Wilmington, N.C.: As summer transitions to autumn, it’s easy to “fall” for coastal flavors with an appetizing roundup of seasonal food, brew and wine happenings in Wilmington, North Carolina and its island beaches. From tastings, wine walks and craft beer tours to oyster roasts, food tours and festivals, there are nearly two dozen flavorful happenings during the fall months that feature local cuisine and regional spirits.
Coastal chefs face off in a friendly competition when the Fire on the Dock Competition Dining Series returns to Bluewater Grille (Sept. 19-22). October brings several signature food events, including: the 23rd Annual Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival (Oct. 8-9) near Kure Beach and the 5th Annual Taste of Wrightsville Beach festival (Oct. 8). Encore’s Fall Wilmington Restaurant Week (Oct. 19-26) features great menus at great prices from 40+ restaurants. On October 19, five Wilmington Chefs will join celebrity chef Vivian Howard, star of PBS series “A Chef’s Life,” for a Chef’s Feast on the River. The second annual Wilmington Seafood Festival will be held Oct. 22-23 at Watermark Marina and the inaugural Wilmington Beer Week (Oct. 22-29) includes 7 days of beer-theme events, including the Lighthouse Beer Festival (Oct. 29). Weekly farmer’s markets and food and brewery tours provide even more opportunities to savor coastal flavors.
Local restaurants and chefs are putting Wilmington and the beaches on the foodie map with recent culinary accolades. SouthernLiving.com named PinPoint Restaurant, located in Wilmington's River District, among their picks for Best New Restaurants of 2016. Earlier this year manna restaurant received its second consecutive AAA 4-diamond rating. CATCH Restaurant’s chef/owner Keith Rhodes was chosen to participate in the 2016 James Beard Foundation Boot Camp. Rhodes is the only N.C. chef participating in this year’s event. Pine Valley Market recently took the Copper Kettle Best in Show award at Wilmington’s Epicurean Evening competition. These chefs and others committed to using local produce, seafood, meats and cheese have formed a new 40Eats initiative to raise awareness of Wilmington’s dynamic food scene and to give back to the community where they live and work.
From farm-to-fork signature Southern dishes to fresh seafood specialties and international creations, there are restaurants to suit every budget and palate. Mild fall temperatures are ideal for dining outdoors. Historic Wilmington still reigns as the #1 “Best Al Fresco Dining Neighborhood” according to USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice. The beaches also claim many fine restaurants that delight with fresh seafood and vista views of the ocean and waterways. Go with the flow and see where the water—and your appetite—take you when you visit Wilmington, North Carolina and the island beaches of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach.
Here’s a roundup of seasonal food, brew and wine happenings:
Oct. 8-9: Annual Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues & Jazz Festival. Seafood vendors provide tasty eats. This year’s blues headline artists are Jonny Lang and Samantha Fish. Ft. Fisher Air Force Rec Area, 118 Riverfront Rd, Kure Beach. 910-458-8434; Tickets: www.pleasureislandnc.org/events-details.php?id=201
Oct. 15-16: Festival Latino. A celebration of Latino food, music, dance and arts. Ogden Park, Wilmington. 910-341-0007; http://www.amigosinternacional.org/home-page/festival-latino/
Oct. 19: Chef’s Feast on the River. 6pm-8pm. Five Wilmington chefs join celebrity chef Vivian Howard (chef/star of PBS series “A Chef’s Life”) for a feast to benefit Food Bank of Eastern NC. Howard will also sign her new cookbook Deep Run Roots. Pier 33 at Port City Marina, Wilmington. Tickets: www.foodbankcenc.org/site/PageServer?pagename=getinvolved_ChefsFeastILM
Oct. 19-26: Encore’s Wilmington Restaurant Week. 40+ restaurants in Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach serve delicious meals at fixed prices. Restaurants/ menus online at www.encorerestaurantweek.com.
Oct. 22-23: Wilmington Seafood Festival. Sat. 11am-7pm; Sun 11am-6pm. Watermark Marina, 4114 River Rd., Wilmington. Tickets: 910-794-5259
Oct. 22: Annual Taste of Wrightsville Beach. 5pm-8pm. Showcase of 30+ Wrightsville Beach eateries + beer/wine vendors. Marine Max, 130 Short St., Wrightsville Beach. 910-262-5998; Tickets: www.wrightsvillebeachfoundation.org
Ongoing - Farmer’s Markets: Wrightsville Beach Farmer’s Market, Wrightsville Beach Municipal Complex (Mondays through September 26 http://www.townofwrightsvillebeach.com/183/Farmers-Market); Carolina Beach Farmer’s Market,Carolina Beach Lake (Saturdays through Oct. 1 http://carolinabeachfarmersmarket.com); Riverfront Farmer’s Market,Downtown Wilmington (Saturdays through Nov. 19 www.wilmingtonfarmers.com); Ogden Farmer’s Market, Ogden Park (Wednesdays through Nov. 16); Poplar Grove Farmer’s Market, (Wednesdays through Oct. 26; Gourmet in the Grove, Thursdays through Oct. 26 www.poplargrove.org).
Ongoing – Brewery Tours: Port City Brew Bus Tours. Tours include multiple breweries and bottle shops in the Wilmington area. Reservations required: 910-679-6586; www.portcitybrewbus.com; Front Street Brewery offers daily tours and tastings. Free, daily 3pm-4:30pm. Must be 21+ years. 9 N. Front St., Wilmington: www.frontstreetbrewery.com; Wilmington Ale Trail provides a self-guided tour of craft breweries and bottle shops: www.wilmingtonaletrail.com.
City + Beaches: Outstanding restaurants and chefs from the historic city’s award-winning riverfront to the nearby island beaches welcome guests year-round with fresh seafood and regional specialties. Wilmington’s dynamic dining scene presents a full spectrum of restaurant choices. Visitors can satisfy their palate and feed the soul in one destination with four unique settings. Before traveling any distance for an event, please contact event organizers to confirm details and secure tickets/reservations. For a free official Visitors Guide, call 1-866-266-9690.