Looking for the best bites in a beach town? Wilmington, North Carolina, is the only place you need to look.
Wilmington, North Carolina, is not only home to some of the best beaches in the state, but also to a wide range of excellent places to eat.
People know that coastal paradises have a lot of fresh seafood. Here, you can choose from the day’s freshest fish and seafood.
People can also find a lot of the traditional works of the South. This is the place to go if you want to eat some home-style comfort food.
Also, the area around Wilmington has a lot more to offer. Taste the strange flavors of food from all over the world.
You can fill up on real Asian, Italian, and Mexican food at restaurants. You can eat at cute local restaurants, splurge on a five-star meal, or fill your stomach with tasty farm-to-table food.
If you come hungry and take the time to enjoy the food, we promise that your taste buds will be happy.
Here are some of the best places to eat in Wilmington (and a select few in neighboring towns like Carolina Beach and Kure Beach).
Best Restaurants In Wilmington
This restaurant is probably the most well-known in Wilmington. Indochine is a restaurant that serves authentic Thai and Vietnamese food. You can eat outside in one of the oriental-style huts next to a koi pond with water lilies.
It’s a unique experience that’s quickly become a favorite among both locals and visitors.
Since we went to UNCW ten years ago, this place has been busy most nights. If you go on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night, you will almost certainly have to wait for a table, but it will be worth it.
The unique flavors of the Far East come to life in dishes like the perfect Pad Thai, the highly sought-after Papaya Salad, and the irresistible Green and Jungle Curries. Just looking at the decorations takes you to a different place.
2. Casey’s Buffet And BBQ
One of the nicest things to do in North Carolina is to indulge in some barbecue, and what could be better than an endless supply of barbecue?
At this North Carolina paradise run by a family, you can fill up on soul food and Southern comfort. You can choose from dishes like fried chicken, catfish, collard greens, and cornbread that have been made from scratch every day.
If you want to try something new, go for the pig’s feet or chitlins. This real soul food from the South is good for your body in every way.
The room looks warm and inviting, like a restaurant or a cozy cottage. This is one of the best places to eat in Wilmington, and their barbecue is the best in the area.
3. RX Restaurant
RX makes Southern dishes that change with the seasons and serves them in a high-end but casual setting. Working closely with local farmers and fisherman makes sure that every meal is fresh and filling.
Every visit is different and interesting because the menu and even the drinks change with the seasons and what is available.
When you eat food that tastes like home, it makes you feel better. The old pharmacy building in the middle of Downtown Wilmington is a charming backdrop for the restaurant’s upscale menu and atmosphere.
Some people don’t order the North Carolina duck dish, but the braised pig belly with smoked cheddar grits is worth getting.
4. Dram Yard
We know we can always count on Dram Yard to give us a unique take on classic beach food that we’ve come to love. If you’d rather let the chefs decide what to feed you, you can choose from their three-course or four-course menus, which are available on certain days of the week.
You’re about to have a tasty time. You can tell that a lot of thought went into choosing and making each dish. Only the freshest local ingredients were used.
In the peaceful Gazebo Bar of the hotel, you can unwind with a drink. There is a separate vegan menu for those who are interested.
It has meat-free gems like beet tartare and a nice courtyard, as one would expect from Dram in Downtown ILM.
5. Pop’s Diner
Everyone who walks along the Carolina Beach boardwalk needs to stop at Pop’s Diner. This restaurant from the 1950s serves all your favorite foods along with a big helping of nostalgia. People really like the Cuban sandwich and funnel cake fries.
The jukebox, walls of records, bright red booths, and random Elvis appearances are sure to make everyone smile.
We feel like we’re back at the state fair, where we can eat whatever we want and have fun without worrying about what other people think. Even if your beach body doesn’t like it, your inner child will.
On Market Street, Catch is a seafood paradise where you can get the freshest fish from the shore. Everything comes from North Carolina’s Cape Fear Coast, which is known for its organic farms and fisheries that don’t hurt the environment.
Two of the most popular things to order at the restaurant are the Cajun-fried North Carolina oysters and the crab cakes that have won awards. Nothing can beat how fresh Catch is.
The decor is modern with a touch of sea-related trinkets. With your meal, you can have a glass of wine from a small vineyard or a cocktail made by hand with local ingredients.
If you’re walking around the area, keep an eye out for their food truck. One of the best places to eat in both Wilmington and Carolina Beach.
At Tarantelli’s, you can eat all the Tuscan food you’ve ever dreamed of. The best way to spend a night at home is at Tarantelli’s, a family-owned restaurant that makes real Italian food from scratch using recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation.
We can’t stress enough how much the aged for 24 months Parmigianino should go on everything you eat here.
We had the best ravioli we’ve ever had here, but you might have the same experience with one of their other pastas. You’ve found the best place to get a wood-fired pizza, which is the best kind of pizza.
The only bad thing about Tarantelli’s is that you won’t be able to try all of the delicious Italian dishes on the menu.
Pinpoint is a Southern institution that uses only the best seasonal and local ingredients to make food that changes all the time and always has new flavors.
It serves a wide range of foods that are inspired by the American culture of “farm-to-table.” You can’t go wrong with smoked trout-baked oysters, charcuterie-rockefeller-baked oysters, or raw oysters on the half shell.
You might want to look at how the food is served instead of eating it, but we promise you won’t be sorry if you do. It’s a popular place for brunch and drinks made with care.
The exposed brick walls and artwork make the space feel warm and cozy. More than that, though, they are in a great spot in the historic center of Wilmington.
9. Fork N Cork
In Wilmington’s historic district, Fork N Cork is a cozy restaurant that serves even cozier comfort food. The first Paddy Wagon food truck became very popular in the city very quickly.
This led the owners to move the business to a permanent location. People still come from all over the world to try the well-known poutine and pot pies.
The Brisket Biscuit will blow your mind every time you eat it. The confit duck wings will stay in your mind for a very long time. The Wellington Bites will blow your mind with what they can do.
At either the Wilmington or Carolina Beach location, you can try some of your favorite dishes. Their claim to fame is that Guy Fieri likes them, and once you try one, you’ll see why.
At Ceviche’s, you can live out all of your romantic dreams about Latin America. The bar is made of reclaimed wood from Panama, and the food is inspired by the food of that country.
The patio is a beautiful place to enjoy how well-made these things are. The dish that gives the restaurant its name is just one of many tasty options. We suggest that you try the paella from Panama.
The food at the cafe is as good for the environment as the people it serves, and it tastes as bright and different as the decor.
Try a taste of the tropics at Ceviche’s, one of Wilmington’s best restaurants. It’s right on Wrightsville Beach, which is a plus. After a long day at the beach, make a reservation by calling ahead.
11. Shuckin Shack
This Shuckin Shack slogan is no joke: “Responsibly sourced and really enjoyable.” It is a safe place for shellfish that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Even though there are now other sites in the Southeast, the first one is still at Carolina Beach, right next to Carolina Beach State Park. The simple beach setting is perfect for these snacks with a beach theme.
Even though crab balls, calamari, and clams deserve all the praise they get, the traditional boil is our favorite Lowcountry dish. Shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn seasoned with Old Bay are served in a pot on a tablecloth.
You can get a bowl, a plate, or a serving for the whole family. In coastal North Carolina, this has been done for a long time. Also, if we didn’t include the lobster roll, we’d be way off.
12. Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn
Flaming Amy’s is the best place to go if you want Mexican food that is out of this world. In the world of wild foods, churkeychanga is well-known.
The godzilladilla comes in a close second for us. With all the tasty vegetarian and vegan options, you won’t even miss the meat, which is unusual but very welcome for a dinner like this.
Everyone will have a good time at Amy’s because of its wide range of food and fun, colorful decor. If you go there, you might have to wait because it is a famous landmark in the area. Don’t worry, it’s moving along pretty fast. This is one of the least expensive places to eat in Wilmington.
13. Platypus & Gnome
Platypus & Gnome on Front Street is not your typical American cafe, and despite what the name might suggest, it’s a lot more fun than you might think.
Both the food and the place itself are interesting and unique. The menu changes with the seasons and often has both unusual meats and plant-based options. They try a wide range of dishes, from traditional Southern food to dishes from other countries.
The gluten-free bacon mac and cheese–stuffed Southern-fried game bird and the seared ostrich steak sandwich are two dishes that stand out. You should go to Platypus & Gnome if you want to try a new kind of food you’ve never had before.
14. The Basics
A small brick cafe called Basics serves the best breakfast in town. If you order the Southern Benedict with a Bloody Mary on the side, you won’t be sorry.
Meatloaf and shrimp and grits made like mom’s original recipes are some of the specialties. On the menu, there are both tried-and-true dishes and creative new ones.
It’s right on the Riverwalk, so it’s a great place to take a slow walk after a big meal to burn off some of the calories. We think that what it has to offer is more than just the basics.
A Savorez is a safe bet in the middle of Wilmington. There is no better restaurant serving Latin American food outside of Latin America. This restaurant has only a few tables and is on the corner of 4th and Chestnut St.
The word “Savorez” comes from the Spanish word “Sabores,” which means “flavors.” Here, you’ll find a lot of fresh flavors, many of which come from the area itself.
They serve some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, which are very simple but taste great, by following the “less is more” philosophy. From tapas to empanadas, there are a lot of tasty appetizers for you to try.
We had a romantic dinner of Carne Con Ancho and Tuna Caliente, and both dishes made us fall in love. Since this place only has a limited number of seats and tends to fill up quickly on the weekends, it is highly recommended that you make a reservation.
16. Caprice Bistro
Caprice Bistro is one of the best places in Wilmington to get delicious French food. The atmosphere is classy, which goes well with the high-end food.
You have to try the Beef Bourguignon and the Waterzooi. Caprice is a cozy little spot in Paris where you can have a romantic dinner or meet up with friends.
If you like French food, you can pair it with a bottle from the large and carefully chosen collection of vintage wines.
The chef’s love for feeding people shows in the way he can make even the most complicated French food seem exciting and easy to make.
17. Circa 1922
Circa 1922 is an international restaurant in the heart of downtown Wilmington. It is in an old bank building. Tapas, sushi, and charcuterie are all on the menu, and all of them are made with a lot of skill and taste great.
You can make your perfect dinner by mixing and matching different parts, like by putting roasted bone marrow with burrata and oyster mushrooms or mussels mariniere with grilled artichokes.
They play live piano music on the weekends, which is a nice touch. Exposed brick, white tablecloths, and dim lighting make for a familiar yet new atmosphere. People in the area seem to really like them, so you should give them a try.
Kure Beach is home to some of the best restaurants in the region, and Freddies is a local favorite. For this reason, and because it is so well-liked by the community, it remains open all 12 months of the year (sometimes a rarity at the beach) (sometimes a rarity at the beach).
It’s a little place with just a few tables, but if you can get a reservation, you’ll have one of the finest pork chops of your life.
19. The Little Dipper
The Melting Pot is a chain restaurant that you’re probably familiar with, but I’m willing to wager that The Little Dipper is not.
In my time as a student at UNCW, I frequented this establishment since it is one of the nicest eateries in Wilmington. In the heart of Downtown Wilmington, you will find a restaurant serving delicious fondue.
It works equally well for a night out with a loved one, a gathering of relatives, or a group of pals. Cheese and chocolate fondues are the house specialties. On Wednesdays, the ladies get a special deal: a whole table of fondue costs only $10.
20. Slice Of Life
If you’re in Wilmington, you have to stop by Slice of Life for the city’s tastiest pizza. The city of Wilmington is home to a number of fantastic establishments; go check them out. When it comes to pizza, they make some of the greatest I’ve ever tasted.
In Downtown Wilmington, you may buy it by the slice or order an entire pie to share with your group. Both the atmosphere and the cuisine are excellent.
At Seabird Restaurant, we take pride in serving only the freshest seasonal ingredients. Fresh fish is harvested daily and served with seasonal vegetables from nearby farms.
It occupies a landmark structure in the center of the city. The decor is charmingly nautical and the mood is relaxed and welcoming.
Seabird is the ideal spot to relax and indulge, with its spacious outdoor terrace and comprehensive wine list, rotating selection of craft beers on tap, and well-stocked bar.
Oysters, squid ink spaghetti, and North Carolina amberjack carpaccio are some of the most popular dishes, however there is always something new to try.
If you find yourself in Wilmington, you just must try Manna. They pay homage to the roots of American cuisine by specializing in dishes that manage to be both hearty and refined. Comfortable and welcoming, the setting is ideal for a low-key evening out.
This bar is well-known for its innovative and tasty cocktail menu, so don’t leave without ordering one of their trademark drinks.
The Bobby Filet and the I Got Ewes Babe are two of the most ordered meals at this diner. Bourgie Nights, when both local and touring bands perform, have become legendary at the club.
23. Rum Cow
The American dishes at Rum Cow are well-known for their unique, international twists. Though they’re relatively new to the city’s dining scene, they’ve quickly earned a reputation for excellent cuisine.
The space is light, open, and refreshingly contemporary, making it ideal for taking some Instagram-worthy pictures.
Several dishes on the seafood-focused menu really stand out. Some examples of these include the Cajun Fried Gator Bites, which are great for sharing, and the Island Burger, which is a delicious main dish.
No trip to Rum Cow would be complete without ordering one of their signature drinks. You may locate anything you really like among their many options.
24. True Blue Butcher And Table
There’s a solid reason why True Blue is so well-liked among Wilmington diners. The food is superb and uniquely New American, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients.
Easy modernism and classic elegance characterize the ambiance. The farm-to-table cuisine is consistently delicious and elevates the atmosphere to that of a gourmet restaurant.
The cocktails are especially well-suited to the dishes served, and the bartenders take pride in their work. You may have a meal there or take some of their excellent meats to enjoy at your leisure.
25. Benny’s Big Time
The best place to eat after a hard day of work in Wilmington is Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria. Everybody who has ever eaten at this restaurant raves about the great cuisine and lively ambiance.
Benny’s is known for its genuine wood-fired pies, which have a thin crust and a generous helping of fresh cheese.
The cool and trendy vibe here ensures a fantastic time for everyone. Other than pizza, spaghetti, sandwiches, and salads are also available from the Italian kitchen.
Benny’s is known not just for its excellent cuisine, but also for the live music it features on certain evenings throughout the week.
26. Mess Hall
A downtown outpost, Mess Hall may be found in the rapidly developing Cargo District. Although they provide an artisan drive-through coffee shop, the dine-in dining hall mostly serves traditional dishes from around the state of North Carolina.
Every item is made from scratch and sent to you within hours of your order. Everything from the sauces to the meat to the vegan patties is made fresh every day, and even the legendary smash burgers are made from scratch.
The beer garden in the next alcove is a major lure to this little establishment. It’s easy to say that the locals really like this trendy new cafe.
In a picturesque setting, Elijah’s may be found on the banks of the Cape Fear River. You won’t find a more relaxing vibe in all of the city than here beside the ocean.
Since 1984, they’ve been a mainstay there. Fresh seafood dishes with a traditional Southern touch are another point of pride here.
Their dishes have a high-end vibe, despite the fact that they are advertised as a casual American grill and oyster bar. A wide variety of beers and wines are also available. Crab cakes and shrimp and grits are two examples of our specialized menu dishes.
28. The Green House
The Green House is the best place in Wilmington to have a satisfying vegan lunch. You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to enjoy the restaurant’s reputation for plant-based gourmet dining; they provide a wide range of vegetable-forward meals that will satisfy any appetite.
Dishes that can be prepared using only locally sourced, in-season ingredients are highlighted on the menu. You may choose from a wide variety of natural wines and cocktails. The atmosphere is as trendy and cutting-edge as you’d expect.
This trendy restaurant is perfect whether you’re in the mood for something different or simply want a good, wholesome meal.
29. Smoke On The Water
The charming Marina Village on Wilmington’s Riverwalk serves as the backdrop for “Smoke on the Water.”
When the sun goes down, the spacious bar becomes the city’s premier destination for enjoying a craft beer or a unique drink. You may choose to sit outside on the spacious deck or inside at one of the many tables situated in front of the enormous windows.
Seafood steamer pots and fried oyster po boys are just two of the many exquisite dishes available. Try one of their more unique creations, like the Shrimp and Tasso Corndogs, if you’re a daring eater with a penchant for shellfish.
30. Cast Iron Kitchen
Simple Southern fare is served all day at Cast Iron Kitchen, a Wilmington institution. This is classic North Carolina comfort food at its best, with options for breakfast and lunch that will please even the pickiest eater.
You can get everything the traditional comfort food you want, from fried chicken to shrimp and grits. In addition, they only utilize items from nearby farms, so you know you’re receiving the freshest cuisine available.
The people are very friendly, and the atmosphere is relaxing and fun. There are a lot of plant-based dishes, so vegans and vegetarians will feel right at home. Try one of their specialty drinks or a local craft beer before you leave.