The Aisle Seat: Rehoboth Beach, DE
Posted on 2008-05-22 00:00:00 by David Hartogs
North America | Rehoboth Beach/Dewey Beach, DE: This is another area very close to my heart. I have spent much time here and I feel at home here as anywhere else. This will not be a column on how wild Dewey is and the latest and greatest at the beach, rather it’s a deeper look into the area, focusing on places that are often over looked by mainstream press and most vacationers. Though Memorial Day is around the corner, I am going to focus on the “off-season,” which to me is a much better time of year to be there. Rehoboth and Dewey keep themselves busy by hosting an eclectic array of events throughout the year, with events ranging from Greyhound weekend to the Dewey Beach Music Fest, there is plenty to do at all times of the year. All of which are great reasons to come.
The Rehoboth/Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce has done an excellent job of promoting these beach towns as year-round destinations, with many festivals and organized sidewalk sales that bring a steady stream of weekend warriors to the beach.
The last weekend in September brings my personal favorite - the Dewey Beach Music Festival 15 stages, 185 bands, 7 venues, over 3 days, no cover. Other music events run by the same people are the Popfest in April, the Chickfest (women bands) in May, and the Delaware Music festival. All are great, but the best one is the DBMF. It’s so fun to hop from bar to bar and stage to stage and see tons of new bands. By the end of the weekend I always have a pile of new CDs. For details for all these events including dates: http://www.deweybeachfest.com/.
Other events in Rehoboth include the annual Sea Witch Festival, basically a Halloween parade down the boardwalk and Rehoboth Avenue (Oct. 24-26 2008). It’s great for kids. Then there is the annual Polar Bear Club, first weekend of February. Go ahead; take a dip in the freezing water with 3000 of your favorite people. It might sound crazy, but it benefits the Special Olympics. One of my favorites is the fall Greyhound festival. Basically it’s a weekend to bring your pet greyhound to the beach. These are very social dogs and nothing like seeing a couple thousand greyhounds walking around sniffing each other. Events include beers and biscuits at the Bottle and Cork. Even if you don’t have a greyhound it’s still a hoot to see. Usually it’s the first weekend in October.
Zoggs - A Great Beach Bar
By far my favorite place to hang out in Rehoboth is Zoggs (1 Wilmington Ave.), right off the boardwalk, this is as a relaxed a place as you will find in Rehoboth with fair prices, solid food and a great deck. Don’t go in expecting a wild scene, though it can get busy at times. The off-season is very quiet here but it’s a great place to catch a game, shoot some pool, throw some darts or play nude photo hunt. Ask Anthony about the rum menu, it is very impressive. For food try anything with Jerk seasoning and you won’t go wrong. Their Jerk cheeseburger is one of the best burgers I have ever had. This is a place you can just go have drinks and just relax. (Special Note: I’ve heard that adding pineapple is a great addition to the their burgers!)
Another great find is El Dorado (18766 J.J. Williams Hwy (Rt. 24)), as I have mentioned before, the best fish tacos on the East Coast. Aquiles will greet you at the counter and guide you through the menu if you have never been. While the fish and shrimp tacos here are outstanding, don’t stop there. Any of their seafood combination burritos and tacos are delicious and you can’t go wrong. He has a great salsa bar so you can top your own tacos. Everything on the menu is worth trying, but I have to stand behind the Mazatlan burrito. Chorizo and shrimp with lettuce tomato and other stuff is just so damn good. Acquiles makes a mean margarita and sangria, and some of the best flan I have ever had - and yes, I have had flan many times.
Dogfish Head - A Damn Good Beer
I can’t talk about Rehoboth and not talk about Dogfish Head, the first brew pub in the first state. The beer is excellent and I can remember when it opened and the fight they went through to get it done. Starting operations in 1995, it is one of the most well known micro-brews in the country, deservedly so. Their beers are full of flavor, they are always trying new brews, and they have an excellent product. If you have never been there, then get their Shelter Pale Ale to start and go from there. Their Chicory Stout is excellent, as well as their specialty beers. Be careful they make some strong brews so bring a driver or walk. I always start with a sampler and choose from there. They now brew in a larger plant in Lewis but their flagship restaurant is still busy as can be at 320 Rehoboth Avenue. I have been going there since they opened and sadly I have to report that their food has been on a steady decline over the past five years. Their salmon sandwich and burgers are still good but for the price you pay for entrees and the portions you get it’s a bit ridiculous. I used to go several times a year, winter and summer, but I have found that the service has declined and the food down hill. Perhaps they got complacent because people still go there, but for me, every time I give their food a chance again, I am disappointed. Go there for the beer and some apps but forget about the overpriced entrees.
Sharky's for Breakfast
Dewey Beach has a lot of character and some great bars. One of the quirkiest places, yet a great spot for breakfast or lunch, is Sharky’s, an open air walk-up counter on a deck on the corner of Rt. 1 and Rodney. You can’t miss it. Sharky himself is a character, he will make sure you love your food and you will. Gourmet this is not, but for decent, inexpensive food this is the place to go. Perhaps one of the best breakfast sandwiches around, I love going here in the fall after a dawn patrol (morning surf). This place is especially fun during the greyhound weekend, as there will be about 25 greyhounds laying on top of each other while you wait for your food. The burgers make for a great lunch. You’ll know Sharky, he drives his sports car de jour and his license plate reads, Sharkee. I often drive by with my head out the window and yell for Sharky, but that’s what I do.
Nage - Good for Vegetarians, and Carnivores Alike
Rehoboth has quite a bit of upscale dining, many of them over priced and not worth it in my book. But there is one place that my fiancée and I go where we have not been let down. Nage on 4307 Hwy 1 in Rehoboth. Everything I have eaten has been very good to excellent, including their Seafood a la Nage. “Lobster, Shrimp, Scallop, Calamari, Clams and Mussels “Swimming” in a Lobster Saffron Broth”. I usually order specials off the board, which is pretty extensive too. As my fiancée is a vegetarian and I eat anything that had parents, it can be hard to find a compromise. I have grown irritated with restaurants not really catering to vegetarians rather treating them as second class gastroms. Well just because they don’t eat meat doesn’t mean they don’t like food. Nage is the one place I have been to that goes out of their way to treat vegetarians well. The waiter will ask what they like and what they don’t like, plus their restrictions and the chef will come up with a sampler platter with about 6 items or more on it. It is appreciated and delicious. The creativity of some of these items are amazing. All of the wait staff has a great enthusiasm and no pretense for where they work. For a special meal make a reservation and get ready for a good night.
The Rest of the Best
There are many small places worth checking out. Of the many coffee shops, the best is Café a Go Go, a Mexican coffee shop with strong espresso and good drinks at about 110 Rehoboth Ave. Just a few doors down is the Quiet Storm Surf Shop. Very friendly and patient staff will help you with any surf gear you need. For a great - but a touch pricey - Po’ Boy, check out the Seafood Shack at 42 Baltimore Avenue, try their Peace Maker. I could go on and on, but you’ll have to do some hunting yourself. Choose a random winter weekend to go and just relax, find some cool stuff and enjoy. If you go during the summer check out the places above, they are fun and you won’t feel like every yahoo from Pittsburgh is there.