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Jul 31, 2008 05:34 PM

dinner between Philadelphia Airport and Wilmington, Delaware?

My first post--although I've had great success using Chowhound for my travels!
Seeking recommendations for Sunday dinner with a work colleague/friend. We are landing in Philadelphia and driving through Wilmington to give a workshop on Monday. Would like moderately priced, quality local fresh food prepared simply, not a chain restaurant, easily accessible from the I95...Italian, Asian, American...Thanks in advance for suggestions!

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  1. Where are you actually going--Wilmington, or somewhere south? There is not a whole lot I would recommend that is close to I-95 between the airport and Wilmo--you pass through the depressing/depressed city of Chester, where not many people would stop to eat. But there are plenty of places in Wilmington itself. It's only about 25 minutes from PHL, so you won't starve to death en route.

    "Local fresh food prepared simply" can mean a lot of things. At one end of the spectrum is the Charcoal Pit on Rte. 202 (about five minutes from 95, exit 8B in DE)--local and simple, for sure. At the other end is a place like Culinaria (drive north on Marsh Rd., exit 9, for about 10 minutes), which is local and fresh, but a lot more inventive. There are also several places I would recommend in the city of Wilmington, none of which are more than five minutes off I-95. If you can be more specific about where you are heading, it will be helpful.

    10 Replies
    1. re: travelmad478

      We are on our way to Dover, Delaware, so your easy to find Wilmington recommendations would be great! As far as spectrum, we are interested in the Culinaria end, perhaps slightly less fancy. Thank you so much!

      1. re: rtung

        Culinaria's good and not too far off I-95. Domaine Hudson in Wilmington is very good as is a little Caribbean joint which is way too casual in Wilmington named Genelle's. Another place that is really good is the Border Cafe which is right near where you pick up Rt. 1 at 95 to head to the shore. It is a half mile north of that interchange on Rt.7 and you can easily pick up the road (and the traffic) to Dover.

        1. re: bluehensfan

          I second the Domaine Hudson recommendation - we drive my Mom down from NE Phila, and my brother drives up from MD, we meet at DH and exchange Mom and have a great meal! Someone there truly knows their soup. I am not a big soup person, esp when it is 90!, but theirs is always great!

        2. re: rtung

          If you want less fancy than Culinaria, your choices get pretty pedestrian. In between that level of dining and the Charcoal Pit, there are a lot of chain restaurants and not much else worth bothering with. Domaine Hudson is great, my favorite restaurant in the area, but it is fancier than Culinaria. You can try Toscana (5 minutes west of I-95, Delaware Ave. exit 7B)--it has a very broad menu that includes things like sandwiches and good wood-fired oven pizzas, all the way through fine dining. If you want Asian, there is also Jasmine on Rte. 202, which is pretty decent. They are one of the few pan-Asian restaurants that actually does a reasonable job at a variety of dishes.

          1. re: travelmad478

            Pizza by Elizabeth's is OK on Rt.52 but is about 15 or 20 minutes from 95.

            A word of warning, the Charcoal Pit has seen better before they started using frozen, preformed patties.

            Come to think of it, Jasmine has seen better days too. It was filthy on our last visit, and a number (maybe 25%) of our plates were cracked which is apparently a big no-no.

            1. re: bluehensfan

              Oh, no! The Charcoal Pit's slipped? I used to love their burgers and milkshakes. Well, anyway, thanks for speaking up about the bad news.

              1. re: bluehensfan

                I think the Charcoal Pit's better days pre-date my arrival in Wilmington anyway (10 years ago)...I don't know any different, and I am proud/mortified to say that this place completely hits the spot on so many levels, when you are in the right frame of mind. There is just something about that cheeseburger on a tiny paper plate, those Sysco crinkle-cut fries, the gigantic milkshake, that really does it for me.

                Haven't been to Jasmine more than once in the last two years, since I no longer work nearby--too bad to hear it is slipping. Cracked plates would really turn me off, I agree.

                1. re: travelmad478

                  Yeah, I haven't been the the Charcoal Pit very frequently since the early '80s. :-) Been awhile.

              2. re: travelmad478

                only went to Toscana once for the Mom exchange - did not impress. Food - eh, service incredibly slow and it was not crowded

                1. re: Bigley9

                  Suprising--Toscana has been one of my most reliable go-to places for the 10 years I've lived here. The food is always quite solid and I have never had problems with the service. If you were there maybe five years ago, they were in a bit of a transition period before the restaurant got renovated and re-launched. I think it should be fine.

          2. Wait until you get to Dover and try the new Doc McGrogan's Oyster Bar at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino -- it's a lot of fun and good food too. You probably recognize the name as a Philadelphia eatery, now with an restaurant in Dover. Enjoy!

            1. If you like Indian food, you may want to consider Palace of Asia (follow the "from Trenton" directions):


              Very consistent, incredibly delicious higher-end Indian cuisine, and fairly easy to get to from 95.

              My favorite restaurant in this area, hands down.

              1. A few years ago, while still in school in Delaware, I went to a place called Moro in Wilmington. From what I remember, the meal was really excellent and for what you get, very reasonable as well.


                3 Replies
                1. re: ndelson

                  Moro gets my vote for the single best restaurant in Wilmington. In fact, I'm having one of my three birthday dinners there this week (the others will be at Gilmore's in West Chester and Blue Pear Bistro in West Chester).

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    You get three birthday dinners? Or do you have three birthdays? Either way, that's pretty cool! Hope you enjoy your time out...don't have too many of those basil martinis.

                    1. re: ndelson

                      Three dinners, one birthday! Actually, there's one more, which will be on Wednesday of this week, and that will be at Gibraltar in Lancaster. Makes me kind of glad that my friends and family are scattered enough to have separate events rather than one big one.

                      Basil martini... hmmmm... I'll try anything, once!

                2. Everyone, Thanks so much for your recommendations! Really appreciated! Given that it's Sunday, we will likely go to Toscana and I will report back.
                  Thank you.