These Raw Bars Dish up Delectable Seafood in Delaware

Oysters, shrimp, sushi and ceviche are all the rage at these raw bars and seafood hotspots around Delaware.

Robert Lhulier isn’t one to miss a trend. While vacationing in Montreal, the chef noticed an abundance of raw bars. Back in Wilmington, he and his partner removed the charcuterie station at Snuff Mill Restaurant, Butchery & Wine Bar. “We felt it was time for something fresh,” Lhulier says. And nothing is as fresh as live oysters on the half shell.

Snuff Mill is one of many restaurants to go raw, either with a dedicated bar, a prep station or a menu section. Admittedly, the appeal is nothing new. When Grand Central Terminal opened in 1913, it housed the 440-seat Grand Central Oyster Bar. More recently, Harry’s Savoy has featured a raw bar section for 30-plus years.

Spotting a trend, Chef Robert Lhulier at Snuff Mill Restaurant, Butchery & Wine Bar removed the charcuterie station and installed a raw bar, which serves oysters, caviar, colossal shrimp and ceviche.
Spotting a trend, Chef Robert Lhulier at Snuff Mill Restaurant, Butchery & Wine Bar removed the charcuterie station and installed a raw bar, which serves oysters, caviar, colossal shrimp and ceviche. Courtesy of Snuff Mill Restaurant, Butchery & Wine Bar.

While oysters are still the star, raw bars are getting creative. Lhulier has dressed the bivalves with ponzu, soy sauce and sesame oil. Toppings include crunchy chili garlic and caviar.

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Snuff Mill’s raw bar features have included meaty kampachi crudo with uni shoyu (made with sea urchin), extra-virgin olive oil, gooseberries, chive blossoms and nasturtium.
Snuff Mill’s raw bar features have included meaty kampachi crudo with uni shoyu (made with sea urchin), extra-virgin olive oil, gooseberries, chive blossoms and nasturtium. Courtesy of Snuff Mill Restaurant, Butchery & Wine Bar.

Menus now include poke, ceviche and carpaccio. For example, Banks’ Seafood Kitchen on the Wilmington Riverfront features scarlet snapper ceviche with poblano peppers, lime and orange juices, and corn tortillas. At the beach, where raw bars rule, Bluecoast Seafood Grill in Rehoboth Beach boasts sashimi and smoked trout.

Here is a bevy of restaurants with raw bars to try.

Banks’ Seafood Kitchen

Among the raw bar menu’s ethnic twists is ahi tuna with toasted wonton crisps and a sashimi tasting of ahi and bigeye tuna, salmon and trout.

101 S. Market St., Wilmington; 777-1500; bankseafookitchen.com

Bardea Steak

Even the meat kingdom benefits from the sea’s fresh flavor. The menu includes yellowfin tuna, oysters, caviar and a seafood tower. Oysters come naked or dressed with the chef’s composition.

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608 N. Market St., Wilmington; 550-9600; bardeasteak.com

The Blue Crab

In 2020, The Blue Crab merged with its sister restaurant, Bethany Oyster House & Raw Bar, to offer the best of both.

210 Garfield Parkway, #B, Bethany Beach; 537-2020; bethanybluecrab.com

Big Fish Grill

All three Big Fish restaurants have raw bars. Given that the restaurant group also owns Mikimotos and Stingray, sushi is usually in the mix.

720 Justison St., Wilmington, 652-3474; 20298 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach, 227-FISH; 30415 Cedar Neck Road, Ocean View; 829-8163; bigfishgrill.com

“We felt it was time for something fresh… and nothing is as fresh as live oysters on the half shell.”

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Oysters on the half shell and steamed shrimp enjoy a happy marriage at Big Fish Grill in Rehoboth. But today, you’re just as likely to find crudo and ceviche on raw bar menus.
Oysters on the half shell and steamed shrimp enjoy a happy marriage at Big Fish Grill in Rehoboth. But today, you’re just as likely to find crudo and ceviche on raw bar menus. Courtesy of Sodel Concepts.

Bluecoast Seafood Grill + Raw Bar

The Bethany Beach and Rehoboth locations have physical raw bars, and Rehoboth gives diners an up-close view of the shucking process and the restaurant’s open kitchen.

30115 Veterans Way, Rehoboth, 278-7395, bluecoastrehoboth.com; 30904 Coastal Highway, Bethany Beach, 539-7111, bluecoastseafoodgrill.com

Bluecoast in Rehoboth Beach
Bluecoast Seafood Grill + Raw Bar in Rehoboth Beach has a traditional bar, but the separate raw bar boasts a view of the open kitchen. The eatery’s sister restaurant in Bethany Beach also has a raw bar. Courtesy of Sodel Concepts.

Chesapeake & Maine

The Dogfish Head restaurant showcases ingredients from the two regions, including a changing selection of oysters.

316 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 226-3600; dogfish.com

The Crab House

Select oysters are available for $1 daily, along with steamed shrimp, oyster shooters and a cold seafood platter.

19598 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach; 227-2019; crabhouserehoboth.com

Drift Seafood & Raw Bar

One of Rehoboth’s newest restaurants puts an upscale twist on the traditional. Consider Sanctuary Salt oysters with strawberry-black pepper mignonette, black tobiko and green oil.

42 1/2 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 567-2744; driftrb.com

Fins Ale House & Raw Bar

If you put “raw bar” in your title, you better deliver the goods, and Fins does just that.

243 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-3467 (Fins Fish House & Raw Bar); 19269 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach, 227-3467; 33544 Market Place, Bethany Beach, 539-3467; 37234 Lighthouse Road, Selbyville, 436-3467; finsrawbar.com

George & Sons Seafood Market & Oyster House

The casual bar wraps around the icy shucking station, where the cracking is fast and furious.

1216 Old Lancaster Pike, Hockessin; 239-7204; georgeandsonsseafood.com

Harry’s Savoy Grill

Raw bar specialties that complement steak are the hallmark of the Brandywine Hundred restaurant, which offers East Coast and West Coast oysters, crab or shrimp cocktails, and cherrystone clams on the half shell.

2020 Naamans Road; 475-3000; harryshospitalitygroup.com

Henlopen City Oyster House

The OG of beach oyster houses typically offers up to nine different oysters, many of which aren’t available in neighboring establishments. Caviar is also on the menu.

50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 260-9193; hcoysterhouse.com

Hooked Up Ale House & Raw Bar

Newly renovated, the ale house offers 50-cent oysters on Wednesdays.

38069 Town Center Drive, #20, Millville; 539-4111; hookeduprawbar.com

Lewes Oyster House

The newest oyster house puts the raw bar on full display in the front window. If ceviche is a special, get it. You won’t be sorry.

108 Second St., Lewes; 644-7258; lewesoyster.com

Matt’s Fish Camp

All three restaurants now have raw bars with seating, and some feature lobster deviled eggs and tuna sashimi, along with oysters and shrimp.

28635 Coastal Highway, Bethany Beach, 539-2267, mattsfishcampbethany.com; 34401 Tenley Court, Lewes, 644-2267, mattsfishcamplewes.com; 700 Coastal Highway, Fenwick Island, 375-2267, mattsfishcampfenwick.com

Trolley Square Oyster House

It’s hard to spot the raw bar in this slender hot spot, but it’s there—and it’s busy. Buck-a-shuck is from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Pair a dozen with a shooter or two.

1707 Delaware Ave., Wilmington; 384-7310; trolleysquareoysterhouse.com

Snuff Mill Restaurant, Butchery & Wine Bar

Expect the extraordinary in the Independence Mall eatery, such as sweet U-8 shrimp weighing 2 ounces each, custom-made pinch pots for oyster accoutrements, and razorback clams and stone crab claws in season.

1601 Concord Pike, Suite 77–79, Wilmington; 303-7676; snuffmillbutchery.com

Starboard Raw

Oysters, shrimp, mussels—you’ll find them all at The Starboard’s younger sibling. But there are plenty of other options, including bowls, noshes and sandwiches.

2000 Coastal Highway, Dewey Beach; 227-9000; starboardraw.com

The Wheelhouse

The Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant specializes in local oysters, such as Rehoboth Beach petite pinks and Chesapeake oysters. Steamed shrimp and a yellowfin sashimi and oyster dish are other fresh features.

7 Anglers Road, Lewes; 291-2163; wheelhousede.com

Related: Snuff Mill Restaurant Wows With Chef Robert Lhulier at the Helm

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