Cole Taustin’s family has been feeding Ocean City diners for more than 75 years, so you could say he has a finger on the pulse of the beach town’s restaurant scene.
The Taustin Group runs Ocean City dining spots like Blu Crabhouse & Raw Bar, Jay’s Cafe & Trading Co. and Pier 23, a bar and restaurant built out of shipping containers. This year, they added two more concepts to the portfolio: The Other One Brewing Co., a microbrewery, and The Embers Restaurant, a re-imagining of The Embers buffet that had been an all-you-can-eat staple before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Embers Restaurant, which held its grand opening May 12, harks back to the original Embers concept, a fine dining restaurant that Taustin’s family opened in 1945. Located on the third floor of the Taustin Group’s multistory dining complex at 2305 Philadelphia Ave., the new Embers offers a steak-and-seafood-focused menu with options like veal osso bucco, tomahawk steak and dry-aged tuna, as well as a selection of pizzas prepared in the restaurant’s brick oven. Diners can take in sunset views from the west-facing dining room.
The restaurant’s revamp from buffet to “elevated dining,” as Taustin puts it, follows a trend he’s been noticing lately at the beach.
“I think the public are becoming more sophisticated diners, and we want to be able to meet that need,” the Taustin Group CEO said.
Nevertheless, it’s the beach. Taustin doesn’t expect customers to show up in a suit and tie. “When I say sophisticated, that doesn’t mean fancy,” he said. “It means their expectations are higher.”
This summer season, beachgoers can check out The Embers and several other recently opened spots, including multiple bars and restaurants inside the new Ashore Resort & Beach Club on Coastal Highway. Some more established restaurants have also unveiled upgrades or opened new locations.
Whether you’re looking for a hearty breakfast, a quick lunch or a romantic date night, we’ve rounded up a few dining suggestions for when all that sun, sand and saltwater has you working up an appetite.
Where to try something new
One of Ocean City’s newest hotels also has five of its newest bars and restaurants.
Ashore Resort & Beach Club, which opened this spring, seems to have something for every mood, from morning coffee to beachside drinks. The hotel is the successor to the Ocean City Fontainebleau Resort, which was purchased in 2022 by a real estate investment group and renovated with modern décor and updated amenities.
For breakfast, swing by Ashore Things, the hotel’s cafe, which serves coffee and grab-and-go snacks. For waterfront views, there’s The Shore Deck, a newly repositioned, 3,000-square-foot deck and event space that serves small bites and cocktails. Or, if you’d rather have your toes in the sand, there’s the Wahoo Beach Bar, which offers light meals, cocktails and live music. To catch a game, there’s an indoor sports bar, The Taproom.
But Ashore’s main dining draw is the Tide Room, an airy restaurant space with ocean views and coastal décor that serves “elevated but approachable” American dishes and seafood for breakfast, lunch (during the summer months) and dinner. 10100 Coastal Hwy.
Where to grab breakfast before hitting the beach
If you want to fuel up before a day spent in the sun, you can’t do much better than Casita Linda. This family-owned Mexican cafe serves generous plates of chilaquiles, breakfast tortas and mañanitas — handmade corn tortillas topped with slices of avocado, refried beans and queso fresco or potato hash — in a cheerful dining room accented with colorful flags, plants and cactus wallpaper. Order a horchata latte or a Mexican mocha latte, infused with steamed cinnamon, to get your caffeine fix, and grab a concha — a Mexican sweet bread baked in the shape of a shell — to go as a snack for later. 218 N. Baltimore Ave.
Where to find a hearty lunch
Fans of Ocean City stalwart Bull on the Beach had a bit of a scare last fall when the eatery announced it would be forced to close its original location on the boardwalk near Second Street, at the Park Place Hotel.
Happily, the pit beef hub was able to reach an agreement with its landlord to stay one more year in the place where it all began in 1980.
“We’ve been given an opportunity to utilize this property one last time and we want to make the best of it for the hotel guests and our regulars,” Bull on the Beach’s owners shared on social media earlier this year.
Drop by the Second Street spot to try the smoky signature sandwich, piled with beef aged for 21 days and cooked in an open pit. Or try a spin on the classic with BBQ beef or a Cuban sandwich, which adds pork loin, Swiss cheese, pickles and brown mustard.
Keep an eye out, too, for Bull on the Beach’s new second boardwalk location, near Trimper’s at South Division Street. The outpost, which opened Jan. 1, is offering walk-up window service. 211 Atlantic Ave., Suite A.; 700 S. Atlantic Ave.
Where to dine with the family
The beach abounds with family-friendly restaurants, but some take it to the next level with entertainment options alongside kid-approved menus.
At the Taustin Group’s newly renovated Philadelphia Avenue dining complex, there are several options for post-meal fun, including an arcade and a miniature golf course.
Order from the kids’ menu at Blu Crabhouse — options include chicken tenders, burgers, pizza and buttered noodles — and then take the family for a round of mini golf at “Embers Island,” an 18-hole putt-putt course featuring pirates doing battle and a faux volcano that erupts on the hour.
At the Surf’s Up Arcade, on the complex’s second floor, kids can try a hand at Skee-Ball, air hockey and classic arcade games. 2305 Philadelphia Ave.
Where to grab drinks with a view
Spain Wine Bar was the buzz of the beach last summer, and it’s still one of the best places to go if you want a side of amazing views with your dinner and drinks. The romantic spot highlights Spanish cuisine like tapas and paella, and mixed drinks like red sangria or the piña asada, a blend of mezcal, grilled pineapple and coconut. (You can find espresso martinis on the menu, too.)
Or make the wine bar your first stop of the night and keep things simple with a glass of wine and a charcuterie board while catching the sunset over Assawoman Bay. 13 St. Louis Ave.
In the works — and slated to open this summer — is a new rooftop bar at Micky Fins Bar & Grill. The West Ocean City restaurant, which already offers two levels of outdoor dining featuring views of the marina at the Ocean City Fishing Center, will serve the same menu of cocktails and globally inspired dishes from chef Duane Douglas up on the roof. 12952 Inlet Isle Lane.
Where to go for date night
Sometimes it pays to stick to the tried and true, and that’s the case at The Hobbit, which has been a go-to for finer dining at the beach for more than 40 years. The restaurant, tucked inside the Rivendell Condos, touts itself as “an absolute escape from the busy streets of Ocean City,” though the dining room, too, can feel bustling on a weekend night. There are other reasons for its enduring popularity, such as panoramic views and a menu that serves elegant staples like filet mignon and crème brûlée, as well as some wild cards, including elote-baked oysters and calamari with a dill-horseradish sauce. 121 81st St., Suite 101.