Photo courtesy of Jason Pappas
Ocean City’s largely underrated food scene encompasses a slew of local family-owned food joints, many of which have been around for decades. Dining options cater to just about every budget and include quick boardwalk eats, waterfront fine dining, and just about everything in between.
To help you make the most of your next trip, here’s our list of eight must-try food and drink experiences in Ocean City, Maryland—from steamed crab feasts to iconic cocktails and candy apples.
Photo courtesy of the Original Greene Turtle
Crab Fries at the Original Greene Turtle
Let’s face it: A trip to Maryland isn’t complete without tasting the world-famous Maryland crab meat. You can’t go wrong with the mainstream route of ordering a crab cake, but consider a more adventurous crab experience by trying the highly coveted crab fries at The Original Greene Turtle.
What pray tell, are crab fries? These sinful delights combine a generous portion of crispy fries with a massive coating of the restaurant’s infamous hot crab dip, made with the perfect amount of Old Bay seasoning. (Crab pretzels are another option, if that’s more your style.) Pair your meal with a refreshing Orange Crush, the unofficial drink of Ocean City, made with Deep Eddy orange vodka, triple sec, a freshly squeezed orange, and a splash of Sprite.
The Original Greene Turtle, as its name implies, is the first Greene Turtle location and has more than 40 years of historical memorabilia covering its walls. It’s an ideal place to soak in the city’s culture and eat like a local. 11601 Coastal Hwy, map
Photo courtesy of Seacrets Jamaica
Pain in De Ass at Seacrets Jamaica
Seacrets Jamaica USA is the furthest thing from a “secret,” as thousands of visitors flock here every summer to soak in the relaxing Caribbean vibes. Spanning a massive six acres, Seacrets has more than 18 bars, an onsite distillery, a full concert hall, tiki stages, a dock, and a Jamaican-style restaurant. Its Bayfront property rests on a sandy shore and includes dozens of circular tables located right in the bay.
Seacrets boasts many signature island-style frozen cocktails, but the Pain in De Ass is by far the most popular and Insta-famous drink, alternating layers of frozen rum runner and piña colada. And it comes with a test tube shot of rum inserted directly in the drink. It’s not overly fruity and makes for a revitalizing cocktail on a hot summer day. And if you happen to get hungry, you can try a spicy Jamaican jerk chicken entrée. 117 49th St., map
Photo courtesy of Alison Clary
Ice Cream at Dumser’s Dairyland
No visit to a seaside town is complete without ice cream, and Dumser’s Dairyland doesn’t disappoint. What started as a boardwalk ice cream shop more than 50 years ago has evolved into seven Ocean City locations, two of which also serve a full diner-style food menu. Dumser’s has a full-on retro vibe, and it serves up some of the most delicious ice cream known to man. Everything is homemade with top ingredients—trust me, you’ll be able to easily taste the difference between this and store-bought ice cream.
It has all the classic ice cream flavors, order-able in various forms like a milkshake, a sundae, a float, an ice cream soda, or in a classic waffle cone. There are also a few seasonal flavors, such as Hawaiian Delight, made with cherries, pineapple, bananas, and vanilla ice cream. Run, don’t walk! 4901 Coastal Hwy, map
Photo courtesy of Fausto DiCarlo
Scallops Maître d’Hotel at Ristorante Antipasti
What once was a fast-food joint on 31st Street is now home to an authentic fine-dining Italian restaurant. Ristorante Antipasti’s elegant setting includes dim lighting, fancy white tablecloths, and an unbelievably friendly and professional staff. The outgoing owner will greet you with open arms (quite literally) and likely make a stop at your table.
There’s a reason this small-town restaurant once made Food Network’s list of top 5 Italian restaurants in the country: It serves legit Italian dishes, and everything is homemade and created from family recipes that have been passed down by generations. One of our favorite dishes that makes good use of the local waters is the scallops maitre d' hotel: fresh bay scallops cooked with olive oil, garlic, cognac, and lemon, perfectly cooked and beautifully plated. 3101 Philadelphia Ave., map
Photo courtesy of Jason Pappas
Caramel Apple at Wockenfuss
Wockenfuss Candies, in business for more than a century, is one of the state’s premier and longstanding candy destinations. With two locations on Ocean City’s old-school wooden boardwalk, Wockenfuss offers a plethora of decadent sweets including freshly dipped chocolate-covered strawberries, creamy fudge, saltwater taffy, and truffles.
It’s famous, though, for its selection of delicious caramel apples, which truly are FAR from the typical candy apple you’d find at a state fair. In the 100 years that Wockenfuss has been operating, it has truly perfected the art of the caramel apple. The apple core is crisp and tart, perfectly balancing the sweetness of the caramel coating. You won’t chip a tooth on one of these bad boys! Plus, there are many different flavors to choose from, such as peanut butter, Oreo, and more. 701 N. Atlantic Ave., map
Photo courtesy of Barn 34
Brunch with a Twist at Barn 34
You wouldn’t expect to find a barn-shaped restaurant in the heart of a coastal highway, but Barn 34’s unique placement and structure only adds to its charm. While it’s open for lunch and dinner, Barn 34 is most famous for its extravagant brunches, which fuse Eastern Shore classic foods with fun takes on traditional breakfast dishes. The crab and cheddar omelet, for one, combines gooey melted cheese with chunks of tender lump crab meat—a match made in heaven, it turns out!
The restaurant’s daily specials often incorporate Maryland crabs, such as crab cake Benedict, crabby eggs, and crab Oscar. The breakfast cocktails, too, live up to the caliber of the food’s quality: The Tito’s bloody Mary, topped with a shrimp skewer and a crispy bacon strip, is satisfyingly thick, slightly spicy, and pairs well with just about any brunch dish. Also look out for the local craft beers on tap, including from Burley Oak, the area’s premier craft brewery. 3400 Coastal Hwy, map
Photo courtesy of Crab Bag
Seafood Galore at Crab Bag
When you’re in a coastal city, consuming large quantities of fresh seafood is practically a requirement (as noted, surely, in the picks we’ve already made here). In Ocean City, Crab Bag is the place to fulfill this unspoken obligation because it serves almost any edible seafood under the Maryland sun, including shrimp, clams, flounder, crab, scallops, mahi mahi, oysters, and more.
You can create your own seafood platters, surf and turf combos, and steamer pots. It also offers all-you-can-eat hot steamed crab feasts, if you’re down to get your hands dirty. For the full-blown Marylander experience, be sure to order a Natural Bohemian (i.e., Natty Boh) as well—the light, smooth beer (brewed by Pabst) is considered an ode to Baltimore. 13005 Coastal Hwy, map
Photo courtesy of Fisher's Popcorn
Old Bay Popcorn from Fisher’s Popcorn
Iconic boardwalk shop Fisher’s Popcorn serves up, you guessed it, freshly popped popcorn. You’ll likely get a whiff of the mouthwatering aroma blocks away. If not, you’ll definitely spot the always-present line wrapped around the corner. Trust me—it’s worth the wait. Each tub is served hot and packed with bite after bite of flavor-packed popcorn.
The typical Marylander would go for the golden-brown Old Bay-flavored popcorn, which is delicious if you’re into the taste of Old Bay seasoning. If not, look to one of the many other, more traditional flavor options here, like butter, caramel, or white cheddar. Bonus: Fisher’s also ships its popcorn, so you’ll be able to satisfy the popcorn cravings you are bound to experience after returning home from your trip to Ocean City. 200 S. Boardwalk, map
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About the author: Alison Clary is a travel and feature writer living in Ocean City, MD. When she is not writing about her food experiences or participating in fiction competitions, you'll find her at home pampering her deaf senior rescue dog, Stanley. You can read more of Alison's published work at www.alisonpclarywriting.com.