44 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 302-227-7107
Hari Cameron’s restaurant would be a star on the scene in DC. Scouring his surroundings for high-quality fish and produce, the chef turns out formally daring plates that, paradoxically, seduce with their simplicity and directness. Two recent creations hit the highest notes: a dish of grilled asparagus with mustard seeds and a luscious preparation of sweetbreads that gestured in the direction of Buffalo wings.
2) Casapulla’s South
19331 Lighthouse Plaza Blvd., Rehoboth Beach; 302-227-7827
This always swarmed sub shop understands the tenets of hoagie construction—that the sandwich has to be generously portioned, properly dressed, and given just the right amount of oil, vinegar, and oregano. The Italian cold cut is fantastic, but it’s a measure of how good the place is that the tuna fish is almost as satisfying.
3) Henlopen City Oyster House
50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 302-260-9193
What Hank’s Oyster Bar is to DC, Henlopen City is to Rehoboth—a convivial nightly party. The menu is small and focused, which is to its credit: Don’t come if you’re not in a mood for fish or shellfish, or lots of fry. Beyond the eight to ten varieties of oysters, most of them from the East Coast, there’s a good, authentic oyster chowder and a rewarding seafood po’ boy.
4) Papa Grande’s
210 Second St., Rehoboth Beach; 302-212-2409
The best thing about this Mexican newbie? It doesn’t try too hard. The guac isn’t gussied up, the Mexican street snacks refrain from pretentious spins on traditional dishes (the cobs of corn rolled in mayo and dusted with cheese and chili powder and the sparkling seafood cocktail are straight-ahead and authentic), and the rice and beans are prepared with care.
5) Salt Air Kitchen
50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach; 302-227-3744
This cheery favorite’s menu, an approachable mix of snacky Mid-Atlantic fare, is great for grazing. We go for the crab deviled eggs topped with slivers of jalapeño, freshly fried chips served with a Mason jar of creamy bacon-and-onion dip, and a wooden platter spilling with beautifully fried shrimp, house-made cocktail sauce, and cornbread.