In Rehoboth Beach…
Former Nage chef du cuisine Hari Cameron is the creative force behind a(Muse.), located in the old Café Sole spot. Cameron’s playful menu offers small plates arranged in five categories, progressing from lighter to heavier flavors. Diners can choose from Category I’s Cool Hand Fluke (a thin slice of raw fluke surrounded by beets, tiny potatoes and watercress) to Category IV’s Colvine Bison with spring onions and potatoes in a red wine sauce.
Category V, by the way, is reserved for desserts. Oh, a trip to the bathroom is required just to see the sinks— they’re shaped like horseshoe crabs. 44 Baltimore Ave., 302-227-7107, http://www.amuse-rehoboth.com
Speaking of Nage, its owner, Josh Grapski, has opened the adjacent Root Gourmet, a café and takeout offering a huge selection of take-home meals from cilantro-garlic “mojo” shrimp skewers to flank steak marinated in chimichurri. Really, this is a great place to go if you don’t feel like cooking. Check out its “4 for $44” promotion, which includes dinner for four— freshly baked bread, a large garden salad, two sides and a large entrée of your choice. Eating-in is encouraged, too, with free WiFi and a café menu stocked with salads, sandwiches and flatbreads. 19724 Coastal Highway. 302-727-5664, http://www.rootgourmet.com
The Oceanus Motel, owned by the same folks who run the upscale Bellmoor Inn, is a completely renovated family-friendly property located two blocks from the beach. The rooms are clean and spacious and kids under 14 get to stay for free. An outdoor pool and guest rooms boasting 32-inch TVs and 70 premium cable channels beckon when the ocean doesn’t. Check out the midweek specials and discounted rates on fall and spring weekends. Off-season rates start at $89; in-season, $239 per night. 6 Second St. 302-227-8200, http://www.oceanusmotel.com
James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist Chef Jay Caputo has transformed the old Porcini House into the Cabo Restaurant & Tequila Bar, a fun but sophisticated Mexican eatery featuring lobster ceviche, mahi mahi tacos, suckling pig burritos and more than 40 different types of tequilas. The interior has been opened up and redesigned in a Baja-meets-Rehoboth style. We predict the hoppin’ rooftop deck will be the spot to sip margaritas at the beach this season. 210 Second St. 302-226-8226
Wilmington Avenue’s popular Salt Air Kitchen has reopened under new management … Kingston Gourmet, located just east of the drawbridge on Rehoboth Avenue, is a new option for prepared foods from crab and lobster salads to sandwiches served on brioche or croissants. … Lexie’s on Rehoboth Avenue has frozen yogurt, shaved ice and something called a chimney stax— a round, hollow sweet bread, which you peel off layer by layer to eat. …. Visitors to Rehoboth can now pay for parking via their smartphones by using an app available at http://www.parkmobile.com. … And for those of you who just can’t leave work behind, free WiFi is available on the beach.
In Lewes and Dewey…
Betty’s in Midway Shopping Center, one of restaurateur Matt Haley’s few projects ever to fail, has switched gears from “upscale American diner” to Hooked Seafood & Martini Bar, a seafood/pasta palace. Christian Colgan, former chef at Haley’s other concepts including Fish On!, Lupo di Mare and Blue Coast, is running the kitchen. 18585 Coastal Highway, 302-827-4944
If you’re waiting to take the ferry from Lewes to Cape May (or just want to eat at a unique location), On the Rocks Bar and Grill makes for a scenic spot to down a bucket of clams and a few brews while watching the marine traffic. The bar grub menu is nothing fancy, but it is inexpensive (grilled tuna steak sandwich, $7.75) and the view is worth far more. www.capemaylewesferry.com
In Dewey, Venus on the Half Shell has morphed into Ivy, a see-and-be-seen nightclub/ restaurant with a $10 to $20 cover charge, a “dress code” (gasp!) and bottle service in an elevated VIP seating area. (What is this, South Beach?) Venus’ beach tables overlooking the bay remain, but the Boho interior has been replaced with rows of couches and open space for dancing. A menu of very small plates tops off at $4.50 each; you’re here to dance and drink, not eat, apparently. 136 Dagsworthy St., 302-227-9292
In Ocean City…
Blu Crabhouse & Raw Bar, run by the Taustin family of Embers Restaurant fame, brings another place to eat crabs al fresco in Ocean City. The restaurant promises 300 outdoor seats overlooking the bay at 24th Street and Coastal Highway. 2305 Philadelphia Ave., 410-289-3322, http://www.blucrabhouse.com
The 45th Street Taphouse Bar & Grille in the 45th Street Village serves up 36 beers on tap and a menu that includes Natty Boh cheese, Guinness beef potpie, chipotle beer-glazed ribs and other beer-infused items. The restaurant is right on the bay with indoor and outdoor seating. It’s also open for breakfast, but we didn’t see any Natty Boh eggs on the menu. 4507 Coastal Highway, 443-664-2201