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Aug 21, 2006 12:02 AM

A day in Newark, DE

I'll be in Newark in September just long enough to have dinner, a quick breakfast and lunch.

I'm not too terribly picky about the type of food for dinner, (anything memorable will do) but I'm not wild about French, Indian or Japanese. (Doesn't have to be 'ethnic' food at all.) I'm looking for something relaxed, not incredibly pricey and not too fancy. Wine is a must have, but it doesn't have to be an insanely long list.

Breakfast... French toast and good coffee. I'm not going to be up there for a few weeks yet, but that's definitely what I want for breakfast. Something open early is important, as I'll be going ~6:30am. (Any good diners in the area?)

Lunch: Something with Central American influence would be good, but I'm not sure Newark, DE is the place for ethnic food. Aside from that... any place I'm more likely to get good food than not will do.

Thanks in advance for any input!

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  1. Well, Newark doesn't offer a huge amount of choices, especially if you're coming from a big city. For dinner there's only a handful of "adult" restaurants (you'll see what I mean when you're here- college-kid-bar-central), none of which are overly distinguished, but that said, Ali Baba for Middle Eastern, Iron Hill for overpriced "nouveau" cuisine, Caffe Gelato (which has the best- perhaps only- wine list in town) for slightly upscale Italian or Cucina di Napoli for decent red gravy Italian. There's also a place called Home Grown which has a wine list, but the food is mediocre.

    Breakfast: the Post House has good pancakes. There's a diner right in town but I don't really go there so can't vouch for the French toast or coffee. (Both are open early- diner's open 24 hours.) Eagle Diner on Elkton Road is okay, not great.

    Lunch: the closest you'll get to Central American in town is Santa Fe Grill, an undistinguished Mexican joint. I'd recommend Brew Ha Ha, a coffee shop which has pretty good sandwiches, especially tuna salad. And good coffee too. And Margharita's Pizza is the best slice in town if it comes to that.

    Good luck...

    1. Thanks for the reply, pronek. I work at an overpriced "nouveau" place, so Iron Hill seems sort of appealing in a way. The peppercorn salmon at Caffe Gelato might be calling out to me a bit though.

      I've been poking around on sites like and might La Tolteca merit a lunch stop?

      1 Reply
      1. re: asiege2

        Well, it's worth a stop if you like totally Americanized Mexican food... somewhere between Taco Bell and the Olive Garden if the Olive Garden was Mexican, if you know what I mean. For decent Mexican there's no real options in Newark proper, although if you drive up Kirkwood Highway (Route 2) north of town there's a place called El Jefe which is pretty good. Lots of ethnic options along Kirkwood, actually, if you have a car- Indian, etc.

      2. Agreed, La Tolteca is the WORST option. There are a good amount of Mexican places along Rte 2 all the way through Elsmere, which is about 5-6 miles from Newark. There are also two good Korean options on that road, several Indian places worth trying, etc. This doesn't seem to be what you are looking for, though, so it's hard to tell you where to go.

        Skip Ali Baba, too. This place pretends to be Moroccan, but isn't even close, and serves pretty lame food. Frankly, if you're committed to staying in Newark, your best bet is to just stick with the less ambitious American options and enjoy that sort of an environment. You can do pretty well just getting a solid, non-thrilling meal there.

        3 Replies
        1. re: travelmad478

          Okay, definitely no La Tolteca or Ali Baba. If the food warrants, I can venture out of Newark (~10 miles) for dinner or lunch, but less ambitious may be the order of the day.

          1. re: asiege2

            I'll have to respectfully disagree with the poster who doesn't like Ali Baba -- it's one of my few favorite spots to eat on campus. The service is leisurely, so don't go if you're in a hurry. The carrot salad is excellent, and the mujadara is near perfect, if you ask me...

            And yes, La Tolteca is complete crap. For Mexican, take the hike up to El Jefe. Their pepper and cheese tamales are excellent, and they have a green salsa you need to ask for that will kick your tail into the next stratosphere, if you like hot.

            As far as Indian goes (although it doesn't sound like you're thinking in that direction), also up Kirkwood (not too far from campus, maybe a 10 minute drive) in a strip mall is a place with great food called Maharaja. They have a dinner buffet on Tuesday and Thursday nights that surpasses any of the other local spots. Much further up Kirkwood is Palace of Asia, which is relatively new but has much more atmosphere than most Indian restaurants and very good food.

            1. re: spyturtle008

              I enjoyed Ali Baba also (and 43 years life long new yorker with a penchant for enthnic foods)


        2. Homegrown Cafe has some good food and the Gelato at Cafe Gelato is quite tasty and I've had good food there as well. Would recommend the Post House for breakfast over the diner. Also Klondike Kate's is decent, I tend to like their Buffalo Chicken sandwich.

          1 Reply
          1. re: modbetty

            I love Home Grown. They have such a wonderful and varied menu. Every time we visit my daughter at U. Del. we promise to try another resto the next time we are in town but always wind up at HG !!!!

          2. Tough to stick to your wish list. I agree with the Post House recommendations for breakfast. Iron Hill is a decent brew pub, I'm not sure if I'd order the upper end entrees, but they do have good beers, decent brick oven pizzas, and great nachos. If you're on the run for lunch, check out a "bobby" hoagie from capriotti's. It's the Thanksgiving hoagie, with carved turkey meat, stuffing, cranberry sauce, etc., which isn't novel, but they do it the best there.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JCap

              Iron Hill has good (but a little overpriced) pizzas; they used to do two nights a week of half-price pizzas after 9pm. Might be worth inquiring if you're looking for a late bite. Last time I ate there I ordered a salad which was positively drowning in dressing, so if you go that route def. ask for the dressing on the side...