I’ve started my new year off right, and one of the best things I’ve done in these past 3 days is to FINALLY go to Sambo’s Tavern in Leipsic DE for crabs! Don’t let the fact that it’s a NASCAR fan frequented tavern scare you off, unless you have folks under 21 in your party, as it is an actual tavern (no kids allowed). Nor should the beer signage be something to dissuade you from entering this classic waterfront establishment.
As once you get past that and step inside you can sit at a newspaper covered table and have a view like this:
One of the few Delaware entries in the Jane and Michael Stern books, I’ve known about this place for years, but never stopped by until yesterday when we had to pick up the Retro RoadDog 1/2 way between the beach and home. (Leipsic is right next to Dover/Smyrna in the middle of the state). I was happily surprised to find that it was a Retro Roadmap worthy stop, but since I wasn’t prepared, these photos come courtesy of my cell phone (so modern!)
The tavern itself has been here for 55 years and when we walked in I was immediately smitten with the vintage chairs and clean linoleum floor.
As well as the authentic bar stools and knotty pine bar decor.
Now I know some people are a bit curious about the name of the tavern, so I thought I’d let you know it was founded by Samuel “Sambo” Burrows and still run by his family. I believe that’s him on the T-shirts available for sale.
And I thought it was nice to read the Delaware State Senate proclamation stating that he was “The Town of Leipsic Gentleman whose unique tavern is known the world over and has created a colourful segment of the history of our state”
“OK” you say, “so knotty pine and ocean views, vintage tables spread with newspaper are all well and good, but what about dinner?”
This is my reply:
Nothing says summer in the mid-Atlantic like hunkering down over a tray of crabs, mallet in hand, roll of paper towels by your side, and newspaper there to mop up all the goop. Crack them claws, search for the sweet meat and just beware of the “Devils Fingers” notes my Delaware born and raised honey!
I think this is why Sambo’s has friends and fans from all over the world:
Now a couple of random things you should know- they only serve steamed crabs in season, and they aren’t caked with Old Bay but rather coarse ground salt. Good thing for a tavern owner, as the pitchers of beer we ordered helped, but if a salt-a-holic like me is telling you to make sure you brush most of the salt off, then it’s a good idea to do so. Old Bay can be asked for on the side. Speaking of sides, they were nothing special, but we were there for the crabs, as were many other folks who came in after us.
And one last bit of advice- leave yourself plenty of time to devour your crabs, and don’t try to rush through them like we did. A dozen is a lot, even for a couple of crab lovers like Retro Roadhusband and me, so keep that in mind too. RetroBrotherInLaw was pleased to find we had a number of crabs left over, and considered them a fine payment for taking care of RetroRoadDog for us!
(Update 10/1/10 – Sambo’s closes for the season on Sat Oct 30. From the Sambo’s Facebook Page update: Come in to visit us this month and enjoy your last taste of steamed crabs or any other menu favorites. We close for the season on October 30th and will re-open on April 1st, 2011. Make a note of it!)
283 Front St
Dover, DE 19901
(Credit cards accepted for orders over $25)
View DE – Delaware Retro RoadMAP in a larger map