The Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk stays busy most of the year, thanks to joggers, cyclists and dog-walkers. But not all of the eateries remain open well into winter. Consequently, now is a good time to delve into the best boardwalk foods, particularly since the crowds have thinned. As you map your route, take some creative license and extend the options onto Rehoboth Avenue, which is the gateway to the boardwalk, and Wilmington Avenue.
When Dominick Pulieri founded Grotto Pizza in 1960, he couldn’t give free slices away. People didn’t want pizza at the beach. Things have certainly changed. Pizza is a boardwalk staple, and there are heated debates as to which purveyor is the best.
Those from outside the state make pilgrimages to Grotto Pizza, and even residents of New Castle and Kent counties maintain that the slices at the boardwalk locations are the best. Fun fact: The original pizza had a zigzag of sauce, which changed to a swirl because it was easier to replicate.
Others prefer Louie’s Pizza, a fixture since 1974. Maybe that’s because the restaurant, which has a to-go window, sticks to the basics that it does so well. The cheese is chewy and the sauce is nicely seasoned.
The family-run Nicola Pizza, which has two downtown Rehoboth locations, opened in 1971. Many come for the pizza. Others crave the Nic-o-Boli, a package of dough bulging with ground beef, pizza sauce and cheese. (A vegetarian version is available.)
A boardwalk visit is not complete without a container of Thrasher’s French Fries. The company has a long legacy. Georgia native J.T. Thrasher founded the first location in 1929 in Ocean City, Md. Forget ketchup. It’s not offered, and you’ll look like a dweeb asking for it. Vinegar is the only acceptable adornment for these spuds.
This iconic eatery is located where Wilmington Avenue meets the boardwalk, but you don’t need directions to find it. Just follow your nose. The aroma of sautéeing onions, golden fries and fried chicken will pull you toward your destination.
Founded in 1956, Gus & Gus is unabashedly retro, the type of eatery that once punctuated urban street corners in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s a luncheonette, coffee shop and a Greek diner, all rolled into one slender space with an ocean view.
You can get a gyro at Gus & Gus or walk a few blocks over to the window at Semra’s Mediterranean Grill, where owner Semra Tekmen puts her family’s Turkish recipes to tasty use. Vegetarians will find several options here, including a falafel wrap.
Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard
This is pretty easy to do on and around the boardwalk, and as with pizza, people have their favorites. Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard is popular for those who like it smooth and creamy.
Archie, Elton and Lester Kohr opened the first stand in Coney Island in 1919, where they charged a nickel for a cone. They upped the amount of eggs in the belief that a thicker product would be slower to melt. Frozen custard was born.
The Ice Cream Store, owned by local resident Chip Hearn, gets props for its smorgasbord of wild flavors, all made by Hockessin-based Woodside Farm Creamery.
Archie’s Ice Cream is a hidden gem just up the street. Look for the green awning.
You’d expect to find fish-and-chips in an English seaside town—or anywhere in Britain for that matter. Rehoboth, however, has been known for the real deal for some time, thanks to Go Fish!, which has a to-go window. Owned by London-Born Alison Blyth, the restaurant is open seven days a week all year long.
You can also snag some fish-and-chips at Shrimpy’s Snack Shack, which also offers funnel cakes, an essential boardwalk dessert.
Rehoboth also exceeds expectations when it comes to a lobster roll. As in Maine, Mason’s Famous Lobster Roll offers a fast-casual menu without the fuss and the high prices. Since opening its Rehoboth location this year, the eatery has become, well, famous. Get your roll chilled with mayo or warm with butter.