People come back to Ocean City for the traditions — a favorite restaurant, beach spot or mini-golf course. For visitors looking to try something different, this season has a lot of new things to offer, whether you eat at the town's new (and only) Jewish deli, grab a beer at a new craft brewery or take time to go to the circus.
And while you're enjoying what's new under the sun, take a moment to look at what's beneath your feet. The town just finished up the second and final phase of its three-year, $6 million boardwalk renovation project. The boards on Ocean City's main drag have been completely rebuilt from the Inlet north to 27th Street.
Abbey Burger Bistro, 12601 Coastal Highway (126th Street), 410-250-2333, abbeyburgerbistro.com. This Baltimore burger joint is getting a location on the shore. The menu will be the same as in Baltimore, make your own burger, with a choice of eclectic meat — kangaroo anyone? There are also more traditional offerings, like bison, black angus, kobe beef or turkey, as well as a tuna burger that will be special to the shore. The bar will offer about 100 different beers, outdoor seating and games for kids. It's scheduled to open in June.
De Lazy Lizard Brew Pub, 25 Philadelphia Ave. (First Street and Philadelphia), oclazylizard.com. De Lazy Lizard is opening a brewpub just a few blocks away from its location at the end of First Street. The pub will offer three handcrafted brews made on-site as well as more than a dozen other microbrews. You can even watch the beer as its being brewed. The establishment is still working out a menu, but the plans to offer pub-style food, like burgers, sandwich melts and fresh fish. De Lazy Lizard is scheduled to open by the end of May.
The Greenhouse, 1503 Philadelphia Ave., 443-664-5671. The Greenhouse offers a full deli with Boar's Head subs and wraps, but its main draw is the vegan, vegetarian and raw menu items. The choices vary daily depending on what produce looks the best. The spot also caters to patrons with food allergies.
Hooked, 81st Street and Coastal Highway (next to South Moon Under). Really want to take a bite out of Ocean City? Then eat locally. This new spot, from the owners of Just Hooked in Fenwick Island and Off the Hook in Bethany Beach, offers a rotating seasonal menu featuring seafood and produce from the area. Owner Steve Hagen said about 80 to 85 percent of the food is local, although some items like salmon are not. Hagen said the new restaurant will also have three bars, stocked with about eight local beers, including Burley Oak, Dogfish Head, 16 Mile and Evolution. Hooked is scheduled to open in late May.
Peaky's Rooftop Restaurant & Bar, 13801 Coastal Highway (139th Street and Coastal Highway), 410-250-7663. Owner Justin Schaub described the restaurant as kid-friendly, serving staples like prime rib and crab cakes. One impressive note is the drink menu, which includes more than 50 martinis. Peaky's also regularly features live entertainment and will have stand-up comedy Thursday nights this summer.
Rosenfeld's Jewish Delicatessen, 6301 Coastal Highway, 410-520-0283, rosenfeldsjewishdeli.com. The most buzzed about addition to Ocean City's food scene, this full-service deli offers traditional kosher-style sandwiches and entrees. Co-owner Warren Rosenfeld grew up around food at his family's diner in Washington D.C., just three blocks from the White House. A frequent visitor to the shore, Rosenfeld saw a hole in Ocean City's market — there wasn't a Jewish deli in the area. When he moved down five years ago and retired from his job as a lawyer, he set out to fix that.
Rosenfeld drew inspiration from the best delis out there and put together a big menu with tiny print, including latkes, chopped liver and matzo balls. The restaurant also has a good variety of sandwiches available in 8-,12- and 16-ounce portions. Its specialty, The Whole Mishpuchah, piles on 28 ounces of seven different types of meat. The Challah bread arrives daily from Uptown Bakers in Hyattsville, and other specialties, like knishes and cheesecake, come from New York City. You can even wash it all down with a chocolate egg cream.
Shorebilly Brewing Company, 913 Atlantic Ave. (10th Street on the boardwalk), 443-373-1224, shorebillybeer.com. A year and a half of prep has gone into this "nano" brewery, slated to open in mid-May. What makes it so small? Owner Danny Robinson said Shorebilly will only be brewing about four kegs of beer at a time, on site. He said this allows the brewery the luxury of experimenting with new flavors without having the fear of wasting a large batch.
Robinson said he wants Shorebilly to be a "gateway" brewery, offering drinkable beers, like its cinnamon-infused brown ale, to the boardwalk crowd to "bring them over to the craft beer side." Shorebilly will also serve beer-infused cocktails. The bar will have about six different types of beer on tap at all times, and feature a small menu with items like duck sliders, short ribs, local shrimp and local oysters.
Tanger Outlets Ocean City, Route 50 in West Ocean City before the bridge. Tanger came to West Ocean City last summer, and this year they have some high-end brands scheduled to open, including Brooks Brothers Factory Outlet, American Eagle Outfitters, J. Crew and Eddie Bauer. A Coach Factory/ Coach Men's Factory and Crocs store also opened recently at the outlets.
67th Street Town Center. This new center on 67th Street is being called a "midtown boardwalk" by developers. Businesses include Ocean City favorites The Kite Loft and Dolle's Candyland. Additional shops set to open by June 15, include Ron Jon Surf Shop, Alexis Jade Boutique & Accessories, Atlantic Gold Jewelry, along with eateries that include Original Fish & Chips, Sweet Frog Premium Yogurt and Longboard Cafe.
Circus Smile arrives at the Jolly Roger Amusement Park location on 30th Street this season. The free circus will perform twice each evening during summer. The European troupe features acts like fire-breathing, trapeze artists, sword juggling and a man being fired from a cannon.
The Wrecking Ball is a new ride being added by Trimper's Rides and Amusements downtown.
In October when Superstorm Sandy hit Ocean City some pretty scary images popped up online, from severe flooding to a heavily damaged pier. But compared to the serious damage at beaches north of Maryland, Ocean City lucked out. There was no damage to boardwalk, and businesses were up and running again 24 hours later. There were some exceptions, including:
Ocean City's Fishing Pier: The pier, which lost about 100 feet to the waves during the storm, is still under construction, but owner Jolly Roger Amusement Park said it will be ready by the time the season starts, typically Memorial Day weekend.
The Life of the Marsh trail at Assateague Island National Seashore is closed until further notice due to hurricane damage. The park is still hosting a variety of programs this summer which change week to week. For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/asis.