2021 Update: Since people are definitely wondering about outdoor dining, we updated this 20+ Must Try Restaurants In Wilmington, NC to note if restaurants do or don’t have outdoor seating.
If you’re planning a trip to the area, check out all of our Wilmington, NC posts.
If you’re coming to Wilmington, NC, the best meal you’re gonna find is in my kitchen. But, unfortunately for you, I don’t let people just drop in if I don’t know them. If you’re coming to the area, you’re in luck. There are so many restaurants to try in Wilmington, NC.
This list is just our favorite restaurants. They’re in no particular order either, so don’t feel like you have to work your way down the list. You can just jump around.
And this is not a complete list of restaurants in Wilmington, NC either. There are a ton that aren’t listed here.
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.
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. 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 a restaurant we’ve been to at least twice. There are a ton of choices here in Wilmington, and we don’t usually go back to somewhere unless we really love it.
20+ Restaurants To Try In Wilmington, NC
Front Street Brewery
Address: 9 N Front St.
Cuisine: Bar food
Front Street Brewery was the first brewery in the area (there are over a dozen now). You can grab a beer at the bar, including the $1.99 mug of the day, 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 & Table
Address: 1125 Military Cutoff Rd A
Cuisine: American steakhouse
True Blue Butcher & Table is one of the best restaurants we’ve been too. The burrata appetizer special was so incredible it was added to the menu full time. Grab it then check the menu for an entree, but also listen to the steak specials too.
What should you order at True Blue Butcher & Table? The New York Wagyu Beef special
Does True Blue Butcher & Table 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 St.
Cuisine: Bar food
If you like pub food, The Copper Penny is perfect. It is an Eagles bar, though, so keep that in mind if you’re trying to show up on a Sunday in Cowboys gear.
What should you order at The Copper Penny? French Onion soup
Does The Copper Penny have outdoor seating? Yes, but it’s very limited.
Address: 319 N Front St
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 Rd #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 Dr
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 St
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 St
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 St
Any restaurant on the water in downtown Wilmington is going to have a great backdrop, 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 St #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 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.
Ezzells Breakfast House
Address: 2115 Carolina Beach Rd
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 Dr
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 St
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 St
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 Rd
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.
Address: 8 N Front St
If you love tapas, you need to go to Circa 1922 for the $5 bar menu (where you sit in the bar area and eat all the tapas — but at a discount!). We always order more than we think we can eat — and always end up finishing the whole order.
What should you order at Circa 1922? Charcuterie (choose 5 meats and/or cheeses)
Does Circa 1922 have outdoor seating? In general, no. But Circa 1922 did add outdoor seating when restaurants were able to open back up last year.
Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn
Address: 4002 Oleander Dr
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? The aforementioned salsa, natch
Does Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn have outdoor seating? There’s a lot of outdoor seating on the side of the building.
Address: 123 Princess St
If you have something special to celebrate, we recommend Manna because, despite good food, it is really pricey for Wilmington. But, if you can catch Sunday’s “Beggars Can’t Be Choosers” menu when you can get a chef’s choice entrée for a couple bucks, go!
Side note: We have gone for Beggars Can’t Be Choosers before, but that was a long time ago. It was on hiatus, and then came back, so I can’t promise it will still be a thing when you go. Call 910.763.5252 beforehand to check.
What should you order at Manna? Beggars Can’t Be Choosers
Does Manna have outdoor seating? No (as far as we know).
Address: 1895 Burnett Blvd
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 St
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 Dr
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 St
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.
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 St.
Dram Yard is a new addition to this list because we were waiting for it to pass the one-year mark before we could add it. But 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.
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.
Dock Street Oyster Bar
Dock Street Oyster Bar had been voted best oysters for two decades running according to the sign above the door. Hopefully you tried them because due to a situation with the landlord, Dock Street Oyster Bar had to close its doors in October 2020.
According to Facebook, Dock Street Oyster Bar is planning on re-opening in a new location.
What should you order at Dock Street Oyster Bar? Dock Street Steamer Platter (with oysters, snow crab, shrimp, mussels, clams, corn, and potatoes — so bring a friend!)
Does Dock Street Oyster Bar have outdoor seating? Right now it has no seating.
Planning a trip to Wilmington, NC?
If you’re planning a trip to Wilmington, NC to check out one of these restaurants, these posts will help you make your trip complete:
Drink In Wilmington:
- Best Cups Of Coffee In Wilmington, NC
- End Of Days Distillery
- Hi-Wire Brewing
- The Complete Guide To Distilleries In Wilmington, NC
- Things To Do In Wilmington, NC
- Tregembo Animal Park
- 10+ Things To Do When It Rains In Wilmington, NC
- Wilmington Sharks
- Free Things To Do In Wilmington, NC
- Axes & Allies (Axe throwing bar)
Which of these must-try restaurants in Wilmington, NC have you been to? Let us know about your experience in the comments.