Delaware may be the second smallest state in the country, but it’s big on flavor. From steamed crab and fresh-caught fish to farm-fresh ice cream and saltwater taffy, there is plenty to tempt the group’s collective palate throughout the state.
A great place for planners to start is to check out local calendars to see if any food festivals are in full swing when the group is in town. Annual favorites for attendees to enjoy after the meeting include the Rehoboth Beach Chocolate Festival and St. Anthony's Italian Festival in Wilmington.
The Wilmington area is also home to superb group-friendly dining, including Centreville, Del.-based Buckley’s Tavern, where Chef Tom Hannum is happy to spend a little time talking with attendees.
“The restaurant is wonderful,” said Jessica Bittmann, director of sales at the Greater Wilmington CVB. “The food is amazing and Chef Tom is really personable. The last group that I brought there was delighted to speak with him and to learn more about the history of Buckley’s.”
Located at the Hilton Wilmington/Christiana in Newark, Del., is the newly renovated Market Kitchen and Bar, which offers chef table experiences throughout the year in either a private dining room or outside in the courtyard garden.
In the garden, Chef Robert Fratticcioli, food and beverage director, plants and harvests vegetables and herbs that are used in the restaurant’s dishes.
“The addition of the herb and vegetable garden was brilliant,” Bittmann said. “It’s exciting to see the plants growing outside and then see them incorporated in the menu. The Hilton really takes their farm-to-table concept seriously—everything on their menu is sourced locally.”
Groups seeking a treat could visit the University of Delaware student-run UDairy Creamery, which has stores in Newark and Wilmington that serve flavors including 1st State Cobbler, a peach ice cream with blueberry swirl and cinnamon crumble, and All Nighter, a coffee ice cream with cookie dough and fudge swirls.
Southern Delaware is known as the Culinary Coast for a reason, according to Tina Coleman, communications manager for Southern Delaware Tourism.
“The area is home to an incredible concentration of top-notch, James Beard-nominated and award-winning chefs and dining establishments and has developed into a real foodie mecca,” she said.
The group-friendly Bluecoast Seafood Grill & Raw Bar opened in 2017 in Bethany Beach, Del., and has already won the 2018 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
“The food is all amazing, but definitely try the lobster cavatappi,” said Coleman.
Groups are also encouraged to explore the area’s bounty by taking the three-hour Eating Rehoboth Walking Food Tour, during which they’ll enjoy exclusive food tastings at five of Rehoboth Beach’s best eateries.
Another option, well suited for groups that prefer transportation, is a culinary tour of Coastal Highway with Delmarva Discovery Tours. It’s a progressive lunch experience starting in Dewey Beach and continuing north to Milton and back.
Many Southern Delaware chefs/restaurants offer customized cooking classes and demonstrations for groups, Coleman added, including Rehoboth Beach-based Big Fish Grill, which offers a fish-cutting demonstration and wine-and-cheese pairing.
Groups won’t go hungry in Kent County, where they could stop by Easy Speak Spirits, located in the Quaint Village of Milford.
According to Danielle Jonigan, marketing and communications manager for Kent County Tourism, Easy Speak is an all-in-one distillery and brewpub that serves wood-fired and smoked food dishes.
And located in historic downtown Dover is Grey Fox Grille & Public House, which Jonigan said is perfect for small meetings and offers groups a specialty banquet menu and private dining rooms.
Delaware CVB Informaiton
Greater Wilmington CVB
Kent County Tourism
Southern Delaware Tourism
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