12 Best Restaurants in Newark, Delaware

Last Updated on March 2, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Newark is a vibrant college town with a growing foodie scene. As the home of the University of Delaware, Newark offers a diverse array of dining options, from quick bites to grab between classes to upscale restaurants for date nights and celebrating special occasions. With new eateries constantly opening their doors, Newark has something to satisfy every craving and fit various budgets.

From creative gastropubs serving craft beers and gourmet burgers to BYOB establishments dishing out authentic international cuisines, the local dining landscape has drastically expanded over the last decade. Beyond reliable chain restaurants, intrepid foodies can discover thrilling epicurean experiences that rival offerings in much larger cities.

To help navigate Newark’s ever-evolving culinary landscape, here is a curated list of 12 of the best restaurants representing the city’s culinary diversity, innovative spirit, and ascendant food scene.

Caffé Gelato

With a mission to transport diners to Italy with every meal, Caffé Gelato offers an intimate setting and meticulously prepared dishes that generate devoted regulars. Tucked away on Main Street across from the University of Delaware campus, this Newark staple transports diners across the Atlantic through its charming trattoria ambiance and Emilia-Romagna-style small plates.

The menu focuses on Italy’s culinary gold standard when it comes to cheeses, cured meats, pasta, and desserts. Standout appetizers include the creamy burrata antipasto and succulent polpette meatballs smothered in pomodoro sauce.

For pasta, the rigatoni Bolognese and lasagna receive rave reviews. Leave room for the namesake artisanal gelatos like pistachio and stracciatella, along with Italian dessert classics such as tiramisu and cannoli. With friendly service and reasonable prices, Caffé Gelato earns its reputation as Newark’s home for authentic Italian cuisine.

Home Grown Cafe

For feel-good comfort food prepared with wholesome ingredients, Home Grown Café tops the list. The cozy café prides itself on serving farm-to-table New American cuisine in a relaxing environment. Located in the heart of downtown Newark, the from-scratch menu bursts with made-in-house staples like chicken pot pie, mac ‘n cheese, soups, and sandwiches piled sky-high.

While the kitchen experiments with weekly specials, signature items exist for good reason. The Homerun hits it out of the park with pulled pork, ham, bacon, cheddar, Swiss, coleslaw, and BBQ sauce on a pretzel roll. For lighter fare, assemble your own salad or wrap filled with farm-fresh produce.

Don’t skip out on dessert – the chocolate peanut butter pie and seasonal cobblers receive well-deserved accolades. Reasonable prices make Home Grown Café an excellent place for a casual meal any day of the week.

Deer Park Tavern

For elevated pub grub and one of Newark’s best beer selections, Deer Park Tavern rules as a perennial favorite gastropub. Occupying a restored 19th-century mansion adjacent to the Deer Park Hotel, the stately Craftsman-style pub exudes cozy sophistication. As the largest restaurant in Newark, the sprawling space contains distinct dining zones including a hunter green-hued main dining room accented by a crackling fireplace in winter months.

While the kitchen turns out solid versions of tavern classics like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and wings, Deer Park dazzles with an encyclopedic, frequently rotating beer bible. The bar proudly pours over 100 bottles and 24 tap lines dedicated to local and domestic craft breweries including Dogfish Head, Twin Lakes, and Evolution.

With beers suited for all palates, tasting flights make it easy to sample a variety before settling on a pint. Apart from beer, the wine list and inventive cocktails also impress. For elevated pub food, picturesque surroundings, and one of Delaware’s best beer bars, Deer Park Tavern is a foolproof local haunt.

Taverna

Transporting diners to the Mediterranean through its rustic chic ambiance and beautifully plated modern Greek fare, Taverna brings a taste of the Greek Isles to downtown Newark. Husband and wife co-owners Mike and Jen focus their restaurant on promoting community and good food created by people who care, evident through the cozy atmosphere and meticulously sourced ingredients.

Top menu items include crisp spanakopita spinach pies, grilled branzino under a shower of lemon-infused olive oil, and succulent baby lamb chops paired beautifully with Taverna’s exclusively Greek wine list. Beyond classics, expect creative Greek fusion specials influenced by Mike’s Italian heritage, like gnocchi glazed in ouzo cream sauce.

For a sweet finale, the loukoumades doughnut holes covered in honey and cinnamon never disappoint. Taverna brings elevated Greek cuisine to Newark through top-notch hospitality, flavorful dishes, and Bold bean coffee.

Artisan Kitchen and Bar

For impeccably plated upscale New American fare in a sleek dining room, Artisan Kitchen and Bar brings urban flair to downtown Newark’s Main Street. As the sophisticated sister restaurant of Home Grown Café located upstairs, Artisan oozes cosmopolitan charm through its mixology-focused bar, living wall art installation, and the city’s only open kitchen.

The menu leans into the kitchen’s farm-fresh ingredients, evident in seasonal appetizers like a creamy wild mushroom flatbread pizza. Move onto complex entrees like the bacon-wrapped meatloaf served with goat cheese whipped potatoes and haricots verts. Combining global accents, the Thai chicken displays free-range chicken in a coconut red curry sauce over forbidden black rice.

For lighter options, build your own salad or grain bowl packed with superfood ingredients. Extensive craft cocktail and wine lists provide perfect pairings, as does the under-the-radar list of local draft beers. For date nights and special occasions, Artisan’s upscale yet casual urban vibe delivers.

Scrumptious

As a beloved BYOB establishment, Scrumptious plates upscale eclectic American cuisine at affordable prices by allowing diners to bring their own wine or beer to complement the rotating seasonal menus. Tucked away in a small shopping plaza, the understated exterior of this sleeper hit gives way to a cozy pine-accented dining room warmed by the glow of tea light candles on each table. Celebrities like Joe Biden have dined at Scrumptious while visiting Newark, drawn in by the creative farm-to-table fare bursting with flavor.

The menu changes frequently based on ingredient availability from local farms, but popular returning items include lobster mac ‘n cheese, braised short ribs over roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and crab cake entrées.

Desserts like the chocolate caramel brownie cake elicit groans of delight. Apart from favorites like crème brûlée, don’t miss out on the seasonally inspired options when available, such as pumpkin cheesecake. With a welcoming atmosphere and wonderfully executed comfort cuisine with gourmet flair, Scrumptious charms diners with every visit.

Charcoal Pit

No list of Newark’s best restaurants is complete without the iconic Charcoal Pit, the state’s original burger joint opened in 1956 frequented by generations of University of Delaware students. Celebrating over 60 years of serving up award-winning cheeseburgers and some of Delaware’s best French fries, the old-school walk-up stand built of orange brick holds landmark status.

While the no-frills menu stays true to the original, focusing solely on burgers cooked over an open charcoal fire along with chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and fries, longtime fans flock to this beloved institution for the unchanged flavor and campus town nostalgia it ignites.

Open late with takeout and drive-thru options, the Charcoal Pit offers an affordable fast-casual meal done exceptionally right, cementing its reputation as a First State staple.

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen

For chef-driven farm-to-table pub fare alongside one of Delaware’s top craft beer programs, Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen brings elevated gastropub cuisine to Newark in a contemporary-chic setting. As downtown’s first LEED-certified green restaurant focused on sustainability, Grain makes conscientious dining effortless through local sourcing, in-house composting, and recyclable serveware.

The from-scratch menu bursts with creative shared plates and sandwiches starring local ingredients like honey wheat pretzel bites with IPA cheese fondue for dipping and a mammoth bison burger loaded with caramelized onions and brie. Dinner entrees include raved-about baby back ribs, beer can chicken, and Norwegian salmon.

Those with BIG appetites: try the half-pound Elvis burger challenging diners to finish the peanut butter, bacon, and banana-crowned behemoth. But first, explore Grain’s 30 rotating taps and extensive bottle list showcasing Delaware and Belgian breweries. For a lively gastropub experience with craft beers galore, Grain satisfies.

Leo & Jimmy’s Deli

When craving New York-style deli sandwiches piled high, Leo & Jimmy’s is Newark’s trusted old-school classic. This no-frills Jewish deli heaps up hot and cold subs, knishes, wraps, salads, and all-day breakfast options sandwiches favored amongst university students and faculty since 1978.

With indoor counter seating and an expansive patio facing Main Street, Leo & Jimmy’s casual corner shop atmosphere contrasts the towering pastrami Reuben sandwiches bursting with thinly sliced meat, melty Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing between thick slices of grilled rye bread.

For cold cuts, opt for the Jersey Mike with layers of capicola, salami, ham, and provolone cheese. Apart from subs, kasha knishes, egg creams, pickled tomatoes and cucumbers also provide authentic NYC Jewish deli fare. With over 40 sandwich options under $10, Leo & Jimmy’s remains a reliable neighborhood staple for grabbing an affordable quick meal between campus and downtown Newark exploring.

RedFire Grill Steakhouse

As downtown Newark’s premier steakhouse specializing in aged Midwestern beef and seafood, RedFire Grill brings upscale surf and turf to northern Delaware’s dining scene replete with white tablecloth service. While the stately brick exterior facing Main Street channels historic charm, the warmly lit wood-accented interior sets an inviting ambiance warmed by flickering gas fireplaces.

Knowledgeable waitstaff provide spot-on wine and cocktail suggestions from the extensive lists to accompany the wide selection of steaks, ranging from a 10oz filet mignon to a colossal 22oz porterhouse big enough to share.

Beyond aged beef cooked to perfection, the kitchen also plates up starters like lobster mac ‘n cheese, tableside caesar salad preparation, and seafood towers brimming with oysters, lobster tails, and smoked salmon.

For the ultimate indulgent finale, bananas foster flambé tableside caps your special occasion meal on a festive note. With polished service, premium ingredients, and timeless preparations, RedFire Grill remains Newark’s go-to special occasion steakhouse treasure.

Ali Baba Mediterranean Cuisine

Transporting diners to the exotic spice markets of the Mediterranean and Middle East, Ali Baba plates up flavor-bursting Lebanese staples in a casually elegant setting.

Focusing on Lebanon’s culinary melting pot of Greek, Turkish, Syrian and Israeli influences, the menu brims with meze small plates sharing vibrant dips like hummus, baba ghanoush, and labneh strained yogurt. Larger platters like shawarma wraps, falafel pitas, and kebabs allow for mixing and matching entrees.

Daily specials like moussaka eggplant casserole and savory pies showcase the kitchen’s versatility. For adventuresome diners, Ali Baba offers one of the only regional Delaware outlets for harder-to-find specialties like manaeesh flatbreads and the garlic paste toum. Inside this Main Street staple, elaborate Turkish mosaic tilework and welcoming hospitality transport patrons halfway across the globe without leaving Newark city limits.

McGlynn’s Pub

As downtown Newark’s quintessential friendly Irish pub, McGlynn’s quenches thirsts with expertly poured pints of Guinness, classic cocktails, and winning Irish hospitality. Whether celebrating after a University of Delaware hockey game or soaking up the lively atmosphere of this authentic Dublin-style gastropub imported to East Delaware Avenue, McGlynn’s welcoming environment and made-from-scratch pub fare beckon return visits.

While the kitchen stays true to Emerald Isle gastropub standards like fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd’s pie, American favorites like wings, nachos, and wraps also satisfy. Daily drink specials complement nightly live music, ensuring McGlynn’s reputation as Newark’s home for spirited fun and classic Irish fare. Sláinte to that, cheers!

Conclusion


Newark, Delaware continues its emergence as an unlikely mid-Atlantic dining destination thanks to creative restaurateurs and talented chefs committed to delighting diners.

Beyond reliable chain restaurant fare, Newark’s downtown district tempts with trattorias transporting patrons to Italy, gastropubs focused on craft beer and elevated tavern grub, farm-fresh New American kitchens adeptly utilizing local ingredients, and specialty venues dishing out authentic international and regional American cuisine.

Main Street walkability and University of Delaware campus convenience, Newark’s approachable indie restaurant scene makes discovering new dining treasures effortless. With menus catering to all tastes and budgets, Newark’s diverse restaurant landscape ensures happy meals any night of the week.

Leave a Comment