Prize Catch

Henlopen City Oyster House is the pearl of Route One.

Lydia Woolever - June 2018

Review: Henlopen City Oyster House

Henlopen City Oyster House is the pearl of Route One.

Lydia Woolever - June 2018

A Bloody Mary served with raw and fried oysters. -Justin Tsucalas

It’s a proven fact: The closer you are to the ocean, the stronger your craving for seafood will kick in. Fortunately, Rehoboth’s Henlopen City Oyster House is there for you with a tempting array of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean’s finest bounties.

Since opening eight years ago, this sophisticated seafood spot has become beloved by locals and sought out by tourists. With shell-colored walls, rustic wood, and weathered brick, the restaurant, just two blocks west of the beach, is reminiscent of the kind of upscale space you might find in a place like Portland, Maine, but with distinctly Delmarva touches. Tables are topped with Old Bay and Tabasco sauce, while mollusk memorabilia finds its way into every corner, from framed antique oyster plates to a hand-painted mural depicting the namesake bivalve’s anatomy.

To get the juices flowing, a small chalkboard behind the bar lists the daily craft beers on draft, including Maryland brews like a special cask version of the Country Ride pale ale out of RAR in Cambridge. The curated wine and cocktail list is also worth perusing, with the horseradish-heavy house Bloody Marys being a liquid highlight (and hangover cure-all).

For the main feast, begin with the raw bar’s titular oysters. Prettily presented on a silver platter, the rotating selection ranges from local picks, like the restaurant’s own Virginia Salts, to North Atlantic specialties, like Katama Bays and Wellfleets, sourced from Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod.

While the shellfish plays a starring role in a number of offerings—classic Eastern Shore stew, bread-crumbed Rockefeller, Creole-style po’boys, or just flawlessly fried—give some love to the rest of the classic menu, too. One mouth-watering must is the plate of flash-fried clam strips, which taste nothing like the mundane morsels from the seafood shacks of our youth. Crispy, tender, and accompanied by a tangy remoulade, these addictive appetizers are (yes, we’ll say it) the best we’ve ever had.

If you like variety, we can’t say enough good things about the massive bowl of bouillabaisse. This fragrant fishermen’s stew is a cornucopia of the sea’s bounty, chock full of fish, scallops, mussels, clams, and shrimp and served with a grilled baguette for bathing in saffron-tomato broth. The New England lobster roll, piled high with Maine lobster meat and mixed with just enough mayo (along with a side of Old Bay fries), is another fine excuse for forsaking that bikini bod. For some turf to balance your surf, try the decadent pulled-pork sandwich—smothered in a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce and piled high with crunchy coleslaw.

By the end of the meal, you won’t have room for dessert, but if you want to linger a little longer, head down the street for a Frosé night cap at The Blue Hen, Henlopen’s James Beard-semifinalist sister restaurant. There’s nothing like a boozy slushy to make it feel like endless summer.


The-Scoop.png#asset:37797


HENLOPEN CITY OYSTER HOUSE: 50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, DE, 302-260-9193. Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 12-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 12-9:30 p.m. Cuisine: Elevated seafood classics. Prices: appetizers: $9-13; entrees: $10-99.






You May Also Like


On The Town

Weekend Lineup: May 25-28

The best things to do in Baltimore this Memorial Day weekend.

Food & Drink

Review: Cat's Eye Pub

After more than 40 years, Cat’s Eye Pub keeps on rockin’ in Fells Point.

On The Town

Union Craft Brewing Prepares to Debut New Taproom

The brewery's new spot features a beer garden, arcade games, and a ton more space.


In Good Taste

Open & Shut: LB Skybar; GDL Italian; Ó Flynn's

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

On The Town

Ten Things to Look Out for at the New Hotel Revival in Mt. Vernon

The new 14-story property features private karaoke rooms and panoramic views.

In Good Taste

Open & Shut: The Pizza Trust; Cured; The Elk Room

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

A Bloody Mary served with raw and fried oysters. -Justin Tsucalas

Connect With Us

Most Read


Review: Ocean's 8: Sandra, Anne, Cate, et al make this heist film better than it should be.

Heavy Seas Plans Innovative Expansion at Halethorpe Facility: On the heels of Heavy Seas Alehouse closure, the brewery looks toward the future.

Best Running Routes Around Baltimore: From woody trails to historic sites, these local routes keep runners on their toes.

TLC, Toots and The Maytals, and ZZ Ward to Headline Artscape 2018: This year's theme-less free arts festival lets local and national art shine.

Is Swimming in the Harbor by 2020 an Impossible Mission? Maybe Not.: New Waterfront Partnership report shows dramatic progress over the past year.