Eating out isn’t just about the food, although the cuisine is certainly important. Sharing a meal with family or friends creates a sense of community, fosters strong bonds, and can even help you stay healthier. Check out our top 5 restaurants in New Castle County - one just may become your favorite place to enjoy your next dinner al fresco!
In the COVID-19 age, many people are understandably more comfortable eating outdoors when visiting restaurants. Improved airflow makes outdoor dining safer, particularly if you’re in a high-risk category. Luckily, New Castle County offers plenty of restaurants that cater to outdoor guests. Make sure you visit each restaurants website before visiting to familiarize yourself on limited menus and policies on party sizes and reservations!
Crooked Hammock Brewery
Inspired by his bachelor days working at the beach, Crooked Hammock Brewery owner Rich Garrahan designed a restaurant that embodies the beach experience perfectly. In addition to the spacious indoor seating area, the brewery includes a large outdoor space complete with oversize hammocks, a children’s play structure, and tables and chairs.
Whet your appetite with smashed avocado dip, nachos or pineapple express wings, and of course, an ice-cold signature brew or non-alcoholic beverage. You can’t go wrong with a backyard burger, honey-fried chicken sandwich or garden vegetable wrap, but the ribs, Chesapeake crab cakes and honey salmon are just as tasty. If your kids prefer simpler fare, the children’s menu offer hot dogs, chicken fingers, grilled cheese sandwiches and buttered pasta.
Big Fish Grill on the Riverfront
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just want a break from cooking, Big Fish Grill on the Riverfront offers fresh seafood and scenic views of the Delaware. Reservations are accepted for indoor dining, but outdoor dining is first come, first serve.
Mussels and oysters prepared several different ways are among the starter options. Flash-fried shrimp, oysters and scallops are popular entrée options, as are whole lobsters flown in daily from Maine to ensure freshness. The restaurant also offers a raw bar, fresh shucked oysters and a happy hour.
Although the focus is on seafood at Big Fish Grill, the menu includes a few beef and chicken selections, salads, sandwiches and delectable homemade desserts, including Key lime pie, warm pecan apple cobbler, peanut butter pie and deep dish chocolate chip cookie a la mode.
Historic Cantwell’s Tavern was built in 1822 and once served as the hotel and tavern for the port town of Cantwell’s Bridge. The beautifully maintained tavern is still a popular gathering place for New Castle County residents today and offers indoor and outdoor dining. Even the pickiest eaters will find something to tempt their taste buds during a visit to Cantwell’s Tavern, thanks to the extensive menu.
Grilled oysters, crispy wings, steamed clams, smoked garlic hummus and other small plates make excellent appetizers or snacks. The menu features a variety of soups, flatbreads, pizzas, salads, burgers and sandwiches, including Cantwell’s crab cake and the blackened salmon BLT. On the list of entrees are pasta pescatore, half-chicken, homestyle meatloaf, grilled filet, crab cakes, baby back ribs and pork chops. Cocktails, wine, draft beer and cordials can be paired with your entrée. If you still have a little room in your stomach after your meal, you’ll want to try the silk cake, strawberry trifle, crème brulee, peanut butter bomb or other selections on the dessert menu.
The Greene Turtle
You’ll enjoy the same great food and atmosphere as indoor diners when you dine on Greene Turtle’s outdoor patio. While you enjoy the beautiful summer weather, sip on a glass of soda or lemonade, or try one of the national or local craft beers offered.
Loaded tater tots, world-famous crab dip, jumbo wings, stuffed jalapenos and other choices make up the shareables menu. And ample servings and a laidback atmosphere make the Greene Turtle an excellent place to visit if you want to catch a game on TV, enjoy a casual night out with the family, or indulge in an after-work drink.
Entrée options are large and satisfying and include the hog hammer fest, colossal crab cakes, beer-battered fish ‘n chips, eight-ounce sirloin steak and the shrimp basket. Burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads, tacos and bowls offer additional choices for lunch or dinner.
The Greene Turtle’s kids menu is sure to please the younger generation. It features grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, turtle (chicken) tenders and grilled hot dogs. Brownie sundaes, funnel cake fries, monkey bread and root beer floats are popular items on the dessert menu.
Bardea may be located in the heart of downtown Wilmington, but parking is never a problem, thanks to the complimentary valet service. Whether you dine indoors or outdoors, you’ll enjoy dishes made with ingredients from local Delaware Valley farms and purveyors.
The restaurant is known for its modern interpretations of traditional Italian and Mediterranean dishes and received a semifinalist nomination in the James Beard Foundation’s Best New Restaurant category. Its lasagna dish has been reimagined with toasted rye, duck cacciatore, eggplant and smoked almond, while the ramen offering includes shrimp curry, candied ginger relish and green apricot.
Entrees for the table to share included roasted chicken, bone-in rib eye, fish of the day and dry, aged New York strip steak. You’ll also find a selection of inventive side dishes, pizza and small plates. The chef also adds several new twists to the dessert menu. A tasty pretzel shortbread crust serves as the foundation for the lemon/lavender cheesecake, while the Key lime pie is just as distinctive with fermented blueberries and pine nuts.
But there is more...
If you’re not quite ready to eat at a restaurant yet, many local establishments also provide take-out service. Although cardboard containers and Styrofoam cups may not be very festive, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a restaurant-quality experience at home. The next time you pick up a carry-out order, set the table with your best china and silverware and turn on a little mood music. Thanks to a few imaginative touches, you may discover that eating at home is a close second to enjoying a meal at a restaurant.
Do you avoid eating at home because there’s just not enough space to spread out? Blenheim Homes’ communities in Middletown, Wilmington and the Hockessin area offer spacious dining rooms large enough to hold your family-size table and eat-in kitchens with island seating. With four communities in the area, one is sure to be the perfect fit for you.