The dining room of Raas, one of the beach restaurants to check out this summer.

Four Must-Try Restaurants at the Beach

Pam GeorgeCulture, Headlines

The dining room of Raas, one of the beach restaurants to check out this summer.

The dining room of Raas, one of the beach restaurants to check out this summer.

Although Memorial Day is the official kickoff to the summer beach season, the action heats up after July 4, and that’s particularly true in the coastal hospitality industry.

If you haven’t dined at the beach in some time, you might be surprised at the options, from ethnic eateries to old-fashioned crab houses.

For proof, witness a few of my diverse dining experiences.

The Surfing Crab

Admittedly, I didn’t crack crabs when I recently visited this Lewes restaurant on Coastal Highway, but I have in the past, and the fragrance of spicy seasoning that clings to the concrete block building was tempting.

The Surfing Crab steams the blue crabs to order. Sit at the bar to glimpse the kitchen action and watch servers scurry past with trays piled high with red shells.

While crabs are the main attraction, we came for the steamed middle-neck clams. It puzzles me why New Castle County restaurants don’t serve this size because if Goldilocks ate shellfish, she’d find it just right. On that night, the price was $24.95 for two dozen.

We also had a pound of plump, spicy shrimp ($27.95) and fried oysters ($20.95). Just about any seafood dish is a good bet, but it’s easy to see why people come for the crabs. You can reserve the size in advance, but not a seat. Go figure.


Inspired by the flavors of Chef Gyanendra Gupta’s homeland, Raas is an elevated take on Indian cuisine served in a Victorian house worthy of the British Raj.

The presentations are as pretty as the floral wallpaper and teal cloth napkins. Consider swordfish kebabs with a swirl of green mango chutney ($18), rosemary-infused pork vindaloo with vibrant carrots and broccoli ($38) and tandoori salmon with a crown of micro greens ($36).

If you can snag a seat on the porch, you’re in luck; they’re in high demand.

Shorebreak Lodge

Rob Stitt, who founded Eden, opened Shorebreak Lodge in downtown Rehoboth.

Although the property has been sold twice, the brand is so strong that new owners keep the overall concept. That’s also true of current towners Ben and Diane Winiarczk.

Credit the continuity in part to Chef Michael Murphy, who has kept Stitt’s novel “Hunt,” “Gather,” and “Fish” menu categories.

Quality clearly counts here. The cheddar cheeseburger, for instance, is made with Angus meat from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, which specializes in dry-aged steaks and artisanal patties. It comes with house-cured bacon, sauteed mushrooms and pickled red onion ($22).

The fish special on the evening we visited was rockfish ($44), perched on fingerling potatoes and broccolini. I still dream about the cream crab soup with a hint of sherry ($14).

The Federal

Like Shorebreak, The Federal is a fine-dining establishment with a laid-back attitude and casual options.

To be sure, fritters initially gave the downtown Rehoboth Beach restaurant its original name: Federal Fritters.

Chef Todd Gray and his wife, Ellen Kassoff, who also own Equinox in Washington, D.C., planned to operate a food truck selling fritters at festivals but wound up with a slender brick-and-mortar location on Rehoboth Avenue—much to local diners’ delight.


As Gray expanded the menu with chef de cuisine Andrew Guffey's help, the owners dropped fritter from the name, which pays tribute to their D.C. roots.

The menu changes often. For instance, soft-shell crabs were a special one night.

Entrees are between $31 and $40. If a tasting menu is available, trust Gray to prepare one.

Still, don’t forget the fritters. Pick a savory flavor to start and a sweet one—apple pie—to finish.

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