors, upstate: Outstanding pizzettes are what you might expect from the family who once owned one of the most popular pizza places in the state, but V&M Bistro is so much more. We love the handmade pastas in dishes such as linguine with clams and gnocchi Bolognese, as well as meat dishes. The atmosphere is as cool and contemporary as any new place you’d find in Roma. Ciao, bella.

1717 Marsh Road, Wilmington, 479-7999


Cooking Class

Readers, upstateThe CROP Foundation

713 E. Basin Road, New Castle, 501-6623


Crab Cakes

Readers, upstateBig Fish Grill on the Riverfront

720 Justison St., Wilmington, 652-3474


Editors, upstate: For years, we’ve pestered the Courtyard by Marriott Newark-University of Delaware for its recipe. The secret is more secure than a grand jury investigation, so trust us on this: They are unequaled.

400 David Hollowell Drive, Newark, 737-0900


Craft Burgers

Editors, upstate: It seems that anything goes at eclectic 8th & Union Kitchen. Start with a straightforward Pub Burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and aioli. Work your way up to the gooey deliciousness of the Smokey Burger: melted Gouda, ham, barbecue sauce, chipotle jam and gobs of aioli. If you want runny fried eggs or pork belly on your burger, you can have that, too.

801 N. Union St., Wilmington, 654-9780


Date Night Restaurant

Readers, upstateHarry’s Savoy Grill

2020 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 475-3000



Readers, upstateCaffé Gelato

90 E. Main St., Newark, 738-5811



Editors, upstate: Ready to have a quasi-religious experience for less than a dollar? Try the freshly baked fritters at Janssen’s Market. The chocolate-frosted French crullers—both impossibly airy and insanely decadent—are among the most delicious treats we’ve ever eaten.

3801 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, 654-9941


Family Restaurant Ever

Editors, upstateGrotto Pizza

315 Autopark Drive, Middletown, 314-9500; 45 E. Main St., Newark, 369-0600; 1819 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, 777-3278; 2015 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 777-6793


Family-Friendly Restaurant

Readers, upstateBig Fish Grill on the Riverfront

720 Justison St., Wilmington, 652-3474


Fine Dining

Readers, upstateThe House of William & Merry

1336 Old Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, 234-2255


Food to Go

Readers, upstateHome Grown Café

126 E. Main St., Newark, 266-6993


Food Truck

Readers, upstateMojo Loco



French Restaurant

Readers, upstateThe Green Room at the Hotel du Pont

42 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 594-3154





Friendliest Barista

Editors, upstateLydia Farrell, Brew HaHa! • Read more about Farrell’s passion for coffee and customer service.

Market Street, 824 N. Market St., Wilmington, 777-4499


Game Dishes

Editors, upstate: Chef Donny Merrill’s Skipjack, for all its nautical goodness, is one of the few places that still walks on the wild side. Order the meat of the moment as a burger or as part of the charcuterie board, or go for a menu standard such as venison with marble potatoes, organic carrots, royal trumpet mushrooms, smoked cranberry honey and Stilton blue.

401 Louviers Drive, Newark, 456-1800


Greek-Mediterranean Restaurant

Readers, upstateOlive Tree Café

13 Chestnut Hill Plaza, Newark, 266-4598



Editors, upstate: When mere margaritas won’t suffice for happy hour, bring your appetite—and a few hungry friends—to Del Pez Mexican Gastropub for a giant serving of made-to-order guacamole. In addition to a classic avocado-cilantro-lime combo, there are four flavored versions you can’t find just anywhere. One’s got lump crab; another boasts goat cheese and roasted garlic. After a few bites, sticking around for a taco dinner just makes good sense.

400 Justison St., Wilmington, 691-7974



Editors, upstate: You can watch the meats roast to juicy perfection on the rotisseries at newly expanded Opa! Opa! The pita is oven-fresh, the lettuce crispy, the tomato ripe and the tzatziki tangy.

7A Trolley Square, Wilmington, 654-4500


Halal Dining

Editors, upstateOlive Tree Café caters to Muslim diners with everything from beefy harira soup to several tagine dishes and all vegetarian fare—all of it delicious.

13 Chestnut Hill Plaza, Newark, 266-4598


Happy Hour

Readers, upstateGrain Craft Bar + Kitchen

270 E. Main St., Newark, 737-2931; Grain H20, 3006 Summit Harbour Lane, Bear, 365-5795


Happy Hour Menu

Editors, upstate: While the happy hour at the Columbus Inn features traditional drink specials, its special food menu helps make happy hour a lot happier. Prices are divided into three offerings: $3, $6 and $9. The cheapest treats include roasted edamame, cheesesteak spring rolls, gingersnap-crusted brie, hot wings and BLT deviled eggs. Among $6 items are crispy chicken nuggets with pickle chips, Baja shrimp tacos, a half-dozen oysters, pork belly bites and barbecue fries. For $9, you get a filet sandwich, pepperoni pizza, chicken Caesar salad, peel-and-eat shrimp or a crab cake sandwich. The Lil’ Big Burger of Muenster cheese, lettuce, onion, pickles served with house-made chips and a secret sauce will only set you back seven bucks. Now that’s a deal worth discovering. Happy hour sails 4-7 p.m. during the week and 5-7 p.m. on Saturdays.

2216 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington, 571-1492


Ice Cream

Readers, upstateWoodside Farm Creamery

1310 Little Baltimore Road, Hockessin, 239-9847


Indian Restaurant

Readers, upstateMaharaja Indian Cuisine

1450 Kirkwood Hwy., Suite 121, Newark, 369-1202


Italian Restaurant

Readers, upstateMrs. Robino’s Italian Restaurant

520 N. Union St., Wilmington, 652-9223


Italian Wines

Editors, upstate: Great Italian food requires great Italian wine. The list at Capers & Lemons Italian Restaurant is heaven for lovers of Sangiovese—there are offerings from four makers. That’s not to mention a couple big Barolos and Barberas. Whites include a Verdicchio, a Vermentino and, for dessert, a Moscato. Need bubbles? There is a Prosecco, too. And that’s just the start on a big list of choices. A cent’anni.

301 Little Falls Drive, Wilmington, 256-0524


Jamaican-Caribbean Restaurant

Readers, upstateD&H Jamaican Cuisine

748 E. Chestnut Hill Road, Newark, 369-8826


Japanese Restaurant

Readers, upstateMikimotos Asian Grill & Sushi Bar

1212 Washington St., Wilmington, 656-8638


Late Night Menu

Readers, upstateKid Shelleen’s Charcoal House & Saloon

1801 W. 14th St., Wilmington, 658-4600


Lobster Rolls

Editors, upstate: Whether it’s for lunch or dinner, the rolls at George & Sons Seafood Market & Oyster House will satisfy your lust for lobster. George & Sons offers a choice of traditional or hot-buttered lobster claw and tail meat. The large chunks are packed into a butter-toasted split-top bun and served with chips and a pickle. Stop by the seafood market to see the live versions of these crustaceans, one of which may end up on the next roll.

1216 Old Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, 239-7204


Lunch Downtown

Editors, upstate: No more than a five-minute walk from almost any office, Chelsea Tavern will feed you well and send you on your way with time to spare. The restaurant remains a highlight for creamy crab dip, individual pizzas and great sandwiches such as the big Chelsea Burger. After work, head back for a beer—there are more than 200 bottles to choose from.

821 N. Market St., Wilmington, 482-3333


Lunch Spot

Readers, upstateBig Fish Grill on the Riverfront

720 Justison St., Wilmington, 652-3474



Editors, upstate: The margaritas at Mexican Post are worth their salt. The restaurant carries 24 brands of tequila and offers a fine selection of mixing options. At happy hour, grab a pitcher, but ask to replace the house tequila with a better brand such as Hornitos or Patron. Or, order one of eight specialty drinks such as the Paloma—aka the morning margarita—of Avion Silver, Jarritos grapefruit soda and a lime wedge. The Post also offers margaritas in mango, peach, strawberry, apple, piña colada and banana. Try the No Mas Madras: Corralejo Reposado, Patron Citronge, orange juice, cranberry juice and an orange slice.

3100 Naamans Road, No. 14, Wilmington, 478-3939



Editors, upstate: The irrepressible Donnie Scalessa is at it again at the newest Scalessa’s “My Way” Old School Italian Kitchen, where he serves his famous homemade meatballs in sandwiches, on a salad and with spaghetti in gravy, of course. 

1836 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington, 656-1362


Menu Makeover

Editors, upstate: Heaven is burrata from Corner Bistro, whose new menu features healthful fare such as a kale-quinoa salad, a classic cassoulet, and braised short rib on sweet parsnip purée with spinach and local mushrooms. Corner Bistro never rests, reinventing itself every so often, and renewing our love every time.

3604 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 477-1778


Mexican Restaurant

Readers, upstateLa Tolteca

2209 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 778-4646; 4015 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 478-9477; La Tonalteca, 1237 Churchmans Road, Newark, 294-1108, 700 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 234-2400



Editors, upstate: The fresh steamed mussels appetizer at Tutto Fresco is served with either a zesty red sauce or white wine-garlic sauce. We prefer the red. These plump bivalves also lend muscle to Tutto Fresco’s seafood risotto and zuppa di pesce.

514 Philadelphia Pike, Wilmington, 762-9094



Readers, upstateTwo Stones Pub

300 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 239-2200; 2 Chesmar Plaza, Newark, 294-1890; 2502 Foulk Road, Wilmington, 439-3231


Neighborhood Bar

Editors, upstate: Sometimes you really do want to go where everybody knows your name. There is always a friendly face behind the bar of Dead Presidents Restaurant & Pub who is ready to wet your whistle with a craft beer, a shot of Jamison or even a Cosmo. There are no judgments here. Pull up a stool at the bar or slide into one of the cozy booths for a good meal. You’ll feel right at home in no time.

618 N. Union St., Wilmington, 375-5627


New Brewery

Editors, upstate: Wizard Mike Dunlap creates sheer perfection in the list of standard brews at Midnight Oil Brewing Company. Wind your way through the corporate park to find the tasting room, where you can sample sweet and spicy Sundown Saison, the ultra-smooth but potent Orion Double IPA or any of the six regulars. Visit on Mondays for the release of that week’s special brew. Distribution should begin soon.

674 Pencader Drive, Newark, 286-7641


New Brewpub

Editors, upstate: Combine a diverse menu of sandwiches and “skillets” with 11 taps that draw as many styles of brews and you get a wealth of possible food and beer pairings at Stitch House Brewery. Geek out with the brewer and barkeeps over which yeasts were used in the brews, or simply enjoy, say, a dry-ish Ryenot IPA with a rich short rib sandwich. Its downtown location makes it perfect for workday lunches, happy hours and a nightcap after a show at The Grand.

1829 N. Market St., Wilmington, 250-4280


New Mexican Restaurant

Editors, upstate: Takeout gem El Toro recently opened El Toro Cantina in the old Wicked Vine down the street, and we couldn’t be happier. Fans no longer need to wait for one of the four tables at the original. They can now spread out and relax in an updated room while enjoying El Toro signatures such as the incomparable chiles rellenos stuffed with cheesy mashed potatoes. And now that El Toro has a well-stocked bar, you can enjoy a margarita while catching the futbol game on the tube.

1934 W. Sixth St., Wilmington, 543-5635


New Restaurant

Readers, upstateGrain H20

3006 Summit Harbour Lane, Bear, 365-5795



Editors, upstate: If you’re not ready to end your night after a show at The Playhouse, saunter over to the Hotel du Pont’s Green Room. The renovated hot spot is current and cozy, with a drink menu to match. Classic cocktails range from a Gimlet to a Moscow Mule. But be sure to read the whole menu. It includes decadent martinis, wines and plenty of scotch and bourbon.

42 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 594-3154


Old World Charm

Editors, upstateLa Casa Pasta comes by its roots honestly—founder Giuseppe Martuscelli came straight from the old country. For 40 years, his restaurant has created some of the best Italian food in the state, and a couple updates and an expansion of the dining room have kept the place fresh and contemporary. Our recommendation: seafood.

130 Four Seasons Pkwy., Newark, 738-9935


Outdoor Dining

Readers, upstateIron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

620 Justison St., Wilmington, 472-2739


Pasta Dishes

Editors, upstate: The cozy, rustic atmosphere of Taverna practically demands that patrons order at least one pasta platter. We’re partial to the Orecchiette Mac & Cheese—an indulgent fusion of noodles, fontina, Parmesan, caramelized onions and prosciutto.

121 E. Main St., Newark, 444-4334


Philanthropy Program

Editors, upstate: It’s a winning formula that does a world of good: Host a chosen organization’s celebrity bartenders, let them invite all their friends and acquaintances to BBC Tavern and Grill on a Wednesday or Thursday night, then donate all the tips to great causes such as juvenile diabetes research or places like St. Anthony’s community center. The drinks will make you feel great. The philanthropy will make you feel even better.

4019 Kennett Pike, Greenville, 655-3785





Readers, upstatePizza by Elizabeths • Read more about why Pizza by Elizabeths has endured.

3801 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, 654-4478


Place Almost Off the Beaten Path

Editors, upstate: Housed in a tiny storefront, Nora Lees French Quarter Bistro is one of those places that seems to hide in plain view—easy to do in Old New Castle. Don’t be deceived. Inside, Nora Lees is bigger than it might seem from the street, but still cozy, a great place for classic Cajun-Creole food and live music amid typical N’awlins decor. Don’t miss it on Mardi Gras.

124 Delaware St., New Castle, 322-7675


Place for All Tastes

Editors, upstate: At Ernest & Scott Taproom, order your chicken wings Buffalo-style or coated in teriyaki. Tacos range from pulled pork with barbecue sauce to grilled portobello with queso fresco. Sandwiches and entrées are equally diverse. And the taps feature everything from a range of craft styles to good ol’ Bud.

902 N. Market St., Wilmington, 384-8113


Place that Always Stands Out

Editors, upstate: Since the day it opened, RedFire Grill & Steakhouse has remained a consistently excellent performer. The dark red walls, stone and wrought-iron accents provide a warm, comfortable setting—as a traditional steakhouse should. The service is excellent, and the food never disappoints. Appetizers such as the fried calamari and cheesesteak spring rolls are as good as it gets and the signature burgers are just as tasty. But steak is the star here, and whether it’s the rib-eye, New York strip or tender filet, RedFire sears them to perfection in a 1,200-degree chophouse broiler. Even simple sides like the hand-cut fries are worth returning for, again and again.

400 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 235-2600


Place to Bring Your Own Crowd

Editors, upstate: The former Firestone Roasting House was recently renamed as Docklands Riverfront, but the big patio on the Christina remains. There’s no better spot to crash with friends or coworkers for a drink, a bite and live entertainment. Docklands offers daily happy hour food and drink specials, and the brick oven that inspired the old name still cranks out tasty flatbreads and craft pizzas. Along with a fun menu of specialty cocktails, there are 14 beers on tap and a nice assortment of craft brews. At Docklands, it’s OK to go along with the crowd.

110 West St., Wilmington, 658-6626


Place to Celebrate

Editors, upstate: At the Rail Wine Bar and Grille offers a panoramic view of the well-manicured golf course at White Clay Creek Country Club—and that is one of many reasons it’s a great place to celebrate a special occasion—like a jackpot win. The catering team at Delaware Park helps guests create a perfect menu—whether it’s a buffet, hors d’oeuvres or a served, sit-down meal—from what seems like a never-ending choice of options. A brunch buffet, for example, includes all of the usual offerings, as well as stations for waffles, omelets and even prime rib. There’s also a cold raw bar and beverage offerings go on forever. Whether it’s a birthday party, wedding reception or a corporate happy hour, At the Rail is a safe bet.

777 Delaware Park Blvd., Wilmington, 994-6700


Editors, over the line: The historic Mendenhall Inn provides a spacious, elegant setting for any celebration—from weddings to birthday parties and anything in between. There’s a 70-room full-service hotel, a restaurant and tavern on-site. The inn boasts two large ballrooms that can seat 300 people each. The Grand Ballroom features a beautiful spiral staircase. The Gold Ballroom includes an outdoor patio. The food and service at Mendenhall are as good as it gets. Picture a roaring fireplace, candles, fresh flowers and soft music. Let’s get the party started.

323 Kennett Pike, Mendenhall, Pa., (610) 388-2100


Place to Drink without Worrying About the Kids

Editors, upstate: You can relax on a lawn chair while your little ones play in the sand at Constitution Yards Beer Garden, now in its third season of pleasing parents who could stand a cold Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA with similar stressed parents. Older kids can amuse themselves in the arcade or play badminton. When you need some activity, Baggo and bocce beckon. Everyone will enjoy fun fare such as chicken tenders, waffle fries and baby back ribs. There is no end of fun, and no better place to catch a cool breeze.

308 Justison St., Wilmington, 407-5192


Place to Impress Your Snooty New York Foodie Friends

Editors, upstateEclipse Bistro is consistently creative and classic at once. Classic: Nicoise salad. Creative: Breast of duck with beluga lentil-fava ragu and candied orange. All of it is relaxed. The intimate room is perfect for people watching and the occasional celebrity sighting. (Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir has been known to dine here.) The robust, reasonably priced wine list is pleasing to all palates. • Read more about Eclipse Bistro’s je ne sais quoi.

1020 N. Union St., Wilmington, 658-1588


Place to Impress Your Snooty San Francisco Foodie Friends

Editors, upstate: From the communal table upfront to the vaguely Victorian vibe, everything about Merchant Bar has the feeling of a hidden gem in the foodiest of American food cities. The art on the walls follows a maritime theme. Influences on the menu range from the Mediterranean to Malaysia. May we recommend the crab pad Thai? You’ll be pleased to find lumps of Maryland blue, not the left coast’s Dungeness.

426 N. Market St., Wilmington, 543-5574


Place to Pick Crabs All Day Long

Editors, over the lineThe Wellwood, playground of U.S. presidents in a previous life, offers the quintessential Eastern Shore experience. Order fat Maryland blue crabs by the dozen, or opt for all you can eat. Dine in the Club Room lounge, or dig your toes in the sand in the outdoor areas while you enjoy live music and a summer breeze off the Northeast River.

523 Water St., Charlestown, Md., (410) 287-6666



Editors, upstate: Few dining experiences have rendered us as speechless as a meal at Ramen Kumamoto. The unpretentious eatery produces breathtaking bowls of Japanese ramen with meat and vegetables married in a broth we’re convinced has healing properties. Whatever combination you choose, don’t skimp on the soft-boiled egg.

165. E. Main St., Newark, 733-0888​


Restaurant for a Party

Readers, upstateHarry’s Savoy Grill

2020 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 475-3000


Restaurant Reboot

Editors, upstate: After nearly 15 years, Café Mezzanotte has freshened up beautifully. One thing that hasn’t changed is the excellent Italian food, from the antipasti of grilled vegetables, aged provolone and prosciutto to the burrata to the cioppino and pork Milanese.

1007 N. Orange St., Wilmington, 658-7050


Romantic Atmosphere

Readers, upstateThe Green Room at Hotel du Pont

42 W. 11th St., Wilmington, 594-3154


Rooftop Bar

Editors, upstate: Up a narrow stairway you will find the deck and patio, a hidden treetop sanctuary at Buckley’s Tavern. Furnished with a spacious bar, bistro tables and a second level that gets you a little closer to the stars on a cool, clear evening, it’s the perfect spot for an intimate birthday gathering or your wedding after-party. No matter what the occasion, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world.

5812 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, 656-9776



Readers, upstatePizza by Elizabeths • Read more about why Pizza by Elizabeths has endured.

3801 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, 654-4478



Readers, upstateCapriotti’s Sandwich Shop

430 Eden Circle, Bear, 832-8132; 1835 Pulaski Hwy., Bear, 838-8898; 120 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 257-5222; 743 N. Broad St., Middletown, 376-7827; 708 W. Basin Road, New Castle, 322-6797; 230 E. Main St., Newark, 454-0200; 4132 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark, 533-5132; 2124 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 479-9818; 510 N. Union St., Wilmington, 571-8929; 4522 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 998-0096



Readers, upstateBig Fish Grill on the Riverfront

720 Justison St., Wilmington, 652-3474


Seafood Market

Readers, upstateFeby’s Fishery

3701 Lancaster Pike, Wilmington, 998-9501


Small Plates

Editors, upstate: Tapas may have yielded to the “small plates” section of so many menus, but Olé Tapas Lounge & Restaurant still does them the traditional way, and the scene is better for it. We are crazy for Spanish standards such as braised oxtail and fabada Asturiana, a stew of white beans and sausages topped with a fried quail egg. There is a variety of artisanal cheeses and cured meats, as well as several paellas. Need we mention the wine list?

1126 Capitol Trail, Newark, 224-9378


Smoked Salmon Bagel not from New York

Editors, upstate: When a craving hits for the sort of sandwich you’d find at an old-fashioned Jewish deli on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, head to Market Street Bakery & Cafe. Its version layers a generous serving of lox with tomato, cucumber, red onion and fragrant dill cream cheese (an honest-to-goodness game-changer) on the buttery bagel of your choice. If only it were open on weekends.

823 N. Market St., Wilmington, 482-2553


Soul Food

Readers, upstateWalt’s Flavor Crisp Chicken Express

103 S. Lincoln St., Wilmington, 429-2587


Sports Bar

Readers, upstateTwo Stones Pub

300 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 239-2200; 2 Chesmar Plaza, Newark, 294-1890; 2502 Foulk Road, Wilmington, 439-3231



Readers, upstateHarry’s Savoy Grill

2020 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 475-3000


Steak and Seafood Together

Editors, upstateWalter’s Steakhouse holds the title of the oldest steakhouse in Wilmington, but don’t confuse that with outdated. This distinguished establishment still makes our mouths water by sticking to what it does best: juicy steaks and succulent seafood. The prime rib is always on point, the Delmonico is delicious, and the lobster tails are luscious. Dine on Sunday or Thursday to take advantage of the complimentary seafood bar.

802 N. Union St., Wilmington, 652-6780



Readers, upstateCapriotti’s Sandwich Shop

430 Eden Circle, Bear, 832-8132; 1835 Pulaski Hwy., Bear, 838-8898; 120 Lantana Drive, Hockessin, 257-5222; 743 N. Broad St., Middletown, 376-7827; 708 W. Basin Road, New Castle, 322-6797; 230 E. Main St., Newark, 454-0200; 4132 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark, 533-5132; 2124 Silverside Road, Wilmington, 479-9818; 510 N. Union St., Wilmington, 571-8929; 4522 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 998-0096



Readers, upstateMikimotos Asian Grill & Sushi Bar

1212 Washington St., Wilmington, 656-8638


Taste of the Isles

Editors, upstate: Next time you’re feeling peckish, fill your belly with some genuine British grub. Stoney’s British Pub serves all the U.K. faves, including fish and chips, toad in the hole and a variety of meat pies. (We are partial to the shepherd’s.) Owner Mike Stone says the recipes are his mum’s. You can wash it all down with any of the 50 single malts or 30 varieties of beer. It’s the perfect spot for watching soccer on the telly or listening to live music.

3007 Concord Pike, Wilmington, 477-9740


Taste of the Sea

Editors, upstate: The name may be new, but almost everything else at Banks’ Seafood Kitchen and Raw Bar remains exactly as it has been since the former Harry’s Seafood Grill opened 15 years ago—with the addition of burgers and barbecue. You’ll still find a variety of oysters on the raw bar, as well the traditional half-price, half-shell special on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You’ll still find a selection of sashimi and ceviche. You’ll still find delicious crab cakes. And you’ll still find chef David Leo Banks at the helm, looking for great new ways to prepare fish and shellfish.

101 S. Market St., Wilmington, 777-1500


Thai Restaurant

Readers, upstateUbon Thai Cuisine

936 Justison St., Wilmington, 656-1706



Editors, upstateTony’s Cafe makes really tasty pizza, but a gigantic slab of tiramisu is the most imperative item on the menu. It gets all the ratios exactly right: a massive mound of heavenly mascarpone cream atop espresso-soaked—but not saturated—ladyfingers. (If you’re feeling too full after your meal, take a piece home to enjoy in all its glory later.

366 Possum Park Road, Newark, 737-2411


Traditional Pizza

Readers, upstateCafé Napoli

4391 Kirkwood Hwy., Wilmington, 999-7553


Vegan-Vegetarian Friendly

Readers, upstateHome Grown Café

126 E. Main St., Newark, 266-6993


Editors, over the line: If you’re a vegetarian, there’s no need to limit yourself to a salad at Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar. The menu is full of flatbreads, apps such as avocado-artichoke dip and steamed edamame three ways, several entrées and a veg burger that must be tasted to be believed. Vegetarianism not required for max enjoyment.

549 Wilmington Pike, Glen Mills, (610) 358-1005


Water View Dining

Readers, upstateIron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

620 Justison St., Wilmington, 472-2739


Way to Finish a Meal

Editors, upstate: As if enjoying one of its signature crab cakes or a savory filet isn’t a sweet enough experience, Vallé Cucina Italian Steakhouse has to tempt you with one of its delectable homemade desserts. There is Key lime pie, crème brûlée, strawberry-banana crème, apple crisp, a half-baked cookie and the pièce de résistance—Valle’s version of timeless tiramisu.

4752 Limestone Road, Wilmington, 998-9999




Wine List

Readers, upstateDomaine Hudson

1314 N. Washington St., Wilmington, 655-9463


Wine Store

Readers, upstateKreston’s Wine & Spirits

448 E. Main St., Middletown, 376-6123; 904 Concord Ave., Wilmington, 652-3792





ReadersPizza by Elizabeths • Read more about why Pizza by Elizabeths has endured.

3801 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, 654-4478



ReadersBack Burner Restaurant & Tavern

25 Hockessin Corner, Hockessin, 239-2314



ReadersCantwell’s Tavern

109 Main St., Odessa, 376-0600


New Castle

Editors: Step inside Jessop’s Tavern—a 300-year-old building—that serves some of the best stick-to-your-ribs comfort food (think meatloaf and pot roast). The beer list is chock full of hearty Belgians and local crafts that pair perfectly with the English pub fare, Swedish sauces and old American dishes.

114 Delaware St., New Castle, 322-6111



ReadersCaffé Gelato

90 E. Main St., Newark, 738-5811


North Wilmington

ReadersHarry’s Savoy Grill

2020 Naamans Road, Wilmington, 475-3000​​



ReadersBig Fish Grill on the Riverfront

720 Justison St., Wilmington, 652-3474


Over the State Line

MarylandChesapeake Inn Restaurant & Marina

605 Second St., Chesapeake City, (410) 885-2040


Pennsylvania: Wonderful Sovana Bistro deftly walks a lot of fine lines: rustic and contemporary, continental and American, special and casual, local and cosmopolitan. The feelings manifest as grilled wild ramps with foraged mushrooms, pizzas with fiddleheads and bresaola, a roasted filet of beef with morel duxelles, and a wine list to match. We can never get enough.

696 Unionville Road, Kennett Square, (610) 444-5600