1. Laced with rivers and creeks, Delaware’s coast fronts the Delaware River and Bay and the Atlantic, so seafood is a staple in most restaurants. More than a few, however, put the focus squarely on seafood. Feby’s Fishery (Wilmington, 998-9501) is one. The business began in 1974 as a fishery offering fresh seafood mostly from Cape May. Today, the full-service restaurant and market features seafood that comes from all over the world.
2. Harry’s Seafood Grill (Wilmington, 777-1500) on the Wilmington Riverfront sets the tone with a raw bar near the door and a sparkly starfish on the ceiling. Popular at happy hour, Harry’s Seafood Grill is known for ceviche, fish tacos and oysters on the half shell—along with river views.
3. Just around the bend of the Christina River is Big Fish Grill (Wilmington, 652-FISH) whose original location is in Rehoboth Beach (227-FISH). The restaurant group has a wholesale seafood division, so expect the freshest fish. (The Rehoboth location has an adjacent market.)
4. In Kent County, Cool Springs Fish Bar & Restaurant (Dover, 698-1955) serves skillet-seared tuna steak, pan-fried rockfish with lemon-Dijon wine sauce and a quartet of grilled salmon, swordfish, shrimp and scallops.
5. Driving south from Dover, you can’t miss the giant propeller along Del. 1 that once belonged to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Shangri-La. The landmark is in front of Meding’s Seafood (Milford, 335-3944). The restaurant was built by former electrician Henry Meding, who started by selling seafood from his truck. The clams are local, and fried oysters come by the pint. Try the stuffed flounder, grouper or salmon.
6. In Sussex, Fish On Seafood Grill & Bar (Lewes, 645-9790) tells it like it is. The Captain’s Platter is old school with a twist: fried lobster joins the crab cake, fried shrimp and seared scallops.
7–9. Chef Steve Hagen has two seafood-centric restaurants on the Delaware coast: Off the Hook (Bethany Beach, 829-1424) and Just Hooked (Fenwick Island, 581-0098). He and partner Kevin Frey also own Hooked Up Ale House & Raw Bar (Millville, 539-4111). All the restaurants have been making waves for their seafood dishes.
10. For a menu with a New England flair, consider David Twining’s Nantuckets Restaurant (Fenwick Island, 539-2607), which has pleased diners in the southern beaches for more than two decades. The restaurant showcases seafood—lobster shepherd’s pie, cast iron-roasted cod, crab cakes—but there are lamb, chicken and steak dishes for landlubbers.
11–12. Fried Ipswich clams served with mustard tartar sauce is the signature dish at NorthEast Seafood Kitchen (Ocean View, 537-1785). Order them as an appetizer or in a clam roll. As for the lobster roll, you can have it hot or cold. Sister restaurant Bluecoast Seafood Grill (Bethany Beach, 539-7111) offers more seafood comfort food with a spectacular view of the sun setting on the bay.