Calling all Food Lovers to Wilmington, NC
Whether you consider yourself a foodie, a food enthusiast, a gourmand, an epicure or simply a lover of good food, you’ll find more than enough options to satisfy and delight here. Wilmington and our Island Beaches' food scene is thriving with what some might be surprised to find is a diverse range of offerings ranging from fine dining to local dives, seafood feasts to farm-to-table, quick eats to award-winning cuisine. There is some type of fare from Southern to coastal to international to experience while on vacation in Wilmington and our beaches.
Famous & Noteworthy Noshes
Discover foodie favorites from the area’s award-winning and noteworthy restaurants. Check out the daily menu specials featuring farm-and-sea-to-table cuisine at PinPoint Restaurant, a local eatery featured on The Cooking Channel’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” and named one the “South’s Best Restaurants” by Southern Living. Indulge in Latin and Spanish flavors and colorful dishes at Savorez, which Yelp named the best brunch in North Carolina. Devour in award-winning Southern barbecue, fried chicken, catfish and savory sides at Casey's Buffet. Voted "The Best All-You-Can-Eat Buffet in North Carolina" by the readers of Reader's Digest, adventurous diners can try pigs' feet, fat back and more.
Stop by manna ave. 123, Wilmington's first and only restaurant to receive the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award. With a menu that changes daily and seasonally, the restaurant’s culinary team focuses on featuring fresh and local ingredients in every recipe. Spend the evening at Caprice Bistro, named one of OpenTable’s “Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants.” Featuring a cozy dining atmosphere, the restaurant serves French-inspired cuisine and a curated list of specialty wines. Try the Escargots Petits Gris or the Crepe Caprice served with spinach, gruyere, brie and more. If you’re a burrito lover, try Flaming Amy’s signature burrito with chipotle peppers, green chiles, jalapenos, named one of Thrillist.com's "33 Best Burritos in America.”
Wilmington is home to famous and noteworthy chefs from around the country. Try seasonal flavors made from local ingredients and fresh seafood creations by Chef Keith Rhodes, owner of Catch and James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for Best Chef: Southeast. Chef Rhodes also competed on season nine of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef.” Chef Dean Neff, owner of Seabird and a James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southeast semi-finalist, takes pride in using fresh, in-season seafood and ingredients from local, small-scale farms and fishermen. His restaurant has received national acclaim with Reader’s Digest featuring Seabird as “The Best Traditional Restaurant in North Carolina." Try Neapolitan-style woodfired pizza at Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria. The restaurant is owned by Chef Vivan Howard, a James Beard Foundation Best Chef: Southeast semi-finalist who also stars on the TV Series documentary "Somewhere South.”
Wilmington’s first fine-dining vegan eatery, The Green House, features a menu focused on fresh vegetables and clean proteins. Indulge in the executive chef’s signature dish, delicate roasted vegetables served with grits, saffron beurre blanc, chimichurri and beans. Take in stunning views of the Cape Fear River while feasting on a mix of seafood, signature barbecue with a New Orleans flair and local brews and wine at Smoke on the Water. Dine on the back deck which features large tables ideal for seafood steam pots and a fire pit perfect for spending chillier evenings.
Fresh to Table, From Farm and Sea
Enjoy a meal sourced from sustainable farms, grilled over natural hard-wood charcoal and served in a casually elegant coastal setting at Port Land Grille. From Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Meat “Cocktail” to N.C. Black Grouper, there's something to delight everyone’s taste buds at this local favorite. In Wrightsville Beach, visit EAST Oceanfront Dining, located inside the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, for award-winning coastal fare from Chef Jessica Cabo, a contestant from season one of Fox TV's "Hell's Kitchen." Her menu focuses on using fresh ingredients in every dish from locally caught seafood to homegrown produce and more. Try the Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail seasoned with Old Bay or order the fresh catch of the day.
Located in the heart of Wilmington’s historic downtown, Circa 1922 boasts a menu with items from both land and sea. Offering a full selection of cheese and charcuterie, the restaurant is known for its seafood, meat and vegetarian tapas, including Fresh Lobster Mac and Cheese covered in breadcrumbs, Prosciutto-Wrapped Dates filled with gorgonzola and more. In Carolina Beach, swing by Salt Fish Restaurant and Tiki Bar for colorful tiki-themed cocktails, martinis, craft beer and Polynesian-inspired entrees. Dig into Kimchi Crab Cakes, Saigon Noodles or the Chicken and Croissant Cake. Visit Jack Mackerel's Island Grill in Kure Beach for Caribbean-inspired cuisine including fresh locally sourced seafood, steaks and more. Enjoy peak-a-boo ocean views on the rooftop dining area and try the fresh catch of the day.
Cuisine From Around the World
Wilmington is bursting with rich flavors and authentic dishes. Find comfort foods at a German café or an Irish pub. Opt for an evening with classic Italian fare paired with your favorite wine. Whichever flavors you choose, you will find a variety of cuisine in a uniquely coastal setting. Located in Historic Downtown Wilmington, savor delicious sushi and pan-Asian favorites surrounded by Tokyo-inspired décor at YoSake Downtown Sushi Lounge. Indulge in your favorite classic roll or try out the Southern Chicken Sushi Roll featuring tempura fried chicken, coleslaw and pickles in a BBQ soy wrap.
Swing by Indochine, an acclaimed Thai and Vietnamese restaurant in Wilmington. Order the Vietnamese Catfish, a local favorite, while dining outside in one of their Thai Huts. For authentic Irish cuisine, stop by The Harp, located near Wilmington’s South Front District. Try their Beef Braised in Guinness or the Galway Bay Fish n' Chips served with house-cut chips and coleslaw.
Dine alfresco on your own private balcony with unbeatable river views at Floriana. Located in historic downtown Wilmington, this Italian bistro features seasonal, rotating menus, weekend brunch specials and more. Or, head to Tarantelli's Restaurant Italiano, a family-owned restaurant known for using the finest ingredients imported from Italy and creating Italian dishes from past generation family recipes. Located on the lower level of historic downtown's Cotton Exchange, The German Café is a must try. This Wilmington staple offers an extensive beer and wine list, delicate desserts and dishes prepared from scratch using specialty recipes from Germany. For those who enjoy authentic Greek food, dine at Kipos to find robust flavors made with fresh, locally sourced seafood, specialty Greek wines and more.
Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives
Swing by Wilmington’s restaurants featured on the Food Network television series hit show; “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” hosted by Guy Fieri.
Try it All
Can’t decide where to go or what to try? Sample numerous local favorites, famous hotspots and coastal flavors on a gourmet food tour with Taste Carolina. The Downtown Tasting Tour offers a unique tasting experience in Wilmington's Historic District including savory and sweet items from five to six restaurants and bars. Meet local chefs and owners while learning about Wilmington and its thriving culinary scene. Or, discover something new in nearby Carolina Beach with Tasting History Tours. Register for their Signature Tour to get a fresh taste of island cuisine at some of the best restaurants in Carolina Beach.
Wilmington’s nearby island beaches – Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville – all have their own unique food experiences as well. Thanks to a blossoming food scene, visitors to Carolina Beach can indulge in fresh, locally grown and sourced menus at notable hotspots alongside a laid-back island vacation. At Kure Beach, enjoy flavorful bites from Southern favorites to fresh seafood dishes and pork chops worth waiting in line for – all near an ocean view. From fresh-to-table meals and oceanfront fish houses to unique eats and seafood markets, Wrightsville Beach has plenty of options to inspire booking a foodie beach vacation here.