The other day, a friend of mine asked me to recommend a few restaurants for his upcoming trip to Ocean City, Maryland. The request caught me off guard—despite growing up there and going back pretty regularly to visit, far too much of my time in OC is spent devouring my mom’s rice krispie treats instead of enjoying the town’s hidden restaurant gems. Still, after 17 years of living there, I have a few favorite spots, and I thought I’d share them with you. Hope you enjoy!

  • For me, the Captain’s Table will always be the gold standard for fine dining in OC. They serve incredibly fresh fish—the specials are often caught by the executive chef that morning—and the newly renovated atmosphere is lovely (especially the flowers, which my green-thumbed grandmother helps to pick out). You can never go wrong with the macadamia-crusted halibut.
  • Mickey Finn’s is situated in the Ocean City Fishing Center, and when you go there for a drink or bite to eat you can watch the boats unloading fresh fish and filleting it right in front of you. As if that’s not enough, their dinner and cocktail menus are among the best in OC. It’s definitely worth the trip over the route 50 bridge.
  • I’ve tried orange crushes all around the state, and nothing comes close to Harborside. Enjoy yours alongside their amazing waffle-cut french fries as you watch the boats come in. The smell of salt water is on the house.
  • There’s no hangover cure like breakfast at the Satellite Café on 46th street. They have a bunch of different creative dishes and good coffee that will erase all those orange crushes from the night before. Just get there early to avoid the lines.
  • Growing up my favorite lunch spot was Mad Hatter’s, and I was heartbroken when it closed. Lucky for me, this summer the same owner opened up Malia’s Café in the Spinnaker Motel on 18th street. The menu has a few new things, but the classics—like the to-die-for lemonade and veggie burger pitas—are still there. Just go there. Trust me.
  • Ok, ok, so the Globe Theatre isn’t exactly in OC, but its food is worth the short drive to historic Berlin. I don’t care if you go there for brunch (they have the best eggs benedict in town), lunch (get the tuna steak sandwich) or dinner (the pesto pasta is delicious), just make sure you go there. You won’t regret it.
  • Mother’s Cantina is a new-ish Mexican place on 28th street that has great happy hour deals and a menu that expertly walks the line between classics you love and beachy twists you want to try. The service isn’t always great, but with ahi tuna fajitas on the menu, you won’t really care.
  • Ken’s Pizza is a teeny little joint off of Route 54 in Fenwick, but what they lack in location they make up for with an amazing pie that has the. best. sauce. ever. It has just a touch of sweetness which offsets the thick mozzarella, putting this pizza far above that awful G-word place that makes me cringe. Plus, they deliver. What more could you want?
  • You can’t go wrong at the Southside Deli in Ocean Pines or Belly Buster’s on 44th street. Southside’s sandwiches are fresh and well-made with high quality meats, and their specials are always awesome. Belly Busters is right off the beach and has a jerk chicken wrap that is so good that I made it my first real meal after getting my wisdom teeth out and eating applesauce for two weeks. It was well worth the pain from a few stretched stitches.
  • Can you tell I like Mexican food? Plaza Tapatia has the best classic Mexican menu on the shore. Go to the one in West OC while you’re vacationing, or stop by the one in Easton on your way home for delicious, authentic dishes, including an awesome pollo loco. Oh, and don’t forget the completely addicting chips with fiesta ranch sauce.
  • I’ve never really eaten at M.R. Ducks, but I’ve had my fair share of great nights on the bay listening to live music and challenging friends to chug a duck (that’s right—a hollowed out duck filled with a can of natural light and a shot of amaretto) there. The music stops at 9, so get there early, and pace your ducks or you won’t make it to the beach the next day.

Where do you like to go in OC? Do you have any secret haunts from your hometown that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear! xo