AOL Travel
Print

Best Ocean City Restaurants

AOL PICK from our Editors
Ocean City has always been more of a family destination, happily and comfortably low brow, than a foodie mecca. Then again, "foodie" is all relative, isn’t it? You may not be able to find molecular gastronomy and haute French dining, but you may be able to find everything else. This includes all-you-can-eat buffets that embody the American penchant for excess, excellent Maryland crab houses and all manner of fried goodness. On the Boardwalk, stop into one of the OC’s many Dolle’s, which sells saltwater taffy (just in name; there’s no seawater involved). Even if you don’t like it, grab one on the way out for a box of edible souvenirs.

Sunset Grille

Neighborhood: West Ocean City Price: Expensive

There are a lot of ways to be happy in life, and watching the sun set over Isle of Wight Bay with a plate of pork chops stuffed with cranberries and cornbread dressing is decidedly one of them. The Sunset and Teaser’s Dockside Bar & Grille (outside) are where many OC locals go when they need a nice evening, wine, high-end cuisine like the above and tuna mignon crusted with sesame seeds—and relatively few tourists. You won’t be the only outsider here, not by a long shot. But you’ll have a little more traveler cred for eating in an institution that remains off most visitors’ radar.

More Details on

Sunset Grille  

Crab Alley

Neighborhood: West Ocean City Price: Expensive
Second verse, same as the first? More or less. Crab Alley is another great Ocean City crab house. We include this alternative to the Waterman’s Seafood Company (below) because there are so many mediocre crab houses in Ocean City, and we want to steer you in the right direction for the best crustaceans. The dining experience is the same mix of casual comfort, rolled-up sleeves, flying shards of shell and OMG delicious lumps of sweet white crab meat. The setting, overlooking a small harbor that carries the salt waft into your nostrils, is divine.

More Details on

Crab Alley »

Drummer's Cafe

Neighborhood: Berlin Price: Expensive
Located in the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin, Drummer’s has literally been around for over 100 years. We take that as a sign that they’re doing something right. And they’re not just doing something—in this case new American cuisine with regional ingredient influence—they’re improving on it, sharpening an already lovely menu year by year. The food is rich, accented with creativity, but uncomplicated and accessible to a conservative palette. One of our favorites is the local chicken draped in applewood bacon and white wine gravy. The setting is classy yet comfortable, a Victorian-style eating parlor ensconced in the warm brick accents of "downtown" Berlin.

More Details on

Drummer's Cafe  

Waterman's Seafood Company

Neighborhood: West Ocean City Price: Moderate
Here’s what you need to know about Maryland crab houses: As good as they are—and they are very, very good—don’t expect an intimate, sophisticated dining experience. Take the Waterman’s Seafood Company. It can seat about 300 people. It’s littered with shells, cracked claws, beer spillage and the faint waft of frying Old Bay—the distinctive smells of the Maryland Crab Feast. It ain’t well-mannered and it ain’t fancy (although it is pricey; crabs aren’t cheap), but gosh it is delicious, and a good slice of Eastern Shore life.

More Details on

Waterman's Seafood Company
»

Da Vinci's By the Sea

Neighborhood: South Ocean City Price: Moderate
There’s plenty of Italian food in Ocean City, most of it pretty average stuff. But Da Vinci’s, despite looking like a run-of-the mill mid-level Italian eatery, actually brings a fair bit of game to the table. You’re not likely going to be bowled over by the menu at first blush. There are the usual offerings of pastas, primaveras and alfredos. But Da Vinci’s really sours in the execution. A four cheese ravioli is simultaneously rich and fluffy, while its bleu cheese and walnut sister is intriguingly complex. It all goes down well with a house red (which admittedly is a bit vinegar-y), and your meal pleasantly ends with a very reasonable bill.

More Details on

Da Vinci's By the Sea  

Liquid Assets Wine & Martini Bar

Neighborhood: North Ocean City Price: Moderate
You can blow your wad in all kinds of all-you-can-eat eateries here, but if you’d rather spend that money on some intimate digs and carefully-crafted dishes, we recommend Liquid Assets. Assets possesses the best wine list in town (incidentally, if you need a bottle to celebrate anything, head over here) and serves a mix of small and main plates that both draw on local ingredients and complement the massive wine list. To wit: Everyone in these parts loves soft shell crab, but to have it paired with a delicate salad and cooling watermelon? Genius. The rest of the menu takes a similarly playful and delicious approach to course composition. To top it off, they’ve got some bomb cheese plates.

More Details on

Liquid Assets Wine & Martini Bar »

Harborside Bar & Grill

Neighborhood: West Ocean City Price: Moderate
If the Sunset is where the OC folks go to act a little hoi polloi, Harborside is where they go for a casual feed with the family or friends. The menu is no great shakes—they serve standard borderline mid-to-upscale fare, ranging from a big burger menu to surf and turf, Applebee’s-style entries by any other name. The difference is dishes are served well at Harborside, making for a combination of just posh enough eats and comforting reliability that is immensely popular with repeat visitors.

The Palette

Neighborhood: Snow Hill
Price: Moderate
Local arts gallery cum organic, locally sourced ingredient-heavy restaurant located in a picture-perfect small town—that about describes The Palette. Perhaps the best hidden culinary gem on the Eastern Shore, The Palette jukes between scrumptious dinners like blackened catfish with boursin cream and shrimp, and artesian lunch salads and sandwiches—try the crab cake with shallot sauce. Everything is cleverly done, but never precociously so; ingredients are treated with respect rather than tortured into tasting like something artificial, which is so often the case in places like this. Thursday tapas nights are exceedingly popular and tons of fun.

More Details on

The Palette  

Boog's BBQ

Neighborhood: West Ocean City Price: Budget
Out in West Ocean City and on the Boardwalk itself are satellite branches of a Baltimore favorite, particularly popular at Orioles games. Boog’s serves an eclectic array of variations on the barbecue theme: St. Louis-style ribs, Southern smoked pork and the indigenous Baltimore pit beef sandwich. It’s as close as the Mid-Atlantic gets to barbecue, although it isn’t truly the slow-cooked stuff you’ll get down South. That said, it’s very good: grilled, crispy on the outside, rare and juicy on the inside. You can’t go wrong; just make sure to put on lots of horseradish.

More Details on

Boog's BBQ  

Globe Theater

Neighborhood: Berlin Price: Budget
One of the anchors of historic Berlin, the Globe is a brilliant idea. The good people of Berlin took their old Globe Theater, renovated it 10 ways to Sunday, and have turned it into a dinner and movie theater, complete with copper-top bar. The food is quite good—soup, salad and sandwiches and some truly excellent burgers (we recommend the Godfather, with prosciutto, pesto and mozzarella)—but what really makes the evening is the way this place becomes a sort of Berlin community center, where neighbors call to each other by name and families and friends toast into the evening.

More Details on

Globe Theater  

Thrasher's

Neighborhood: The Boardwalk Price: Budget
You can’t miss Thrasher’s. There are branches of Ocean City’s most famous food stall all over the Boardwalk. Basically: Thrasher’s does fries. Really, really, good French fries. Just floppy enough to have a pleasant chew, just firm enough for the right bit of crunch and the consistency required to soak up apple cider vinegar. Wash it all down with a lemonade and you’re basically in summer culinary heaven. Thrasher’s doesn’t offer ketchup as a condiment—it doesn’t go right with the peanut oil—but if you can get your hands on a tin of Old Bay (usually available in other OC food stalls), we highly recommend trying a bit of the red spice on top of the fries. By the way, you want to know how old school Thrasher’s is? At a time when everyone and their grandma have two blogs to their name, they don’t even have a website.

More Details on

Thrasher's  
See All Ocean City Restaurants »
ADVERTISEMENT