Last fall, the University of Delaware welcomed 2,872 new students – more than half of its new freshman class – from somewhere outside of our fair First State. At that rate, I figure this college town adds about 5,000 out-of-state parents every year, parents who arrive on campus periodically for parents weekends and plays and sporting events and more, and who need someplace to eat when they’re here.

But where to eat? If your kid is anything like I was in college, the advice you probably get goes something like: “Uhhh, I dunno.” So let’s break it down a bit, according to what you’re looking for. (And please note: This list mostly omits the excellent Asian restaurant scene in Newark that we’ve written about extensively here, which you should definitely check out.)

Five classic Newark spots you’ve got to hit at least once in the four years you visit campus:

  • Grotto’s Pizza: Delaware’s beach pizza tradition is also a Main Street mainstay. Have a pepperoni and grab an order of beach fries.
  • The Deer Park Tavern: A Newark landmark since 1851, it’s practically in the center of campus, and legend has it that Edgar Alan Poe once placed a curse on the place.
  • Klondike Kate’s: With some of the most sought-after outdoor patio seats during the spring months, Kate’s has a nacho plate that’s legendary in its own right.
  • Iron Hill Brewery: Pay homage to the original Iron Hill that launched the 16-brewery empire.
  • Stone Balloon Ale House: On the site of Newark’s once iconic (and now defunct) music hall, this popular restaurant is run by Chef Robbie Jester and serves the shrimp scampi that beat Bobby Flay.

Five places you’ll wish were around when you went to college:

  • El Diablo Burritos: The burrito of your college dreams has gotten an upgrade with braised short rib, pickled peppers, sherry-cured onions and honey jalapeno sauce.
  • Little Goat Coffee Roasting Co.: The most serious coffee in Newark, roasted in-house. (Latte syrups are house-made too!)
  • Home Grown Café: Fresh, healthy food that your kids want to eat! It’s the parenting dream at this Main Street institution that caters to vegans and carnivores alike.
  • Drip Café: A beloved Delaware brunch spot opened a grab-and-go concept in Newark, and managed to preserve its charm in a quick-service environment.
  • Ramen Kumamoto: Big-city ramen in small-town Newark. It’s almost always packed, but few things hit the spot more on a cold day.

Four spots for that celebratory sit-down meal:

  • Taverna Restaurant: Rustic Italian food served in a casually polished environment, it might be the closest you get to bringing them home for Sunday supper.
  • Caffe Gelato: The original white-tablecloth restaurant in Newark, they serve refined northern Italian cuisine in surroundings nice enough for the kids to dress up.
  • Charruscaria Saudades: Newark’s Brazilian steakhouse might be the priciest tab on Main Street, but if you’re taking someone with a college appetite, you’re golden.
  • Vita Nova Restaurant: The hardest reservation to get in town is actually at this restaurant run by kids in the hospitality program at UD. Make your plans to dine there months in advance.

Seven great spots that are nearby, but not in downtown Newark:

(In other words, your kids might not have heard of them, but if you forgot to make reservations on a busy weekend, they might bail you out.)

  • Skipjack: Fresh, new American dining with a comfort-food vibe.
  • Pinang Asian: Malaysian cuisine with a significant sushi bar.
  • Korean Barbecue & Sushi Bar: Family-owned, cook-it-yourself dining adventure.
  • Ole Tapas Lounge & Restaurant: Highly rated Spanish tapas.
  • Two Stones Pub: A destination restaurant for craft beer lovers. 
  • Nasi: Creative Asian dishes and sushi rolls with a Thai influence.
  • La Casa Pasta: Traditional Italian food in a family friendly environment.

Before your next visit to Newark and the University of Delaware campus, download our digital Visitors Guide to learn more about area diningattractions and events.