If you’re visiting Wilmington and trying to figure out where to eat, this 20+ Must Try Restaurants In Wilmington, NC list will help. We updated this list in December 2023 because restaurants close and menus change (and not always for the better).
If you’re planning a trip to the area, check out all of our Wilmington, NC posts.
When I’m on vacation, one of my favorite things to do is find local restaurants and go out to eat there. I find restaurants that we don’t have near us, where I’ll never get the chance to eat again.
It can be overwhelming, especially when there are so many options. And Wilmington, North Carolina is like that. There are so many restaurants in the area.
If you’re visiting and trying to figure out where to eat, you’re in luck. We put together this list of 20+ Must-Try Restaurants in Wilmington, NC.
This list is what we consider to be the best Wilmington restaurants, our favorite restaurants that we bring visitors to, the ones that we feel like you would really enjoy if you spent your hard earned money to dine there. This is not a complete list of restaurants in Wilmington.
I did have a few requirements for the list.
The first was that the restaurant couldn’t be a national chain. If you can get it anywhere, it’s not on here. Regional chains were fine.
The second was that the restaurant had to be open for over a year. A lot of restaurants come and go in this area, and I don’t want to constantly update this list (although I’ve updated it twice since I originally posted it, but the first was to add if a restaurant have outdoor dining or not). So if it had the staying power of a year, and hasn’t changed hands or cuisine in the first 12 months, it could make the cut.
And finally, it had to be in Wilmington proper. So many of these lists include the greater Wilmington area. Sure, there are a lot of good restaurants near Wilmington, but we’re focused on just Wilmington for this.
Are you planning a trip to Wilmington? This Wilmington, North Carolina Travel Guide will help you with food ideas, trip ideas, and more.
20+ Restaurants To Try In Wilmington, NC
Front Street Brewery
Address: 9 N Front Street
Cuisine: Bar food
(there are over a dozen now). You can grab a beer at the bar, all brewed in house, or a whiskey (Front Street Brewery has over 200 to choose from) and then enjoy one of the many appetizers or entrees on the menu.
What should you order at Front Street Brewery? Pulled Chicken Nachos
Does Front Street Brewery have outdoor seating? Yes. Front Street Brewery has a few tables set outside the restaurant.
True Blue Butcher & Barrel
Address: 10 Greenfield Street Suite 114
Cuisine: American steakhouse
True Blue Butcher & Table kicked off the True Blue family of restaurants. We absolutely loved the appetizers when we went. My entree was just okay, if I’m being honest.
It’s sister restaurant, True Blue Butcher & Barrel, has a much more interesting menu and is one best restaurants in the area. It doesn’t have the very popular burrata appetizer from the original restaurant, but it has a Popcorn Chicken app (with a phenomenal Kimchee Kewpie salad) that’s incredible.
It’s also a butcher shop, so you can go in and order beautiful cuts of meat to cook at home.
What should you order at True Blue Butcher & Barrel ? The New York Wagyu Beef special
Does True Blue Butcher & Barrel have outdoor seating? Yes. True Blue Butcher & Table has a few tables set on the side of the restaurant.
The Copper Penny
Address: 109 Chestnut Street
Cuisine: Bar food
If you like pub food, The Copper Penny is a solid choice. It is an Eagles bar, or at least, it used to be. There was a joke on the menu when we first moved here that Dallas Cowboy fans would pay extra. It’s closed on Sundays now, so I think that’s changed.
To be very honest, when we first moved here, we used to take people here a lot because the French onion soup was the best I’ve ever had. The chef changed and so did the soup. But we kept going back. We haven’t been there in a very long time, but Guy Fieri filmed a part of a Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives episode there, and it’s a local favorite, so it’s more on this list out of reputation than anything else.
What should you order at The Copper Penny? We used to suggest the French onion soup, but now I’m not sure what you should get, honestly
Does The Copper Penny have outdoor seating? Yes, but it’s very limited.
Origins Food & Drink
Address: 102 Autumn Hall Drive Unit 120
Cuisine: Modern American
Origins Food & Drink is the brainchild of Ash Aziz, a famous Wilmington restauranteur who had opened 22 restaurants in 24 years — all of which were highly renowned in the area. As the story goes, he sold off a couple and retired. But when a chance to open a restaurant in Autumn Hall came above, a place he had his eye on for years, he jumped at the chance.
And thank goodness he did because Origins is so good. It’s known for fresh seafood (the poached halibut’s reputation is no joke), but it’s the burrata salad that I personally think is the best thing on the menu. It’s such a good place for a special occasion.
And, this is kind of funny, but every time I recommend Origins to someone, I tell them to go to the bathroom, even if they don’t have to. It’s, probably, the most gorgeous bathroom I’ve ever seen.
What should you order at Origins Food & Drink? The halibut
Does Origins Food & Drink have outdoor seating? Origins has a really nice outdoor patio area behind the main dining room
Kipos Hellenic Cuisine
Address: 1900 Eastwood Road Suite #2
Wilmington is home to a Greek Festival every year, which is the best place to get traditional Greek foods, like spanakopita and gyros. That festival happens annually and is a really good time. But, if you’re not in the area for that and you want Greek food, head to Kipos Hellenic Cuisine.
Kipos uses really fresh ingredients to craft really good food that’s so flavorful but also really light, so you don’t feel weighed down when you’re finished. Everything we’ve had on the menu — from the keftedes to the baklava cheesecake — was so good.
Plus, there’s a really nice back dining room that’s the perfect place to host a small gathering.
What should you order at Kipos Hellenic Cuisine? Youvetsi (Greek stew with pasta)
Does Kipos Hellenic Cuisine have outdoor seating? Yes, there is a large outdoor area that looks like a Greek agora
Carolina Crab House
Address: 341 College Road #55
I love everything about Carolina Crab House. Someone recommended it to us and I keep recommending it to everyone. There’s a full menu, but if you wanted something off that, you could go to one of the other seafood restaurants in the Port City. You’re going to Carolina Crab House for the personalized seafood boil.
You choose your protein (crab legs, sausage, scallops, mussels, lobster, etc.), sauce, and spice level. The seafood feast comes out to you, with corn and potatoes, in a large bag. You dump the bag into a bowl and enjoy. Carolina Crab House is fun, it’s interactive, and it’s a something different that you’re not going to get everywhere.
It is messy (they give you a bib and gloves and we all wear the bib), so it’s not really the perfect spot for a first date. But it’s definitely a great place to go if you’re looking for something fun with people who you wouldn’t mind seeing you with butter dripping down your chin.
What should you order at Carolina Crab House? The seafood boil
Does Carolina Crab House have outdoor seating? No
Address: 319 N Front Street
Our favorite brunch is at The Basics. It can get crowded, especially if you head out for Sunday brunch, but the wait to get to the large portions is worth it.
What should you order at The Basics? Crab Cake Benedict
Does The Basics have outdoor seating? Yes. The Basics has a couple tables outside under the covering of the rest of The Cotton Exchange.
Address: 228 Eastwood Road #4-A
Cuisine: Pizza and Italian
There’s a lot of pizza in Wilmington, but the one we will drive out of our way for is Michaelangelos Pizza. The prices are great, the pizza is great, and the 20-plus-inch Godfather pie comes in the largest pizza box you’ve ever seen.
What should you order at Michaelangelos Pizza? The Godfather pie
Does Michaelangelos Pizza have outdoor seating? There’s not as far as we know.
Jax 5th Avenue Deli & Ale House
Address: 5046 New Centre Drive
Pete loves a good sandwich, and you can get one with Boars Head meats at Jax 5th Avenue Deli & Ale House. The best part, though, is when you sit down, you get an appetizer of sliced pickles.
What should you order at Jax 5th Avenue Deli & Ale House? The Club Jax
Does Jax 5th Avenue Deli & Ale House have outdoor seating? Not that we’ve ever noticed.
Address: 102 S 2nd Street
Tarantelli’s is our favorite Italian restaurant in Wilmington. The first time we went, the menu actually made Pete cry because it reminded him so much of his mom.
What should you order at Tarantelli’s? Spaghetti Alle Vongole (get it with linguine)
Does Tarantelli’s have outdoor seating? Yes, there is a lot of outdoor seating.
Address: 5500 Market Street
The unassuming JohnnyLukes KitchenBar is the perfect date night restaurant. The atmosphere is relaxed, the food is delicious, and it’s enough off the beaten path that you don’t have to worry about the noise of downtown interrupting your conversation.
What should you order at JohnnyLukes KitchenBar? Brie In Pastry
Does JohnnyLukes KitchenBar have outdoor seating? Yes. JohnnyLukes has a ton of outdoor seating.
The George on the Riverwalk
Address: 128 S Water Street
Any restaurant on the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington is going to have a great scenic view, but you want to go to one with great food too. And, if you want one with a little great history, The George on the Riverwalk is where Pete and I went on our first date night after getting engaged (and started planning our wedding). That’s why it’s on our list of Romantic Things To Do In Wilmington, NC.
What should you order at The George on the Riverwalk? George’s Shrimp And Grits
Does The George on the Riverwalk have outdoor seating? Yes. And the seats are right on the water, so they’re the best seats.
Address: 120 Greenfield Street #B
Block Taco is the little hidden gem that Wilmington needed. Calling it a restaurant is a stretch because it’s literally a taco window, a hole in a wall — literally — in Satellite Bar and Lounge. Don’t overlook it. The tacos are incredible and honestly, the best tacos (or any sort of Mexican food) we’ve had in Wilmington.
What should you order at Block Taco? Brussel Sprout Taco
Does Block Taco have outdoor seating? There’s a long table with a few chairs outside, but there’s not much seating at Block Taco. However, Satellite Bar and Lounge has a huge outdoor area and you can take your tacos there.
Address: 2115 Carolina Beach Road
Family-style Southern breakfast doesn’t get better than at Ezzells Breakfast House. Sure, it’s sort of weird to dine at a table with complete strangers, but it’s such a fun way to chit chat with others and get out of your comfort zone.
What should you order at Ezzells Breakfast House? Biscuits and Gravy
Does Ezzells Breakfast House have outdoor seating? No.
The Original Salt Works
Address: 6301 Oleander Drive
The Original Salt Works is only open for breakfast and lunch and only accepts cash, so you do kind of have to plan your trip in advance. So plan to eat at the 30+ year old establishment, then head across the street and enjoy the New Hanover Arboretum.
What should you order at The Original Salt Works? Lima Bean Soup (trust us!)
Does The Original Salt Works have outdoor seating? No.
The Little Dipper
Address: 138 S Front Street
If you want to do fondue, but don’t want to go to a chain, The Little Dipper is perfect. You can go for dinner or dessert — or to get engaged (or, hey, maybe that was just us!).
What should you order at The Little Dipper? Fondue (of course!)
Does The Little Dipper have outdoor seating? Yes. There’s patio dining behind The Little Dipper with lots of tables and umbrellas.
Cousins Italian Deli
Address: 7 N 3rd Street
Cousins Italian Deli is open for lunch, but what we really recommend is making reservations for the Italian style dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. The five-course menu is served family style (although, if you come with me, I’ll probably eat your arancini from the hot appetizer course when you turn your back).
What should you order at Cousins Italian Deli? The Italian style dinner
Does Cousins Italian Deli have outdoor seating? Yes. There are two tables outside the front of Cousins Italian Deli.
Address: 1414 Airlie Road
For our first Valentine’s Day in Wilmington, we went to Bridge Tender and were incredibly impressed. It’s right on the water and the fish is so fresh, you felt like they pulled it right out of the ocean in front of you.
What should you order at Bridge Tender? Lump Crab Cake
Does Bridge Tender have outdoor seating? Yes. Bridge Tender has a lot of seating, right on the water, so the outside seats are really the best ones.
Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn
Address: 4002 Oleander Drive
You’ve never had a burrito until you’ve had one from Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn. They’re huge, filled with basically anything, and the Wasabi Avocado salsa should be poured in a pint glass and served with a straw.
What should you order at Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn? If you’re in Wilmington in November, order the Churkeychanga. It’s probably the most famous bite of food in the Cape Fear region. It’s an entire Thanksgiving dinner in a burrito.
Does Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn have outdoor seating? There’s a lot of outdoor seating on the side of the building.
Address: 1895 Burnett Boulevard
I’ll be honest and say that this is one place we’ve only been to once, but only because it’s out of our way not because the food isn’t good. Winnie’s Tavern has been around since 1962 and is (arguably) the best burger you’ll get in Wilmington.
What should you order at Winnie’s Tavern? Trailer Park Burger
Does Winnie’s Tavern have outdoor seating? Yes. There’s a huge, fenced in, outdoor area with picnic tables and umbrellas.
Address: 1423 S 3rd Street
Authentic Irish food in a restaurant owned by authentic Irish people is what you’ll find at The Harp. Plus, if you’re around on St. Patrick’s Day, you can kick off your day with Kegs and Eggs there.
What should you order at The Harp? Shepherd’s Pie
Does The Harp have outdoor seating? Yes, it does.
Our Crepes & More
Address: 3810 Oleander Drive
Cuisine: French crepes
If you’ve only thought about crepes in a sweet form, you need to try Our Crepes & More for its savory crepes. You can choose a sweet or savory crepe off the menu or create your own if you’re feeling creative.
What should you order at Our Crepes & More? Mont-Blanc sweet crepe
Does Our Crepes & More have outdoor seating? Yes. It has a few outdoor tables on the side of the building.
The Fork ‘N’ Cork
Address: 122 Market Street
The Fork ‘N’ Cork is a fantastic bar pub. There hasn’t been a single bite of food we’ve had that wasn’t incredible or a single guest we’ve brought that hasn’t been insanely impressed.
The rotating pot pies are always a hit, but I’m partial to the fried chicken sandwich.
What should you order at The Fork ‘N’ Cork? Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Does The Fork ‘N’ Cork have outdoor seating? Yes, but only a couple tables.
Address: 101 S 2nd Street
Cuisine: Traditional southern fare with a twist
From the first bite at Dram Yard, we were in love. The food is small plates served family style, and everything is so tasty and unique. This type of plating can add up in cost, but it’s so worth it.
The menu of local seasonal offerings changes often, so you could go back often and have a different menu every time.
The only thing that makes me nervous about Dram Yard is it has closed and reopened already, plus stopped serving food at its adjoining courtyard Gazebo Bar. So, I’m not sure about its staying power, which is a shame because the food is very good.
What should you order at Dram Yard? The menu changes very, very often, but if you see the Char Siu Cauliflower, order it
Does Dram Yard have outdoor seating? Kind of. The restaurant itself doesn’t technically have outdoor seating, but Gazebo Bar — the courtyard portion of the restaurant — has a huge outdoor space. The menu for Gazebo Bar is different than Dram Yard’s menu.
More Recommendations In Wilmington, NC:
These are our favorite restaurants in Wilmington, but what if you’re not looking for a sit down meal. If you’re looking to grab a cup of coffee and stroll around historic downtown Wilmington, our list of the Best Cups Of Coffee In Wilmington, NC will help you find a coffee shop.
And if you have a sweet tooth, our list of The Best Ice Cream Shops In Wilmington, NC can help with that.
Which of these must-try restaurants in Wilmington, NC have you been to? Let us know about your experience in the comments.