KeithA

Dining in Ocean City

67 posts in this topic

We are additicted to the chicken kabobs at OC Kabob in the Gold Coast Mall at 115th.  We have been coming to OC Kabob for about 4 years now. Along with the other perennial and much better known beach food, we always head to OC Kabob for lunch kabobs most days when we are at the beach. I just returned from my 3rd weekend this summer in OC and we happily at OC Kabob about 6 times in 8 days. The chicken kabob sandwiches are our favorites - it is a large amount of perfectly spiced and moist chicken (not dried out like many kebob places) with very good tzatiziki sauce. (although my wife thinks it is even better without the sauce to taste the chicken better). The great thing about this place is the consistency of their cooking. The things that are really good are pretty much always good - even year to year. Other things we like are the kofta kabob, fresh made baba ghanouj, couscous, and baklava (made here with more honey than other places which is nice). These are all great. A few items that could be better - falafel could be crispier and have better spices. Fries (which we still always get because who doesn't like fries) have no salt and sometimes could be a bit crispier. Vegetable kabobs are ok - but need a bit longer on the grill - onion chunks come off somewhat raw sometimes. So many of the beach restaurants serve junk or poorly cooked food - go here and get some chicken kabobs you won't be disappointed. We usually get carry out, but they have a nice set of booths and larger tables for groups and friendly service too. We look forward to eating more deliciousness on our next trip in a few weeks.

We also continue to go to Dumser's Dairyland (location at 123rd street) which doesn't seem to change. Amazing rich ice cream, huge sundaes and awesome hot fudge. Root beer floats are good too.  Lately I've been really enjoying the peanut butter fudge flavor.  Unfortunately, we've also been going there for dinner, pre-ice cream and the non-dessert food is pretty meh. The one shining light sometimes is the fried chicken. One time it was wonderful, another time not so much.

Tried the new Rosenfeld's Jewish Deli at 63rd? street right next to where Coastal Hwy meet Rt 90.  Full disclosure - Warren Rosenfeld the owner is an old acquitance of mine and I wish him the best on the success of having a real Jewish deli in OC. He is a real mensch and deserves it. As his website says it is the only Jewish within a 2 hour drive.  For those familiar with the good, not great deli of Parkway Deli in Silver Spring, this place will be very familiar. The woman who was the old manager of Parkway for years settled down in OC and now is working here too.  We had carryout so things would have probably been better fresh in the restaurant which has a few seats inside (as well as a takeout counter) and a nice outdoor shaded patio with a good number of tables.  We had a very good kasha knish and great whitefish salad (made in store), but the ____'s Guilt sandwich was only so so - it is a non-homemade potato knish split and piled high with corned beef.  Like Parkway, the pastrami and corned beef come from Saval, which can be good as I'm a fan of Parkway, but meat was kind of meh on the sandwich and the knish would have been so much better if it wasn't the square, frozen type you get from a cart in NY (one brand of this style is Gabilla), but a homemade more rounded knish with fresh pastry on the outside (like the kasha knish here). Also, this dish definitely suffered from being carried out and steaming in its box. The other good thing we had was the baltimore-style Coddie (shredded cod fish/maybe salt cod with a bit of seasoning, rolled in bread crumbs and fried). If you've been to 2Amys and had the cod croquettes - this the same idea, but less refined but still declious.  I didn't try sandwich on rye, but the bread looked good and the sandwiches are piled pretty high (three different sizes you can order from - 8, 10 or 12 oz).  They only opened this season, so hopefully they'll work out the kinks and keep serving up good Jewish fare.  Despite the heavy emphasis on the Jewish nature of the deli in its literature - it is NOT kosher, but does have kosher Hebrew National salami and bologna.

Fisher's Popcorn - oh how I love thee. Just get it and eat up this delicious caramel popcorn where they haven't changed their practices in years - making fresh caramel in copper kettles and mixing with fresh popped popcorn.

However, next to the Fisher's in Fenwick across from Rt. 54 - you can skip the Grab a Taco stand that they opened. We had two fresh fried rockfish tacos and a cheese quesadilla and it was a shame they were weak all around.First, the gals in the kitchen could care less about cooking. Orders piled up and people just waited and waited for food that should be pretty quick to make. It didn't help the service or taste that the cook let the tortilla get over cooked on the flat top. This somewhat ruined the cheese quesadilla (which is pretty tough to do for such an easy dish we got for the kiddies).  The fish in the tacos was very fresh which was good - but otherwise the taco lacked flavor. Fish wasn't seasoned, oddly it came with thin guacamole (we misunderstood when they called it "green crack") that wasn't tasty, and the cabbage slaw was basically plain chopped cabbage. The whole thing cried out for salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime.  The roasted pepper salsa was basically a portion of canned peppers in their can juice - no spice or acid whatsoever. While this place has promise since it is serving fresh tacos which I believe are otherwise unavailable in the OC area - it isn't worth the trip till the recipes and cooking are revamped. Such a shame.

My father-in-law told me about a fish place in Bethany called David's Camp, i believe, and we plan to check it out next time. Anyone been? We need some new kid-friendly places in our limited rotation.

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We're going to O. C. in early May.  One night we're at Liquid Assets, another at Captain's Table.  Has anyone been to "The Shark in the Harbor" in West Ocean City?  Interesting menu, #2 on trip advisor.

BTW, the Hilton Suites are $144 a night.  Six weeks later, they are over $500 a night.

We're hoping for hot weather in early May.

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We're going to O. C. in early May.  One night we're at Liquid Assets, another at Captain's Table.  Has anyone been to "The Shark in the Harbor" in West Ocean City?  Interesting menu, #2 on trip advisor.

BTW, the Hilton Suites are $144 a night.  Six weeks later, they are over $500 a night.

We're hoping for hot weather in early May.

Joe, I've never been to the Shark myself but it is my brother and sister in law's favorite place in OC (they've been going for years) and my in-laws who live their part-time, like it a lot too. We've actually been trying to go for the past few years, but haven't made it due to the hassle of hauling small kids to West OC and back. Check it out and report back.  Enjoy!

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Joe, I've never been to the Shark myself but it is my brother and sister in law's favorite place in OC (they've been going for years) and my in-laws who live their part-time, like it a lot too. We've actually been trying to go for the past few years, but haven't made it due to the hassle of hauling small kids to West OC and back. Check it out and report back.  Enjoy!

Sincere thanks, KeithA.  We go next week and will go to the Shark.

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How did you like The Shark in the Harbor, Joe?

We're heading to OC soon and will try out some of the places from this thread - thanks, all.  Haven't been there in decades.

Where would you go for good soft-shell crabs (I prefer sautéed to battered, so you can taste the crab, but lightly battered is fine) or crab cakes? None of us are hard-shell eaters.

Any place specific you recommend for rockfish?

Does any place serve good fried clams (which would make my New Englander husband happy)?

We're staying near Malia's Café at N. Baltimore Ave. and 18th, so I expect we'll eat some breakfasts or lunches there.  I see we're also near Captain's Table, so given review up above we'll go there for dinner one night.  Any other recommendations in that area?  I see on the map there are a bunch of places right by there: Sahara Café, Layton Family Restaurant, and Anthony's Carryout - is that the Anthony's that was mentioned up above for breakfast and sandwiches?

Thanks for any recommendations/feedback!

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Hooray for these posts!  We are going to OC in a week and are staying pretty near the Captain's Galley.  Crab guacamole sounds like one of the best things I could picture eating.

Do we need reservations ahead of time for weekday dining?

Also, I posted on the OC thread in Intrepid Traveler asking about other recommendations near there - we're staying by Malia's Café at 18th and N. Baltimore, and are close to Anthony's Carryout, which sounds like we have to go there for roast beef sandwiches (my husband will eat those - my son might prefer their cheesesteaks, and I'm less a red meat person, are there other specialties you recommend?)

I would be particularly interested in places for softshells (preferably not deeply battered - sautéed is my favorite) and crabcakes.  My son will be looking for good rockfish.

I would make reservations for Captain's Galley just to be on the safe side.  It does a very good business.  Also, there are two more restaurants which we really like:  Shark on the Harbor in West Ocean City and Liquid Assets. Shark on the Harbor is directly across from the Sunset Grill, is small and the dining room sits upstairs.  It's excellent. Captain's Table is traditional Maryland style seafood and competes with the Narrows on Kent Island and Suicide Bridge for the title of Maryland's best MD style seafood restaurant.  The Shark is more contemporary and every bit as good. You WILL need reservations unless you want to take pot luck and probably end up sitting at the bar.  It is small but extremely popular.  Liquid Assets is unique, literally a softly lit pair of dining rooms inside of a wine shop.  You can buy a bottle of wine off the shelf (best selection in O. C.), pay a $10 corkage fee and have it with dinner.  http://la94.com/  Unfortunately, Liquid Assets does not take reservations.  Think of it as the Rose's Luxury of Ocean City in terms of popularity and lines.

FWIW we go to O. C. three or so times a year and I believe we have eaten at every one of the "better" restaurants there over time.  I believe these are the three best.  On your way there you will pass the Narrows on Kent Island.  They have the best crab cakes and cream of crab soup in the state of Maryland.

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Thank you so much, Joe!!!  We will definitely go to Shark on the Harbor, and make reservations, and also a reservation at Captain's Table.  (Probably not Liquid Assets as we are not able to drink wine.)  And thank you for the tip to stop at the Narrows on the way there!!

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I see upthread that there was a question about where to put this thread. There already is an OC thread in the traveler section that I know has several posts over the last few years including a few by me. We just got back from OC last weekend and went to one regular - OC Kabob at Gold Coast Mall around 110th St - always good for excellent chicken kabob for casual eating.  We also ate for the first time at BlueFish at 94th St - a sushi-heavy pan Asian place that had good Yelp reviews.  Pleasantly surprised by the good sushi - well made traditional rolls and lots of interesting modern combo rolls - I liked the Godzilla (pretty presentations too for the modern stuff).  The quality of the fish was good too (not Sushi Taro or Kaz good, but respectable).  We ate in the first time and it was bustling on Sat night.  On Sunday night we got carryout from the Chinese side of the menu ("traditional" Chinese-American fare) - large portions of decent stuff - vegetable lo mein was good, Eggplant with garlic sauce was ok.  Worth checking out if you want something different than MD seafood.  Prices were pretty standard for sushi and chinese compared to DC prices.

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For Anthony's Carryout, it sounds like we have to go there for roast beef sandwiches (my husband will eat those - my son might prefer their cheesesteaks). But I'm less of a red meat eater, are there other specialties you recommend?

Also, still hoping for recommendations for a place to get rockfish, and soft-shells.

Thanks!

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Thanks, Keith!

I had posted in Intrepid Traveler, but (as I figured might be the case), haven't gotten responses there.  I did better posting here where I got the info I needed from Joe.  Probably people don't check the travel threads as much as they do their home area threads?

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Thanks, Keith!

I had posted in Intrepid Traveler, but (as I figured might be the case), haven't gotten responses there.  I did better posting here where I got the info I needed from Joe.  Probably people don't check the travel threads as much as they do their home area threads?

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For Anthony's Carryout, it sounds like we have to go there for roast beef sandwiches (my husband will eat those - my son might prefer their cheesesteaks). But I'm less of a red meat eater, are there other specialties you recommend?

Also, still hoping for recommendations for a place to get rockfish, and soft-shells.

Thanks!

Thrasher's for french fries but ONLY the original stand which is on the inlet.  Fisher's popcorn, again, ONLY the original stand on the south end of the boardwalk.  Both the rockfish and soft shells will be at Captain's Table or Shark on the Harbor.  I also want to make the sincere point that Ocean City is really about the boardwalk and the experience of walking on it or watching over it as the sun sets or at nighttime.  I would put the Ocean City boardwalk in the middle of the summer one on one with Venice Beach or Bourbon Street.  It is an experience that is one of the best of its kind on earth.  Standing in line at Thrasher's or at the counter of Fisher's is a tradition.  Sitting on a bench and watching the world walk by is a great past time.  My wife first went to Ocean City when there was only a ferry crossing and not a Bay Bridge. She has gone for over sixty years and still passionately loves the boardwalk as much today as she did when she was pushed down it in a carriage.

Alternatively, the Fractured Prune for a serious donut.  The Sahara Cafe is also generally thought of as the best breakfast in Ocean City.  It is good and the motel dining room has a great deal of character with a Flo like waittress who will put it over the top.  But it is not quite on the level of a top Jersey Diner (i.e. the Silver Coin in Hammonton) Go to the Fractured Prune instead and expect to come home quite a bit heavier. Captain's Galley in West Ocean City is famous for crab cakes.  The original was in Crisfield and had a great deal of ambience.  It closed and now the O. C. outpost is their only one.  A landmark for locals.  For ourselves, several rungs on the ladder below the Narrows for crab cakes.

I'd also seriously consider a small side trip to Berlin which is one of the great small towns of character in America.

FWIW I graduated from high school in Silver Spring.  My 25 year reunion was in Ocean City because so many of us, the day we graduated, drove to O. C. and slept on the beach.  Today, a lot more time has passed and a 25 year reunion is only a memory.  Still, my wife and I go to O. C. three or so times a year.  I am fortunate to have travelled heavily all over North America and Europe for three + decades.  Still, it is Ocean City that I want to go back to.

And do.

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Thank you!!  Had soft-shells and the fabulous crab guacamole at the Captain's Table (twice), a fantastic lunch at Shark at the Harbor (would've gone back but they were booked for dinner the night we decided to go again), hot fudge sundaes at Dumser's (terrific), and Fractured Prune donuts on the boardwalk.  The other Fractured Prune outlets all were closed by noon or 1, so we didn't end up there (wanted to go after dinner one night and discovered the early hours).  Had a couple lunches at Malia's because it was so handy to our hotel -- sweet potato tater tots were excellent and my husband liked his fish tacos, I just got sandwiches there.  Oh, and good smoothies.  Pretty good crab soup at Frog Bar.

We went to Berlin one night for trivia at the Globe which was fun (the food was OK-to-pretty good, love the place itself).

Definitely agree with you that Captain's Table and Shark were top-notch and better than anything else we had.  Dumser's was a big hit, too.  Grateful for the reviews from Joe and others at this site that sent me to good places!

Added:  I forgot that we went to Bluefish Sushi on Coastal Highway at 94th.  Very tasty rolls - I don't eat raw fish sushi so can't speak to that, but my special lobster tail roll was delicious, as was the Hawaiian roll (under Signature Rolls on the menu): tempura coconut shrimp and large pieces of mango and avocado with a great mango sauce and coconut flakes.  Son found his half Peking duck fine but not as good as he's had elsewhere, husband liked but didn't love his meal which I have forgotten (may have been a teriyaki dish).  Seemed to me like the sushi was the best thing there, and I was very happy with it.

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I always check Intrepid Traveler when I'm going somewhere, and it's given me some great places I wouldn't have found otherwise.  That said, I think keeping all of Ocean City in the Baltimore section makes the most sense, since it's nearly local, so I'm glad you merged it.

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Thank you!!  Had soft-shells and the fabulous crab guacamole at the Captain's Table (twice), a fantastic lunch at Shark at the Harbor (would've gone back but they were booked for dinner the night we decided to go again), hot fudge sundaes at Dumser's (terrific), and Fractured Prune donuts on the boardwalk.  The other Fractured Prune outlets all were closed by noon or 1, so we didn't end up there (wanted to go after dinner one night and discovered the early hours).  Had a couple lunches at Malia's because it was so handy to our hotel -- sweet potato tater tots were excellent and my husband liked his fish tacos, I just got sandwiches there.  Oh, and good smoothies.  Pretty good crab soup at Frog Bar.

We went to Berlin one night for trivia at the Globe which was fun (the food was OK-to-pretty good, love the place itself).

Definitely agree with you that Captain's Table and Shark were top-notch and better than anything else we had.  Dumser's was a big hit, too.  Grateful for the reviews from Joe and others at this site that sent me to good places!

Added:  I forgot that we went to Bluefish Sushi on Coastal Highway at 94th.  Very tasty rolls - I don't eat raw fish sushi so can't speak to that, but my special lobster tail roll was delicious, as was the Hawaiian roll (under Signature Rolls on the menu): tempura coconut shrimp and large pieces of mango and avocado with a great mango sauce and coconut flakes.  Son found his half Peking duck fine but not as good as he's had elsewhere, husband liked but didn't love his meal which I have forgotten (may have been a teriyaki dish).  Seemed to me like the sushi was the best thing there, and I was very happy with it.

Thank you, Genevieve:  really, really appreciate your trying what my wife and I love.

I cannot tell you how badly I would like to have some crab guacamole right now!

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In OC right now - hunkered down during the remnants of Hurricane Arthur.  That didn't stop us from enjoying a wide assortment of beach food yesterday on the boardwalk and around town.  Thrasher's fries on boardwalk are as good as ever, tried a filled pretzel roll from the Wrapper stand a few blocks north of the inlet (interesting concept fill fresh pretzel rolls with various meats, cheese, and veggie combos - but it is was only ok), forgettable pizza and soft pretzel from boardwalk stands, great regular popcorn from Dolle's stand (which I didn't realize is an OC, not Rehobeth original has been on the OC boardwalk for 100+ years - really top quality popcorn and candies), and we also had dippin' dots ice cream of the future (little kids love it, I wasn't so impressed). Dinner at Dumser's on 124th street was pretty normal - dinner food is freshly made, but lacks seasoning and is mostly fried stuff.  Ice cream is good as ever - coconut chocolate chip is a treat for coconut lovers, but I would pass on the Hawaiian Delight (vanilla with cherries and bananas and no pineapple as advertised) - it is their great vanilla but the fruit just freezes and adds nothing.  Based on earlier comments, I think we'll have to head back to Captain's Table (haven't been in years, but it was a favorite of my grandmother who lived in OC year round).

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In OC right now - hunkered down during the remnants of Hurricane Arthur.  That didn't stop us from enjoying a wide assortment of beach food yesterday on the boardwalk and around town.  Thrasher's fries on boardwalk are as good as ever, tried a filled pretzel roll from the Wrapper stand a few blocks north of the inlet (interesting concept fill fresh pretzel rolls with various meats, cheese, and veggie combos - but it is was only ok), forgettable pizza and soft pretzel from boardwalk stands, great regular popcorn from Dolle's stand (which I didn't realize is an OC, not Rehobeth original has been on the OC boardwalk for 100+ years - really top quality popcorn and candies), and we also had dippin' dots ice cream of the future (little kids love it, I wasn't so impressed). Dinner at Dumser's on 124th street was pretty normal - dinner food is freshly made, but lacks seasoning and is mostly fried stuff.  Ice cream is good as ever - coconut chocolate chip is a treat for coconut lovers, but I would pass on the Hawaiian Delight (vanilla with cherries and bananas and no pineapple as advertised) - it is their great vanilla but the fruit just freezes and adds nothing.  Based on earlier comments, I think we'll have to head back to Captain's Table (haven't been in years, but it was a favorite of my grandmother who lived in OC year round).

The same family has had Captain's Table for several generations.  My guess is that the hostess on your grandmother's last trip is still the hostess except today she owns it.

Crab guacamole.

...and I am seriously jealous.  You are in Ocean City tonight and we are not.

Have a great time!  ...A great town for July Fourth!!!  I can only imagine what the Boardwalk must be like as I type this...

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The Marriott Courtyard is now $525 a night in July and August.  If I was there right now I would be taking the elevator down to the bar on the third floor to buy a glass (or two) of wine.  Then, I'd return upstairs to sit on the balcony overlooking the boardwalk and bitch about how much the room cost...

...still worth every penny.  I love O. C.

Joe, I'm not trying to be flippant, but *why* do you love O.C.? Honestly, even when I was 12 years old, I recognized it was grungy; when I was in my 20s, I knew virtually all restaurants were poor; I haven't been there in many years now, but is it getting cleaned up or something? Joe Heflin saying, "I love O. C." is a logical inconsistency - yes, I know you like certain down-home restaurants, but entire cities?

I guess I wouldn't sneeze at a free night there, but $525 for a Marriott Courtyard, and wishing you were there? I just don't see it.

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Joe, I'm not trying to be flippant, but *why* do you love O.C.? Honestly, even when I was 12 years old, I recognized it was grungy; when I was in my 20s, I knew virtually all restaurants were poor; I haven't been there in many years now, but is it getting cleaned up or something? Joe Heflin saying, "I love O. C." is a logical inconsistency - yes, I know you like certain down-home restaurants, but entire cities?

I guess I wouldn't sneeze at a free night there, but $525 for a Marriott Courtyard, and wishing you were there? I just don't see it.

There are benches on the Ocean City boardwalk that one can "sponsor."  There are hundreds of them.  All from people who want their memories to be shared with those who come today.

My wife and I will probably sponsor a bench.  We will welcome your sitting on it and watching the world walk by.

---

Hooked (Joe H)

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Visiting OC yesterday reminded me why we love being in Rehoboth. I live in a city and don't want to escape to another one. Plus our dining choices are so much better. And the taxes.....

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Totally agree with you about dining choices.  For seafood, Hooked around 80th and Coastal Highway is excellent as is Captain's Table and Shark on the Harbor.  Liquid Assets is a good non seafood coice, too.

Hooked is probably the "hot" restaurant of the moment in O. C. right now.

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Liquid Assets <www.LA94.com>   Big Food, great drinks, friendly staff.  Great beer selection and drinks (it IS in the middle of a liquor store),  Food was good, American fare.

Captain's Table Restaurant: 2 15th street inside oceanside Marriott hotel.  Steakhouse with some seafood offerings.  We went with the seafood offerings.  Not unique in ingredients or presentation; yet a nice experience, atypical boardwalk restaurant, good value for the dollar.  We would consider going again but not on the top of the list.

The Shark Restaurant:  I have eaten there a few times, I think the menu and dishes are very well thought out, their dishes are more of a one pan pre-preparation so that the food and sauce preparations play off each other.  I loved this place prior to food allergy discovery.  They do not prepare a la cart without prior notice.  My table mates were very happy with their dishes and wine flights.  They do work hard to make most of their dishes gluten free.  Note to self, call them and tell them that me and my multiple food restrictions are coming to dinner ahead of time and see if they can accommodate.  Will go back if they let me in.

Hooked.  #1 favorite.  Fresh, farm to table, very accommodating, not boring, creative drinks and nice wine and beer list.  Ate lunch there while on long bicycle ride then came back again for dinner in same day.  Seafood and other proteins, nicely prepared, unique combinations.  Definitely will dine with them again.

     porcini encrusted tuna, sage roasted brussels, caramelized cauliflower puree, crisp prosciutto, Madeira broth $23

     roasted salmon, port cherries, tender leeks, spinach, root vegetable puree, port reduction $20

     drunken mussels, caramelized onion, celery,k garlic confit, mustard, lager broth $9

     spiced kale chips $3

     bacon braised collards $5

     fall beet quinoa, brussel leaves, crispy parsnips, red and golden beets, scallion, citrus vinaigrette, whole grain onion soubise, spiced kale       chips   $19

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We are returning to Ocean City for New Year's Eve-we were there last year.  I literally just got off of the phone with Hooked and they have not decided whether or not they will take reservations for NYE.  I'll probably call them back every week until they make a decision.  Hooked can have enormous waits in season that rival Rose's Luxury.

It is also worth the wait.

If they don't accept reservations we just might go earlier.

FWIW Ocean City and New Year's Eve are special.  So is the nearby town of  Berlin where they now close the four or five blocks of the main street, set up a bandstand with live entertainment and have go cups.  Really almost a Bourbon street kind of ambience.  Literally thousands of people show up for what is a growing tradition.  If the weather is nice walking on the OC boardwalk at midnight is special, too.

The Courtyard is a reasonable $159 or so for that night.

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We are returning to Ocean City for New Year's Eve-we were there last year.  I literally just got off of the phone with Hooked and they have not decided whether or not they will take reservations for NYE.  I'll probably call them back every week until they make a decision.  Hooked can have enormous waits in season that rival Rose's Luxury.

It is also worth the wait.

If they don't accept reservations we just might go earlier.

FWIW Ocean City and New Year's Eve are special.  So is the nearby town of  Berlin where they now close the four or five blocks of the main street, set up a bandstand with live entertainment and have go cups.  Really almost a Bourbon street kind of ambience.  Literally thousands of people show up for what is a growing tradition.  If the weather is nice walking on the OC boardwalk at midnight is special, too.

The Courtyard is a reasonable $159 or so for that night.

Hooked IS accepting reservations for New Year's Eve-they started this morning at 11:00AM.  Arguably this is Ocean City's best restaurant.  New Year's Eve is the only evening of the year when they will accept reservations.

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I'll be heading to OC with the family in late August. Any updates or new recommendations, particularly family friendly joints (we have a 4 yr old)?

---

Here's a recap:

Sahara Café
This place is the #4 ranked restaurant in trip advisor, and yet it's this small restaurant attached to some random hotel with which it shares its name, and is only open for breakfast and lunch. Also, it's got this hippie, Grateful Dead vibe going on (I love the Dead, so that was fine by me). James Brown's sex machine was paying on the PA. Also fine with me. Anyway, it's kind of a strange place, but we did have an excellent breakfast, including a very good version of a classic eggs Benedict. They have something called "Spanish Sauce", which is onions, green peppers, and chopped tomatoes, which they feature and put on some of their items. It's quite tasty, with a bit of a kick, but not so much that you need you water refilled every minute. Also, I don't care for real spicy things in general, and certainly not during breakfast, and this didn't approach that. They also have very good home fries, which come shredded, and cooked hard. The place is very kid friendly, as the server showed up to take our drink order with a coloring book and some crayons. No credit cards, however, so make sure you bring cash.

Shark on the Harbor
We had a fine meal here, but it wasn't anything that blew us away, and I wouldn't go back. Anyway, they brought over a very nice amuse bouche that was salmon paste, dressed up, on a cucumber slice. They also brought over a very good basket of toasted, honey-wheat bread, that came with a tasty pimento cheese spread, and butter. The server noted that everything was fresh, and that they change their menu twice a day. To be sure, I had a very good and fresh piece of swordfish, but was unimpressed by the presentation and the sides were downright bad. I'll explain: The swordfish itself was smothered in some kind of tomato paste, and you couldn't see the fish, which I thought was an unfortunate choice. Not a big deal, but when they're touting freshness, I'd like to see it. The bowl the fish was in was smeared with a pesto sauce, but it was smeared so finely, that there wasn't enough smeared sauce that it was useful. Also, how does my exact and accurate description "smeared sauce" sound to you...am I right? It also came with gnocchi, which were overcooked, dry, and tasteless. More sauce would have helped here as well, if only to mask what they served us.

Hooked, http://hookedoc.com

Easily the best meal we had in OC. One quibble: our main dishes came out too fast as my wife was still working on her salad, which they hadn't cleared, when the entrees arrived. We started off with calimari, tossed in a house made spicy mayo sauce that was excellent. It was an ample order and fried with skill. We also had wedge salads that shows what this kinds of salad can be, as there was thought and care to taste and presentation. It was a large salad, enough to share (tho we didn't), with multiple small wedges, in a house made blue cheese dressing with heirloom grape tomatoes, bacon bits and other assorted tasty bits, including pickled onion slices that added an interesting taste to the dish. The entrees featured fresh seafood. I had tuna, served rare, That was very good, though I can't remember any other details about the dish. Other entrees included scallops with cheesy grits, that were really delicious (and this coming from a guy who hates grits), a crab cake that was easily 2 inches think and 4 inches across containing mostly lump crab. All portions were large and we all left full and satisfied. They also severe parker house rolls that were fluffy and tasty, and came with garlic-oil dipping sauce.

Belly Busters, http://ocbellybusters.com

Typical seafood shack. Good service fro the waitress who explained their soft shell crab sandwich to a novice and noted how their preparation differed from norm (they don't mess with it, just toss it on the grill). The sandwiches were large. I had the shrimp salad sandwich on a kaiser roll, and was pleased to see that they did not drown it in mayo. The wife had a crab cake that was solid but not worth going out of way for. Hot dog for boy. Big basket of tasty fries. Good but not great.

Mother's Cantina, http://motherscantina.com

It's a very small place so we had to wait quite a bit, and it was hot and there's not much shade while you wait. That hurt. Also, the place is a dump: our table cloth was held together, top and bottom, in places with duct tape. Did I mention the food is excellent? They gave an ample serving of chips and salsa, both seemed fresh and the salsa had a good bite to it. They only give one serving for free so be forewarned. My combo platter might have been the best Mexican food I ever had. First of all, it came out and actually looked good. It wasn't all smeared together and smothered in unidentifiable beans, cheese, and sauce. That's half the battle right there. The chimichanga was filled with a ground chorizo that was packed with flavor, and some kind of melted cheese sauce, which spilled out of it. It was deep fried, but it wasn't heavy or coated in anything. The enchilada was filled with shredded chicken, covered in melted cheese, and was a mild counterpoint to the in your face chorizo flavor. There was also a beef taco that had a generous portion of ground beef, and topped with lettuce, onion, tomato, cheese (perhaps other stuff). Again, a very tasty flavor to the beef; really a fantastic taco.

Longboard Cafe https://longboardcafe.net/

The only real miss of the trip due to simply terrible service, and food that, when it came, was cold and past its prime. It's another place that touts its fresh sourcing of fish and so hopes were high for our last dinner in OC. There were many problems, which I don't care to recount, but know that two of four people left without having eaten. The only saving grace was that the manager comped our entire meal (what we got of it). I actually did get my meal, grouper topped with crab empire, and were it served hot and fresh, it would have been rather tasty. What a shame.

Anthony's http://anthonysliquors.com/
I almosg forgot that we got 2 great sandwiches from Anthony's, which was right next to the Hilton we stayed at. I was surprised that it was listed as a top "restaurant" on trip advisor (which is how i learned about it), considering it's a deli counter/sub shop in a liquor store. True enough, i had one of the better Italian hoagies and chicken salad sandwiches I can recall (I split them...I'm not a total pig, ok). Good bread, good semi hot and sweet peppers, well stuffed with meat. A bit pricey in the $15 range, but for an excellent sandwich (or two) it's worth it.

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