Nothing is more soul-soothing than a good meal, from the moment you take your first taste until the second you’ve grown full and pushed the plate happily away. Finding the right restaurant or dining establishment is a part of enjoying a blissfully happy dining experience where food delights all our senses, nourishing us from the inside out.
If you’re eating out in Wilmington, North Carolina, here are the best places to grab a bite.
What’s the best restaurant in Wilmington?
As the home of the original Hardees, Wilmington specializes in burgers, but it’s a great foodie destination. Big eaters should check out Ruth’s Chris steak house or Jackson’s Big Oak Barbecue. Those looking for something lighter will enjoy Indochine Wilmington for Thai food or Tandoori Bites for spicey Indian fare.
Wilmington has tons of unique restaurants for any budget and palate, so it can be hard to chose just one when you have a limited amount of time on your vacation. That’s why I’ve assembled this list of the best restaurants in Wilmington.
This list captures the essence of Wilmington, North Carolina, in all its food glory so that travelers, visitors, and locals can find the best place to eat.
These establishments offer reasonable pricing great-tasting food that is an experience to eat. Tasteful decorating themes, friendly staff, changing menus and diverse cultural cooking make this list indispensable when visiting this great southern city.
Osteria Cicchetti – Italian
Everyone loves Italian food; whether it’s a simple personal pizza with veggies and extra cheese or lasagna that is to die for, this restaurant captures all the flavors Americans look for when going Italian.
Tuscan style Italian restaurant offers exceptional service, from friendly staff members in a cozy atmosphere complete with rustic, old-world décor setting the mood for a comfortable dining experience.
This restaurant can accommodate small or larger parties of guests, offers large plates of food, and also serves delectable desserts and Sunday brunch.
Indochine Wilmington – Thai
Thai food, either you love it, or you hate it. Either way, diners that enjoy this international cuisine will adore this restaurant for its delightfully intriguing atmosphere and exotic but beautiful plates of food.
Serving lunch, dinner, and late-night drinks, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, this dining establishment covers all the bases ensuring everyone can come out and have a great meal.
Large plates of food, amazing service and staff, and facilities that can accommodate various sized parties.
Offerings include traditional Thai selections with an appetizer sampler and beef pho boasting great reviews.
Uncle Lim’s Kitchen – Chinese takeout
This is the place to stop for Wilmington visitors searching for some good old-fashioned Chinese take-out.
A long-standing local establishment serving a diverse selection of Chinese food from the friendly staff in a traditional atmosphere, quick, efficient, and affordable.
You can order in or ask for delivery which adds to the convenience.
Beer Barrio – Mexican
Everybody loves Mexican and what better way to enjoy it than visiting a new city. This restaurant offers classic Mexican and Southwestern fare at affordable prices with friendly and helpful service staff.
This establishment is dog friendly, making it a must for those visitors that need to bring their well-behaved pooch.
They offer a great beer and drink selection; the service is quick, and the food never disappoints. The décor is modern American Mexican style.
The plates of food are filling, with chips and salsa on the side with a deep friend bacon brownie to finish off for dessert.
Jackson’s Big Oak Barbeque – BBQ
Diners searching for a great barbeque that offers eat-in or take-out will enjoy this dining experience—show-stopping plates of food that are delicious and plentiful.
Friendly staff and down-home southern atmosphere and décor align with the feel-good food.
This is the place to stop for patrons who want great barbeque in a comfortable atmosphere for a reasonable price.
Ruth’s Christ Steak House – Fine Dining
For a romantic atmosphere with a beautiful view and excellent food that leans more towards the formal, reservations accepted side of the menu; this is placed to dine.
Delicious cocktails and drinks expertly prepared steaks make this chain restaurant perfect in its new location. The outstanding sunsets are one of the most eye-catching features of this establishment that will make everything else pale in comparison for just a few minutes.
Once the outdoor show is over, the staff is helpful, the menu vast, and the food ample and exceptional.
Ruth’s Kitchen – Southern Cookin’
Diners traveling through or around Wilmington that are on a budget will enjoy this cute little restaurant.
Serving comfort food favorites like fried chicken, club sandwiches, and banana pudding are their specialty. These are the foods that nourish the mind, body, and soul. Southern food at its best, served up by friendly staff for over forty years, this cozy little restaurant will become a welcome memovry for travelers long after they leave the area.
Ruth’s serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a comfortable but no-nonsense atmosphere in the city’s heart.
With daily specials and signature sides, this is a great place to park yourself and have a satisfying lunch before heading back out for shopping and exploration.
Sweet n’ Savory Café – American & Bakery
Vacation guests, including children, will find a perfect spot at the Sweet n’ Savory Café that serves up standard American fare throughout the day and has an onsite bakery.
With a pleasantly friendly atmosphere and staff, it will be hard for parents to pull their kids away for more fun in this great city. Healthy dining options and a good kid’s menu make for a happy dining experience for parents.
The food is tasty and memorable, which will have vacationers longing to return for a repeat dining experience at this Wilmington gem. Breakfast items like shrimp and grits or biscuits and gravy pay homage to its Southern roots, while lunch menu items like Ceviche and Cucumber River remind you that you are in a city.
Mega dinners like pulled pork smokehouse or Calabash Seafood Plate will satisfy diners with healthy appetites, while the desserts like the Bear Claw and Strawberry Bread Pudding are heavenly!
Tandoori Bites – Indian
For a bit of spicy Indian fare, this establishment will easily fit the bill. Serving traditional Indian food comfortably to dining guests in the city, this restaurant will inspire and awaken the senses.
Indian-inspired décor, great coffee, and chai tea, as well as a large menu serving lamb, chicken and fish as the animal protein, are just some of the things that make this place special.
The portions of the plates are ample, and the prices are reasonable. Food served is authentic to the Indian culture with fresh spices and friendly staff who serve it up with a smile.
The menu, which boasts appetizers, soup, bread, entrees, drinks, desserts, and even a kid’s menu, is large with many choices.
The restaurant even has roses and candies to purchase for those who are so inclined.
Little Dipper Fondue – Fondue
For those travelers who want something different, this restaurant has it. Affectionately termed a fondue restaurant, it serves up special three-course meals served fondue style, including dessert. The staff is exceptionally pleasant, the atmosphere is eclectic, and the food is heavenly! Offerings include meat, vegetable, seafood, and cheese fondues and dessert choices.
Live and local entertainments and great drinks make this place a perfect spot for food and drinks in a stylish, modern environment. Reservations are suggested.
Are there any restaurants open real late into the night in Wilmington, North Carolina?
Yes, a few restaurants are open real late into the night in Wilmington, North Carolina, for those diners who need a midnight snack or keep late hours.
Each restaurant or eatery will have its hours, some closing around midnight and others staying open a bit longer. Most stay open later hours on Friday and Saturday nights.
The food selection might be minimal at this hour for diners’ knowledge. Most of the establishments are bars or serve alcohol of one kind or another, and some might have music or other entertainments that also make them a draw for nightcrawlers.
Since the number of restaurants that open late into the night is smaller than what’s open at 7 PM, pricing may be higher than anticipated, so it is always a good idea to look at the menu online before dining.
Reel Cafe – Seafood Bar & Grille
One such late-night establishment is the Reel Café. This bar and grill serve standard pub fare in a brick building with a rooftop bar and musical entertainment.
The rooftop view is beautiful; the atmosphere is comfortable with a youthful vibe and reasonable prices.
With a special late-night limited menu, diners can enjoy a crab cake sandwich, calamari, or fried chicken, to name a few. They also offer steamers of crab legs, oysters, and shrimp. A great beer and wine list, daily specials, and a separate take-out menu make life easy for those vacationers who get a case of the munchies late at night but don’t want to hang around and socialize.
This list is not exhaustive, as Wilmington, North Carolina, is a big city with numerous choices. For those who have the time, sampling the eats at more than one restaurant in this city will be a great way to round out your Wilmington, North Carolina vacation experience.
Best Restaurants In Wilmington: Side-By-Side Comparison Chart
|Osteria Cicchetti||Italian||$$||Cozy, Rustic||Large Plates of Food, Delectable Desserts, Sunday Brunch|
|Indochine Wilmington||Thai||$$||Intriguing, Exotic||Traditional Thai Selections, Appetizer Sampler, Beef Pho|
|Uncle Lim’s Kitchen||Chinese takeout||$||Traditional, Quick, Efficient, Affordable||Diverse Selection of Chinese Food|
|Beer Barrio||Mexican||$$||Modern American Mexican||Classic Mexican and Southwestern Fare, Beer and Drink Selection|
|Jackson’s Big Oak BBQ||BBQ||$$||Down-home Southern||Barbecue (Eat-in or Take-out)|
|Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse||Fine Dining||$$$$||Romantic, Formal, Beautiful View||Expertly Prepared Steaks, Delicious Cocktails and Drinks|
|Ruth’s Kitchen||Southern Cooking||$||Comfortable, No-nonsense, Budget-friendly||Fried Chicken, Club Sandwiches, Banana Pudding|
|Sweet n’ Savory Café||American & Bakery||$$||Friendly, Pleasant||Standard American Fare, Onsite Bakery, Healthy Dining Options, Kid’s Menu|
|Tandoori Bites||Indian||$$||Traditional, Spicy, Authentic to Indian Culture||Large Menu Serving Lamb, Chicken, and Fish, Fresh Spices, Great Coffee and Chai Tea|
|Little Dipper Fondue||Fondue||$$$||Intimate, Romantic||Cheese Fondue, Chocolate Fondue, Wine Selection|
What restaurants are in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina?
Three very special restaurants with tasty food, friendly staff, and a great atmosphere are located in downtown Wilmington. Visitors to this area should not miss:
Fork and Cork, the Basics, and Pinpoint
The Fork and Cork offer standard American fare, including fried chicken, burgers and fries, delightful sandwiches, and comfort food that soothes the spirit.
On the outside, it may not look like a great place, but inside it proves exceptional in all ways. Locals love it; visitors will too.
The Basics is a classic establishment serving breakfast and brunch, lunch and dinner, southern style. The staff is pleasant, the food tasty and more than enough to satisfy.
The atmosphere is pleasing with the industrial feel and the menu is enough to entice even the pickiest eaters with a kid’s menu. Cocktails are expertly mixed; drinks are served with a healthy dose of friendliness that has locals coming back for more.
Visitors will enjoy this cute and fun dining experience.
Pinpoint is an exquisite high-end restaurant that offers classic dishes with a regional twist.
Those diners looking for a more upscale restaurant that offers unique dishes and outrageously delicious food won’t be disappointed. This French bistro offers creative, palate, and eye-pleasing fare that is ample and more than enough to feed all the senses.
The locally sourced ingredients, highly skilled staff, and beautiful atmosphere will have guests returning yearly.
What food is Wilmington known for?
Wilmington is known for many things, but when it comes to food, it would be burgers and, more specifically, Hardees, which was opened in 1960 after Wilbur Hardee visited a Mcdonald’s and noted its success.
While fast food would never make the top of anyone’s list, visiting Hardees would be the place to go if burgers are a must-have on the dinner menu.
As with any fast-food establishment, the food is priced, the service fast, and the staff pleasant at this southern gem.
Finding a good place to eat, whatever the fare, can be hard in a large city with so many options.
Wilmington has its fair share of excellent choices, and this list is just a small sampling of what is offered in this and the surrounding areas.
When the pangs of hunger hit and you’re traveling around this great southern city, don’t forget to check out the amazing food at these hot spots, it can’t be beaten!