Bay to the Beach

The Bounty of Bluecoast Bethany

By Laura Walter
Posted 3/5/24

Coastal Delaware and Maryland have some truly great seafood, spread across a variety of restaurants. One spot that does fish first—and almost exclusively—is Bluecoast Seafood Grill & …

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Bay to the Beach

The Bounty of Bluecoast Bethany


Coastal Delaware and Maryland have some truly great seafood, spread across a variety of restaurants. One spot that does fish first—and almost exclusively—is Bluecoast Seafood Grill & Raw Bar in Bethany Beach.

“We’re all about beautiful simple food, a beautiful setting right here on the Salt Pond and a great wine list,” said Collin Hoofnagle, general manager, who has helped lead the team for the past few years.

This is possibly the most seafood-centric menu in the region, with just a few non-ocean items (filet mignon, vegetarian bowl and kids’ menu).

“You can’t go wrong. Whatever you pick is going to be delicious,” the hostess said, after naming four of her own favorites.

Crab cakes, salmon, scallops, mahi, rockfish, calamari and shucked oysters are just the start. Appetizers include baked or raw bar oysters, crab devilled eggs, seafood chowder, smoked fish dip, roasted clams, mussels and more.

Lobster cavatappi (corkscrew macaroni) is a hearty choice with chunks of lobster, bacon, peas, breadcrumbs and just the right amount of cheese. Shrimp and grits includes roasted tomatoes, poblano peppers and cojita cheese with aged chorizo and smoked gouda grits.

Seared scallops are cooked to perfection alongside mashed parsnip, vegetables and seasonal chutney.

“Fried baby lobster tails are a lot of our guests’ favorites … You get two lobster tails, just very simple, flash fried with spicy mayo and ginger soy sauce,” Hoofnagle said.

Steamed shrimp dumplings are delicately packed with spinach and pesto, covered in red pepper flakes in a shallow dish of tangy soy sauce.

Togarashi-crusted tuna is a spicy take on sesame-seared tuna, served with basmati rice, seaweed salad, lightly pickled cucumbers, crisp rice chips and two kinds of sauce.

All of this is before you get into the dessert menu, with blocks of warm bread pudding, award-winning key lime pie and more.

“We are a chef-driven restaurant group, so we love showcasing each chef’s talents,” as well as local seafood and produce, Hoofnagle said.

Ask the staff for suggestions. “We’ll never steer you wrong,” he said. “We’re really passionate about—whether a Wednesday night in February or a Saturday in July—giving everyone a great dinner. We love talking to you about cocktails, about wine, making suggestions, coming up with food pairings.”

That’s an award-winning wine list, by the way. “There’s aways something new and interesting for people to try.”

This older Bluecoast building has the low-profile charm of older coastline structures. For decades, this was a random little restaurant along the highway leading away from Bethany Beach—and it still is. Previously called RedFin (a red fish cut-out hangs above the front door, unobtrusive among the rafters), this spot was one of late restaurateur and chef Matt Haley’s first projects, leading to SoDel Concepts, an empire that continues to grow.

“It is very special, and it means a lot to a lot of different people,” said Hoofnagle. “I think most people who work here, myself included, have grown up coming here. I’ve celebrated many family occasions here, so I know how special it is for people to come back to year after year.”

He says the spot was originally a fruit stand and platform. Today, the exterior still looks more like a depot than the more high-profile construction projects in coastal Delaware.

“I love the building. It’s got character to it, for sure. And that’s part of the charm,” Hoofnagle said. Plus, only a few dining spots have water views like this in “The Quiet Resorts” region. But the interior is elegant and cozy, with clean lines and pop art, and customers look forward to a good meal and drink.

Plus, overlooking the western Salt Pond, Bluecoast captures the entire sunset every single day. Shades are lowered to prevent actual blinding, but the beautiful pink and orange-soaked skies make for a striking backdrop.

“In the summer, there’s a buzz about it, it’s electric in here. I love that energy. I love that we’re open year-round,” Hoofnagle said.“I just encourage people to come check us out. [We will] show them a beautiful sunset and serve them a good piece of fish,” Hoofnagle said. “That’s what we love to do.”

Bluecoast Seafood Grill and Raw Bar is located at 30904 Coastal Highway, Bethany Beach, Del. Learn more at (302) 539-7111, and

Bethany Beach, restaurants, seafood, Bluecoast, SoDel Concepts, sunset
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