Friday, August 08, 2014

My Family's Favorite Ocean City Dining Spots - Updated!

Elias will never forget the ONE TIME
 I ordered the large fries!
This blog post originally appeared prior to the Summer of 2013. We often refer to it or share it with people who ask us for dining recommendations in Ocean City, MD. While some Ocean City traditions go back to our grandparent's days, other things can change real fast in OCMD.  Last year's list already needs some updating, so I'm rerunning the article again with some revisions, additions and corrections. The new material is be highlighted in red. Enjoy and Happy Eating!

With the Summer season quickly approaching, my family's thoughts turn to the beach - one of our favorite places to be in the dog days of Summer. We have been very fortunate over the past 7 years to have access to a beach house courtesy of my wife's aunt who is gracious enough to let us use the condo several times a year. Taking the cost of lodging out of the equation has made it possible for us to make frequent and lengthy trips to Ocean City, MD a tradition in our family.

If you've never experienced Ocean City, MD - it's basically Maryland's only resort destination. There is a beautiful beach that stretches for miles and miles accompanied by a world-class 3 1/2 mile Boardwalk lined with shops, arcades, rides, food and games. The rest of the town is pretty much made up of hotels, restaurants and mini-golf. In other words: It's a blast!

For this WWoB list, I brought my wife and kids into the mix and we all sat down and came up with a list of all our favorite places to grab a bite to eat in Ocean City. Most of these places have become traditions within our family...and even though we never hit all 20 of these places in a single trip, we probably enjoy most of them over the course of an entire calendar year.  (Each establishment's name is a link to their website)

The Abbey Burger Bistro 12601 Coastal Hwy, Bayside  A new discovery of ours and we LOVE it. Let's talk about the appetizer first. Crabby Tots! Delicious crab dip covering crispy little tatter tots, the same kind of tots you had growing up, is a marvelous idea worthy of a Nobel Prize! Outstanding. Next, move on to the burgers - they are simply put, some of the best burgers I have ever had in my life. The whole table agreed with that statement. They have tons of different things you can put on your burger, different rolls, different types of meats. It was all good and all fantastic. I had a burger with peanut butter and bacon that was to die for. Possibly the first time that during a week long trip to Ocean City, we revisited a place a second time - it was that good. On the second trip I had a burger with jalapenos and bree on thick cut toast - it was equally amazing.  This joint in in it's second year in Ocean City. They are kind of hard to locate, not visible from the highway although they have a big sign on the road. They are directly behind the Blue Ox Bar and Grill and right in front of Northside Park. Also, don't let the exterior fool you, it's a little dated outside but the food inside is oh so good!

Big Pecker's Bar &  Grill 7301 Coastal Hwy - While the food here is excellent, the main attraction (for my family) is their giant gliders on the front patio that seat up to 6 people. There, you can enjoy your meal in the warmth of the Ocean City sun while dining on fantastic sandwiches. Everything we've all ever had here has been very, very good. For breakfast, you'll find the biggest biscuits man has ever created!

The Bonfire 71st St. and Coastal Hwy - Huge buffet with something for everyone: big selection for the kids and an even bigger selection for the grown-ups. Excellent carving stations, fresh seafood, huge salad bar, awesome soups and how can you go wrong with one of the only places where you'll find all-you-can-eat Crab Dip? Yum!? Look into their Early Bird Special while you're in town, you can save a considerable amount of money dining you'll beat the wait in line. Tanner adds: "They have cool fish in their tanks (in the waiting area.)" and Elias says: "The chicken tenders are exquisite!"

Countryside Cafe  37242 Lighthouse Rd Fenwick Island, DE - This is a recent discovery of ours and we love it! We try not to do breakfast out when we're at the beach (simply because we spend a fortune the rest of the day eating) but when we do grab some AM eats this little unassuming spot has become a new favorite. We've only been for breakfast (they do lunch too) but everything on their simple menu of omelets and sandwiches and other breakfast staples is delicious! It seems to be a favorite with locals, but even what appears to be a long wait has never proven to be too much time. Heads up: They dont' take credit cards.

Crabcake Factory USA 12000 Coastal Hwy - This unassuming spot appears to be the lobby of a hotel, but it's actually home to some of the finest crabcakes in town. They specialize in Jumbo Lump Crabcakes - which are fantastic. Our very favorite item on the menu is the Jumbo Lump Crab Seafood Nachos, which is the highlight of the day when we have them! They are also known for their Bloody Mary's. Best fries off the boardwalk! They've added two more locations; one on 25th st. the other in Fenwick Island.

De Lazy Lizard 1st St. and  Bay - Really fun atmosphere, with seating on a beach like setting right along the bay. May we suggest the Godzilla Nachos!?  Well, the Godzilla Nachos are gone and the new nacho offering isn't bad but it's not spectacular either. They've expanded the outdoor area here to include a large playground for the kiddies. Good drinks, nice location have kept this place on our list!

Fat Daddy's 82nd St. and  Coastal Hwy - Really creative menu with all sorts of unusual sandwiches and pizzas. I recommend the Buffalo Shrimp Pizza. Tanner says their pizza is "mouthwatering!" The kids still ask to go here but honestly, Jen and I are kind of over it. There are more amazing places to try in town.

Fish Tales 22nd St Bayside - Here's a hot spot in OC that offers a little something special for everybody. I've heard people have waited up to three hours to get a table here...don't go at high dinner time and you'll be fine. The main attraction is a huge pirate ship that the kids can play on while you sit and enjoy a few moments of peace and quite with one of Fish Tale's many delicious drink specials. The seating is located on a sandy spot over looking the bay, so it's ok to take your shoes off before you even enter the place. Wide selection from their menu including burgers and seafood. The kids meal comes on a souvenir Frisbee which is also a nice touch. Fish Tales is an amazing way to spend a hot summer afternoon!

Frog Bar Inlet Village - Nobody will dispute that the best aspect of this little hole in the wall is the view. There is a tiny deck overlooking the waves crashing up against the shore of the inlet that just can't be beat. They offer tasty food and good Happy Hour specials and kids are more than welcome in this little watering hole. When we discovered this spot a few years ago, it quickly became a must-do on every trip. The kids love their Shirley Temples.

Grotto Pizza 12407 Coastal Hwy - Simply put, my vote for the best pizza in the world! It's all about the sauce! This Delaware tradition just recently opened their first Maryland location, and we couldn't be happier about it! Elias says: "The cheese and sauce combination is amazeballs. It brings out the flavor!"

Guidos Burritos   1st St. on the Boardwalk - I had a blackened shrimp burrito here that was simply one of the best meals I've had in my entire life! Washed it down with a Swedish Fish Margarita...need I say more? Brand new spot on the boardwalk is home to one hell of a tasty good meal! We went back a second time and the experience was kinda awful. They were out of numerous items on the menu...including the previously mentioned shrimp but also, no joke, my next two choices off their menu. The music was so loud it was unpleasant as was the cramped seating in the back of the restaurant. Reading review on Trip Advisor, you'll discover that many other people have had the same experience of out of stock menu items. Guido's is building a new location, a stand alone restaurant out on Coastal Highway, so perhaps that will change the experience in the future.

Hammerheads  10th St. Boardwalk - One of my wife's new favorites, the location and the ambiance are the big draw here. Seating right on the boardwalk makes this a great spot for people watching not to mention delicious huge drinks, some of them served in souvenir fish bowls. They have real tasty appetizers too and huge Steampots filled with all sorts of fresh seafood. We also love the Boom Boom Tacos. On the way out, there is a treasure chest for kids to pick out a prize.

Harpoon Hanna's Rt. 54  Fenwick Island, DE - This might be the only fine dining location on our list but it's a yummy favorite that my whole family likes. There are Bread Girls that come around with baskets full of fresh breads before and during your meal. We all love the Coconut Muffins, although my older son enjoys their raisin bread and ketchup. Steaks and seafood make up the bulk of the menu, my wife and I both rave over their scallops. On a recent visit with a party of 11 at 6:30pm on a Friday, we were seated promptly. Well played, Hanna!

Horizions 10100 Coastal Hwy (inside the Clarion Resort) This has become a new must-do breakfast spot for our family. We even have nearby family that comes into Ocean City to join us each visit. Every Sunday morning a wonderful breakfast buffet is laid out against the backdrop of a huge set of windows overlooking sand dunes and the beach. The view is great and the food is even better. The eggs are made to order, there is a fine selection of breakfast meats and the cheese blintz' are out of this world! This is also a great spot for a large gathering. We've visited multiple times with a party of 10 and have always been immediately seated!

Ice Cream Castle Justine's 12207 Coastal Hwy. - The Castle hasn't caught on like some other OC staples such as Dumsers, but this place has got to have the biggest selection of flavors and sundae combos in town. While other ice cream joints are mobbed, Ice Cream Castle usually only has a short wait. Last year we finally tried their Sandcastle Sundae which comes in a sand pail with shovels full of toppings. We all shared it and it was a really fun memory. Indoor and outdoor seating too! The name and management have changed but the place seems to be pretty much the same. Can't say we weren't disappointed though to see the change.

King Kone 143rd St. and Coastal Hwy. - A simple strip mall ice cream parlour makes our list probably for two reasons: first, it's in the same complex as one of our favorite pizza places on this list and second, when we discovered it our son, Elias, was obsessed with King Kong and there's a giant gorilla greeting guests outside the doors. But beyond the convenience and gimmick, there's some right-tasty hand dipped ice cream served up in a variety of combinations. We're all fans of a mint Grasshopper sundae they have as well as some crazy good shakes. They even have one of those food challenges where if you eat some giant 8 scoop sundae with 90 pounds of toppings, you get your name on the Wall of Fame. Good Times!

Little House of Pancakes, Ribs and Pizza 74th St. and  Coastal Hwy. - This is our favorite spot for breakfast. I had Snickers Pancakes here once! the pancakes! They obviously have really good breakfast dishes with a whole bunch of different types of pancakes and omelets. Good eggs! Seating is limited and it can get kind of crowded in the early morning, but worth a bit of a wait.

Phillips Seafood House 14101 Coastal Hwy. - The most outrageous seafood buffet you'll ever lay your eyes on! Crabs a half dozen ways including steamed, shrimp another half dozen ways, fish, clams, all kinds of other BBQ goodies, soup, pasta...the list goes on and on! The kids even get their own bar with kid-friendly options. The hamburgers on the kids bar are outrageous, but we always hate to fill up on burgers when there is so much seafood to be had! Best buffet in town, and you'll also want to arrive early at this one to avoid long lines and take advantage of an early bird special. Also, don't eat anything all day before you go! They've made a few changes to the lineup recently, a little more emphasis on non-seafood items but the whole experience still is fantastic!

Pizza Tugos 116th St. - This is THE go-to for pizza delivery in Ocean City. During the summer season, they deliver until 4am! We like this place not only for their late delivery hours but also for their dine in location at 116th St. You can find plenty of coupons for great deals on big feasts for the family and their dine in spot is fun and super casual. They have a full bar and big huge drinks that you refill yourself, the kids love it. Plus, they have the little umbrellas for the kids drinks and that scores high points with any kid.

Ponzetti's Pizza 144th St and Coastal Hwy. - There's never a wait at this classic pizza spot. This is our second favorite pizza in town, very similar to Grotto's. They also offer a nice selection of pasta and sandwiches plus a nice wine selection. There is a small arcade to keep the kids busy while you wait for your food.

Shenanigan's Irish Pub and  Grille  4th and Boardwalk - An Irish Pub right on the boardwalk might seem like an odd idea, but this joint has a top notch kitchen serving up a menu of Irish inspired dishes. I've had some really cool dishes here including Bangers & well as some incredible burgers too. My older son won't stop talking about a Pizza Burger he had once which was the special of the day. Relaxing outdoor dining overlooking the boardwalk and they have a dining room as well with a huge bar and nightly Irish music.

Tequila Mockingbird 130th St. and Coastal Hwy. - Our favorite spot in town for Mexican food, this family friendly watering hole/restaurant offers up some interesting seafood infused Mexican dishes. They also have an outstanding Margarita menu with some very colorful (and powerful) drinks! Since this one is so far up Coastal Highway, you can often find a no-wait time during busy dinner hours.  Kids menu with non-ethnic dishes is also available.

Thrasher's French Fries At the Pier, 2nd and 8th St. on the Boardwalk - For our family and millions of others, it just simply isn't a trip to Ocean City...or perhaps it isn't even summer...until we've had a bucket of delicious Thrasher's Fries. Anyone who has every had a french fry from this 80+ year old stand will tell you that they are simply the best fries on Earth...hands down! They sell three things at Thrasher's...Fries, Pepsi and Diet Pepsi (maybe bottled water too?) and there is no ketchup. Just salt, a little Old Bay and pour on the Apple Cider Vinegar. My mouth is literally watering just typing this!  Elias would like to add: "the warmth of the fries warms you up like a cozy cabin!"

Drop us a line in the comments section and tell us some of you and your families favorite beach side eats, maybe we'll include them in our next visit!

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