Wilmington, North Carolina is home to a variety of great restaurants serving culinary creations featuring fresh seafood, Southern soul food, Thai, Indian, Japanese, French and other flavors. Have a casual romantic lunch at a local café or brewery, or celebrate a special occasion at one of the elegant restaurants downtown. Here are the best restaurants in Wilmington. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.


1. Cape Fear Seafood Company

Cape Fear Seafood Company
© Cape Fear Seafood Company

Cape Fear Seafood Company serves spectacular regional American seafood and an array of wine and spirits in a relaxed and casual setting.

Specializing in regional American seafood, CSFC presents a menu of hand cut fish, seafood plates and platters, prime steaks, chicken, and small plates to share. Whether you choose the Figure 8 Stuffed Flounder (twin baked roulades of flounder stuffed with crab fusion and draped with lemon beurre blanc) or Wilmington's Finest Filet crowned with Gorgonzola butter and cabernet demi-glace, each bite will leave you with a lasting memory.

Start with Bloody Mary Oysters or crab scampi risotto or share a grilled shrimp taco basket with friends and end on a sweet note with a traditional Southern key lime pie. The Cape Fear Seafood Company can be found in two locations.

Monkey Junction, 5226 S College Road Suite 5, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-799-7077

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2. Indochine

Indochine
© Indochine


Serving exquisite Thai-Vietnamese cuisine in a beautifully decorated environment, Indochine promises an authentic and unforgettable Asian dining experience.

Take your taste buds on a culinary journey to the Far East as you savor the exotic flavors and ingredients found in each dish on the menu, from Vietnamese black peppercorn, ginger, and garlic to crushed basil, cilantro, and fresh mint.

Accompanied by fragrant jasmine rice, entrées include a Happy Asian Medley of chicken, shrimp, beef, and scallops sautéed in a homemade soy sauce with ginger and garlic, grilled Salmon or mahi mahi with Asian fruit salsa and shrimp fried rice, and stir-fried steak in homemade soy-infused sauce with aromatic rice and vegetables.

End your meal with a sweet banana egg roll served with vanilla ice cream, honey, and sesame seeds and a pot of delicious Jasmine Tea.

7 Wayne Drive, Market Street at Forest Hills, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-251-9229

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3. Casey's Buffet & Barbecue

Casey's Buffet & Barbecue
© Casey's Buffet & Barbecue

For classic Southern soul food and good home cooking, including everything from all-you-can-eat barbecue to chitterlings and fried chicken, head to Casey’s Buffet & Barbecue. Established in 2005 by Larry Casey, Casey’s Buffet is a family-friendly eatery that is committed to the Southern tradition of food and family going hand-in-hand.

Casey’s lunch and dinner buffet menu leaves nobody wanting with a mouth-watering all-you-can-eat selection of meats, vegetables, salads, and bread, and you’ll find delights such as fried chicken, clam strips, rutabagas, black-eyed peas, pan-fried okra, sweet potato soufflé, chitlins, and mac-n-cheese. Desserts delight with choices like apple and blueberry cobbler, cherry cheesecake, and banana and bread pudding, just to name but a few.

The restaurant is comfortable and cozy with classic diner décor – walls are adorned with framed photographs and articles, and the ambiance is vibrant. Casey’s delicious buffet can be eaten in or taken away, and they offer catering services for special functions and events.

5559 Oleander Drive, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-798-2913

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4. Roko Italian Cuisine

Roko Italian Cuisine
© Roko Italian Cuisine


Roko Italian Cuisine is an upscale Italian eatery that serves a menu of Mediterranean-influenced cuisine in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Owned by Chef Jadran Peros, a Croatian native who moved to the United States in 1985, Roko is dedicated to serving great Italian food that can be shared with friends and family.

An enticing menu takes you on a journey through Italy with antipasti of calamari fritta, shrimp scampi, and stuffed artichoke hearts, followed by choices of Zuppa e Insalata (soups and salads) with caprese, arugula, and Caesar salads making the list. A fine selection of pasta is available, including homemade gnocchi, stuffed ravioli, and Frutti di mare, while entrées include parmigiana, filet mignon, and grilled wild salmon.

Pair your fare with a selection of international wines from the wine list or one of their signature cocktails, spirits, or craft beers.

6801-105 Parker Farm Drive, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-679-4783

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5. Restaurants in Wilmington, NC: Catch

Restaurants in Wilmington, NC: Catch
© Catch

Boasting two locations across town, Catch is a modern seafood restaurant that James Beard award-winning Chef Keith Rhodes and his wife Angela opened in 2006, and they have been serving outstanding seafood ever since.

Striving to support North Carolina’s organic farmers, local fisheries, and sustainable fishing practices, Chef Keith Rhodes presents a menu of produce caught and farmed off the Cape Fear Coast.

On the menu you will find creative dishes such as Red Miso Glazed Scottish Salmon served with wok-seared “drunken” rice noodles, bean sprouts, fresh coriander, and Thai basil, Cajun-fried North Carolina Oysters with Mindoro Blue Cheese Slaw and Texas Pete Aioli, and Pan-Roasted Oriental Back Fin, and Lump Crab Cakes served with White Truffle Mash and Pamlico Shrimp in a Cognac Bisque.

Although seafood-orientated, the menu also offers meat and poultry dishes, with chicken, duck, and baby backs ribs making an appearance. Enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail at the convivial bar before feasting on some of the freshest seafood in town.

6623 Market Street, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-799-3847

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6. Dock Street Oyster Bar

Dock Street Oyster Bar
© Courtesy of Chee-Onn Leong - Fotolia.com

Dock Street Oyster Ba has been serving outstanding seafood since 1999 and has been voted as the Best Oyster Bar in Wilmington.

Owners Steve Maillard and Louise Forbes Simpson take seafood to a whole new level, serving it fresh from the sea, and their catches are always grilled and steamed, never fried. Located on Dock Street overlooking Wilmington's bustling waterfront, the Dock Street Oyster Bar presents an array of seafood to impress even the toughest aficionado.

Start with appetizers of crab dip, sesame ginger calamari, or fresh oysters followed by steamed snow crab legs, clams, or wild shrimp. Freshly made salads and sandwiches are also available, and everything is served in a casual, laid-back ambiance.

P12 Dock St, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-762-2827

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7.Front Street Brewery

Front Street Brewery
© Front Street Brewery

Home to the largest selection of whiskey in North Carolina and Wilmington’s only Restaurant & Brewery, the Front Street Brewery is a popular venue for casual lunches, laid-back dinners, and tasting tours with friends.

Located in Historic Downtown, the Front Street Brewery produces a range of microbrews and craft beers, and it stocks over 300 bottles of whiskey from around the world. The Brewery also serves a casual menu of tavern-style food, including gourmet burgers and sandwiches, soups and salads, and entrées of barbecue brisket, rib eye steaks, burritos, pulled pork, and a fresh catch of the day, which is available from 12 pm until 12 am every day.

Visitors can enjoy free guided tours of the brewery to learn about the beer-making process, as well as free tastings of the brewery’s products. The bar comes alive in the evenings with both locals and visitors flocking to the counter to savor cocktails, fine wines, and some of the world’s best whiskeys.

9 North Front Street, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-251-1935

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8. Restaurants in Wilmington, NC: Gen Ki Sushi

Restaurants in Wilmington, NC: Gen Ki Sushi
© Courtesy of diecidodici - Fotolia.com

Genki Sushi is an award-winning sushi bar and restaurant on New Center Drive in the heart of Wilmington. Serving freshly made sushi, sashimi, and rolls made from the finest high-quality ingredients, Genki Sushi offers diners an authentic Japanese dining experience. At the helm is top Southeast Asian Chef Danny, who brings a taste of Asia to Wilmington with his innovative and inspiring Japanese cuisine.

Appetizers include the usual offerings of spring rolls, tempura, Buri Kama, and yakitori, as well as unique dishes like chilled tofu with green onion, ginger, and shaved bonito and Monkfish liver in ponzu sauce. Obento, a popular entrée, is a set meal featuring grilled teriyaki or lemon salmon, sashimi, shumai, croquettes, and tempura served with rice or noodles. Another favorite is Tonkatsu, which is panko-breaded and deep-fried pork cutlets with sweet dipping sauce.

You won’t go hungry as all entrées include a special appetizer and a choice of soup, house salad, kimchee, or pickles. The regular sushi, sashimi, and rolls are available while desserts include various ice creams, sherbet, and coconut cake.

4724 New Centre Dr #5, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-796-8687

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9.Fish Bites Seafood

Fish Bites Seafood
© Fish Bites Seafood

Home of Wilmington's only Live Lobster Tank, Fish Bites Seafood is a family-friendly retail fish market and restaurant that serves fresh seafood in a laid-back setting. Enjoy a drink at the Bottoms Up Bar before tucking into some of the freshest seafood in town.

Unique appetizers include Grouper Cheeks, Shrimp and Oyster Bombs, and Snow Crab Clusters, while the fresh catch of the day takes center stage on the entrée list, which they can prepare with a variety of cooking methods from grilled, pan-seared, blackened, broiled, or fried. Signature dishes range from Stuffed Flounder, Fish Bites Tuna Filet, and the Fisherman's Stew while baskets and platters can be enjoyed alone or shared.

Fish Bites Seafood also has the largest selection of seafood in the area, and visitors can take their fresh seafood home to cook using their preferred method.

6132-11 Carolina Beach Road, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-791-1117

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10.Caprice Bistro

Caprice Bistro
© Courtesy of Lilyana Vynogradova - Fotolia.com

Tucked away in Market Street, Caprice Bistro is a Parisian-style eatery that serves traditional French fare with an American twist.

Cozy and comfortable in warm tones of dark wood and deep yellow, Caprice Bistro is casual and inviting with a fantastic French-influenced menu that will entice all patrons. From salmon rillettes and saucisse du jour (sausage of the day) to traditional French onion soup, moules marinere, and rich Coq au vin, diners will be transported on a culinary journey through France.

For meat-lovers, the lamb shank cassoulet with braised tomato, garlic, and bean ragout or the Angus Beef Bistro Steak are a must, while small plates of tapas and pasta are perfect for sharing.

10 Market St, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-815-0810

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11.Charlie Graingers

Charlie Graingers
© Charlie Graingers


Charlie Graingers is renowned for its world-famous hot dogs and Southern cuisine. Founded in 1939 by Charlie Grainger and his wife, the original Charlie Graingers is located on 17th Street and features exposed brick walls, wooden flooring, custom-made décor, and a friendly, relaxed ambiance.

Famed for their hot dogs, which can be enjoyed with a variety of toppings and sides, the restaurant has a menu that also features other classic southern-style dishes such as barbecue and brisket by the pound, house made sandwiches, and fresh sides of baked beans, slaw, and fries. Traditional southern drinks include homemade lemonade and iced tea, Pepsi, and Cola fountains.

702 S 17th St, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-769-3720

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12.Copper Penny

Copper Penny
© Copper Penny


Located in historic downtown Wilmington, Copper Penny serves an innovative mix of appetizers, salads, and sandwiches along with an impressive selection of mixed drinks and beers. Boasting a relaxed atmosphere and casual décor, Copper Penny is ideal for a quick bite to eat or lazy afternoon drinks with friends.

Offering weekly lunch specials and daily drinks and dinner specials such as Family Mondays where kids eat for free, Copper Penny’s menu has something for everyone. You’ll find a wide variety of selections, from a variety of homemade soups, salads, and starters of nachos, spring rolls, quesadillas, and sweet potato fries to towering burgers and handmade sandwiches served with thick cut fries and orders of flavorful sides.

A selection of beers, wines, and specialty cocktails is offered to pair with your meal.

109 Chestnut St., Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-762-1373

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13.Rx Restaurant and Bar

Rx Restaurant and Bar
© Rx Restaurant and Bar


Located in downtown Wilmington, Rx Restaurant and Bar combines southern charm and hospitality with hearty, home-cooked food made from locally sourced ingredients to create an inviting and friendly eatery.

Nestled on the corner of Fifth and Castle, this little restaurant blends in beautifully with the surrounding neighborhood of modest and charming homes and quaint antique shops. Minimalist décor complements a menu of upscale comfort food that features dishes such as crispy buffalo pig ears with a celery and blue cheese dressing, smoked tilefish paté with fresh radishes and pickled carrots, and braised and pressed pork belly with smoked cheddar grits.

A cool beverages list offers a range of craft beers, international wines, and signature cocktails.

421 Castle Street, Wilmington, North Carolina, Phone: 910-399-3080

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14 Must-Try Restaurants in Wilmington, North Carolina



Attraction Spotlight: Battleship North Carolina Memorial

Permanently moored as a historic site and memorial on the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington, the U.S.S. North Carolina is a decommissioned World War II battleship and popular tourist attraction. Weighing in at 36,000 tons and extending 728 feet in length, the retired battleship serves as a memorial of the heroism of the U.S. sailors and soldiers in World War II that hailed from North Carolina. Today, the majestic ship beckons visitors to walk her decks and take a journey back in time to envision life on deck during the Second World War and the fierce combat her crew faced in the Pacific Theatre.

History

The U.S.S. North Carolina was commissioned and built in 1937 and was the first American battleship to be constructed in two decades. The vessel was fitted out with the latest in shipbuilding technology and carried a main battery of nine 16 in (410 mm)/45 caliber Mark 6 guns. She was so impressive during her sea trials; she earned the lasting nickname of ‘Showboat.’ Vast and graceful with a streamlined structure and a long sweeping flush deck, the U.S.S. North Carolina took part in every major naval offensive in the Pacific Theater during the Second World War, earning no less than 15 battle stars and making her the most decorated American battleship in the war. The U.S.S. North Carolina was decommissioned in 1947 and today is elegantly moored on the Cape Fear River in Wilmington as a ship museum and memorial for those who fought in the war.

Decommissioned

After being taken off the Naval Vessel Register in 1960, the U.S.S. North Carolina was transferred to the state of North Carolina in 1961. The ship was moved up the Cape Fear River by a fleet of tugboats, during which time it struck the floating restaurant the ‘Fergus' Ark,’ severely damaging it and putting the restaurant out of business. On 29 April 1962, the U.S.S. North Carolina was dedicated as a memorial to all the North Carolinians who served and were killed in World War II. The battleship was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Museum

Moored at near downtown Wilmington on the Cape Fear River, the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial is now a museum that can be visited and explored by the public on self-guided tours. Tours of the ship are available and explore the ship's main deck, interior compartments, and two of her three 16" gun turrets. Visitors can also enjoy an in-depth look at an OS2U Kingfisher aircraft, one of nine which survived that were salvaged from a mountainside in British Columbia in 1964 and restored and now rest near the stern of the ship. Various events are held at the USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial throughout the year, including the annual July 4th Battleship Blast Fireworks show held in the adjacent battleship park, Batty Battleship's Halloween Bash, Memorial Day Observance, and Ghost Ship.

Visitor Information

Located opposite Wilmington's historic waterfront on the Cape Fear River, the U.S.S. North Carolina is open to visitors daily from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm in the summer and 8:00 am to 5:00 pm in the winter. Visitors can explore the ship on a well-marked self-guided tour, beginning with a movie in the auditorium, followed by a stroll through the exhibit hall to look at memorabilia, photographs, and oral histories and venturing around the remaining nine levels of the ship. Visitors can explore the pilot house, gun decks, crew’s quarters, sick bay, galley, engine room, Kingfisher float plan, and more.

Eagles Island, Wilmington, N.C. 28402-0480, Phone: 910-251-5797

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Attraction Spotlight: Cape Fear Museum of History and Science

The Cape Fear Museum of History and Science is a museum situated in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. In 1898 a local Southern female hereditary society named the United Daughters of the Confederacy created the museum to conserve artifacts of significant historic value from the Civil War. Now, the museum is run and owned by New Hanover County. Cape Fear museum is regarded as the eldest of the history museums in North Carolina and contains over fifty two thousand artifacts. The artifacts display the cultures, history and science of Lower Cape Fear over the decades. It has been in its current location since 1970 and has seen several improvements and expansions since then. The museum is comprised of an expansion built in the 1990s and the main 1930’s historic building.

The two story museum has traveling and temporary exhibitions which vary throughout the year, an interactive park and outdoor sculptures, permanent exhibits inside and classroom. The museum is a not for profit organisation run by a large network of volunteers relying on donations and money raised through the membership scheme. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday. There are two free to pay parking lots for visitors situated behind the Museum.

Permanent exhibits

Within the museum, interpretive displays and permanent exhibits trace the timeline of prehistoric 17th century Lower Cape Fear and the surrounding areas right through from the Civil War to modern day times in the 21st century. The first floor reveals a cast of the skeleton of a Giant Ground Sloth which was discovered in 1991 near Randall Parkway. Nearby, visitors can see the Cape Fear Stories exhibit which presents a historic timeline from the time of Native Americans to modern day. Other exhibits on this floor are the natural history exhibitions which involve a display of wildlife and plants native to the area such as foxes, woodpeckers and beavers as well as information about the weather. The Michael Jordan Discover Gallery is also located on the first floor and includes in depth information about the ecosystem of the local area. Visitors can also browse the small exhibit in honor of Michael Jordan, a Wilmington native. The main exhibit named Cape Fear Stories also begins on the first story. Cape Fear Stories begins with Land of the Longleaf Pine a section where the ancient history of the area is detailed. With everything from prehistoric facts, photographs, American Civil War memorabilia and artifacts and information plaques, this exhibit explains in detail why this Southeastern part of Northern Carolina has become a hub of culture and commerce.

The lobby presents a locally renowned wooden boat named a Simmons Sea-skiff boat well as the Arrivals exhibit on the first floor. The title Arrivals refers to those who have set foot in Lower Cape Fear over the decades, how they made it their homes and their methods living there.

The second floor takes visitors on a visual journey filled with written information, photographs and artifacts detailing the segregation and racial violence that consumed the city in 1898. The exhibit also displays more modern 20th century stories relating to this topic aswell.

The park located next to the museum has been designed to be an interactive experience with exhibits based on the local community. A sculpture called Traces has been inspired by local materials and objects and can be found in the park, created by the artist Joey Manson. Other exhibits outside are the child operated digger, the weather station, the ghost forest photograph collection, the outdoor classroom and the many information boards which teach children about native plants and wildlife.

Ongoing programs and education

The museum provides Summer Camps for children to have educationally led adventures in the museum and park as well as adapting it to an outreach program. For Kindergarten up to Grade 7 there are age group appropriate Field Trips which children can attend. Each Field Trip is presented by an educator on a specific topic and the students get to get involved with hands on activities.

For adults, the museum has an Insider's Tour with a Cape Fear Museum tour guide, talks from qualified professionals and academics, practical workshops and a CuraTOURial tour which involves an in depth tour of the museum and artifacts with a curated member of the museums staff. All of the adult programs require pre booking and have an admission fee unless a member of the museum.

Back to: Wilmington, North Carolina

814 I St, Wilmington, NC 28491, Phone: 910-798-4370

Attraction Spotlight: Lower Cape Fear Historical Society

Lower Cape Fear Historical Society is a not for profit, non political corporation which is dedicated to the study and preservation of history in the Lower Cape Fear Area, North Carolina. LCFHS is based in Wilmington, North Carolina and has existed since 1956. Not long after the founding of the society, they decided to create an emblem which that of an old DRAM Tree but it has since been adapted to that of a the seals of North Carolina and the city of Wilmington as well as a cartouche. LCFHS has many roles to play in its mission. It tends to and organises the large amount of age old artifacts, documents and publications in its collection, maintains and restores Latimer House in historic Wilmington and arranges and runs a multitude of events, exhibits, programs and lectures. LCFHS relies on donations, membership schemes, volunteers in the community and its board members to achieve these goals.

The LCFHS has permanent exhibits which members of the public can visit for an admission fee. These include Latimer house and gardens, and The Archives and Research Library which requires a small extra reading fee.

Exhibits

The main attraction run by the LCFHS is Latimer House situated at the corner of Third and Orange Streets in the downtown area of Wilmington. The house is designed in a Victorian Italianate style and is the face of upper class Wilmington life during the Victorian era. Built in 1852 and under the LCFHS’s ownership since 1962 the house boasts 14 large rooms and more than 600 objects of historical significance. Inside, visitors can browse intricate jewelry, tools and extravagant and lavish furniture. As visitors step through the sun porch, past the Corinthian columns at the front of the house they can see that the home was designed to be symmetrical with matching room layouts on either side divided by a hallway. On the first floor the house reveals the south sides less grand and formal sitting rooms and the north side’s plush and very formal dining and sitting areas. A notable room which is popular to visit is the southeast parlor with its marble fireplace, glistening chandelier and floor to ceiling windows. The second floor reveals grand chambers and bathrooms with ornate drapes and further personal possessions laid out as if in use. The house can be rented out for private functions such as a photography session, wedding or meeting.

The Society Archives located in Latimer House has hundreds of cubic feet of material archives including over two thousand photographs, 3,000 volumes of information and space to search and read findings. There is a huge collection of genealogy files kept in a vertical file of 8 file drawers containing the information on over 1,000 of local families. Additionally, visitors can see more genealogical notes in the form of 36 boxes detailing many decades of local families histories. Statistics and files filled with census records, tax records, and cemetery records are also stored within the archives and come from the Old New Hanover Genealogical Society.

The gardens are another part of the grounds which have been renovated and maintained by the LCFHS and opened to the public. Plantlife and flowers which are authentic to the era fill the garden and the original lace and stucco brick wall contains the garden around the edge. Swirled white metal benches allow for visitors to sit and admire the view whist era appropriate stone sculptures set the tone. The freshly cut lawn and all of the garden's upkeep is maintained by volunteer gardeners. The garden has been restored to how it may have looked when Mrs Latimer oversaw its upkeep but is not an exact replica due to many plants dying off and overgrown weeds and grass camouflaging its previous appearance.

Tours are available of the property accompanied by a trained docent. Tours last 1 ½ hours and are available Monday to Saturday in both morning and afternoon slots. The tours are interactive and free roaming without ropes to prevent visitors from exploring. Tours are also available of Historic Wilmington.

Ongoing programs

LCFHS has a popular membership scheme which suits a range of budgets. Members can choose between the lowest membership of student to individual, family, contributing, sustaining, friend and the highest member title of benefactor. Events hosted at Latimer house are held throughout the year with past events of artists walking tours, Civil War weekend meets and book talks with lunch in the Tea Room being well attended and received by participants.

Back to: Wilmington, NC

126 I St, Wilmington, NC 28401, Phone: 910-762-0492