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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.