Sambo's Tavern: Vintage Seafood Restaurant in Leipsic, Delaware

Samuel Burrows Portrait

Samuel Burrows, whose nickname was "Sambo" was a waterman and founder of Sambo's Tavern in Leipsic, Delaware. His tavern was NEVER associated with the Sambo's fast food chain restaurants. This photo is a portrait montage hanging in Sambo's Tavern.
Samuel Burrows, whose nickname was "Sambo" was a waterman and founder of Sambo's Tavern in Leipsic, Delaware. His tavern was NEVER associated with the Sambo's fast food chain restaurants. This photo is a portrait montage hanging in Sambo's Tavern.

Isaac Burrows as Featured in a Delaware Today Article

Isaac Burrows, one of Samuel's sons, is the current Sambo's owner and manager.
Isaac Burrows, one of Samuel's sons, is the current Sambo's owner and manager.

Step Back in Time at Sambo's Tavern

A visit to Sambo's Tavern in Leipsic, Delaware, is a step back to a simpler time when watermen made a living off the Delaware Bay.

The restaurant is just south of the Leipsic River Bridge and patrons can still see local crabbers bringing their day's haul to Sambo's dock, although some of the seafood now served in this thriving restaurant is purchased from quality seafood wholesalers.

My husband read about Sambo's in James Milton Hanna's book, "More Tales from Delaware Bay," and was intrigued by its history and reputation as a great place to eat crabs, crab cakes and seafood so he asked me to take him there for Father's Day. From our hometown of Milford, we took Rt. 1 north to Dover and turned right onto Rt. 9 passing lush green corn fields, grazing horses and cows, and farm houses.

The bucolic scenes made it easy to imagine that this part of Kent County still looks much like it did over half a century ago when Samuel Burrows, trying to supplement his farming income with money he earned from crabbing, decided to retail his day's catch by erecting a small building where customers could purchase fresh caught steamed crabs to carry out.

Mr. Burrows opened the restaurant and bar in 1953 and it's been owned and operated by family members ever since.

Sambo's Tavern as it Looks Today

Front entrance to Sambo's Tavern. Note the sign saying "Absolutely No-one Under 21 Allowed."
Front entrance to Sambo's Tavern. Note the sign saying "Absolutely No-one Under 21 Allowed." | Source

Photos of Sambo's Tavern

Source

Sambo's is Famous for its Crabs, Vintage Bar & Nascar Driver Patrons

From the outside the tavern looks modest, almost disappointing in its bland appearance. Signs remind visitors they must be 21 to enter, but when the door is opened patrons are treated to a retro, casual atmosphere where newspaper covered tables sport whole rolls of paper towels.

Such details remind one this is a special place meant for cracking crabs with wooden mallets until the juice pours out of them or for eating plump juicy crab cakes which are filled with perfectly seasoned lump crab meat.

In addition to crabs, friendly waitresses serve baskets of seafood, shrimp and clams and hand out cute business cards meant to be used as "drink holders" that remind staff not to remove a half full drink when a diner goes to the rest room.

The restaurant décor is casual with a Nascar Theme featuring photos of many famous drivers who have come to the tavern after racing their cars at nearby Dover Downs.

Maps of the United States and World hang along one wall, each map full of colorful push pins that have string tags bearing the names of tourists from other states and countries.

The first dining room has a vintage bar and pool table and opens into a second, main dining room that has fabulous views of the Leipsic River and marina.

More Photos of Sambo's Tavern and the Town of Leipsic

Click thumbnail to view full-size
One of 4 large wall maps that shows parts of the world that visiting tourists have come from.Main dining room overlooking the Leipsic River and Bridge.Nascar memorabilia in main dining room. Note the vintage paneling on the walls. Vintage bar menu.View of the small town of Leipsic from inside Sambo's main dining room.Empty wooden crab buckets on dock. Close-up of Tonya Duray crab boat and crab traps. Back view of Tonya Duray crab boat. Sambo's Tavern is the blue building in front of the boat.
One of 4 large wall maps that shows parts of the world that visiting tourists have come from.
One of 4 large wall maps that shows parts of the world that visiting tourists have come from. | Source
Main dining room overlooking the Leipsic River and Bridge.
Main dining room overlooking the Leipsic River and Bridge. | Source
Nascar memorabilia in main dining room. Note the vintage paneling on the walls.
Nascar memorabilia in main dining room. Note the vintage paneling on the walls. | Source
Vintage bar menu.
Vintage bar menu. | Source
View of the small town of Leipsic from inside Sambo's main dining room.
View of the small town of Leipsic from inside Sambo's main dining room. | Source
Empty wooden crab buckets on dock.
Empty wooden crab buckets on dock. | Source
Close-up of Tonya Duray crab boat and crab traps.
Close-up of Tonya Duray crab boat and crab traps. | Source
Back view of Tonya Duray crab boat. Sambo's Tavern is the blue building in front of the boat.
Back view of Tonya Duray crab boat. Sambo's Tavern is the blue building in front of the boat. | Source

Rate Sambo's Tavern

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Sambo's Tavern in Leipsic, DE

"Landmarks and Legacies"

This limited-edition book was written by Pam George and illustrated by renowned photographer, Kevin Fleming. All sites detailed in the book and featured on the Delaware History Trail were selected by Delaware historian Russ McCabe.

Copies of "Landmarks and Legacies" may be purchased through the Delaware Tourism Website at: http://www.visitdelaware.com/delaware-history-trail/book/ .

New Hub Series: Vintage & Famous Restaurants Along the Delaware History Trail

This hub answers the question, "Where would you go in your local area and why?" which was asked by ChristinS.

It is the first in a series of articles that I plan to write about vintage and famous restaurants along the Delaware History Trail. The trail and its website were created by the Delaware Tourism Office to highlight significant historic sites which have impacted Delaware and our nation's history.

You can learn more about the trail and download a free Delaware History Trail Passport at: http://www.visitdelaware.com/delaware-history-trail/.

Those who complete the trail and fill out special codes on their passports may receive a limited-edition copy of, "Landmarks & Legacies," a beautifully illustrated history book which features photographs by renowned photographer, Kevin Fleming, and contains many interesting facts about Delaware's colorful and important history.

Delaware History Trail Sites Near Sambo's Tavern

The following sites are on the Delaware History Trail and are within 15 miles of Sambo's Tavern:

  • Air Mobility Command Museum
  • Biggs Museum of American Art
  • Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
  • Delaware Agricultural Museum & Village
  • John Dickinson Plantation
  • Johnson Victrola Museum
  • Smyrna Museum
  • The Green

I have included a map with GPS addresses for your convenience. More information about each museum and historical site including links to their respective websites, can be found at the above link to the Delaware History Trail.


Dover & Smyrna Museums & Historical Sites

show route and directions
A markerAir Mobility Command Museum -
1301 Heritage Rd, Dover Air Force Base (DOV), Dover, DE 19902, USA
[get directions]

Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base.

B markerBiggs Museum of American Art -
406 Federal St, Dover, DE 19901, USA
[get directions]

Biggs Museum of American Art.

C markerBombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge -
2591 Whitehall Neck Rd, Smyrna, DE 19977, USA
[get directions]

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

D markerDelaware Agricultural Museum and Village -
866 N Dupont Hwy, Dover, DE 19901, USA
[get directions]

Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village.

E markerJohn Dickinson Plantation -
340 Kitts Hummock Rd, Dover, DE 19901, USA
[get directions]

John Dickinson Plantation.

F markerJohnson Victrola Museum -
375 S New St, Dover, DE 19904, USA
[get directions]

Johnson Victrola Museum.

G markerSmyrna Museum -
11 S Main St, Smyrna, DE 19977, USA
[get directions]

The Smyrna Museum.

H markerThe Green -
25 The Green, Dover, DE 19901, USA
[get directions]

The Green in Historic Downtown Dover.

I markerSambo's Tavern -
Front St, Dover, DE 19901, USA
[get directions]

Sambo's Tavern on the Leipsic River.

"More Tales from Delaware Bay"

Delaware author, James Milton Hanna, has written several books about the Delaware Bay. This one is about historical and modern incidents involving shipbuilding, crabbing, oystering, and fishing on the Bay.

It includes a chapter about the history of Sambo's Tavern in Leipsic, Fort Delaware located on Pea Patch Island, and tales about pirate raids on oyster beds in the Delaware Bay.

Hope You Enjoyed Your Cyber Visit to Sambo's Tavern

I hope you have enjoyed this hub about Sambo's Tavern in Leipsic and are able to dine there in person if you are ever in Kent County, Delaware.

Reservations are highly recommended if you plan to go on Friday or Saturday night. Hours of operation are seasonal so it's also best to call in advance to be sure the tavern is open when you want to visit.

Call 302-674-9724 for reservations or information or visit the Sambo's Tavern Facebook Page at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sambos-Tavern/115382508473923 .

Have you ever been to Sambo's Tavern in Leipsic, Delaware?

  • Yes
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  • No, but I would like to go there.
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Comments 36 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

My wife and I want to hop in our RV and visit as many of the diners, drive-ins, and dives featured on the program of that name, as we can. This sounds like a great addition!


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Will,

Yes, this would be a perfect place to add to your list and you'd probably enjoy swapping stories with the locals!

Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a cool comment.


mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

You are so lucky to have so many great places to go and visit where you live! You're always running here and there to gardens and all sorts of great places, and I love to read about them, too. You did a great job with your photos (as always). I voted this UP, and shared. Have a wonderful day.....


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Mary,

Yes, I'm truly blessed to be able to enjoy so many great places and your lovely comments and support are also a blessing. Thanks so much for always taking time to give me feedback and encouragement.

Hub Hugs,

Gail


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

That lunch was great, could you pass that roll of paper towels. This is yet another great hub highlighting an interesting way to spend a casual afternoon.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Gail,

What a fun drive through the countryside to get to this colorful place...Sambos Tavern and Seafood Restaurant. Will be fun to read about all the unique places on this trail. Sounds interesting and entertaining. Thanks for writing about them for those of us who do not live close enough to easily see them for ourselves. Voted up, interesting and useful.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Mike,

Thanks so much for joining me and for your kind comments. It's always a great day when I can eat with a friend. LOL


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Peggy,

So glad you enjoyed your cyber-visit to Sambo's Tavern and thanks for the specific feedback and vote up. I'm looking forward to following the Delaware History Trail and finding more fun, unique and vintage places to eat as I travel through my small but beautiful and historic state.

Hub Hugs,

Gail


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Sambo's Tavern looks like a real fun place to eat. Love the little 'gone to pee' signs to pop in the bottles.

It is wonderful to see these unique places that we are unlikely ever to be able to visit except in our imaginations which your tours make real for us. Thank you I am looking forward to the rest of the series.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Rosemay,

Those little 'gone to pee' signs double as the tavern's business card! LOL

So glad you enjoyed your cyber visit and greatly appreciate you feedback and support.

Hub Hugs,

Gail


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

Sambos sounds like a place i would love. Shrimp is one of my favorite foods and it would be fresh there i'm sure. The sites would be nice to visit, esp. the art museum, I can spend an entire day looking at art. Thank's for the share...


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Always Exploring,

Sounds like we like a lot of the same things.

So glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for leaving an enthusiastic comment.


thelyricwriter profile image

thelyricwriter 4 years ago from West Virginia

Voting this up and all across but funny HBN. Another class A article my friend. Sambos sounds and looks like the place to be. I am a shrimp person myself. All your articles attract me more and more to Delaware HBN. When my wife gets her money, I am going for sure. I love art and history. That is just a bonus. It is so beautiful there and I would love to go. Another great article. Hope all is well and I shall talk to you soon:)


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Lyricwriter,

So thrilled you have been enjoying my Delaware hubs and are inspired to visit this small but historic and beautiful state with your wife.

I so appreciated the fact that you've been leaving specific comments and are always supportive.

All is well here and I've been enjoying the warm weather.

Hub Hugs,

Gail


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 4 years ago from New York

Beautiful! I want to go there, eat, have a drink and let my hair down and just enjoy the atmosphere. Enjoying your hubs about points of interest around you. Keep em coming, I'll keep reading.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 4 years ago from South Africa

What a lovely series on Vintage & Famous Restaurants Along the Delaware History Trail.

This will certainly be useful for people living in the area and also for tourist.

LMAO for that note: 'Gone to pee, leave my drink alone."


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Bobbi,

So thrilled that you liked the hub and I really appreciate your feedback and support.

Hopefully, you and Steve will get to visit this area one day. I'm sure you would enjoy it, especially places like Sambo's and our state parks and national wildlife refuges.

Hub Hugs,

Gail


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Martie,

That "business" card/drink holder made me laugh, too!

Thanks so much for leaving such a lovely comment with specific feedback.

Hub Hugs,

Gail


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

What a great place! I would love to walk in and have some seafood there; probably best I don't have a pint of ale, though. LOL

Great job describing the place and the photos are fantastic.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Billy,

Love the fact that you can laugh about staying away from the ale.

Do think you'd enjoy the food, casual atomosphere and fact that it's out in the country. We were the first to come in at lunchtime so it was quiet and my husband was the only one drinking. He rarely drinks alcoholic beverages because of the medications he takes but once in a while he orders a beer and literally has about 3 gulps of it.

Thanks so much for your support and feedback. It's greatly appreciated, as is your ongoing friendship.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

I am sure there wasn't a tag on the map for the Wye Valley/England - I ought to come personally and put one there!

How I would love to visit, you have written so many wonderful hubs on Delaware, being a seafood lover, Sambo's has to be my kind of place!

A wonderful hub thank you and voted up.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Lesley,

That sounds like a great idea!

Glad you enjoyed your cyber visit.

Your photos of England are always so enticing and I'm always glad that I'm able to enjoy cyber visits to places I've never even heard of before.

Thanks so much for your ongoing support and friendship and for the vote up.


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

Hi Gail, this was such a Fun as well as Educational read. Mouthwatering, to be sure! It sounds like you both had a Wonderful time discovering "Sambo's"for Father's Day. I Love discovering new places with a History. Thanks so much for the share and suggesting!


Melovy profile image

Melovy 4 years ago from UK

This sounds a really interesting place with it's history, and as always I loved your photos. The painting montage was great and that map with all the tags! Wow! The restaurant reminds me of places in Shetland Islands where I grew up, not because of what it sells, but the way it does - the family aspect of it, the simplicity of the décor, and the casualness you describe. Connection is more important than impressing.

Pity that I don't eat seafood, but as always I enjoyed the hub.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi b. Malin,

So glad that you enjoyed the hub.

Yes, our crab cakes were mouth watering and it was really fun discovering a place that's "new" to us but has a great history and whose location was like taking a walk back through time.

We visited the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge afterwards which has a drive- through option where you can stay inside your car and observe the abundant wildlife and beautiful marsh lands. We chose to stay inside the car as there were aggressive flies that day, but people can walk on boardwalk observation areas or stop by the lake observation areas and get out to take pictures.

Thanks for leaving such a lovely comment.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Melovy,

How interesting that it reminded you of a family run restaurant in the Shetland Islands. I always get a tingle of delight when I read a hub about a foreign land and can relate to it in that same kind of way.

Yes, connection is more important than impressing, especially when there is great food and a wonderful view.

The map with all the tags was one of four cause I guess they ran out of space on the original map.

The montage was more beautiful than in my picture and perfectly captured the essence of the restaurant, watermen, Sam Burrows himself and the awesome views.

Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving such a great comment.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

My gosh is that a visitors pin from the middle of Greenland Gail! Thoroughly enjoyed this trip to Sambos and learning about the near-by Delaware History trail. Your descriptions of the crab feasting are the next best thing to actually being there. Another fine visit to a Delaware treasure spot Gail.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Alastar,

Boy, you have good eyes and really pay attention to details! Yes, I believe that is a tag from a Greenland visitor!

So glad you enjoyed the hub and your cyber-visit.

Sending Hub Hugs your way,

Gail


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Gail,

Now this is a series that I could "sink my teeth into...", especially since this is such a close area to me, girlfriend!

Sambo's Tavern sounds unbelievably yummy and I know I would check out a crabcake sandwich first off...

Excellent review... photography accentuates so well!

Voted UP & UABI. Hugs galore, Maria


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Mar,

Love the pun! LOL

Yes, many from PA have dined at Sambo's and enjoyed the delicious crab cakes and I think you'd love it there. Reservations are strongly recommended on weekend evenings.

Be sure to use your "Gone to Pee" card to hold your drink if you use the restroom! That business card made me laugh but it's truly practical as I'm sure there's a line for the "necessary room" when the place is packed with tourists and locals.

Thanks so much for the vote up.

Hub Hugs,

Gail


acaetnna profile image

acaetnna 4 years ago from Guildford

Definely sounds great.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Acaetnna,

Appreciate your leaving a comment. Sambo's is a great place to relax, go with old friends or meet new friends. So glad you enjoyed the hub.


A.A. Zavala profile image

A.A. Zavala 4 years ago from Texas

Delaware must be the most interestin palce in the Union. Has the best food, parks and receation. I'm hungry for seafood now. Head to Sambo's?


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Aw A.A.,

Your "cyber" visits to Delaware always bring such joy. I'd love to head to Sambo's for a wonderful seafood meal shared with you and so many of our other Hubber friends.

Sending Hub Hugs Across the Miles,

Gail


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

My husband's aunt and uncle live in Deleware, so next time we pay them a visit I plan to visit this restaurant! I'll check out your hubs on local historical sites, too. Thanks so much for a well-written hub. Voted up!


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina Author

Hi Vespawoolf,

So glad you enjoyed the hub and hope you are able to get to Sambo's on your next trip to Delaware.

Thanks for the vote up. It's greatly appreciated.

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