With University of Delaware freshmen moving in on August 25th and classes starting three days hence, Newark residents are preparing to welcome scads of new neighbors. Locals are known to mark their calendars with a back-to-school countdown, and naturally, visiting one’s favorite watering holes while the city is still quiet becomes a late summer ritual.
If you’ve procrastinated this summer, and want to get your fill of Main Street before dodging jaywalkers is an amuse bouche, here are five priority visits we recommend:
1. Pachamama Rotisserie Chicken is new on the Newark restaurant scene. It features Peruvian cuisine which is heavy on spices, chilies and potatoes, and makes use of both Latin and Asian techniques as well as a traditional woodfire oven.
Its head chef, Juliana Jiminez, once ran a little Wilmington hideaway called Juliana’s Kitchen, which, for a long time, held the number one ranked Yelp review score in the city. Not to be obvious, but the go-to dish here is the rotisserie chicken—dipping sauces being what levels up this simple entrée. Made-to-order is the only way to eat ceviche, of which there are two options. Fava beans are a thing (sans chianti). Don’t leave without trying a traditional Peruvian cocktail, the Pisco Sour. 76 East Main Street.
2. Deer Park Tavern’s half-price nacho night is a decades-old tradition. Piled high with chili, lettuce, tomato and sour cream, this is a shared appetizer that requires patience and togetherness.
Other favorites are the crab cake sandwich, or crab bomb entree, as well as Asian sesame wings – available both bone-in and boneless. Newark beats Wilmington in one major way: with not just Sunday, but Saturday brunches.
Enjoy yours with a custom creation from the make-your-own Bloody Mary bar. 108 West Main Street. (Say “hi” to another Delaware Burger Battle trophy while you’re there. It shares the display case with Deer Park’s famous taxidermied raven.)
3. Home Grown Cafe is a great place to reset your diet, with tons of salads and vegetarian/vegan dishes on the extensive menu. But nobody writes a salad column, so we feel obligated to recommend the duck confit tater tot bowl.
Try any of their five lunch burgers – all but one of which can also be made as chicken or veggie burgers – as the summer body season winds down. (The dinner menu has a few burgers, as well.) House-made kimchi is always a treat, great alone or on top of your taco or Sweet and Sour Bowl.
Toast farewell to summer with a Remmell Rose cocktail, made with Aperol, cucumber, rose simple syrup, prosecco and soda. 126 East Main Street. (Special note: Home Grown Cafe enters a different veggie burger recipe most years that they compete in the Delaware Burger Battle. Past entries have included a beet and chocolate burger, and a Maryland chickpea “cake” sandwich.)
4. When Stone Balloon Ale House first opened, there was something very masculine about the menu. Still true. The beef and bacon lollipops – featuring Stone Balloon’s signature meatloaf – are still at the very top of the menu, and meatloaf appears twice again as you scroll down. Chicken-fried deviled eggs, keg fries (with shortrib, bacon and beer cheese) and hot wing chowder could cause a person to make a meal of all appetizers.
This is not the place to fool around with a salad, although they are likely killer. Go for the shortrib Stroganoff or Chef Robbie Jester’s famous shrimp scampi that beat Bobby Flay on the eponymous televised competition.
This is the place that turned us on to the brunch man-mosa (a beer variation on a mimosa), but for lunch or dinner, we recommend the Grand Pooh-Bah, a beer cocktail featuring Barenjager honey liqueur, Allagash White, and freshly squeezed orange. 115 East Main Street.
5. When Churrascaria Saudades (easier to spell website: http://eatsteaks.com) came to town, we wondered if it was going to be a sad knockoff of the beloved international chain. (Wait, are we really saying this? OF COURSE, a standalone restaurant is better than a chain.)
This restaurant does everything right. Service is on point. Meats are tasty, and you’re not constantly presented with unusual meats like beef heart while filet and sirloin escape your reach. Fried plantains are the tastiest we’ve had. It’s a fairly pricey-but-worth-it prix fix menu, although there are optional add-ons. They tweak the traditional Brazilian caipirinha with a kiwi version, which we recommend as your cocktail. 250 East Main Street.
We could end this article with our promised five restaurants. But we have to throw in one bonus #protip: the Santa Fe Mexican Grill breakfast burrito. The restaurant opens at 11 am Monday through Saturday and at Noon on Sundays, and offers a $3 breakfast burritos special only until Noon, and only dine-in. This is a gauntlet we run even when the coeds are in town.
Parking in Newark is reasonable. But make sure you drop coins in the meter – even on Sunday nights. Newark offers ParkMobile payment for on-street parking, and parking lots right off Main Street are relatively cheap. Some of these restaurants have off-street parking, as well. Here’s a link to information about Newark parking.