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Is there ANY restaurant at all worth going to in Wilmington, DE?

  • m

Hi, I have recently moved to Wilmington by way of NY, NY, Washington, DC and Atlanta. I have been in the restaurant industry a LONG time and have recently started doing some career things that are not restaurant related. This history is important because I have a lot of experience with great food. I am so disappointed! The only place that hasn't completely turned me off is Lucky's Coffee Shop, not because it was amazing and I loved it, but because it was decent, not overpriced and kinda cute. Those are pretty low standards. There's no farm to table anything, anywhere... that I've found yet.. except a place in PA which was ok ( I can't remember the name of it) but not great. I'd love some help. I like to eat anything and everything. I'm not snobby by any means about food, but my experience so far has been that Wilmington has a LOOONG way to go to catch up. I might as well save my money and eat at home! Anyone been anywhere that might change my mind!? Any suggestions?

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  1. It's not really worth answering this post if you are not going to bother to do a search on Wilmington (the front page of the Mid-Atlantic board would be a start) or mention just what restaurants you've found that have been so desperately disappointing.

    3 Replies
    1. re: travelmad478

      Agree. Also, don't be expecting Wilmington to catch up at all...to NY, D.C. and Atlanta? Seriously? They are all roughly a zillion times larger and considerably more cosmopolitan. Delaware is by nature a bit more conservative and some cliches du jour like farm to table may never appear. I think it stems from a long history of black nylon sock wearing DuPont engineer/chemist drones. (That was a joke for all you black nylon sock wearing ummm drones.) Wilmington does have a number of decent places but many do say that for a really good meal they go to Philadelphia, not all that far away. Like TM478, I'd want to first hear what places have been visited and why subpar.

      1. re: RC51Mike

        I represent that remark! Besides being a native Delawarean (an endangered species) and being in uniform (black nylon socks AND pocket-protector-wearing engineer) isn't all that bad.

        1. re: RC51Mike

          +1, travelmad 478 and RC51Mike. I live in NYC but am in Wilmington quite a bit. I'd also like to hear what NYC and DC favorites the OP has.

      2. Philly is a short drive away and has some amazing restaurants. Amada is on par with Jaleo in D.C. for example and there are many other places worthy of visiting.

        As far as Wilmington dining...I agree with your comments unfortunately. There are a few places that offer decent food and do a good job for what they are (The Border Cafe and Charcoal Pit come to mind) but generally fine dining in Delaware is an oxymoron.

        10 Replies
        1. re: bluehensfan

          Granted you posted this in 2010, but I would hope that you've broadened your dining horizons since then. Border Cafe? Charcoal Pit? These are your examples of good food? One is a chain, the other is...well also a chain, if a local one. Have you been to Toscana's, Harry's Seafood, Deep Blue, Domaine Hudson, Eclipse, Chelsea Tavern, Ulysses, Mikimotos, Corner Bistro? There are so many great places to eat that are near to home AND you don't have to pay $30 to park to eat at them! Yes, Philly has amazing restaurants, and of course I would suggest places there, but who has the time to get up to Philly every time they want dinner?

          1. re: bakerlane

            Bluehensfan's horizons are quite broad, I can assure you. BHF was talking about "fine dining" which is different than "good eats". His reference to Border Cafe and CP was pretty clearly a faint praise.

            Considering your list...none approach what is commonly thought of as in the "fine dining" class except maybe Domaine H. (I've not visited Corner Bistro) And its food has been lacking lately.

            So I pretty much agree with BHF, in spite of the Green Room, Krazy Kats (both of which are a bit tired) Domaine H, and William and Merry (which is the best of the lot) there is a lack of "fine dining" destinations in DE.

            1. re: sal_acid

              sal_acid, Thanks for your seal of approval!

              I agree with your comments about the Greeen Room and Krazy Kats getting old. And Domaine Hudson was good but when it was under different ownership. We really need more places like William & Merry...

              1. re: bluehensfan

                bluehensfan, i enjoy your recommendations and comments and typically agree with you but we went to W&M once, the food was ok but the service was pushy and offensive. Have not been back. Friends have had same experience with the food. Maybe we went on a bad night?

                1. re: kmcdonne

                  I'm quite surprised to hear that comment about W&M. If anything, I find the service there to be a little tentative (the servers I've had have been on the young side), the opposite of pushy. Admittedly, it's been a while since I've eaten there. I really like the food.

                  In downtown Wilmington, I can put in a good word for Pochi Wine Bar on 9th St. I had lunch there last week and really liked it. Interesting food and very good service. The one down side was that we were there on one of those insanely cold days, and they don't have anything blocking the air blasting in whenever anyone opens the front door.

                  1. re: kmcdonne

                    We've been to W&M at least 10 times for lunch or dinner. For a while they had a guy who was a little too chatty, but wasn't what I'd call offensive, just irritating. If anything, the service there has been on the slow side for us. I think you might've had a bad night.

                    Another place worth a look is Skipjack over near the old Louviers site on PaperMill rd. Interesting menu...good brunch..more casual than W&M.

                  2. re: bluehensfan

                    Admittedly I have not been to W&M but I was going on what friends said who liked the place. That's the last time I will do that.

                    I keep vacillating about trying Pochi (and that other Latin American place in Wilmington whose name escapes me). I just don't want to be disappointed like I was when I tried Juliana's Kitchen (I must be the only one who dislikes the place)...

                2. re: bakerlane

                  My dining horizons have matured now that you mention it. We kinda got tired of the Border Cafe and the Charcoal Pit a few years back and now regularly frequent El Diablo in Trolley Square. It's really good, cheap, relatively healthy, and quick. We also like Hood's BBQ in Unionville and find Maria's and Dona Rosa in Hockessin to be pretty good (but the latter is much better on Friday as opposed to Saturday...must be a different chef)

                  As far as your other mentioned places, we found Harry's to be overpriced and very mediocre and Mikimoto's to be just average. Toscana gets worse every time they change the name and decor. Corner Bistro was good on our first visit but not so on the second. I have heard mixed things about La Fia but admittedly am not in a rush to head to that part of town for dinner.

                  I think that we are indeed spoiled by Philly's offerings because we are up in Philly a lot (i.e. why go to Capers & Lemons when you enjoy Barbuzzo when you are already up there?). But I agree with you that it is a pain to go up to Philly just to eat a meal in general with the traffic and parking.

                  1. re: bluehensfan

                    Hoods BBQ is our go to spot for ribs. It's a nice drive out there and the ribs are excellent... for this area at least. We always get the sauce on the side.

                  2. re: bakerlane

                    This is really weird but this post reminded me that I have not been to the Charcoal Pit in a while. I went back today and it was really good. Not fine food but they did a fine job with the food.

                3. I agree that the food scene here could use some updating, but its not all bad. I've come up with a few places I really enjoy that might help you. These are the places I go to eat when I go out, especially India Palace ( don't be discouraged by the location).

                  Breakfast:
                  Kozy Korner
                  Krazy Kats
                  Columbus Inn
                  Marys on Shallcross - not to be confused with Marys Country Kitchen

                  Lunch:
                  El Pique Taco Shop- hole in the wall but a gem
                  Little Vinnys Pizza
                  Washington St. Ale House
                  Charcoal Pit- good shakes, not much else

                  Dinner:
                  Domaine Hudson
                  Moro
                  Mikimotos- everyone raves, not my fave but you may enjoy it
                  Kooma
                  Cafe Napoli- great pasta, large portions
                  India Palace- my favorite no frills Indian paradise
                  Orillas Tapas
                  Bistro on the Brandywine

                  -----
                  Orillas Tapas Bar & Restaurant
                  413 N Market Street, Wilmington, DE 19801

                  Kozy Korner Restaurant
                  906 N Union St, Wilmington, DE 19805

                  Krazy Kats Restaurant
                  Kirk Rd, Montchanin, DE 19710

                  Charcoal Pit
                  714 Greenbank Rd, Wilmington, DE 19808

                  20 Replies
                  1. re: in bocca

                    Krazy Korner has its charms. Domain Hudson, Moro and Orillas Tapas are all not too shabby. I'd add Corner Bistro and Harry's Seafood on the riverfront. Just wish Corner Bistro would change their menu from time to time. Yi Palace is the best Chinese. The best pizza to date that I've found is at Paris Pizzeria. Hole-in-the-wall type joint at 1735 Marsh Road (at Silverside - Tel: 302-479-0700.) These guys have delivered for me when I have asked them to make thin crust pizzas. Forget about Grotto or Seasons. I like Lucky's Coffee Shop but they have terrible hash browns. Not even true has browns - processed frozen cubes of potatoes.

                    1. re: in bocca

                      Is the Columbus Inn still open? I thought it was being converted to condos.

                      1. re: CindyJ

                        It reopened a little while back...

                      2. re: in bocca

                        Good post. Of those you mentioned, from a former New Yorker, Domaine Hudson is solid. Public House and the Chelsea Tavern provide good pub fare. Nothing special though. Charcoal pit makes a mean shake and the ice cream place across the street or nearby on the 202 also serves a good red velvet ice cream. Evelyn's soul food in Wilmington is pretty good soul food. It's in the downtown area.

                        About twenty-five minutes outside of Wilmington, in Toughkenamon, PA, there is a classic mid-atlantic, biker bar, all-crab-you-can-eat, crab shack that I recommend called the Hilltop Crab Shack, (http://www.hilltopcrabhouse.com/). Near that there is a Mexican Restaurant, which is actually quite quality and authentic for the mid-atlantic area called Taqueria Moroleon (http://www.taqueriamoroleonpa.com/ind...).

                        -----
                        New Yorker Restaurant
                        18164 A P Hill Blvd, Bowling Green, VA 22427

                        1. re: eepo

                          I love hilltop, went there recently. I'll have to try the mexican place you recommend. Theres also a place near there called El Sombrero that has excellent tamales.

                          1. re: in bocca

                            I will second El Sombrero. Their food is wonderful! I have never had a bad meal there in 10+ years. Years ago, they were primarily a grocery store with food. The dining area was small and cramped. In the last year or so, they have converted some of the grocery space (in back) and expanded their dining area. If you are in the area, this is a definite GO TO!

                            1. re: genevapics

                              Is El Sombrero the place that's right next door to a Mexican grocery store (El Ranchero?)? If so, just to be clear -- El Sombrero is both a grocery AND restaurant? And, is El Sombrero BYO?

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                Yep, they are the same place. I don't know about BYO, but they do not serve alcohol there. I usually just get some crazy flavored jarritos!

                          2. re: eepo

                            Hilltop Crab House rocks. It can't really be classified as Wilmington, but it is a good place to go if you live northwest of town. The OP is not going to be happy with this one either, of course--I can't think of anything farther from "farm to table" or less cosmopolitan than a crab house filled with bikers in rural PA. But that is exactly what I love about it.

                          3. re: in bocca

                            India Palace is a bit of a drive from north Wilmington and my spouse and I did not find the food to be any better (or worse) than Nirvana in Independence Mall.

                            1. re: scoopG

                              responding to your good review on Lucky's cafe---sorry, toast was ice cold, all food sucked......best breakfast in mcdonald's or angels (sitdown) on silverside.....The Chicken House newark and now on Philly pike are by far the best chicken ever!!! and the prices are ridiculously cheap for the quality of their food.

                              1. re: bolyn

                                Gotta be kidding. Chicken House is a dump. Miserable service, overcooked chicken. Terrible.

                                1. re: sal_acid

                                  Wow...it must be run by the folks operating the equally horrible Peruvian Chicken joint down the street.

                                  I wonder if they cleared our table yet...

                                    1. re: sal_acid

                                      And I thought it was just me that hated it!

                                      1. re: bluehensfan

                                        some people just have no taste, what can i say; there is not ONE below 4star rating for The CHicken House; that's why they make chocolate and vanilla

                                        1. re: bolyn

                                          No taste? How about no integrity?

                                          Being in the business, I'm sure you know that those reviews are often put in by shills.

                                          1. re: sal_acid

                                            I think these Chicken Houses are one big chain/conspiracy.

                                            1. re: sal_acid

                                              well, i'm not in the business....just a consumer who happens to think their food and service are delightful.....have you been to their new location on phil pike? even i have to say, the food comes out much quicker--which i appreciate....However, even on k-woody highwy, it was worth the wait for my husband and me.

                                    2. re: sal_acid

                                      The Chicken House on Kirkwood Highway has gone way down hill. Several years ago, they would serve large moist pieces of chicken along with that wonderful moist rice. Now the chicken pieces are smaller than McNuggets and the rice is often quite dry. Not to mention their prices have out paced their food.

                                      The woman owner (can't remember her name) is very friendly and will work with you. I have not ordered their whole chicken pieces in awhile, but they were very good from what I recall.

                              2. Milky, I am happy to report the answer is YES. Last night I had dinner at the new Chelsea Tavern in downtown Wilmington. Wow, I was shocked it was so good. Started with watermelon salad with feta cheese and yogurt. Really delish. Next had the special 'tv dinner' shrimp with tomatoes and capers, wonderful beans, a salad and brownies for desert. $17. Are you kidding me for this quality. It is a MUST try. Service was just as good as the food and they have a wood burning oven. Next time I'm trying the pizza. Great beer list too. I loved it and did not expect to. Let me know if you try it.

                                1. I'm not sure it's still there (was two years ago) but there is an absolutely incredible Vietnamese restaurant in Wilmington. The woman who runs it/cooks is the daughter of a French-trained chef, and her father used to cook for the French Embassy in the '50's. It doesn't look like much, but we had the best Vietnamese food--including some dumplings from heaven--we've ever tasted, there.

                                  Alas, I cannot remember the name. My husband has one of their calendars still on his wall, at work, though. I'll ask him the name later today.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Beckyleach

                                    The dumpling house? It's on the 1100 block of north lincoln.

                                    1. re: in bocca

                                      Dumpling House is closed and the owner was Taiwanese. Being converted to something else...

                                      1. re: scoopG

                                        Yea, that's what I was going to tell her. It's a peruvian restaurant now. I live pretty close to there and heard its very good. especially the dessert with meringue.

                                  2. Not far from Wilmington, just outside Kennett Square, PA, Foxfire at the Stone Barn has a new chef, a new menu, and a farm-to-table menu. It just recently opened, and I believe right now they're only open for dinner Thursday-Saturday. I was there for dinner shortly after it opened and I was truly impressed with the creative menu selections, the quality of the food, the lovely presentations and the service. The Stone Barn is in a magnificent setting. The prices are really reasonable and it's BYO. I have a really good feeling about this place, and I wouldn't be surprised if it soon joins the ranks of southern Chester County's dining hot spots. http://www.thestonebarn.com/foxfire.htm

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                      Sounds good. Can you elaborate on what you ate? What dishes stood out?

                                      1. re: scoopG

                                        There were four of us dining, and we all had a chance to sample what was ordered at the table. I started with the mushroom soup which was really wonderful. I also tasted the lobster ravioli, which I'll definitely order the next time I'm there. I ordered the halibut for my entree, which was done perfectly. It was served over a fava bean polenta on one side and a tomato coulis on the other -- a really attractive presentation. I also tasted`the lamb and the crab cakes, both REALLY good! The portions were HUGE and there was little room for dessert, but we did share the soft centered chocolate torte which was deliciously decadent.

                                        If you look at the menu online, you'll see that the prices are truly reasonable, and since I always seek out BYOs, that was another plus for me.

                                        I don't know if the menu is going to change any time soon, or if the portion sizes will be trimmed down. After finishing my bowl of mushroom soup, my thought was that if I'd ordered a salad, those two dishes would have been enough for me for a meal. I know they've got to work out the "kinks" as all new restaurants do, but I think they're definitely on the right track.

                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                          Speaking of places in Wilmington...anyone try that Leomns and Capers place yet? The menu seems like something I'd like but seeing the less-than-stellar reviews and my unfortunate familiarity with the food at Dome (was it really pronounced "do me?") on Yelp my brain has won the battle over my stomach.

                                          As a total aside, I really wish a place like Genelle's would reopen sometime soon. That was the one thing I could get in Wilmington that I have never found in Philly.

                                          1. re: bluehensfan

                                            Their menu looks nice. Let us know if your stomach takes the lead.

                                              1. re: travelmad478

                                                Thanks! Sounds like Capers and Lemons is easy to pass up.

                                                1. re: travelmad478

                                                  Ew. Thanks for the post. I think you may have saved me a few bucks! It sounds like a yuppifed Olive Garden.

                                                2. re: bluehensfan

                                                  Ive done C&L twice. Its OK, not great. Lots of foccacia, pasta and salads if memory serves. Seems to be a fairly feminine menu. Always looks crowded though

                                                  1. re: gfweb1

                                                    The menu is heavy on Italian and while it is OK, it is a bit off the beaten track. Seems to be in the middle of an Industrial Park. Unlike travelmad478, I found the decor refreshing, compared to Eclipse. Both times I have eaten at C&L it has been quiet as well compared to Eclipse.

                                                  2. re: bluehensfan

                                                    I tried C&L twice awhile back. First time was fine -- some decent food, good service, although nothing was terribly memorable. Seemed like it might be a good place to try with less adventurous dining companions. So, we ended up there for a birthday dinner a few months later. Incredibly blah. It's been awhile so I don't recall many of the details, except that the drink they had on special tasted nasty syrupy -- reminded me of something you'd find at a college bar. Food was mediocre. Service was way off that night -- trouble getting refills on water, leftovers were packaged randomly so that we all ended up taking home what we didn't order, and just a very blase attitude from the server. We haven't been back since.

                                                    1. re: spyturtle008

                                                      Thanks for posting...all of the C&L reviews seem pretty mediocre.

                                                      By the way I did try El Diablo Burritos in Trolley Square recently. They are pretty darned good, especially the short rib and braised pork (granted can't comment on the grilled steak or chicken yet because we did not try them). Granted it's just essentially a line where you order your food and determine what you want on it, but the "burrito makers" are friendly and helpful and the food is well executed, with some interesting choices.

                                                      1. re: bluehensfan

                                                        We just went to El Diablo for the first time too. I was very happy with my short rib burrito, and amazed myself by eating the whole thing in one sitting despite it being the size of a football! I thought the ingredients were very good. It would speed things along to have the menu actually represent the composition of the sandwich, though. The assemblers didn't pay any attention to what was on the chalkboard, just asked us throughout the process whether we wanted pretty much every single item in the kitchen to go into our burritos!

                                                        1. re: travelmad478

                                                          I love El Diablo. There has been talk of them adding a lamb burrito with yogurt sauce to the menu, which also sounds excellent. They make a great romesco that I get on their marinated mushroom burrito which is so good. They also sell homemade tortilla chips and guac.

                                            1. Not to far from Wilmington in Newark you have Cafe Gelato which is very good and constantly scores high with Wine Spectator. The lamb and veal dishes are excellent. I have to also agree that Harrys Seafood is excellent.

                                              1. If you are looking to compare, don't waste you time. Comparing restaurants in different markets is ludicrous. Wilmington and the surrounding area isn't NY or DC and those that try to be don't last long.

                                                Everyone has their own taste and expectations. Personally, I'm not a big seafood person, but have never heard a bad thing, other than the crowds and wine prices at Harry's Seafood on the Christina. There are some other locations in the city that are not bad.

                                                For prime rib or steak, Walter's is still a class act and the Columbus Inn is not too shabby. Then again, neither are any of the restaurants in the Hotel DuPont.

                                                Domaine Hudson is good, but some tell me not as good as since they changed chefs last summer. I didn't think there was that much of a difference. There is also a domestic riff that may eventually affect this location. And though a bit chilly at times, I've never had a bad meal at The Rail at Delaware Park.

                                                There are all the chains in DE, though I approach them like 7-Elevens, for the convenience food. Of the chains, I would prefer Firebird's in Newark/Christiana area. (Not to be confused with the DC wannabe, Firestones). Sullivan's has good food, but overpriced and service is inconsistent, great one time, nearly non-existent the next.

                                                Northern DE, including downtown Wilmington, is pretty much into decent food in a casual atmosphere (i.e., Catherine Rooney's, Washington St. Ale House, etc.). Almost every "bar" is actually a grille and many have pretty damn good food.

                                                We could all go on and on, but I have often found that the only person's terrible restaurant may be another's gem, simply due to a particular experience.

                                                We could all go on and on as there are a lot more restaurants in the area than most can imagine, but are just not aware.

                                                1. Thought I would ask for updates to this old chain. I travel frequently to the Wilmington area, and find myself with few choices. I like Krazy Kat. I eat a lot at the Hilton Christiana Restaurant and am occasionally pleasantly surprised (with cautious ordering). I would be happy to find more choices int he categories: great chef-inspired food, fabulous quintessential dives, and retaurants that represent a day in the life of Wilmington. And as a PS.,I just discovered a major treat--Delano, the bartender at the new Sheraton in New Castle is really quite a talented and ambitious mixologist. Probably lost amidst the "let's add fruit to it" restaurant offerings.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. Since this threat had been resurrected I figured I'd weigh in. While I'm not in Delaware anymore, I lived there for 16 years, and I go back at least once a year or so to visit family.

                                                    I'm surprised it hasn't been mentioned before, but Iron Hill Brewery is always a great place to go to get good food and great beer. I frequented the Newark location most often, but I've been to the one in Wilmington on the riverfront once, and it was good too.

                                                    Ali Baba (also in Newark, but hey, it's Delaware, everything is close) is very good if you're in the mood for middle-eastern fare. I prefer it to Casablanca's which I guess is more Wilmington-y (if it's still open).

                                                    Also, not fine dining, but how could any thread on good food in Delaware be complete without mention of Capriotti's? Not only are they the best subs in Delaware, they're the best subs I've eaten anywhere, Philly and NYC included. Cassapula's also deserves a mention if you want more of an Italian hoagie type of thing.

                                                    Oh, and La Tolteca, only sort of quasi-authentic Mexican, but the absolute best Camarones ala Diabla I have had anywhere, and I've had the dish many, many, places.

                                                    20 Replies
                                                    1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                                      Capriotti's make the best subs anywhere? Now why do you think that? Casapulla's and Pickles and Chips are superior in DE IMO.

                                                      1. re: scoopG

                                                        Gaudiello's in Trolley Square makes fantastic subs, and +1 on Pickles and Chips.

                                                      2. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                                        Casapulla's & Capriotti's would be great if they were in Atlanta or some place, but within range of Philly they are mediocre at best.

                                                        The Pizza/steak place in Claymont is pretty good.

                                                        The Well, an odd produce place in Hockessin, make pretty darn good hoagies. Liscio's bread, Boar's Head meats.

                                                        1. re: gfweb1

                                                          There is certainly a higher concentration of good sub shops in the northeast, but I can't recall one I've had in Philly or NYC that's definitively better than what I've gotten from Caps, but maybe I just never went to the right place.

                                                          I've been in south FL for the past five years, and this area is a wasteland for a good sub. Capriotti's opened a franchise not too far from me, and it absolutely blows everything else in the area out of the water, so maybe I just extrapolated that to how good the subs were back in DE, but I remember being very impressed up there too.

                                                          As far as Capriotti's vs Casapulla's goes - I think Caps has better bread as well as better slow roasted turkey and beef. For a classic Italian, I'd give the edge to Casapulla's, but I'd take a Cole Turkey or Slaw-be-Joe over the Italian usually.

                                                          For the OP, should he ever check this thread back, I remember another place I really enjoyed, but I have to admit I haven't eaten there in close to a decade, was the Back Burner is Hockessin. According to the website it's still open, and it seems to get good marks on Yelp.

                                                          Also, Deerhead Hot Dogs is solid place to hit. I used to go to the location near Wilmington HS when I worked in the area. It was on my list of places to visit when I was back in DE last summer, but I never got around to it. The beach fries with old bay and vinegar are worth the trip alone.

                                                          1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                                            I second La Tolteca on the 202. Good quality Mexican fare. Not authentic like LA Oaxacoan, but it does the trick.

                                                            Le Shio is a tasty option as well. It too is on the 202. Never had a bad meal there.

                                                        2. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                                          As far as subs go - I personally prefer Ioannoni's on 141. Delicious!! And their homemade fried hot peppers are great.

                                                          1. re: jenscats5

                                                            Disclaimer: they are old family friends. . . . yes, Ioannoni's is excellent. The chicken cutlet sandwiches are my favorite, especially the Gi Gi's Delight, but their traditional subs are also very well done.

                                                            1. re: Rilke

                                                              Disclaimer or no, they do a VERY good job! They are always polite & efficient, food is always fresh and the homemade fried hot peppers are to die for! I go nowhere else for subs now.

                                                          2. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                                            I have to disagree with most of Tute's picks, particularly La Tolteca which is one of the worst excuses for Mexican food that I've ever eaten at. There are many, many good options for fine Mexican food in the Wilmo/Elsmere/Kennett area. La Tolteca is not among them.

                                                            Ali Baba is also pretty weak, nowhere near what good Moroccan food should be (and this is a cuisine I really love and am pretty familiar with).

                                                            Hard to make comments on subs and hot dogs, because they are subs and hot dogs. Deerhead's dogs are loved by some and despised by others--their chili-like topping is a love-it-or-hate-it thing, and the dogs themselves are nothing interesting. I don't mind it but neither would I go out of my way to eat there. There are much better actual hot dogs to be found.

                                                            Iron Hill is fine but it is not what I'd call Chow-worthy, being more of a chain restaurant at this point.

                                                            1. re: travelmad478

                                                              I agree. La Tolteca (and La Tonalteca) are pretty bad. Moroleone is much better.

                                                              1. re: gfweb1

                                                                See I live in the north Wilmington neighborhood and I went to Moroleone before I started going to La Tolteca (Express) because it wasn't worth it for me to drive all the way to Moroleone. What are other Mexican restaurants in the Wilmington area that you like more than La Tolteca?

                                                                1. re: eepo

                                                                  Pretty much any of them. Tolteca is really the worst. There is a good-size thread on this forum from years ago about tacos in the Wilmington area that should still be floating around and find-able via search.

                                                                  You may not want to drive any farther than 202 in north Wilmington, but if you do then you should just head into Elsmere or out toward Kennett. There is another, more recent thread about Mexican food in that area.

                                                              2. re: travelmad478

                                                                I have to agree that La Tolteca is pretty bad even when compared to other less authentic Mexican places in the area.

                                                                As for Iron Hill, I think it's more accurate to say that while the food isn't Chow-worthy, the beer is.

                                                                1. re: MrRuffles

                                                                  The beer at Iron Hill is good, I agree. And I am not saying the food's bad; it's just not something I would classify as Chow-worthy (as in: a place where the owners really care about what they are putting in front of you, and that serves food that is interesting, possibly unique/hard to find, etc.) I go there from time to time but just to get a decent beer and eat something uncomplicated. Much better beer can be found at Chelsea Tavern (even though I'm not a big fan of the food there, either).

                                                                  I miss the old Brandywine Brewing!!

                                                                  1. re: travelmad478

                                                                    I was under the impression that the BBC moved to smaller quarters on Rt. 52 in Greenville -- no?

                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                      It's not the same thing. There is a thread on the new place on here somewhere, but it is a pale shadow (and a more expensive shadow) of the old BBC. No microbrewery, for one thing. I went once and was not inspired to return.

                                                                      1. re: travelmad478

                                                                        I've never been to the new BBC. When my kids were in school (and day care) in Wilmington, we'd often stop at the old location for dinner on our way home. We LOVED those pretzels and mustard!

                                                                    2. re: travelmad478

                                                                      Travelmad - yes I miss the old Brandywine Brewery as well!! Their crab/corn chowder was sooooo good!

                                                                      The new BBC is not as good & quite expensive and from what I was told recently by someone the prices have gone up again....

                                                                  2. re: travelmad478

                                                                    A lot of the La Tolteca menu is pretty typical Americanized Mexican, but they have a couple stand out dishes. I'm a big fan of their chile relleno, and as I mentioned, their camarones ala diabla are second to none. I think they use coconut milk or ground pepitas in the sauce for the camarones, whatever they do, it's creamier and richer tasting than anywhere else I've had the dish.

                                                                    Iron Hill is a chain now, but it's a local one, and as far as I know they still make everything fresh in house at each restaurant. I'm not sure what you mean by 'chow worthy' but IMO if it tastes good and it's better for the price than most other places, it's worth a mention. For the food, their hummus is excellent, as are their pizzas. I've just had apps and bar food as often as full meals there, but I did eat dinner at the riverfront location last summer. The mushroom soup (I think they called it the Kennet Square Mushroom Bisque) was great, and the crab cakes were as impressive as anything I've had in Baltimore. For the beer, the Samurai Saison was a winner, and though it wasn't on tap during my last visit, I love their Rauchbier. I'd still rate the beer a bit better at Dogfish Head, but it's so out of the way down at the beach. If DFH opened up a brewpub type place in Newark or Wilmington they could do gangbusters business.

                                                                    1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                                                                      I agree about DFH. It has to be only a matter of time before they open an Alehouse up here. It just makes sense.

                                                                      Since I'm posting, I will say that I have a pretty open palate. I enjoy good food of many levels. Not just hard to find and exotic, but sometimes a good slice of pizza or an oven roasted turkey sandwich can be just as "chow-ish" for me. That being said, I've had some pretty horrific meals at La Tolteca and La Tolnateca. The sauce for my enchiladas reminded me so much of the sauce in Spaghetti Os. Identical and awful.

                                                                  1. re: Irishmafia

                                                                    Personally I think La Tolteca is not so hot (unless you like an a heaping platter of mediocre food chain-style). And despite all of the hype around Ali Baba I too found it pretty weak. Totally aside, I did try Capers and Lemons this past week and was very impressed. Fabulous pastas and really tasty lamb shank.

                                                                  2. As a native of Wilmington DE this post makes me laugh. Pretty much everything in Delaware sucks, although I remember the Toscana restaurants as being pretty decent Italian.

                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                    1. re: katzimmer

                                                                      You're pretty much right. Except Toscana sucks too. Well let's just say that the food in Wilmington is not up to par with what they have in Philly. To be honest my favorite food in Wilmington is El Diablo's citrus pork burrito. I also really liked Genelle's vegetable curry and johnny cakes before they shut down years ago. Some of the best food in town is not at all fancy.

                                                                       
                                                                       
                                                                      1. re: katzimmer

                                                                        The best Italian in the area, Ristorante Nonna, closed. A shame.

                                                                        Anybody been to Vincente's on Kirkwood?

                                                                        1. re: gfweb1

                                                                          Is that the same as the one that used to be in the Independence Mall (Wilmington) shopping area -- where the old guy would toss the parmesan cheese across the restaurant for the Caesar salad?

                                                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                                                            He will do that I think. Used to be in Wilmington years ago.

                                                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                                                              Yes that's him. He used to sing out "Fra Diablo" while serving one particular dish...

                                                                                1. re: gfweb1

                                                                                  Was only once at the Independence Mall location and that must have been five or six years ago. It was old-school red sauce Italian.

                                                                                  1. re: scoopG

                                                                                    One more rec: India Grille is owned by a very nice Bangladeshi man and serves tasty food. It is located at 3456 Naamans Road, Wilmington, DE 19810. It doesn't serve alcohol, but sits conveniently adjacent to a liquor store, and encourages its patrons to bring drinks in.

                                                                                    1. re: scoopG

                                                                                      We've been three times over the past few months. For some reason I keep expecting it to be better than it is. Vincente's schtick is creating each dish for you. Rather than using a menu he and you negotiate it tableside. Nice idea. Problem is the waiter has yet to get my dish order right in three visits. Food tastes good but IT WASN'T WHAT I ORDERED!

                                                                            2. re: katzimmer

                                                                              I'm a native, also. I have also lived different places from Ontario CN to Florida and I think you need to actually step outside and try different restautants.

                                                                            3. Maybe I am sheltered, but I don't think food in (northern) Delaware is as horrible as everyone is making it out to be :/ These are my family's favorites:

                                                                              Italian (big servings): Mrs. Robino's on Union St; Cafe Napoli on Kirkwood Hwy
                                                                              Italian (a little fancier): Caffe Gelato in Newark
                                                                              Subs: Ioannoni's on 141
                                                                              Casual/grille: Washington Street Ale; Kid Shelleen's on 14th
                                                                              Mexican: El Diablo in Trolley Square; El Tapatio in Bear
                                                                              Asian: Pho Nu Vhu in Bear; Asian Soybean Grille in Hockessin
                                                                              Steak/burgers: Union City Grille on Union St
                                                                              Organic/local: Fresh Thymes on Lovering Ave; Home Grown Cafe in Newark

                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Rilke

                                                                                I'm going to have to try the burgers at Union City Grille - I've heard good things! And I can't wait to try El Diablo - I keep forgetting about it.

                                                                                I personally don't like the Sauce at Mrs. Robino's - it always tastes burnt to me. I'm a Del Rose die hard before they sold it of course.

                                                                                Will also have to check out Fresh Thymes - never heard of it.....

                                                                                1. re: jenscats5

                                                                                  Union City's burgers are half price on Mondays at the bar! They buy their meat from a humane farm in Pennsylvania, and the quality is obvious.

                                                                                  After many meals with many people in Italian restaurants, I have found that preference in red sauce is very personal. If you find yourself in Robino's again, try the broccoli rabe or antipasto as an appetizer; for dinner, linguine with clam sauce, or (my personal favorite) tortellini alfredo with peas. Their alfredo sauce is light and flavorful.

                                                                                  Fresh Thymes is this tiny nook of a place run by a mother and daughter. Go for breakfast.

                                                                                  1. re: Rilke

                                                                                    A small correction: Union City Grille serves their half priced burgers in both the Bar and Main DIning Room.

                                                                                    1. re: genevapics

                                                                                      Good to know! I don't know why I thought otherwise.

                                                                              2. Yes--only the beach areas have decent restaurants. Someone recommended Mrs. Robino's. Compared to other Italian restaurants in the "Little Italy" area of Wilmington, Mrs. "R's" SUCKS. The sauce there is as close to an inexpensive jar sauce as you can get. Terrible. Try Madeline's across from St. Francis for more authentic Italian. Also, Casa di Pasta in Newark has been rated as #1` by People's Choice in Deleware magazine as well as in several newspaper reviews.
                                                                                Sincerely, ricksfood

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: ricksfood

                                                                                  Curious as to why this thread was resurrected after over a year.

                                                                                  I have to say though that we have found that Delaware Mag's People's Choice or the Snooze-Journal's Reader's Choice designations are the kiss of death. We generally know we're going to be disappointed when we see that designation. (Case in point, the old Pan Tai on Union Street being named Best Thai restaurant by readers for a number of years.)

                                                                                  1. re: MrRuffles

                                                                                    +1 on that sentiment. The first time I read Delaware Today's "best of" list and found Grotto Pizza as voted the best pizza in the state, I knew what I was dealing with. Yuck!

                                                                                    Why the thread was resurrected...because there are always haters, and this thread's title is well designed to bring them out from under their rocks.

                                                                                  2. re: ricksfood

                                                                                    i know this is so old but i just have to chime in and say how much i despise mrs. robinos. seriously one of the worst italian places i've ever been to! and we've been twice because my husband's friends just loveeee it there.

                                                                                    mushy, burnt lasagna covered in about 6" of mediocre sauce. never again. i don't understand how people love it so much.

                                                                                  3. I love Las Aureas (it's in Claymont--very near N. Wilmington) though it is a bit of a dive. Still, the standard Mexican fare (tacos, burritos, quesadillas, chilliquiles, etc) are all very authentic. I especially enjoy anything al Pastor.

                                                                                    Again, a no-atmosphere place but can't beat the food. Or the prices.

                                                                                    1. I am from Chester County, PA, and find Wilmington to be heaven with regard to dining out. It's bizarre how anyone would complain about dining options in Northern Delaware. We have Thai, Chilean, Peruvian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Spanish, Moroccan, Jamaican.... Most metro areas would be hard pressed to have half of those as options. And they're good, authentic options too.

                                                                                      You're right, Mrs. Robino's is bad. And many native Delawareans do not know good food, which is how hack places like that and Grotto's stay in business. But there are a lot of us living here now who do know good food and are allowing better places to survive. Thank goodness.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: ktappe

                                                                                        Sorry, but liking Mrs. Robino's doesn't mean I "don't know good food". Quite a high horse you're on.

                                                                                      2. I haven't been there in years, but I used to go to Elizabeth's Pizza all the time http://www.pizzabyelizabeths.com/ and it was always great. It seems to still exist.

                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                          I last had PBE in March while visiting my parents - still good. It isn't the best pizza I've ever had, but it's one of my favorite restaurants in Wilmington for the combination of food and atmosphere.

                                                                                          1. re: mpjmph

                                                                                            The pizza there is so-so IMO. Odd, leathery crust! But a lot better compared to the rest of Wilmington to put things in perspective. Elizabeth's does have a really good seafood salad, good breadsticks, and tres leches cake when they do the latter.

                                                                                            1. re: bluehensfan

                                                                                              The crust is odd. And Elizabeth's is a very feminine pizza place. I always feel like I don't fit in. Too much estrogen ;-)

                                                                                        2. Liked your comment. There are plenty of good places to have a nice meal in Wilmington or within a short driving radius. It's about doing a little basic research and trying things out for yourself vs relying on others' biases.

                                                                                          1. The previous posts mention many local favorites. I would add Attillio's for Italian.

                                                                                            But, if you've been in the business a long time and you are looking for top-notch fine dining, The Green Room in the Hotel DuPont will satisfy your desires. Someone did mention the hotel...but you must try the Green Room.

                                                                                            1. bringing this back.

                                                                                              has anyone been to la fia? i've been reading a bit about it and it seems the general consensus is that it has good food, but very small portions for the price.

                                                                                              another place that i haven't seen mentioned on this thread is uschy's cafe- german on market street. i've only been twice- i live in Wilmington but work in philly (sigh)- and it is only open during the week from about 9-4. my husband and i were really pleased!! we haven't been able to find ANY other german food around here.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: September29

                                                                                                I've written about La Fia (do a search, it's on here somewhere--possibly on the Philly board). Thanks for the Uschy's rec...I have heard good things but would only be able to go there if I were to get called for jury duty again!

                                                                                                1. re: travelmad478

                                                                                                  too funny that you mentioned that... i came home today to a jury duty letter. i just did it 2 years ago! maybe ill stop at uschys :)

                                                                                              2. So this from the News Journal...
                                                                                                http://www.delawareonline.com/story/l...

                                                                                                I still don't see much great here in DE James Beard nominations not withstanding.

                                                                                                1. Culinaria, North WIlmington