Delaware's most iconic foods are an interesting blend of beachside snacking and homestyle comfort. This is probably why many dishes strike newcomers as so unusual - because on one side, you've got the southern farmland and, on the other, you've got sand and sun. That's what makes Delaware a unique state, in general, and its food is an extension of that diversity.
When you've got a sandwich that tastes just like Thanksgiving dinner and dumplings that are delicious yet elusive, it's a cuisine worth trying. If you find yourself in Delaware, be sure to cross these plates off your list.
Capriotti's is an iconic place to eat in Delaware, in general, but if you're there, you have to try the Bobbie. This sandwich combines the best of every dish from Thanksgiving and turns it into one huge delight of a hoagie, complete with stuffing, turkey, and cranberry sauce. The combination is divine and the flavor is on-point, and even if Thanksgiving is the furthest thing from your mind at the time, it's a comfort. When it comes to holiday-themed sandwiches done right, Capriotti's is serving up some serious joy.
Typically, blue crabs are associated with Maryland but since they're both so close in shoreline, Delaware is also serving up its fair share. They can usually be found on the east coast of Delaware in one of two ways: steamed and seasoned, complete with a newspaper-covered table to eat them at, or as crab cakes. If you have the chance, try them both - there's something supple and decadent about Delaware Bay-caught crabs with the perfect amount of seasoning, and they're buttery and tender in crab cakes.
There's no arguing this one - the fries from Thrasher's Fries are to be eaten with malt vinegar, not ketchup. There's something about eating hot, salty fries while walking along Delaware's boardwalks that's so satisfying. If this doesn't scream summer tradition then we don't know what does. If you're looking for the perfect snack to eat while soaking up those beach vibes, this is it.
Salt Water Taffy
Specifically, the saltwater taffy from Dolles. This shop is iconic and while they do offer other candy, the taffy is legendary and also one of the things that put it on the map. You'll recognize this shop anywhere thanks to the sign that likely hasn't changed since Dolles first opened its doors. Taffy might be unpleasant to eat without a toothpick nearby, but it's delicious all the same.
Understandably, a plate of slippery dumplings is not the most attractive plate in the world nor is it the most pleasant sounding. However, that shouldn't stop you from ordering it by any means. This dish is very similar to chicken and dumplings but a bit more simplified and without all of the veggies, and, traditionally, the noodles and pulled chicken are served strictly with chicken gravy. It's comforting and wholesome and perfect for the chillier Delaware weather days.
Cream Chipped Beef
In this case, you just need to trust Delaware locals and order it. Cream chipped beef is exactly what it sounds like - a cream beef dish. This is often served with some type of bread or roll and is common throughout the state as well as throughout the South. The great thing about cream chipped beef is that it's not here to win any awards; it's just simple, comforting, flavorful, and down-home-good.
This mix of elbow macaroni (specifically, don't try substituting anything else), ground beef, and sauces has become a Delaware tradition. While goulash is popular in some other southern states, chances are, you won't attend a family gathering in the state without this appearing in some form or another.
Peaches, Lemon Butter, And Lima Beans (Not At Once)
All of these things are seasonal and fresh in Delaware and if you happen to be passing by a farmer's market or farmstand, they're three things that should be in your bag. Southern-grown peaches are a true specialty and could practically be a dessert on their own. Lemon butter, similar to apple butter, is decadent, creamy, and oh-so-tangy, perfect for spooning over ice cream or pancakes in the morning. And, lastly, you won't get out of eating lima beans as a side dish - they're inherently Southern.
There have been many debates about scrapple's origins and the types of scrapple out there. In Delaware, you're likely to be served fried slices of the pork and cornmeal mixture, its name was given by the pork 'scraps' that were traditionally used to make it. Today, the dish is an actual menu item and is fewer scraps, more intentional pork meat in order to make something salty, texturally pleasant, and breakfast-oriented.