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Surf Bagel

/ Updated on January 22, 2017
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There’s nothin’ like a fresh, warm bagel. So many transplants tell me how they mourn the loss of their favorite bagel joint in their home towns. New Yorkers wax rhapsodic over H&H. Suburban Marylanders sob quietly over the loss of Bagel City in Rockville (oh, those twists!). Former Philadelphians bicker over who’s the best: Four Worlds Bakery, Philadelphia Bagel Co. or South Street Bagels — among others. But when the sobbing, bickering and waxing subsides, everybody agrees (at least so far) that Surf Bagel in Lewes satisfies their yeasty, crunchy cravings. And, as a former denizen of Rockville who stood in line many an hour to snag a bag of Bagel City’s finest, I agree.

Former Maryland firefighter (and inveterate surfer) Dave Vitella created Surf Bagel to combine two of his most sacred passions: surfing, and (of course) fresh bagels. His brother Tom joined the crew shortly thereafter, along with his delightful wife, Liz. They have built Surf Bagel into a required stop for anybody who appreciates the one-of-a-kind texture and taste of bread that’s baked in such an unusual way. They now have two locations, and the bagels are just as good at both.

Surf Bagel’s chicken salad is one of the stars of the show. It’s simple, and you can actually taste the chicken. It’s generously slathered on pretty much any kind of bagel, or on regular bread if you must (why, I ask…), in wraps (they call them Tubular Wraps), on a soft sub roll, and on top of, under or mixed into various salads. If you like good chicken salad, you will not be disappointed with Surf Bagel’s recipe. I add pickles and hot peppers, of course.

Surfers call early-morning surfing “Dawn Patrol.” Though many of us might not be found (especially at 6:30 a.m.) bobbing up and down north of the Indian River Inlet in anticipation of the perfect wave (be truthful, now…), we might indeed be found enjoying our own Dawn Patrol at 6:30 a.m. (or more like 10:30, or maybe around 1) in the form of an impossibly fresh breakfast sandwich. A Dawn Patrol breakfast can start with any one of 18 different bagels, including sesame (a Foodie Favorite), poppy (a close second, along with the egg bagel and the salt bagel), multigrain, pumpernickel, garlic, spinach, plain, ET (everything), onion, sun-dried tomato, blueberry, cinnamon raisin, whole wheat, spinach, jalapeño and the “Strider” Bar. You can wax your bagel with butter, peanut butter, several varieties of cream cheese, and lox spread, or decorate it with the ubiquitous Nova and cream cheese. They’ll even make it into a grilled cheese. Just ask.

The mathematically probable combinations of all the available breakfast staples (including Taylor Pork Roll!) would use up all your available RAM, so if you must, feel free to calculate the number of sandwiches — made on any one of 18 bagels — that might include egg, cheese, Taylor Pork Roll (love it. Just love it.), bacon, sausage, cheese, fried red and/or green peppers, and more cheese). Or, you can just order the oatmeal with any combination of walnuts, blueberries, strawberries or raisins.

Afternoon sessions move toward the savory. Surf Bagel sandwiches include all the basics like roast beef, tuna/chicken/whitefish salads, turkey, ham, an Italian combo or just plain ol’ veggies. Toppings are virtually unlimited and include crunchy hot peppers if you are so inclined.

The subs are called “Longboards,” and are pretty much like the sandwiches … ummm, except longer. There is one departure from the unexpected, however, and that is the chicken cheesesteak. Surf Bagel’s chicken cheesesteak is nicely cooked, and early on it was quite good. But lately, the chicken has been inexplicably dry. So I stopped ordering it. The regulation soft sub roll rivals pretty much any other cheesesteak in town. The cheesesteaks come in several varieties, including pizza, Cajun, Caribbean, Buffalo chicken and the “No Hope” (chicken, red peppers, bacon, 3 cheeses…in the spirit of Pickled Pig Pub’s “Pork Flatliner” sandwich). I’ll stick with the plain, missionary-style cheesesteak, thank you.

Unless you know the menu at Surf Bagel, don’t just pop yourself in line and expect to know what you want by the time Liz says, “May I help you?” The wrap menu is complicated and requires some thought. So stand back and let the more confident and experienced fressers play through. There’s the famous Tuna Kahuna (tuna salad, pineapple, 3 cheeses), the Kai-Boy, the El Jefe, the Aloha, Kiv’s burrito, the Flyin’ Hawaiian, the Johnny Boy … the list goes on and on, and each and every Surf Bagel regular has his or her favorite.

I’ve saved the best ’til last: Their delightfully crispy made-in-house potato chips! Wow. Potato chips are not easy to make properly, but they are consistently perfect at Surf Bagel. They come with pretty much any sandwich. Do not miss these curly, crackly little gems.

In case you moved here about 45 minutes ago, I’ll remind you that Surf Bagel is at 17382 Coastal Highway, next door to Best’s Ace Hardware at the corner of Rt. 9/Savannah Rd. and Coastal Highway in Lewes. If you are coming from the Rehoboth Beach direction, you will have to execute a death-defying U-turn after you pass the restaurant. But trust me, the homemade potato chips are worth it. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your mind on the chips.

They will prepare pretty much anything for take-out (302) 644-1822. Hours are 6:30 a.m. ’til 3 Mon. – Sat., and 6:30 – 2 on Sunday. Click here to see their extensive menu and to bone up on the selections before you take up a place in line. Also take a look at some cool kids surfing by clicking here (a few make cameo appearances on the menu!). (B, L, No bar). Price range: Inexpensive.

UPDATE! Surf Bagel now has TWO locations! Visit the new Surf Bagel AM in Midway behind Delaware Distilling Company and the La Tonalteca. They are only open for breakfast and/or early lunch from 6 until noon every day.

(Dining room and staff photos taken by Steven Billups and are courtesy of Cape Gazette.)

Put down that mouse and step away from your email box! The ratings state how well a restaurant achieves what they set out to do. Do they give you good value for your money? Do you get what you expect when you go there? We believe the answer to those questions is most often “yes” when it comes to Surf Bagel.

Off-season Specials & Hours

Specials & Moods change quickly. Always call a restaurant first.

pp = per person.
BOGO = buy one, get one.
Bloody = bloody mary.
domestics = American-made beers (e.g., Bud).
imports = foreign beers (e.g., Heineken).
Rails = non call-brand alcohol.
Prix Fixe = one set price.
Mains = entrees.
Margs = margaritas.
Chix = chicken.
AYCE = all you can eat.
Lite = Miller Lite
drafts = draught beer.
Early Birds = arrive before a certain time.
Apps = Appetizers.
bottles = beer in a bottle.
à la carte = order off the menu (no prix fixe).
crafts = micro/artisanal brews (e.g., Old Leghumper Lager)

17382 Coastal Highway
(302) 644-1822

Sunday
Open 6:30a - 2p
Monday
Open 6:30a - 3p
Tuesday
Open 6:30a - 3p
Wednesday
Open 6:30a - 3p
Thursday
Open 6:30a - 3p
Friday
Open 6:30a - 3p
Saturday
Open 6:30a - 3p
The Rehoboth Foodie

About the Author

"My goal is to promote Rehoboth Beach dining while remaining honest and impartial. I don’t gush unless a place deserves it, and I don’t pull punches, either. With so many good places to eat around here, it just doesn’t make sense to waste the calories — or the money — on anything less." View all articles written by The Rehoboth Foodie

Add Your Comment
  1. Kim says:

    If you are in Lewes or Rehoboth…you need to eat here!! Its all good!!

  2. krf747 says:

    The salt bagels are DELICIOUS! Why are they so hard to find elsewhere? Perfect toasted with cream cheese and cucumbers. Uh-oh… now I’m hungry.

    Seriously, this is the one and only guaranteed stop every weekend that we’re in Lewes.

  3. blondie says:

    always a great way to start your morning! The Bagels are the best anywhere and the combinations of goodies in the wraps will make you want to try them all!
    Tried the portabella mushroom sandwich and the flavor was amazing!! I eat there every week! And also the staff is awesome!!

  4. yummy bear says:

    Walked late, managed to get half dozen bagels and a half pound of the chicken salad. Sometimes u like to be served food, sometimes you want to build your own, like today.

    While the garlic bagel toasted, I cut up some Cabot’s extra sharp cheese and ripped some fresh spinach leaves, and thinly cut up a red onion. Pefectly browned bagel, smeared with a layer of butter and layered with the assorted goodies(spinach,chicken salad, onion,cheese and then a few moments to melt the cheese and a sprinkling of fav spices. Left the bagle open faced, all the better to enjoy two halfs of something out of this world, smack your moma good.

    I have lived in New York and Philly and despite the goodies on the bagel, I could still taste the goodness in every crunch of Surf Bagels babies. Big, airy,tasty, and perfect crunch/chewey, these are what you put out to impress the snooty friends who think city bagels are all that.

    I’ll be back, early!

  5. Skips says:

    PLEASE come to Ocean City!

  6. Nancy Sakaduski says:

    By far, the best bagels anywhere (and I’m from Long Island, NY).

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