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



Food & Drink

Disco Fever

Italian Disco hits the right notes.

Food & Drink

Let’s Do Brunch

Rise early, or sleep late—either way, kick off the covers and head to one of our 30 best brunch spots for this ritualistic repast.


In Good Taste

Open & Shut: Twisted Teahouse; Mera Kitchen Pop-Up; Pasta Mista

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

On The Town

Celebrate Ravens Playoff Run at These Bars and Tailgates

Drink specials and purple parties happening this wild-card weekend.

In Good Taste

Where to Eat Chinese Food on Christmas Day

Indulge in a very kosher Christmas.

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

Connect With Us

Most Read


The First Maryland Vegan Restaurant Week Kicks Off: Local vegan advocates promote healthy lifestyle and inclusive community.

Union Craft and DuClaw to Both Release LGBTQ-Inspired Beers: Divine IPA and Unicorn Farts sour ale will each debut in March.

Best Places For Parents to Restore Peace and Sanity Away From Kids: Whether you have two hours (or two minutes), take some time for yourself.

Bryn Mawr Alum Annie Sherman Talks Playing Anna in The King and I: The Rogers & Hammerstein classic comes to the Hippodrome on February 19.

Ana Rodney Puts Maternal Health of Black Women at the Forefront: The doula and activist started MOMCares as a way to advocate for black mothers.