With its eclectic menu of imported wines and tapas meant to be shared, it’s not a stretch to call Cafe Azafran a destination for those who enjoy socializing over dinner and drinks. Perhaps that’s why downstate readers of Delaware Today voted the spot best tapas restaurant and best Mediterranean restaurant in 2012, even though it’s located nowhere near the Mediterranean. The café boasts two locations: one in Lewes, and the other just a block away from the Rehoboth boardwalk. At both eateries, chefs prepare plates of calamari, grilled veal sausage with white beans, seafood bouillabaisse in shellfish broth, paella, and more; café drinks and imported wines, and other tapas that can be passed around tables. To boot, the Rehoboth location also serves substantial dinner plates such as grilled new york strip steaks with blue-cheese butter, as well as seafood bouillabaisse in shellfish broth.
During the day, the eatery’s baristas brew café drinks from a full espresso bar that includes hot coffee, spanish hot chocolate, organic yerba mate, and herbal teas from Xanadu. In the warmer months, outdoor patios host sunlit dining, where chef Rich Steele heads to sizzle scallops, chorizo, and other savory morsels in a 32-inch paella pan big enough to be the chrome rims on a clown car.
Under the watchful eye of owners Jose Perez and Yolanda Pineda, Mariachi Restaurant's culinary team builds homemade Mexican, Spanish, and Latin American cuisine from a catalogue of authentic and fusion-based recipes. The hearty dishes run the gamut from grilled chicken breast resting atop homemade durango sauce to charcoal-broiled pork marinated with imported Mayan spices that singe the true date of the apocalypse into the meat. Barkeeps man the restaurant's two watering holes, keeping fine wines and spirits flowing as feasts unfold in a dining room ornamented with white linens and paintings on the wall. Mariachis amble through semiprivate dining rooms to enliven soirees, and on the second-floor outdoor patio, guest sup alfresco overlooking the beach and boardwalk below.
From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers? exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location?s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
At Nage?s cozy dining room and wine bar, guests share small plates of truffle mac-n-cheese, mussels, and ricotta gnocchi paired with glasses of wine or specialty cocktails. The chefs use seasonal, local, and organic ingredients in their tapas and entr?es, such as sirloin steak frites and Chesapeake crab cakes, making popular modern dishes with a tip of the hat to tradition. Exposed brick walls, low-hanging lights, and a chalkboard specials menu set the scene. Nage features live acoustic music every Friday night, as well as weekly wine tastings and ladies? nights on Wednesdays.
Mr. P's Pizzeria's Italian wood-burning oven bakes more than 21 varieties of pizza and calzones in its 700-degree splendor. Noshers can sink mouth bones into the classic margherita ($7.75+) or Shrimp 'n' Pesto ($11.50+) sauce-and-cheese pies, or sample the Alla Puttanesca with Goat Cheese, packed with a bonanza of chunky home-style tomato sauce, whole-milk mozzarella, artichokes, capers, black olives, garlic, and goat cheese ($10.50+). The menu depicts 13 pasta specialties, including the mozzarella-slathered chicken parmesan ($12), and a team of broth and spinach that officiates over the vows of eternal love made between miniature meatballs and pasta balls in the popular Italian wedding soup ($3.75/cup, $4.25/bowl). Mr. P's Pizzeria also gives bored teeth something to do by whipping up subs, salads, and homemade cannoli and hosting smiling contests.
A classic Dewey Beach party bar, the Lighthouse expects approximately one thousand carousers for its New Year's bash. The night begins with hors d'oeuvres from the Lighthouse's seafood and pub food menu. Once the crowd rolls in, dance/rock cover band Element K takes the stage to deliver cover songs, a break from their past five-part glockenspiel harmony albums. As the clock ticks down on the two-month anniversary of Halloween, join fellow merrymakers in a champagne toast, the cost of which is included with your ticket. A live DJ will spin all night and the party won't stop till 2012, or 1 a.m., whichever comes first.