It’s no secret Wilmington has become a hotspot for standout and innovative cuisine that is only continuing to grow as more award-winning chefs make their way to the coast. The thriving culinary scene has already garnered national attention and accolades, most recently with the city being ranked one of Yelp’s 2022 Foodie Cities. Keep reading to find out what’s new and notable on the scene.
Raleigh Restaurateur Returns
After making his mark on the Raleigh restaurant scene, Chef Sunny Gerhart, the 2022 James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef Southeast, is returning to Wilmington to open his newest concept, Olivero. Slated to open early 2023, the second restaurant from the chef and owner of Raleigh's award-winning St. Roch Oysters & Bar will be serving up a fusion of Spanish and Italian cuisine. Olivero's non-traditional flavors of New Orleans will include local, fresh produce and seafood, homemade pasta and more.
Relish in New Coastal Favorites
Wilmington’s Lumina Station recently welcomed Kipos, the coastal outpost of prolific restaurateur, James Beard nominee and the owner of Giorgios Hospitality Group, Giorgios Bakatisas. The menu of this elevated Greek taverna leans heavily on local seafood and authentic Greek dishes such as moussaka, spanakopita and other beloved classics from the original Kipos menu.
The original CheeseSmith food truck was no match for the growing crowds and loyal customers who caused it to sell out frequently. The two chefs behind the creative concept put down roots in Wilmington’s trendy Cargo District and expanded into their first brick-and-mortar location. Their rotating menu of inventive grilled cheese sandwiches and delicious sides earned them a feature on the Cooking Channel’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” as they take this comfort food favorite to the next level.
Savor these Oldies but Goodies
Wilmington has blossomed into a foodie hotspot with a diverse range of cuisine that suits everyone's palette. From fine dining to local dives, the city is home to many award-winning chefs.
Honored as a James Beard semi-finalist, Chef Dean Neff serves up sustainably farmed seafood complemented by fresh, local ingredients at Seabird. For a taste of delicious Italian cuisine, Benny's Big Time comes from the creative mind of Vivian Howard, a James Beard semi-finalist for Best Chef Southeast, as well as both a Daytime Emmy and James Beard award winner for her popular culinary show, "A Chef's Life." The James Beard finalist, Chef Keith Rhodes, who you might recognize from Bravo's "Top Chef," is the creative mastermind behind Catch's seasonal, fresh seafood creations, and he recently went mobile as well, serving up fare out of Catch the Food Truck. The innovative American cuisine at manna ave. 123 has received the AAA Four Diamond Award for multiple consecutive years.
The flourishing foodie scene in Wilmington is heating up as new and notable chefs head to the coast, making it the perfect time for foodies to follow suit.