In a way, enjoying restaurants is a little like making friends: People tend to be most comfortable with personalities they already know and love, but we’re always open to meeting new characters, and making fresh connections.
That mix of unfamiliar faces and well-loved places is part of what makes it so exciting to dine today in Wilmington, Delaware & the Brandywine Valley: New restaurants seem to be arriving weekly as summer’s sunny fun winds down and the quest for cozy fall vibes commences. At the same time, some of the area’s most beloved standbys are working to enhance their appeal, and keep their edge.
Either way, diners come out ahead.
As autumn 2023 breezes into town with a rustle of leaves, here’s a peek at some established places and fresh faces that will undoubtedly be someone’s new favorite soon.
BETTER AND BETTER …
As Wilmington’s reigning king of big-beef indulgence, Bardea Steak certainly has enjoyed celebrity status, but it also wants to be a place that welcomes one and all. That’s the motivation behind the new Thursday night prix fixe special: For $60 per person, diners enjoy a first course (I’ll have the “corn dog”), meat course (filet mignon, halibut, or picanha), a side dish and dessert (along with some tempting upgrades). Here’s the menu: www.bardeasteak.com/menus/#prix-fixe
BRUNCH AND MUNCH
North Wilmington’s favorite sports pub is known for well-executed game-day fare, but Stanley’s Tavern is betting you won’t mind a little brunch with your ball game. The restaurant’s new Sunday Brunch is served from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and features the “Philly Benedict,” made with cheese-steaky goodness. Or try the “Stanwich,” a grilled pileup of pastrami, eggs, and American cheese.
The brunch bonanza continues in Wilmington: Local favorite Columbus Inn has revived its iconic brunch extravaganza, featuring a lavish buffet with carving and build-your-own omelet stations, and a seafood raw bar. ($37 per adult ~ $18 per child ( ages 4-10). Here’s a peek at the menu: columbusinn.net/wilmington-dining-menus.
Over at The Chancery Market Food Hall & Bar, the city’s youngest gourmet food emporium, new vendors include Agave Mexican Grill and Pokelicious (Hawaiian/Japanese fusion). Oath ’84 has departed, but you can still enjoy owner Justin Womack’s lively creations at the stand-alone version of his restaurant at 405 N. King St. (and soon at a new location, at 902 N. Market St.)
The city’s other gourmet food mecca, DE.CO Food Hall, has also added a tasty new vendor, Rebel Ramen, and has also introduced Sunday hours, from 8 a.m.- 8 p.m., giving hungry travelers 7 full days of options.
OODLES OF NOODLES
Speaking of soup-slurping, Greater Wilmington is being blessed with a late-summer shower of tempting Asian-style noodle shops. Yokai Ramen Bistro is now serving at 4015 Concord Pike, in the Talleyville Town Shoppes (); and Kakure Bistro Asian Noodle House & Bar opened recently at 165 E. Main St., Newark (and now has a liquor license). Diners near the First State Plaza in the Newport area should keep an eye open for the upcoming Kumamon Japanese Ramen and Bubble Tea, and less noodle-centric Asian cuisine will soon be on the menu at Blaze Teriyaki, coming to the Shops of Graylyn in North Wilmington.
The perpetually people-pleasing local chain Iron Hill Brewery has launched a fresh menu with more than 30 new items, most created specifically to unite the restaurant’s house-brewed beer with the tastes of its food. Highlights include buttery peel-and-eat shrimp with Vienna Red Lager, mussels steamed in a Homestead Ale cream, and fried calamari with a sriracha IPA ranch dip. There’s also a new brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays until 2 p.m.
BBQ AND MORE
There’s a lot of food fun happening over at the Concord Gallery Shopping Center (on Concord Pike in North Wilmington). First, the center opened new locations of two fan-favorites, Mission BBQ and the breakfast-loving First Watch, and soon it will also be welcoming an outpost the yummy Peach Cobbler Factory.
... AND MORE AND MORE
Fans of sassy flavors will want to scope out the new Great Big Jerk Wilmington, where the focus is on jerk chicken and other BBQ favorites (brisket nachos, anyone?). The folks at Two Sones Pub have opened a pizza place called 2SPizza (“Craft Beer, Craft Pies.”) on Main Street in Newark (). And the lovely little Troisieme Café quietly opened this past May on Concord Avenue in Wilmington’s Brandywine Village.