(Wawa’s seaside cousin)
This franchise is both a gas station and a fast-food destination, self-described as “your go-to place day or night for breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, gasoline, diesel fuel, and all the things you need!” With locations spread across four states- Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia- the presence of Royal Farms in the Commonwealth is distinctly a “Shore thing”. Six out of ten Virginia locations dot the Delmarva peninsula- see map below.
24-hours a day, I recommend any of the chicken options, which range from hand-breaded + “world famous” sandwiches, to available-any-time breakfast croissants, and of course my personal favorite, chicken tenders. For a delicious side option, one of my co-workers here at ESRHS swears by the hand-cut western fries, which she and other locals usually call “wedges”, to my initial confusion. I will add, for impartiality’s sake, that a second coworker summarizes the entire Royal Farms menu as “not that great”.
While many customers would protest that critique, it is hard to defend the nutritional value of the majority-fried fare. But at the end of the day, Royal Farms stakes out a spot in this post for its unlimited operating hours (24/7), which are particularly awesome in a rural area, where stores and restaurants seem to open and close as they please. Plus, its food-ordering kiosks and cheery interior resemble Wawa (a northeastern phenom), but the stores still feel different enough to make this out-of-towner-author feel adventurous.
Location: 20525 Market St, Onancock, VA 23417
Menu: see left
Hours: 11:00AM- 6:00ishPM daily
This unassuming, faded orange-color food truck will always hold a special place in my memory of the Eastern Shore, as it provided the first meal I ate here, during my orientation day lunch hour. Apart from necessitating an ATM withdrawal, it was the perfect way to start my adventure. The $2.00 tacos are made-to-order, accompanied by cucumber salad, green sauce picante, and packaged in enough Styrofoam and plastic to simultaneously induce guilt and a sense of authenticity.
Although Pichar Dos is definitely known as “a taco truck”, the other menu items- all recipes brought from south of the border by dueña Cecilia- are just as popular. A must-try is the torta milanesa, a hot sandwich with breaded, thinly sliced meat and veggies: a traditional Mexican favorite. And whatever you purchase, be sure to enjoy it seated at one of the two picnic tables which rest in direct sunlight, just off the side of the road. That is, if you are lucky enough to find a spot before the daily lunch rush of workers arrives.
Don’s Seafood & Chicken House
(Smith Island cake vendor)
Location: 1344 Ocean Highway, Pocomoke, MD 21851
Menu: click here
Hours: 11:00AM-10:00PM daily
This final tip is catered to my sweet tooth, but also serves as local trivia. Smith Island cake, historically a yellow cake with fudge icing and 8-10 thinly stacked layers, is a Delmarva favorite, withstanding the test of time and currently available in nearly every flavor imaginable. While Smith Island cake is sold throughout the region, Don’s Seafood & Chicken House is conveniently located off the main drag, and accepts custom orders, in addition to maintaining a variety of slices in-house.
As the name suggests, this dessert originated on Smith Island, Maryland, which has been inhabited by an English-settler community since the 17th century, and today remains decently isolated from mainstream influence, accessible solely by ferry. During a recent staff luncheon at the aforementioned Don’s, I tried the double chocolate, mango and “original” flavors, and could not tell you my favorite. However, having consumed a respectable amount of cake in my lifetime, my expertise does conclude that there must be something magical folded within the plentiful layers of this dessert; it is as satisfying as it is light, and almost refreshing; this is particularly true of the fruit-infused varieties.
Beyond the dessert section, I encourage further examination of Don’s menu, which is comprised of numerous mouth-watering entrees, many at a reasonable price. And finally, we should all take a moment to admire Maryland’s decision to legislate Smith Island cake as the official state dessert, effective 01 October 2008. Considering “ice cream” holds the respective title for the Commonwealth, I would say we Virginians are missing out. Or maybe we should all attempt a quick VA-MD border crossing, and take our cake, a la mode?
Ciao for now!
Local culinary suggestions or questions? Contact me.