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Lunch in Wilmington


MarketStEl
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Hi, gang:

For some reason, I feel I should be posting this query on the Pennsylvania board, as Wilmington, Del., is now for all intents and purposes a satellite city in Philadelphia's orbit. (Need proof? You can get there on SEPTA, but not on MARC. The city's one VHF TV station is co-licensed to Philadelphia. There's a New Castle County resident whose posts appear often on the Pennsylvania board but almost never here. Do I need to go on?) But Wilmington is in Delaware, and Delaware is the "Del" in "DelMarVa," so I guess I need to ask this question here.

Anyway: For the past three weeks, and for who knows how many more weeks to come, I am working as an editor at MBNA, the giant credit-card bank headquartered right on Rodney Square in the heart of Wilmington.

Now, it just so happens that the company has an excellent cafeteria (but please don't call it that) inside its headquarters, and as a result, most of the 1,000-plus people who work in this complex never leave it at lunch time, unless they want to take a stroll or jog in nearby Brandywine Park.

For me, the whole point of having an office in the middle of a city is so that you can have others provide the ancillary services (feeding the workforce, tending to regular needs like haircuts, dry cleaning and convenience items) for you. Your workers get to animate the streets at midday to boot.

But that's getting philosophical, and this is supposed to be about the food. So here's my query: I do want to amble around downtown at lunch and try some of the local eateries. Are there any really good restaurants or sandwich shops that I should check out? Any to avoid? So far, my Wilmington dining experiences consist of a sub shop in the Ship's Tavern district, across from which a Subway was plunked, and Pirate BBQ on Orange Street. There's got to be more. Clue me in.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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You can get good sandwiches in Wilmington. Here's one place I like, Capriotti's, which has been touted elsewhere on these boards. Web site has locations, including in Wilmington. Good Italian and turkey subs.

http://www.capriottis.com/

I also like Italian subs at Casapulla's. No web site (I don't think, could be wrong), but search turned up 2 Wilmington locations:

514 Junction Street

2707 Concord Pike

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Arguably the best hamburger in the United States is the HALF POUND hamburger at the Charcoal Pit on 202 about a mile down from Brandywine. They also make real milkshakes, too. Note that the Charcoal Pit has three or four locations; it is ONLY the 202 location that I am raving about.

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Arguably the best hamburger in the United States is the HALF POUND hamburger at the Charcoal Pit on 202 about a mile down from Brandywine.  They also make real milkshakes, too.  Note that the Charcoal Pit has three or four locations; it is ONLY the 202 location that I am raving about.

Here's Hollyeats review of Charcoal Pit on 202 (Concord Pike):

http://www.hollyeats.com/CharcoalPit.htm

I notice from the address that it's close to Casapulla's, now there's a high calorie twofer for lunch.

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I know I've been criticized for talking about Michelin starred places and so forth but my real love are places like this. The Charcoal Pit's Half Pound burger (NOT the 1/4 lb) is legitimately outstanding. I say this having been to Kincaid's in Ft. Worth, the Apple Pan in L. A., Chester's in San Antonio, etc. and having made something of a reputation in part because of this essay on another board:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/general18/...ages/64210.html

Unfortunately this place is a local institution and they actually get a line on weekends that can be quite long. They also have a good, but "unconventional" cheesesteak, too. I say unconventional because the bread has nothing in common with Amoroso's. Still, it's good. But the Charcoal Pit built a rep onits 1/2 lb burger and shakes.

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Joe, no one has criticized you for talking about the restaurants you love. Its the bombastic statements (best hambuger in the US, have you eaten them all?) that get you in trouble! :biggrin:

I know I've been criticized for talking about Michelin starred places and so forth but my real love are places like this.  The Charcoal Pit's Half Pound burger (NOT the 1/4 lb) is legitimately outstanding.  I say this having been to Kincaid's in Ft. Worth, the Apple Pan in L. A., Chester's in San Antonio, etc. and having made something of a reputation in part because of this essay on another board:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/general18/...ages/64210.html

Unfortunately this place is a local institution and they actually get a line on weekends that can be quite long.  They also have a good, but "unconventional" cheesesteak, too.  I say unconventional because the bread has nothing in common with Amoroso's.  Still, it's good.  But the Charcoal Pit built a rep onits 1/2 lb burger and shakes.

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Well, perhaps unbelievably, I really have eaten at an awful lot of places over the years. About 95% of the ones in Roadfood/Goodfood, etc. which I am credited in twice in early editions. I've done an 8,000 mile + driving trip around much of the U. S. every year for 24 years with another 25,000 miles on business plus flying that takes me virtually everywhere. In the early '80's I used to go to libraries for Reader's Guides searching for good restaurants; I also sent away for "Best of" magazines for most of the major cities in the U. S. researching where to eat when I visited them on on business. (Every city has a magazine like Washingtonian; every one of these has an annual issue for "best of...") This is before Jane and Michael, before the Interstate Gourmet, about the time Calvin Trilling was writting regular articles in New Yorker. I've also written a column for years in a trade publication on restaurants for my industry that's circulated to almost 100,000 nationally. Plus, everyone in my industry knows I'm obsessed with food and they go out of their way to take me/lead me/send me to places they think I will like. Considering that I travel all of North America and Europe this covers a lot of ground. I don't know what all this sounds like but there really is no one on this or any other board anywhere who has gone more out of their way to indulge a passionate love for all kinds of food and who has taken advantage of heavy international business travel to search out the best anywhere. I apologize for what this must sound like but it's just the way I've been for a half century and the last 24 I've been able to go to an awful lot more places. I should also note that I count calories, have lost over 100 pounds twice with the last time 142 and have kept it off since the '70's. I also walk almost 30 miles a week. I say all this because calories/taste/what I eat REALLY matters to me. In my mind it's not about money; it's about whether or not something is truly worth the calories. Anyway, I've eaten a lot of hamburgers including everyone on the list USA Today published a number of years ago as America's best. They didn't include the 1/2 lb. burger at the Charcoal Pit or In 'n Out's 4 X 4 Animal style.

Having said this, my wife who has been to many of the same places, often disagrees with my opinions!

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Some real promising candidates here--including only the second hoagie shop I've run across that uses Hatfield meats (the other being Planet Hoagie around the corner from me in Center City Philadelphia; also in Media and Norristown). But how does Capriotti's get Hatfield meats out to Arizona, Vegas and California?

However: I do not own a car. Any place I'd be able to try on my lunch hour has to be within an easy walk of 11th and French streets. Capriotti's original location on Wilmington's west side is the closest place so far, but even that would require a bus trip.

I guess this says something about downtown Wilmington, though. Maybe I can persuade a co-worker who lives in North Wilmington to ferry me up to the Charcoal Pit on Concord Pike sometime.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I know I've been criticized for talking about Michelin starred places and so forth but my real love are places like this.  The Charcoal Pit's Half Pound burger (NOT the 1/4 lb) is legitimately outstanding.  I say this having been to Kincaid's in Ft. Worth, the Apple Pan in L. A., Chester's in San Antonio, etc. and having made something of a reputation in part because of this essay on another board:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/general18/...ages/64210.html

Unfortunately this place is a local institution and they actually get a line on weekends that can be quite long.  They also have a good, but "unconventional" cheesesteak, too.  I say unconventional because the bread has nothing in common with Amoroso's.  Still, it's good.  But the Charcoal Pit built a rep onits 1/2 lb burger and shakes.

Mr. H,

Next time you're in NYC check out, if you havn't already, Jackson Hole on E. 64th street. I believe they have the best burger in the world. They advertise 7oz. but they usually weigh in considerably more. With so many different toppings, you would be hard pressed not to find one you didn't like. And they've been around since 1972.

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[

Mr. H,

Next time you're in NYC check out, if you havn't already, Jackson Hole on E. 64th street.  I believe they have the best burger in the world.  They advertise 7oz. but they usually weigh in considerably more.  With so many different toppings, you would be hard pressed not to find one you didn't like.  And they've been around since 1972.

I've had a burger at their 3rd Avenue location (around East 35th), and it's pretty damn good.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Some real promising candidates here--including only the second hoagie shop I've run across that uses Hatfield meats (the other being Planet Hoagie around the corner from me in Center City Philadelphia; also in Media and Norristown).  But how does Capriotti's get Hatfield meats out to Arizona, Vegas and California?

However:  I do not own a car.  Any place I'd be able to try on my lunch hour has to be within an easy walk of 11th and French streets.  Capriotti's original location on Wilmington's west side is the closest place so far, but even that would require a bus trip.

I guess this says something about downtown Wilmington, though.  Maybe I can persuade a co-worker who lives in North Wilmington to ferry me up to the Charcoal Pit on Concord Pike sometime.

I was born in Wilmington (many years ago) and my Dad worked there for Dupont (of course). Haven't been downtown in a long time. It's always been a business district, not too much going on downtown at night. They've tried to revitalize around the Grand Opera House, so there might be some places near there. Interestingly, if you're a music fan, David Bromberg has a shop near the Grand where he makes violins, I believe.

Don't know your budget, but the Hotel Dupont has always had some nice dining options, again been a long time since I've been there. Used to have a good cafeteria in the basement, The Brandywine Room was kind of the men's club look, dark paneling, etc, and the Green Room was the fancy restaurant renowned for it's Sunday brunch.

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I know I've been criticized for talking about Michelin starred places and so forth but my real love are places like this.  The Charcoal Pit's Half Pound burger (NOT the 1/4 lb) is legitimately outstanding.  I say this having been to Kincaid's in Ft. Worth, the Apple Pan in L. A., Chester's in San Antonio, etc. and having made something of a reputation in part because of this essay on another board:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/general18/...ages/64210.html

Unfortunately this place is a local institution and they actually get a line on weekends that can be quite long.  They also have a good, but "unconventional" cheesesteak, too.  I say unconventional because the bread has nothing in common with Amoroso's.  Still, it's good.  But the Charcoal Pit built a rep onits 1/2 lb burger and shakes.

Mr. H,

Next time you're in NYC check out, if you havn't already, Jackson Hole on E. 64th street. I believe they have the best burger in the world. They advertise 7oz. but they usually weigh in considerably more. With so many different toppings, you would be hard pressed not to find one you didn't like. And they've been around since 1972.

Thanks for the recommendation. Much appreciated.

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I live in Wilmington, and have to second the recommendation for the Charcoal Pit. I lost 80 pounds on weight watchers recently, and the Pit Special was the one thing I missed the most.

The Brandywine Room at the Hotel DuPont has been closed for a couple of years now. The Green Room has been having trouble finding a balance recently. It had gotten a reputation as being stuffy and only for the old guard socialites in the area. To that end, they've redone the decor, retooled the menu, taken the service down just a notch (it was fairly over the top), swapped out the harpist on the balcony for an acoustic jazz trio, etc. It's still a lovely, special place; it just seems to fit "today's" diner a bit better. The room is amazing with what must be 20 foot ceilings. Even if you don't dine there, you should drop in to see it.

Last year was a big year for birthdays in our house (both of us with years ending in 0) so I whisked my husband away for dinner at the Green Room, an overnight stay at the hotel, followed by brunch the next morning. It was spectacular, and I'd love to try it again.

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I know I've been criticized for talking about Michelin starred places and so forth but my real love are places like this.  The Charcoal Pit's Half Pound burger (NOT the 1/4 lb) is legitimately outstanding.  I say this having been to Kincaid's in Ft. Worth, the Apple Pan in L. A., Chester's in San Antonio, etc. and having made something of a reputation in part because of this essay on another board:

http://www.chowhound.com/boards/general18/...ages/64210.html

Unfortunately this place is a local institution and they actually get a line on weekends that can be quite long.  They also have a good, but "unconventional" cheesesteak, too.  I say unconventional because the bread has nothing in common with Amoroso's.  Still, it's good.  But the Charcoal Pit built a rep onits 1/2 lb burger and shakes.

Mr. H,

Next time you're in NYC check out, if you havn't already, Jackson Hole on E. 64th street. I believe they have the best burger in the world. They advertise 7oz. but they usually weigh in considerably more. With so many different toppings, you would be hard pressed not to find one you didn't like. And they've been around since 1972.

Jackson Hole is pretty good, but their burgers are no match for J.G. Melon's on 3rd Ave IMO

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Checkout the Hotel Dupont Lobby Lounge for lunch.I haven't been in awhile because I work in the 'burbs, but this was always a good deal with well prepared food served buffet style.I assume they still do this.

You can walk to Deep Blue and eat well for a reasonable price also.

Miki Motos for sushi or Asian offerings is within walking distance for you.

Washington Street Ale House next to Miki Moto's offers soso bar food.They have outdoor seating when it warms up.

I haven't been, but hear good things about Bistro 821 on Market Street.

The Essex on 8th Street used to be great value for very filling entrees.Hot Turkey open face Sandwiches with mashed potatoes, served by women you would love to have as grandmothers or aunts.I think this place still exists.

There are others I can't think of now.A Jamacian place on Market, a soul food place on Orange street etc.Feel free to PM me if you want some more specifics.I live in Wilmington and knw the dining scene pretty well.

Oh yeah, check out Sugarfoot on North Orange stThis is a caterer that also offers well prepared soups, sanwiches, etc.

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I can second miki motos and washington st ale house. as far as japanese goes, Utage is a nice spot, small, intimate, but not in an expensive way.

There are also lots of places on Union St: Union St Grill, dead presidents,Walters steak house, and Eclipse. There are 2 thai places also on Union St: Pan Thai (OK) and Bangcock house(recomended).

Also Madelines on N. Dupont St.(basic italian) and Mona Lisa on Lincoln St.(never been, heard good things.)

...and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce it tastes alot more like prunes than rhubarb does. groucho

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  • 3 weeks later...

I can third miki motos and washington st ale house.

Washington Ale has better than average pub fare. If you're around on a Wednesday, the prime rib special is very good.

Having spent some time with DuPont, we frequented Feby's Fishery often - 3701 Lancaster Pike, Wilmington, 19805 - (302) 998-9496. Great lunch place, fresh fish specials daily.

Avoid Union Street Restaurant and Walter's Steakhouse across the street, way overrated and overpriced.

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