A funny thing happens when a favorite place like Buckley’s Tavern (5812 Kennett Pike, Centreville, 656-9776) reopens after several months of renovation: Old fans return in droves to see the changes, then they return in droves again when outdoor dining season begins. That makes the new open-air rooftop at Buckley’s one of the places to put on your must-do list this season—but it is by no means the only one. Here’s a list of favorites.
Main Street in Newark is also the main drag for outdoor dining in the state, with several great places clustered within easy walking distance of each other. The Deer Park Tavern (108 W. Main St., Newark, 369-9414) remains a classic, with wrap-around porches upstairs and down. High ceilings and stylish rails lend a Victorian feeling to the historic building.
If you associate outdoor dining with the beach, there’s certainly no end of options. One of note: Obie’s by the Sea (1 Olive Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-6261) on the Boardwalk offers reliable pub grub and any kind of drink you could want on a summer’s day, all with a primo view of the beach and ocean.
The Cultured Pearl (301 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-8493) rates for its aerial view of Rehoboth Avenue and exotic water features that transport you to a different world.
The porch at the old cottage that is Patsy’s (121 Campbell Place, Bethany Beach, 537-2433) feels like your very own. Of course, you’ll share it with a couple dozen of your closest friends. The show with your dinner is all the street action in the neighborhood.
Restaurants on the C&D Canal can offer a beach-like vibe. Among them, no place parties like the Chesapeake Inn (605 Second St., Chesapeake City, Md., 410-885-2040). The broad deck puts you right on the docks. Enjoy dinner, dancing or drinks under the shaded bar. Aqua Sol (3006 Summit Harbour Place, Bear, 365-6490) gives a relaxing view of a yacht basin just off the canal.
If you can’t get enough of water views, head to Riverfront Wilmington, where Big Fish Grill (720 Justison St., 652-3474), Firestone Roasting House (110 S. West St., 658-6626), Harry’s Seafood Grill (101 S. Market St., 777-1500), Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant (710 S. Madison St., 472-2739), Timothy’s on the Riverfront (930 Justison St., 429-7427) and Ubon Thai Cuisine (936 Justison St., 656-1706) all perch patios or decks right on the riverwalk.
Trolley Square ranks as a mecca for outdoor dining in Wilmington. The deck at Kid Shelleen’s (14th and Scott streets, Wilmington, 658-4054) puts you in the heart of the neighborhood. Overlooking quiet Scott Street, it stays busy all day long, offering shade or sun at lunch time or Sunday brunch, relaxed dining at dinner, and a fun party atmosphere later on.
There are a few places that don’t immediately come to mind when thinking outdoor dining, but they offer it just the same. The patio at Capers & Lemons (301 Little Falls Drive, Wilmington, 256-0524) feels wide open thanks to its situation on high ground. Pizza By Elizabeths (4019 Kennett Pike, Greenville, 654-4478) offers dining in the sheltered area around the entrance. The fountain in a small grotto lulls you into total relaxation.
In Dover, the newest McGlynn’s Pub (800 N. State St., Dover, 674-0144) overlooks beautiful Silver Lake. There are few places better for catching the sunset.