There was a time when I wouldn’t touch a steamed clam, a whole crab or a whole lobster—let alone a raw oyster quivering on a half shell. Well, times have certainly changed. Now I happily eat all of the above, and it’s the glistening oysters—fat and briny or cucumber-y and sweet—that appear most often on my plate.
These eight popular eateries serve some of the Delaware beaches’ tastiest.
Opened in 2016, this is a sister restaurant to the original Matt’s Fish Camp in Bethany Beach. With an oyster bar in the center of the regular bar, the Lewes location puts oysters in the limelight. Try the Sweet Jesus from Hollywood, Maryland.
There are now three Fins in Delaware: one on Route 1 in Rehoboth, one in downtown Rehoboth and one in Bethany Beach. (Only the downtown Rehoboth location is named Fins Fish House & Raw Bar.) The oysters are consistently good at all three sites, and the selection includes at least six different types.
Venture a few miles inland on Route 24—it’s still a Lewes address, so it’s not far—and you’ll find this oyster-centric restaurant, which opened in 2006. Owner Jamie Davis worked at McGarvey’s Saloon & Oyster Bar in Annapolis before opening an oyster house in his hometown. During summer, he can go through up to 4,000 oysters a week and up to 1,200 on Thursday buck-a-shuck nights. This is the place for affordable, fat oysters, such as Blue Points from New England and Olde Salts from Chincoteague, Virginia. There is now a second location in Georgetown.
Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats’ neighbor, also owned by Dogfish Head, has a considerable oyster bar area and a regular bar. Oysters here come with a mignonette made with Dogfish Head ales, of course.
HCOH, which opened in 2010, is a go-to place for oysters you often can’t find elsewhere in the area. As with craft beer, the oyster varieties rotate on a regular basis, and the restaurant can go through more than 8,000 on a weekend. There are typically eight to nine, with an assortment from the East Coast and West Coast. Many are from smaller farms.
Located across from its big sis in Dewey Beach, this intimate Baltimore-style oyster bar mostly specializes in East Coast varieties, from Prince Edward Island to Chincoteague. Traditional accompaniments include Old Bay cocktail sauce and horseradish.
Now you can have your crabs and eat oysters too. Bethany Oyster House adjoins The Blue Crab. Have your oysters on the half shell or in a shooter—there are four different kinds, including one with tequila, lime juice and hot sauce.
This is the Fenwick Island location of the group that includes the original Ropewalk in Baltimore and an Ocean City site. The oyster menu can feature up to 10 selections, and many are from Maryland and Virginia. However, you may spot West Coast and New England oysters in the mix. Don’t feel like going raw? Try the Nathan Hale oyster burger, a half-pound beef patty topped with crispy oysters.