Wilmington, Delaware

Conde Nast Best Logo 2023Delaware may be best known for its breezy southern beaches—but up north, Wilmington is drawing attention for a wave of new restaurants transforming the city into a bona fide food destination. When The Quoin Hotel opened in September, Wilmington’s first boutique hotel added three new dining and drinking destinations. Set in a historic brownstone designed by renowned Victorian-era architect Frank Furness, the stylish 24-room property is home to a warm neighborhood restaurant, a moody cocktail lounge, and the city’s first rooftop bar. A few blocks away, grand dame Hotel Du Pont reopened its outdated Green Room as brasserie Le Cavalier in late 2020. The freshly uncovered original terrazzo floor and saffron velvet banquets make a modern backdrop for enjoying plates of chef Tyler Akin’s tuna crudo and mint-flecked lamb shoulder.

At nearby Bardea Steak, opened in July, the meat-centric menu includes wagyu empanadas and kangaroo chili over Roman gnocchi. (Its sister restaurant Bardea has been drawing crowds and earning accolades like a James Beard Award nomination for best new restaurant since 2018.) New food hall The Chancery Market is slated to open a roster of stalls—including David Chang’s Fuku and fast-casual Indian spot Kati Roll Wala—curated by NYC-based chef Akhtar Nawab. Along the Christina River, the highly anticipated Riverfront East project is set to bring even more new restaurants to the neighborhood starting in 2023.

Beyond Wilmington’s dining scene—and downtown borders—find a pastoral landscape, called Chateau Country for its cache of historic Du Pont family estates. Gilded Age-era mansion Nemours is known for its Versailles-inspired French gardens; the 175-room Winterthur holds a collection of roughly 90,000 American decorative art objects; and the Hagley Museum, the former Du Pont company gunpowder mill overlooking the Brandywine River, just unveiled “A Nation of Inventors,” its first permanent exhibit in 65 years, highlighting visionary creations dating back to the 1700s.

Regan Stephens, Condé Nast Traveler, Contributing Editor
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Header Photo: The Quoin Hotel in Wilmington, Delaware, Kirk Robert Chambers