By Rina Rapuano
Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats
New this season, the Dogfish brewing and distilling crew has opened a bigger, more modern version of its longtime casual eatery adjacent to its equally hot sister restaurant, Chesapeake & Maine. A space for live music also graces the new digs.
Must-order: Mac 'n' cheese made with hot-sauce pasta; one of the wood-fired pizzas; crab and corn chowder
Insider tip: Yesbek reports that the original cottage will be razed later this year and rebuilt as a merchandise center and small brewery, making the three distinct spaces into a complex that will share a courtyard.
320 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-226-2739
Indigo Indian Cuisine
Both residents and visitors alike are thrilled that Rehoboth finally has a hookup for when those vindaloo and paneer cravings hit. The family-run business gained years of restaurant experience at India's in Annapolis.
Must-order: Onion kulcha; chicken tikka masala; lamb vindaloo
Insider tip: Take advantage of dishes and breads cooked in the kitchen’s authentic tandoori oven.
44 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-212-5220
Bluecoast Seafood Grill Rehoboth
This is an offshoot of the wildly popular Bethany Beach spot, where waits for a table can go upwards of two hours. We hear from Yesbek that the Rehoboth location, which seats 250, has been packed nightly since it opened earlier this summer.
Must-order: Pork ribs; sea scallops; wings
Insider tip: Outdoor fun is every bit as enticing as the food — the deck offers seating, plus there’s a stage for live acts, a play area for kids and a covered bar.
30115 Veteran’s Way; 302-278-7395
The Blue Hen
Fans of the always smoking hot Henlopen City Oyster House will want to check out this newcomer from the team, which includes HCOH executive chef Bill Clifton, located in the lobby of The Avenue Inn.
Must-order: Lobster toast; ahi tuna crudo with fried artichokes; Amish fried chicken
Insider tip: Dinner service doesn’t start till 5 PM, but happy hour takes place from 4–6 PM daily at the bar and on the patio, which also features a fire pit.
33 Wilmington Ave.; 302-278-7842
Must-order: Oysters with Asiago, fennel and Pernod; Smith Island crab cakes; frozen milkshake pie with salted caramel and chocolate malt sauce
Insider tip: Also check out the newest venture from the Nage folks, Big Chill Beach Club — a bar and restaurant with 360-degree views in nearby Bethany Beach.
19730 Coastal Hwy; 302-226-2037
Michy's Relaxed Dining
This spot has gained a following for its creative dishes, its more than two dozen wines by the glass and its happy-hour deals. Plus, how can you not love a place with the word "relaxed" in the name?
Must-order: Chardonnay-poached pear salad; Sichuan-style fried calamari; rigatoni Bolognese
Insider tip: Happy hour runs from 4–6 PM Tuesday–Saturday in the bar area, where specials include $3 bottled beers, $5 wines by the glass and a handful of $10 menu items.
19287 Miller Rd. #17; 302-227-0999
Chef-owner Nate Leonard cooked in Philadelphia and New York before settling down on the Delaware shore with his wife and opening this popular spot featuring locally sourced American dishes just off the main drag.
Must-order: The sticky ribs; wild boar en croute; sunflower-seed-crusted halibut
Insider tip: Those who show a valid military ID will receive 5% off their food tab.
208 Second St.; 302-227-6700
Chef-owner Hari Cameron — a fan of molecular gastronomy whose plates resemble artwork — is a three-time James Beard Award nominee, and a(MUSE.) and has won the Delaware Restaurateur of the Year award.
Must-order: Jar o' pickles; sweetbreads with celery and blue cheese; clams in a corn-miso broth
Insider tip: Cameron recently expanded with the opening of the casual pasta restaurant Grandpa (MAC), which has one location Downtown and one along the Coastal Highway.
44 Baltimore Ave.; 302-227-7107
After a steamy day at the beach filled with junk food, it's nice to cool off in the evening with beautiful plates of sushi, sashimi and Pan-Asian dishes. There's a rooftop dining area suspended over a koi pond and live music on weekends.
Must-order: Tuna tataki; Chesapeake maki; sashimi flower trio
Insider tip: Happy hour runs from 4–6 PM daily, bringing $3 drafts and $6 glasses of wine, and there's a kids' buffet from 4–6 PM Saturdays and Sundays.
301 Rehoboth Ave.; 302-227-8493
Henlopen City Oyster House
This is perhaps the most well-regarded seafood restaurant in all of Rehoboth Beach, and will likely continue to be despite all the hot openings this year — including its sister restaurant, The Blue Hen, which also appears on this list.
Must-order: Lobster mac 'n' cheese; fried oysters with chicken salad; anything from the raw bar
Insider tip: This place doesn't take reservations, and the happy hour is incredibly popular. Bottom line: No matter what time you want to eat here, build in some waiting time.
50 Wilmington Ave.; 302-260-9193