Each year OceanCity.com readers vote on the best of everything in Ocean City. We also have a panel of experts around Ocean City who pick their favorites based on local experiences, which we refer to as Editor’s Choice. Click here for the 2019 voting.
This article was updated on 6/21/18 to reflect the Best of Ocean City’s 2018 results — ed.
Whatever you’re in the mood for, there’s a restaurant for it in Ocean City (especially if you’re in the mood for crabs). With seafood, buffet, pub-style and pizza joints on every corner, the possibilities are endless.
Restaurants who have placed in a “Best Of” restaurant category for 5 straight years include Harrison’s Harbor Watch, Dumser’s, Kohr Bros, 28th Street Pit n Pub, Smokers BBQ, Anthony’s Carryout, Fish Tales, Macky’s, Hooper’s, The Crab Bag, Crab Cake Factory, Tequila Mockingbird, Horizons Oceanfront Restaurant and Belly Busters. Congrats to those fine award-winning establishments, and to all of those listed below!
Where are you getting your pizza from? There was no clear winner in this category, with about 28% of voters choosing a favorite pizza place that wasn’t on our poll. To be fair, there are a lot of pizza options in Ocean City. The runner-up for best pizza was Lombardi’s Trattoria, for their delicious, traditionally Italian pies. The family-friendly pizzeria is located on 94th street and also offers subs, salads, pastas, a full bar and an authentic atmosphere that’s unlike anywhere else.
Runner-up: Dough Roller
Editor’s choice: Mione’s Pizza
If you’ve never tried Mione’s Pizza, don’t admit that to anyone, or you will be met with an incredulous, “you’ve never had Mione’s?!” It’s just about the most authentic Italian pizza you’ll find in Ocean City, based on recipes that were passed down through the Mione family over generations from Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, before the Miones finally brought their pizza to Ocean City, Maryland. Get it by the slice, the whole pie, gourmet or stuffed, or get a stromboli if you’re especially hungry.
They say that crab is on the menu all day at Crabcake Factory USA, and so are their Bloody Marys, which make the perfect complement to a crabcake. It’s no wonder that with five locations (their original location at 120th street, bayside in Selbyville, DE, a seafood house across from the original restaurant, an express store at the boardwalk and poolside at the Tidelands Hotel) and an option to get their crabcakes shipped straight to your door, Crabcake Factory is the clear winner for the Best Seafood of 2017.
Runner-up: The Crab Bag
Editor’s choice: The Shrimp Boat
Shrimp happens at The Shrimp Boat — big, juicy, delicious shrimp cooked with the heads on to preserve the juices and offered as a sample to anyone who stops by The Shrimp Boat in West OC. And The Shrimp Boat offers even more, equally fresh, seafood options from crabs to clams to even live lobster. Stop by sometime for a great meal paired with a local craft beer on tap, or one of their delicious fresh-squeezed orange crushes, and ask for a seat out in their new outdoor seating area when the weather’s nice.
The Crab Bag’s “fattest crabs ever” are, according to the seasoned crab pickers and “Best Of” voters, by far the best crabs in Ocean City. With so many crab restaurants on the Eastern Shore, the Bag must be doing something right to garner so much support for their male blue crabs, which are steamed for 20-30 minutes and offered with sides like fries, corn and fried chicken in their “Feast” entrees. Pick a picnic table and get pickin’.
Runner-up: Hooper’s Crab House
Editor’s choice: Crabs-to-Go
When driving on 50 toward Ocean City, you’ll pass Crabs-to-Go on the corner of 50 and 589. Stop in for a meal next time you’re there — you can get crabcakes, steamed clams, steamed shrimp and more, but what you’ll really want to take home with you are the crabs. They’re fresh from the Choptank River in Cambridge, MD, which is said to produce some of the fattest, sweetest crabs on the Eastern Shore.
Are you surprised? In addition to taking home the Best Seafood award, the Factory has also been crowned Best Crabcakes, winning by a landslide thanks to their signature entree. Whatever underwater creature you’re craving, Crabcake Factory literally takes the cake.
Runner-up: Coins Pub & Restaurant
Editor’s choice: Southside Deli
Southside Deli is one of Ocean City’s hidden gems, located in the South Gate of Ocean Pines and serving up daily specials that include sandwiches, soups, chili and, most importantly, their jumbo lump crabcakes. Get your crabcake served on a kaiser roll or on crackers with lettuce, tomato and your choice of a side, and rest assured you’re eating one of the best crabcakes that Ocean City has to offer.
Best Ice Cream
An Ocean City staple since 1939, Dumser’s Dairyland wins Best Ice Cream yet again. The ice creamery has expanded to seven locations throughout OC since the 30s, when Mrs. Gladys Dumser made her first homemade batch on the boardwalk, and today the family-owned-and-operated business offers every flavor and topping under the sun. Whether you’re dining in at their 49th or 123rd street locations or getting your dessert to go, Dumser’s is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Runner-up: Kohr Bros Frozen Custard
Editor’s choice: Island Creamery
The ice cream at Island Creamery is well worth the 20-minute hike to Berlin, Md (a historic town that makes for a lovely stroll while you eat your cone!). The ice cream is exceptionally fresh and comes from the milk of Lancaster County cows, spun with flavors from locally-grown fruits. A few flavors they offer that are especially worth a try: Wallops Rocket Fuel (made with chili pepper!), Whiskey Brickle, Pony Tracks and Java Jolt.
The motto at Bull on the Beach is pretty simple: “Great food, great service and a clean environment to enjoy it in.” It’s all true, but such a simple slogan almost underscores the fantastic fare that can be found at the Bull: tender baby back pork ribs, brisket smoked over charcoal for 12 hours, Bull Wings — those are just a few of their barbecue options, not to mention fresh seafood, sandwiches, salads and more that are offered on the Bull’s menu. You’ll want to try it all.
Runner-up: 28th Street Pit & Pub
Editor’s choice: Smoker’s
“Best BBQ” is always one of the hardest categories to choose a winner for, since Ocean City has several barbecue restaurants that are top-notch, but editor’s eventually decided on the restaurant that was 2017’s runner-up. Smoker’s continues the tradition of pork, beef, chicken and fish smoked on wood on-site, and offers fried chicken, catfish, smoked tuna, breakfast sandwiches and homemade banana pudding in addition to their famous barbecue and ribs.
The shop on 33rd street with the dancing light-up beer cans isn’t just a liquor store. Anthony’s also carries beer and wine, and the best subs in Ocean City. For 45 years, their deli has been serving top-quality sandwich meats from Boar’s Head and Critterio, so when you’re in the mood for a hoagie, Anthony’s is the place to go. Be sure to stop at the bar for a cold brew on your way out.
Runner-up: Anthony’s Carryout (on 17th Street)
Editor’s choice: Billy’s Sub Shop
Since 1959, Billy’s Subs has had “a reputation you can taste.” Their extra-large subs are made on fresh rolls delivered daily from Philadelphia, their signature pizzas include traditional topping combinations like the buffalo chicken, Hawaiian and meat lovers, and they also offer vegetarian options, milkshake and salads. Billy’s has locations in Ocean City and Selbyville, and they deliver to all of Ocean City, Fenwick Island and West Fenwick.
Best Waterfront Dining
Down at the Sunset Grille… you’ll find some of the best deals in town, including $6.99 lunch specials Monday through Thursday and half-priced drinks at Happy Hour. But those deals aren’t even the best part of dining at the Sunset Grille. The best part is being able to enjoy your meal sitting dockside under an umbrella, watching boats roll into the harbor while the sun sets over the bay. Combine that view with a couple of drinks from Teasers Bar and you’ll never want to leave.
Runner-up: Fish Tales
Editor’s choice: Macky’s Bayside Bar & Grill
“Laidback” and “upbeat” are words used often in reviews of Macky’s, likely because of the restaurant’s casual and fun atmosphere. You can chill at a table outside and just watch the sunset over the water, drive your boat right to the side of the building or dip your toes in the bay. Be sure to come during happy hour and stay for whatever event is happening that night, be it a theme party on Tuesday, wing night Wednesday or Little Black Dress Night Thursday where a black dress can get you a half-off cocktail.
Best Raw Bar
The Harrison family has been local to the Ocean City region for over 100 years, and maybe that’s why they’re so dedicated to offering the freshest shellfish in all of OC. Fish on the restaurant’s menu are often served the same day they’re caught, and in the summer, produce comes freshly picked from the Laurel Produce Market in Laurel, DE. Chow down on the oyster stew while enjoying one of the best bay views the island has to offer.
Runner-up: Blu Crabhouse & Raw Bar
Editor’s choice: Seacrets
Seacrets is best known for its nightlife and being such an integral part of Ocean City’s bar scene, but if you’ve ever dined at Seacrets while hungry for fresh raw seafood, you know their raw bar is excellent, too. Find mussels fresh from Prince Edward Island, spicy steamed shrimp, middleneck clams, oysters and hard-shell lobsters from Maine.
The Bonfire has been serving up a large and diverse array of food since 1973. At their 70th street buffet, pretty much any craving can be sated, whether it be with seafood, steak, ribs, crab legs or any other fresh buffet staple. The Bonfire proves to be Ocean City’s best buffet (and there are lots in this region!) because here, as you sit under their beautiful stained glass with a view of the restaurant’s tropical fish tanks, all your senses will be satisfied.
Runner-up: Embers Restaurant
Editor’s choice: Horizons Oceanfront Restaurant
Inside the Clarion Hotel is Horizons, an award-winning oceanfront buffet with two all-you-can-eat selections as well as breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Spend your Sunday morning at the Deluxe All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast Buffet, or come for dinner to enjoy a prime rib, crab legs or the seafood buffet. Either way, you’ll be treated to a beautiful view of the ocean and maybe even live entertainment while you eat.
In the barn-style building formerly home to the Pirate’s Den, Barn 34 continues the tradition of delicious breakfasts and other great meals throughout the day, too. Downstairs you can dine-in or order a drink at the Rum Bar, or upstairs, hang out in the Loft Dining Room and Bar. Either way, your experience will be accented with great food, live music and maybe even a game of ping-pong.
Runner-up: General’s Kitchen
Editor’s choice: Bad Monkey
The bread can make or break the breakfast, and at Bad Monkey, bread is baked fresh in-house every morning and comes straight out of the oven right before it hits your plate. Eggs and omelettes, french toast and pancakes, breakfast tacos and chipped beef are all on the menu, and morning libations include organic Mexican coffee, Tito’s cucumber-infused Bloody Marys and fresh-squeezed mimosas.
The top words you’ll hear to describe Kirby’s Pub are “reasonable prices,” “unpretentious” and “great wings!!!” with, yes, three exclamation points. Come on a Tuesday for Wing Night and get your house, BBQ or Bangin’ wings. The Bangin’ is tangy BBQ mixed with Kirby’s hot sauce and is highly recommended by locals.
Runner-up: The Original Greene Turtle
Editor’s choice: Shotti’s Point
Shotti’s Point is a new restaurant in Ocean City, but it won’t be long before they’re known for their delicious and super-unique offerings. Their wings are no exception. You can get them in 14 different flavors ranging from Zippy Cana (smoked paprika, chipotle, brown sugar, agave and sriracha) to Boardwalk (Old Bay, malt vinegar) to Taekwondo (Thai BBQ, orange zest, Thai basil, scallions, sesame).
Best Carry Out
Best Carry Out was a close race between 17th Street Anthony’s and the other Anthony’s, but the audience choice ultimately goes to Anthony’s at 17th street. Tried and true and owned by the same family for 45 years, Anthony’s serves the best takeout breakfast, fried chicken, subs and pizza in Ocean City. They’re cash only, so be sure to hit up an ATM before you go!
Runner-up: Anthony’s Liquors
Editor’s choice: Belly Busters
No shirt, no shoes, no problem! That’s how casual the atmosphere is, so you can carry out your Belly Busters straight from the beach. Since the 1950s they’ve offered delicious subs, sandwiches and seafood, and they’re also the only restaurant in Ocean City that delivers crabs. We might need to add a “Best Delivery” category for that reason alone.
Best Asian Food
OC Wasabi wins Best Asian Food in a landslide. Come try the freshest sushi and sake on the beach, dine-in or carryout, or hit up the bar for happy hour specials on beer and house margaritas. If you’re feeling adventurous, be sure to order the fried ice cream for dessert, or the mochi, a sweet Japanese classic.
Runner-up: Blue Fish Restaurant & Sushi Bar
Editor’s choice: Rice House Bistro
Whether you’re dining in the Emperor’s Dining Room or at the sushi bar, Rice House Bistro offers a family-friendly atmosphere with some of the best Asian food around. Their menu includes steak, Chilean sea bass served with honey wasabi sauce, chicken fried rice, sushi and more. Come on Tuesday night for sushi specials and try the volcano roll–spicy salmon and avocado wrapped in rice paper, topped with spicy mayo, lump crab meat and Old Bay.
Best Italian Food
Hands down some of the best pizza you can get on the beach. Touch of Italy started out as a Lewes, DE exclusive in 2010, but today their artisanal pizza can be found in Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach, too. Check out their pasticceria, better known as a pastry shop with biscottis, pastries and cakes, or their salumeria, the Italian version of a deli. And whatever you do, be sure to treat yourself to an authentic Touch of Italy pizza.
Runner-up: Ristorante Antipasti
Editor’s choice: DiFebo’s
DiFebo’s is a modern Italian restaurant with roots in Delaware, Bethany and Rehoboth Beach to be exact, that recently opened up a third location in Berlin, Md. DiFebo’s is another restaurant known for their authentic cuisine that’s been passed down through the generations, and with one taste of Big Bob’s famous homemade gravy and meatballs or their hand-rolled raviolis, you’ll understand why the recipes have worked for so many years.
Best Mexican Food
Mother’s Cantina prides themselves on their bold flavors and local, organic ingredients that make their Tex-Mex entrees so delicious. Mother’s Cantina is not only authentic but also affordable, so when you’re in the mood for a Mexican meal, you can dine-in, carry out or hit up the market at their 28th street restaurant. Happy hour is every day from 4 – 7, so keep in mind that a margarita is the perfect complement to a spicy fajita.
It should be noted that there was only a one vote difference between Mother’s and Tequila Mockingbird!
Runner-up: Tequila Mockingbird
Editor’s choice: Plaza Tapatia
Plaza Tapatia has locations all over the Eastern Shore, which comes in handy when you’re day-tripping up and down the coast and suddenly start craving their chips and salsa. Plaza has delicious margaritas, burritos, chimichangas and sopapillas all at reasonable prices, and when you’re craving some good, authentic Mexican food, there’s not much else you could ask for.