Holes in One
It may be a robot, but it sure makes some tasty donuts. The machine behind the cream at Pop Pop’s Donuts is the Mark II Donut Robot, an all-in-one mechanical batter barista that takes a few sweet ingredients and turns them into breakfast ambrosia in 90 seconds flat. The man behind the machine is Greg “Pop Pop” Cox, a grandfather of six, who encourages daily trips to his Key West-colored shop. “If you can’t get enough calories in the morning, come back in the afternoon,” he says. Pop Pop’s donuts are cooked in vegetable shortening, not oil, so they’re lighter, with the consistency of cake. Top them off with your choice of glazes and toppings. If you really want to splurge, ask for a donut sundae, because, well, the only thing better than a donut is ice cream, and at Pop Pop’s, you can indulge in both. 4 N. 1st St., Rehoboth Beach, 302-226-2266, poppopsdonuts.com.
What does every environmentally aware child need? A dollhouse made of recycled cardboard— or, for the business-minded, a lemonade stand. These are just a few of the eco-friendly items for sale at Treehouse, the new store opened by veteran Rehoboth retailers David and Janice Elder, owners of Bella Luna and the former Tempest Fugit. Whether it’s jewelry, glass, printed T-shirts, recycled cards and notebooks, candles or bamboo dishware, you can shop here knowing that the beauty runs deeper than the surface. 127C Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 302-227-1228.
In Good Company
Shabby chic devotees will be delighted to hear that the funky St. Michael’s boutique Coco & Company has opened an outpost in downtown Rehoboth Beach. Owner Kim Ruark and her staff stalk auctions and estate sales regularly, ensuring there’s a new crop of vintage goodies in the store each week— everything from ladies’ glove molds to farm tables to French crystal chandeliers to vintage garden chairs. If you’re shopping for a souvenir that will fit in your suitcase— or at least in your car trunk— there are Paddywax candles and pillows made from antique French linens. 149 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 302-227-4004, cocoand-company.com.
Bethany Beach’s finger-lickin’ good barbecue restaurant, Bethany Blues, has opened another, larger outpost on Coastal Highway in Lewes. This Bethany Blues retains the same colorful, beachy murals and color scheme as its original location, but adds an enormous lodge-like barroom, complete with fireplace, dangling industrial lamps, and tables fabricated from 18th-century wood salvaged from the Georgetown, Del., train station. Whiskey lovers take note: There are 90-plus bourbons on the bar menu, including several not available anywhere else in the state. And this might be the only barbecue restaurant anywhere with a functioning meat market— Hickman’s Meats— attached. 18385 Coastal Highway, Lewes, 302-644-2500, bethanyblues.com.
Strike a Pose
Even before it opened, Hobos Restaurant and Bar was generating buzz on account of the mannequins arranged in interesting positions in and around its terrace. The controversy didn’t worry executive chef/ owner Gretchen Hanson, who describes Hobos’ cuisine as a mix of Mexican, French, Vietnamese and Italian— as if “you put four grandmothers in a room and let them duke it out.” Offerings include a wide range of creative salads, sandwiches and dips— perfect for a beach picnic or happy hour on the deck— as well as hearty breakfast and dinner options, including chilaquiles, curries and quesadillas. Just walking by Hobos clues you into its sense of humor. Be assured the fun doesn’t end inside. 56 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 302-226-2226, myhobos.com
On a Roll
With its sleek, modern wood chairs, sophisticated black leather booths and floor-to-ceiling screens of dangling metal beads, Saketumi looks decidedly more Miami Beach than Rehoboth. The restaurant boasts 16 kinds of premium sakes, and a long list of Asian entrées that wanders from Thai curries to Korean barbecue. An expansive sushi bar includes a list of creative rolls, including the Chunky Monkey Roll— eel, asparagus and fried banana. Yes, banana. “Some people love it,” the hostess told us. “And others…” 18814 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach, 302-645-2818, saketumirestaurant.com.
Pack and Play
Here’s a plan for a perfect (and easy) Rehoboth Beach vacation: on your way into town, stop off at Nourish Specialty Foods and Catering, and concoct a killer appetizer tray from the patés, charcuterie and more than 50 artisanal cheeses on offer. Or mix and match a light summer dinner from the prepared food case, where beet salad with honey thyme vinaigrette and black bean basmati rice salad look pretty as a picture. The store-baked sweets— scones, fig cake, cookies and brownies— aren’t too shabby either. 37385 Henlopen Junction #10, Rehoboth Beach, 302-227-6282, anourishingidea.com.
There are some good sushi chefs out there, but only a select few can call themselves Olympic champions. Kiyomi Yamanaka, co-owner and chef at Misaki Sushi, is one of them. He holds the distinction of winning silver and gold medals at Japan’s 2003 Sushi Olympics, competing against 150 other chefs. Yamanaka also put in knife time at Ocean City’s Yokozuna and Rehoboth’s Cultured Pearl before opening his own restaurant with fellow chef and fishing buddy, Shin Konno. In addition to the award-winning sushi, Misaki serves up some interesting appetizers, including the house specialty: chicken wings stuffed with ground pork, Napa cabbage and ginger, and served with a spicy-citrus dipping sauce. A medal-worthy dish indeed. York Beach Mall, Coastal Highway, South Bethany, 302-539-0500
Thai Times Two
Downtown Rehoboth Beach is in urgent need of more dining options for when you want something more interesting (and healthy) than pizza and fries, but don’t want to venture into $25 entrée territory. Lily Thamibutra’s new restaurant, Lily Thai, fits that bill perfectly. Here you’ll find all the usual suspects cooked and presented with care— pad Thai, red and yellow curry, eggplant and basil— plus a few extras, like a house salad with a delectable dressing that gave rise to a guessing game. When we begged our waiter to divulge the ingredients, he wasn’t talking. But he did tell us that the restaurant’s $8.95 lunch special— salad, spring roll and entrée— will last throughout the summer. 10 N. 1st St., Rehoboth Beach, 302-227-3348.
“You know those old-fashioned delis with the meats and cheeses hanging from the ceiling?” asks Lou Bascio by way of describing Touch Of Italy Salumeria & Pasticceria. Since 1992, Lou and his family have made Italian cookies at their bakery in Millville, Del. Those cookies (available by the pound or the piece) are among hundreds of Italian provisions on offer at the family’s new little deli. We’re talking fresh mozzarella made on-site, Italian bread trucked down from the Bronx, homemade pasta and “hero style” sandwiches with all the fixings. That’s definitely amore. 33A Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 302-227-1500, touchofitalyde.com.
Cream of the Crop
You know the ice cream has to be good when you can see the cows behind the shop. The bovines lend an air of authenticity (as well as a pungent aroma) to the operation, but, truth be told, Hopkins Farm Creamery doesn’t have a pasteurization facility on-site, so it gets its dairy products from another source. Don’t let that disappoint you, however. Each of its two dozen, super-premium flavors (14 percent butterfat!) are made on the premises, and range from strawberry cheesecake to peanut butter ripple to “Delaware fruit,” a concoction made with vanilla ice cream and whatever local fruit is in season. The shop is located outside of Lewes along Route 9; just look for the painted ice cream cones on the silo— and follow your nose. 18475 Dairy Farm Road, Lewes, 302-645-7163.
“We’re doing a lighthearted take on a backyard barbecue and a beach picnic,” says Nino Mancari, who has teamed with longtime restaurateur Jonathan Spivak to create Salt Air Kitchen, a shrine to Delaware “beach food.” Though the restaurant’s vibe feels sophisticated and serene— neutral toned walls, driftwood sculpture— the menu is playful and casual, with prices to match (most entrées are under $20). Sure there’s fire-roasted quail and grilled octopus, but there’s also a family-style chicken feast, which comes with three sides and a mess of yeast rolls, and a barbecued London broil dish described as a “Flintstone platter of meat.” 50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 302-227-2444, saltairkitchen.com.
A Dog’s Life
Detail Gallery is a lovely little gem of a store filled with the photographs, prints and sculpture of 35 artists. But it’s best known as the home of Mirabelle, the quirky 2 1/2-year-old Boston Terrier who is the starring character in owner Michael Muller’s book, blog— and life. Her mug is emblazoned on everything from bags to hats to greeting cards, and a portion of every purchase of Mirabelle merchandise goes to help animals in need. Stop by July 4 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. for “The Really Big Mirabelle Show,” when a portion of the art sales will benefit the Delaware Humane Association. 54 Baltimore Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 302-227-8170, adventuresofmirabelle.com.
The name of the game at Rehoboth Ale House is suds, with 14 beers on tap and more than 100 in the bottle from around the world. Pair your brew with a salad, burger, wrap or plate of nachos— or take it up a notch with the beach kabob, a mix of chicken, shrimp and vegetables grilled and served on a bed of rice. The vibe is classic sports bar, with dartboards, a big U-shaped bar and lots of happy hour specials. 15 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 302-227-2337, rehoboth-alehouse.com.
After closing briefly over the winter, Berlin’s venerable Atlantic Hotel was leased by John Fager (of Fager’s Island fame) and restored to its original 1895 Victorian splendor in a hurried 45 days by him and a hard-working crew. Back are the dangling crystal chandeliers, floral carpets and polished period antiques in each of its 16 guest rooms. (A charming guesthouse behind the hotel can also be rented.) A new restaurant, Drummer’s Cafe, named for the traveling salesmen or “drummers” who would frequent the hotel during its heyday, is open for lunch and dinner, and features live piano music weekly. Oh, and you fans of the movie “Runaway Bride” should book room No. 20. That’s where Richard Gere spent much of his time filming. 2 N. Main St., Berlin, 410-641-3589, atlantichotel.com.
Think of Jammin Jon’s Island BBQ as a traditional barbecue joint with tropical island flair. Jon Yanek, who admits to having a fondness for the Caribbean, has decorated his business with plenty of bright, tropical colors, bamboo, an old-school surfboard and cool, tiki bar stools. The menu follows the equatorial theme as well, ranging from skewered shrimp and pineapple to Jamaican patties, an excellent coconut conch chowder and the signature Big Daddy Crab Burger— an Angus burger stuffed with crabmeat and topped with grilled onions and avocado mango cream. “I like using fruit woods, like black cherry, instead of hickory to smoke my meats,” Yanek says. “They give the meat a sweeter flavor.” Yah, mon. 38015 Fenwick Shoals Blvd. (Route 54), West Fenwick, 302-436-RIBS, jamminjons.com.
In a Pickle
“Pickles are cucumbers soaked in evil.” Or so reads the T-shirts worn by the servers at The Pickled Pig Pub, a strip mall gastro pub recently opened by the two couples behind The Pig + Fish in downtown Rehoboth Beach. The beer selection is vast— 10 beers on tap and 30 in the bottle— and the food, while affordable, is a few steps above average pub fare. You can BYOCB (build your own cheese board) from a selection of eight cheeses plated with smoked meat, olives, dried cherries and toast points— or you can order up a chip buddy sandwich, a mound of fries topped with curry gravy stuffed into a roll. Highbrow or lowbrow, you won’t go wrong. Harbor Square shopping center, Rehoboth Beach, 302-645-5444, pickledpigpub.com.
More Beach News …
Jimmy’s Grille, of Route 13, Bridgeville, fame, opens a new eggs-and-scrapple outpost in Dewey on Coastal Highway at Bellevue Street, next to the Bottle & Cork.
Upscale Kindle has relocated from Milton to downtown Lewes at 111 Bank St., replacing Books by the Bay Cafe.
Also in Lewes is Blue Sea Café, a good bet for breakfast or lunch, adjacent to Jerry’s Seafood on 2nd Street.
Bahama Mamas serves up trays of crabs in the old Higgins restaurant location, at 132nd Street and Coastal Highway.
You’ll be able to buy decadent multi-layer cakes from the Original Smith Island Cake Co., in the Ocean City Outlets.
The Ocean City Marriott Courtyard, located on the Boardwalk at 15th Street, boasts 91 brand-new rooms and a reincarnated version of the old Captain’s Table restaurant.
And Boog Powell opens another of his namesake barbecue/pit beef joints, this one along Route 50 in West Ocean City.