7 Historic Taverns and Restaurants to Visit in Delaware

Photo by Sydney Livingston

Delaware is home to many historic taverns, inns, restaurants and more. Many of the eateries we love today have been serving diners for centuries.

It’s no secret that the restaurant industry is having its moment in Delaware. The First State is home to many James Beard Award nominees, and newcomers like Bardea Steak, The Quoin and Lewes Oyster House are making waves in the fine dining scene. As much as we love having all the trendy new options, there’s a special place in our hearts for Delaware’s historic taverns and eateries.

Though they may have changed in ownership and name, many of these locations welcomed drinkers and diners as early as the 18th century. Other First State classics opened in the 1900s and have remained staples of their communities ever since. From an inn that served as transitional housing for Irish immigrants to a Sears Craftsman kit home to a tavern cursed by Edgar Allan Poe himself, here are some restaurants in the First State with histories as rich and delicious as the food they serve today.

Deer Park Tavern
Photo by Sydney Livingston

Deer Park Tavern

Deer Park Tavern has been a landmark in Newark since 1851. The building was originally the St. Patrick’s Inn, which dates all the way back to 1747. While many locals know this tavern as just another college bar, it has enticing history. It’s said that many American soldiers, including General George Washington, spent the night at the St. Patrick’s Inn during the American Revolution. Perhaps its quirkiest piece of history, though, is the alleged tale of Edgar Allan Poe’s brief visit. According to the story passed down by locals, he was attempting to step out of a carriage and fell in the mud. Obviously on edge from the journey, Poe is said to have put a curse on the building—or perhaps the whole state of Delaware by some interpretations.

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“A curse upon this place,” Poe exclaimed. “All who enter shall have to return!”

According to the story, patrons found it so amusing they carried him into the tavern for a drink. Today, you can visit the historic tavern for a variety of American pub fare, weekend brunch and plenty of daily specials and happy hour deals.

108 West Main Street, Newark


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Jessop’s Tavern

This historic tavern is housed in a 350-year-old building. Starting as a residential building in 1674, 114 Delaware Street was eventually converted into a place for Abraham Jessop to live and make barrels in 1724. By the 1950s, it was the Captain’s Log Restaurant before becoming Jessop’s Tavern 1996 in honor of Abraham Jessop.

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While Jessop’s Tavern may be a newer restaurant concept than others on this list, the energy when you step inside is 100% Colonial, paying homage to the historic building in which the tavern is housed. Belgian beer was one of the most popular beverages in Colonial America. At Jessop’s, you can enjoy over 350 different Belgian beers along with Colonial-era foods like shepherd’s pie, Olde English flat bread, an old-fashioned Dutch pot roast and much more.

114 Delaware Street, New Castle

Kelly’s Logan House

Welcome to the oldest Irish bar in Delaware! Kelly’s Logan House is a National Historic Site that has evolved plenty since 1864, but has stayed true to its Irish roots. The Logan House was built as a resort hotel in the 1860s, before it was purchased by “Whiskers” Kelly, who founded Kelly’s Tavern on the bottom floor of the hotel. Thanks to the Kelly family, the Logan House became an important hub for Irish immigrants settling in Delaware. Today, it’s a St. Patrick’s Day hotspot and a favorite pub for the descendants of those same immigrants to connect with their roots.

Patrons enjoy an extensive draft beer list and pub fare with Irish influences. Stop in and try the soft pretzels with Guinness beer mustard, or enjoy plenty of Irish specials during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

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1701 Delaware Avenue, Wilmington

Columbus Inn

This building has had the name “Columbus Inn” since 1849. Before that, it was a popular Wilmington bakery which opened in 1798. Through the years as an inn and tavern, Columbus Inn welcomed esteemed visitors like Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. Eventually becoming a local dive bar, Columbus Inn evolved over the years to the more elegant eatery Delawareans know and love today. The silhouette of the historic building is charming and always surrounded by homey landscaping with a breezy patio for outdoor dining. Today, diners indulge in a delicious Sunday brunch and enjoy upscale entrees, light bites and craft cocktails throughout the week.

2216 Pennsylvania Avenue, Wilmington


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Bing’s Bakery

If you like your history on the sweeter side, check out Delaware’s longest-running bakery. Bing’s has been operating since 1871, when it was called Fader’s Bakery. The name change took place in 1946, after the bakery was purchased by Russell and Selena Bing. In 2005, head baker Tom Guzzi and his wife, Carla, purchased the bakery and continue to operate Bing’s to this day. Bing’s is a great place to stop in for a quick selection of pastries as well as custom wedding cakes, birthday cakes, custom treats and more.

253 East Main Street, Newark

Cantwell’s Tavern

In the charming historic town of Odessa, history enthusiasts can dine at Cantwell’s Tavern. The tavern dates back to 1822, when prominent businessman William Polk built and ran it as The Cantwell’s Bridge Hotel and Tavern. During this period in American history, taverns acted not only as hotels offering overnight stays, but also as prominent community centers. Rooms in this historic tavern likely served as important meeting places, wedding venues and general social centers.

Today, all the historic charm is preserved in the full-service restaurant, decorated in the style of a 19th-century tavern. Patrons enjoy seafood, salads, sandwiches, steaks, flatbreads and more. Odessa is filled with historic buildings just like this one, so fuel up at Cantwell’s Tavern, then enjoy a walk around to immerse yourself in the rich history of Delaware.

109 Main Street, Odessa

Blue Moon

While this Rehoboth Beach staple may not be quite as old as some of the other historic taverns that made our list, its history is just too interesting not to include. The building we know and love was constructed in 1907…as a Sears Craftsman house! From 1908 into the 1940s, Sears offered these “kit homes” which ranged in price from about $600 to $6,000 (about $8,400-$84,000 in today’s dollars). These Craftsman kit homes were an accessible way for the middle class to become homeowners even in a shaky economy. (Imagine getting an entire home by mail-order.) The house at 35 Baltimore Avenue was received in that very manner and served as a residential home until 1981, when Blue Moon opened (after some necessary renovations). Today, you can enjoy a bite, a drink and a show at the eclectic Rehoboth Beach establishment.

35 Baltimore Avenue, Rehoboth Beach

Related: 10 Great Beer Gardens and Outdoor Lounges in Delaware