The Best Restaurants In Delaware Beach Towns

All the best restaurants in Bethany Beach, Lewes, Fenwick Island, and beyond.
The Best Restaurants In Delaware Beach Towns image

photo credit: Becca Mathias

Close your eyes and picture the state of Delaware. Perhaps you’re envisioning the entire population fitting into a high school gymnasium, and they’re wearing UDel blue, drinking cans of Dogfish Head, and toasting to never paying a cent in sales tax.

But the First State has way more to offer than that, like a 28-mile-long coastline that’s home to some of the best beaches in the country. Sleepy coastal towns like Bethany Beach, Lewes, Dewey, Rehoboth, Fenwick Island are right up there with Key West and Virginia Beach when it comes to places to lay on the sand for a few days.

Let’s pause for a quick lesson on a few important DelMarVa’s (that’s Delaware, Maryland, and Virgina) delicacies. On most restaurant menus, you’ll find refreshing, citrusy cocktails called “crushes”—they’re made with vodka, orange liqueur, Sprite, and half of an orange or grapefruit squeezed directly into a plastic cup filled with ice. You won’t regret having one, but you will regret having six. You’ll also eat a ton of food covered in Old Bay, and should prioritize an order of scrapple, a.k.a. a sliced and pan-fried loaf of pork trimmings. 

Now that you’re equipped with all the essential knowledge for your Delaware beach outing, here are all the best places to eat and drink in between boogie boarding and bonfires.


photo credit: Nicole Schumann

Bar Food

Bethany Beach

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsDay DrinkingKidsOutdoor/Patio SituationLiterally Everyone
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The Big Chill is located in Delaware Seashore State Park, just past the inlet that separates Dewey from North Bethany Beach. Because of its location, you have 360-degree views of Rehoboth Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, a rare find in the world of waterfront bars. But that’s not the only awesome thing about Big Chill—it’s also great for a ton of different situations. You can sip crushes at the tiki bar, tire your kids out on the beachfront playground, or snack on boardwalk-inspired bites like crab fries and Smith Island cake around a fire pit, all while taking in some of the best views in the state.

If you’re visiting from a major city and somehow miss the feeling of waiting two hours for a table—which, in this case, we both appreciate and are concerned about your priorities—head to Bluecoast. Why are people lining up? Well, because Bluecoast has been one of the best restaurants in Bethany for over a decade. The dining room resembles a fishbowl, as all of the walls have massive windows that look out onto Salt Pond. Anyone who’s a fan of freshly caught rock shrimp, halibut, or Maryland blue crab should dine here immediately. Preferably during golden hour.

Melissa’s does a great seasonal menu of things like a local strawberry salad, Delaware oysters, and housemade pastas laced with the day’s seafood catch. It’s a restaurant so tiny that you’ll probably miss it while driving on Atlantic Avenue, but it’s definitely worth flipping an illegal U-turn to make a stop for a leisurely dinner. The dining room has about 15 tables, so it’s intimate enough for a date and quiet enough for your parents to hear you go on about your pipe dream of moving out of the city to settle in a beach town. Start with an order of pillowy snowflake rolls and finish with their brick chicken, which has skin that crunches like a potato chip.


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Lewes is often referred to as “The First Town in the First State” because it’s the earliest settlement in Delaware. Does that make it the first town in the US to ever exist? Probably not, but it sure does have an abundance of historic homes that make it feel like it. Bramble & Brine at the Buttery is located in one of the oldest, a mansion built in the 1800s. They do seasonal French dishes, like local fish almondine and duck confit. Come here with a date, grab a seat in their quaint Pink Pony Bar, and split an order of house-smoked oysters.

You’d think that RIBTs (restaurants in beach towns) are only busy during the summer months, but Heirloom is worth seeking out year-round. Set in another Victorian home from the 1800s, the space is intimate and smells like freshly baked sourdough bread. The menu rotates monthly, but you’ll always find dishes that use produce and meats from Delaware farms. We’ve had things like house-stretched burrata and red beet terrines with scapes, and every plate looks like it could belong in the Biggs Museum of American Art. They focus on sustainable wines, locally brewed beers, and herbaceous cocktails, like their milk punch with hibiscus and orange tea. 

You’ll notice that there are a few breweries on this guide. That’s because, like most places in the country, Delaware’s beer scene is growing rapidly, with a new brewery popping up every summer. What makes the ones here unique is the range in styles and methods across the state—you’ll find cask-style options, beers brewed with oyster shells, and sours made with lemon-lime Gatorade. Crooked Hammock pours beers of all kinds, but our heart lies with their sours, which feature summery flavor combinations like blueberry and lemon. Bring a group, order some slow-cooked, Old Bay-covered wings, and post up at their outdoor beer garden. There are rocking chairs, fire pits, and—of course—hammocks. Come here after a day at the beach and you’re guaranteed to have a great time.


A trip to the beach isn’t complete without a visit to Fractured Prune, a casual micro-chain and coastal Delaware staple that’s been around since the ‘70s. Pillowy cake donuts are fried to order and coated with your choice of glazes and toppings, from mocha and marshmallow to crumbled bacon and cookie crumbs. We recommend them all, but maybe not all on one donut. Fractured Prune claims that there are 155,648 different combinations of toppings, but for those who feel overwhelmed by that decision, they have a menu of set flavor pairings for you to choose from. Don’t leave town without getting one of their classics, like the OC Sand that’s topped with honey glaze and cinnamon sugar.

If your itinerary doesn’t allow for a detour up to Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Chesapeake & Maine can fill that 60-Minute-IPA-sized hole in your heart. It’s located a few blocks from the beach and boardwalk, and the casual, nautical atmosphere makes it a solid spot to visit after a beach day. The menu goes heavy on seafood, all of which is sourced exclusively from—you guessed it—the Chesapeake Bay and the coast of Maine. The mussels are great, served over a pool of citrusy herb broth that uses Dogfish’s SeaQuench Ale. You’ll also find a rotating list of their beers and cocktails made with Dogfish Head Distilling Co. spirits, like their vodka-based Pom Hanks with pomegranate and lemon.

Unless your beach day included getting bitten by a small crab, chances are high that you’re craving some freshly caught seafood and a cold beverage to wash it all down. Take your post-beach nap, get a little dressed up, and walk over to Henlopen City Oyster House to enjoy too many oysters in their sun-soaked dining room. Scan the raw bar menu from Henlopen and you’ll find at least eight varieties of local and regional oysters, middleneck clams, and shooters. After a refreshing crush or two, you’ll probably need something more substantial—order a split-top lobster roll or an obligatory plate of crab cakes.

Few things are better than waking up to the smell of breakfast cooking in your kitchen, unless it’s your roommate microwaving eggs in his underwear again. We promise it’s only good breakfast feelings at Egg in downtown Rehoboth. It’s cozy, comfortable, and they serve hefty portions of eggs benedict with piles of blue crab and crepes filled with homemade lemon curd. Hit up Egg with your towels in tow for a pre-beach breakfast—the food coma will hit once you step foot on the sand, right in time for a nap before noon.

Another great way to start a beach day is by inhaling a breakfast burrito and downing a cold brew combo from Rise Up Coffee on Rehoboth’s main drag. The counter service spot gets pretty packed on the weekends, but there’s usually a table available for you to enjoy your meal in peace. For those who slept through breakfast due to a customary Orange Crush Hangover™, this is also a great option for lunch and dinner, where you can feast on spicy pineapple margaritas and sheet tray nachos before a night on the boardwalk.

When you’re feeling extra sexy thanks to a beach glow that may or may not be sunburn, head to Houston White Co. for a fancy date night with the lifeguard who saved you from your earlier boogie-boarding incident. The moody dining room has white tablecloths, leather banquettes, and framed artifacts that pay homage to Delaware’s history. Expect traditional steakhouse cuts like New York Strip grilled and topped with a butter-heavy sauce of your choice, but your go-to should be the ribeye with a side of au poivre. Houston White Co. is the best steakhouse in the area, so book a reservation in advance, especially in the summer months.


As you approach Dewey Beach, you’re greeted by The Starboard’s LED billboard displaying graphics that were probably made on Microsoft Paint in 2005. Messages like “Best Bloody Mary in Delaware!”, “Entertainment 7 Nights A Week!”, and “Never a Cover!” flip on the sign, which might lure you into what we can only describe as a party labyrinth.

Locals and tourists alike pack in sardine style, sipping grapefruit crushes and singing along to a cover band that may or may not have played at your parent’s high school prom. The menu is about the size of a poster board and has things like Old Bay eggs benedict, Old Bay chicken tenders, and Old Bay shrimp—this is Delaware, after all. It’s all pretty solid, and great for a group hang, hangover recovery brunch (their DIY Bloody Mary bar is what dreams are made of), or sitting by one of their outdoor fire pits to watch a game on the big screen.

The owners of this taproom got their start by brewing all types of beer in their home kitchens and garages. Now, Dewey Beer is one of the top craft breweries in the state, specializing in refreshing sours and IPAs. The massive space has garage door windows that welcome in an ocean breeze on a nice summer day, and there’s plenty of outdoor seating if you aren’t ready to be out of the sun just yet. On the food menu, you’ll find classic brewery stuff like warm pretzel braids, layered street corn nachos, and obligatory Old Bay wings. Dewey Beer Co. is vegan friendly, too—they can make just about anything on the menu meatless upon request.

If your version of summer includes sipping cocktails overlooking the water as a band plays “Amber” by 311, then we suggest you beeline to Rusty Rudder. It’s right on the Delaware Bay, making it one of the best setups in Dewey to catch some sunsets that are worthy of being on the cover of National Geographic. You’re mostly going here for the ambience and views, but in case you’d like a quick bite, they do solid beach bar stuff like boardwalk fries and crab cakes.

Starboard Raw is a peaceful oasis among the chaos of the Dewey Beach bar scene. It’s relatively upscale compared to the other spots on Coastal Highway, but can fit into any part of your day. You can show up coated in sand after the beach for a warm soft pretzel stuffed with crab, or get a table with a few friends and a round of oyster shooters before a night out . A sizable raw bar and fancy beer tap setup take up more than half of the restaurant. We respect their priorities.


Over a third of Delaware’s real estate is farmland. And while you can’t pay a visit to all 2,500 farms in the state, you can go to Our Harvest in Fenwick, which spotlights many of the mid-Atlantic farms in the area and also happens to look like a massive barn. Come to Our Harvest with a group so you can cover more ground on their large-format menu, which features wood-fired whole fish and Amish chicken stuffed with rosemary. Definitely explore their extensive list of small plates, like their baby heirloom carrots with chili and fennel and local vegetable succotash, and their vegan menu that features an 11-spice Kentucky fried cauliflower.

You can’t go on vacation in Delaware without having at least one meal hunched over a brown paper-covered table, cracking your way through piles of steamed Maryland crabs. Dinner at the legendary Fenwick Crab House is a full-on theatrical performance. Act I is for “lighter” stuff, like crab cakes and hush puppies. Then it’s intermission, which includes a costume change into a plastic bib with “CRAB” written across it. Things really take off in Act II, when heaps of seasoned crabs get dumped onto your table, which would make a worthy spread for your last meal on Earth. Close things out with an encore: a vanilla cone from Kohr Bros across the street.

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