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25+ of the Best Restaurants in Wilmington, NC (and Surrounding Beach Towns)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on December 8, 2023.

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Looking for the best Wilmington restaurants? These are some of our favorite restaurants in Wilmington, from beachside pizza to cocktails with a river-view sunset. We’ve included spots found downtown, along the Cape Fear River, and surrounding beach towns.

No matter where you’re staying, you have great places to eat within reach. These are the best Wilmington NC restaurants we could find, featuring fresh, local, and unique spin that draws visitors and locals alike.

Dive on in and use this article to plan your next meals in Port City, North Carolina!

If you’re searching for something specific, this article is organized by:

  • Restaurants in Wilmington
  • Restaurants in Carolina Beach
  • Restaurants in Kure Beach
  • Restaurants in Wrightsville Beach

You can skip ahead to places to eat nearby or continue reading about the best food in Wilmington NC

Read More: 50+ Awesome Things to Do in Wilmington

Whether you’re a new resident, a frequent visitor, or a local, we’re leaving no detail behind. If you live in the Wilmington area and are wondering, “What are the best places to eat near me?” we think this NC travel guide will help you out!

Our Favorite Restaurants in Wilmington

Our guide includes addresses to these Wilmington restaurants, but you can also visually plan your adventures through this map we’ve created.

Read More: The NC Tripping North Carolina Travel Map

The Basics 

Address: 319 N Front St, Wilmington, NC

A plate of collard greens and eggs Benedict at The Basics - one of the best Restaurants in Wilmington NC

The Basics offers much more than its name indicates. This place will fill your hungry belly with a menu that is as diverse as the visitors and locals.

Inside the Cotton Exchange, you’ll find ample seating and album covers lining the walls of Historic Downtown Wilmington.

Stop by for breakfast and brunch, lunch, and dinner in Wilmington NC for delicious Southern and American comfort food with contemporary favorites, too! 

Read More: Battleship North Carolina (Visiting Our Namesake Ship and How She Arrived at Wilmington)

Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria

Address: 206 Greenfield St, Wilmington, NC

From celebrity chef and North Carolina rockstar, Vivian Howard, comes Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria. With a fun mix of cocktails, delectable appetizers, and pizzas beyond your average slice, you are definitely going to want to visit this delicious Wilmington restaurant! 

Read More: Awesome Things to Do in Kinston (and Why We’ll Be Back for More!)

Boombalattis Homemade Ice Cream

1127 Military Cutoff Rd, Wilmington, NC
1005 N 4th St, Wilmington, NC
15919 HWY 17N Hampstead, Wilmington, NC

a bowl of ice cream in a waffle cone and a blue spoon

Look… I have been on a quest for some of the best ice cream in North Carolina, and Boombalattis? Quite possibly the winner. Boombalattis is a family-owned ice cream shop with three locations around Wilmington. Their ice cream is made using fresh local dairy, with no unnatural colors or flavors, and they also have a wide selection of dairy-free options.

Whether it’s a scoop of Fluffer Nutter or Strawberry Shortcake, the texture of the ice cream at Boombalattis is just unreal. Trust us and leave the room after these other restaurants in Wilmington for dessert at Bommbalattis.

Read More: Visiting Airlie Gardens in Wilmington (+ 10 Things We Love!)

Copper Penny

Address: 109 Chestnut St, Wilmington, NC

With local beer, delicious pub food, and a warm environment, The Copper Penny even has the famous Guy Fieri’s stamp of approval!

Stop by a spot featured by Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and order onion rings, wings, and a roast beef sandwich for a truly astounding meal.

Also, if you dine here on Tuesdays for their “Giving Back” special, The Copper Penny donates part of the profit from your meal to their “charity of the month.”

Read More: Eastern North Carolina (and 100+ Awesome Places to Visit)

Dram Yard

Address: 101 S. 2nd Street, Wilmington, NC

New to the Wilmington restaurant scene, Dram Yard has a beautiful Gazebo Bar and a cocktail menu that is just the tip of its deliciousness. Perfect for a date night, the food, decor, and ambiance create a beautiful experience.

From the banana-leaf papered ceiling, tall windows, and subtle lighting, Dram Yard is where you go in Wilmington to impress someone special.


Address: 2 Ann St, Wilmington, NC

If you are looking for fine-dining restaurants in Wilmington, Elijah’s is one of the best! With a waterfront deck that overlooks the Cape Fear River, Elijah’s has been serving delicious plates of upscale dishes since 1984.

We recommend asking for a table outside to watch the sunset and romantically share some of their Goat Cheese and Bacon Stuffed Oysters! But don’t be fooled by the upscale atmosphere; Elijah’s does have a kid’s menu if you are traveling with tiny foodies, too.

It’s easily our favorite riverfront restaurant in Wilmington, NC!

Read More: How to Explore the NC Oyster Trail (10+ Adventurous Ways!)

Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn

4002 Oleander Drive, Wilmington, NC
1140-A N Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC

Serving Wilmington since 2000, Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn is a local favorite! With stuffed burritos at an affordable price, there is no way you won’t enjoy some of their unique combinations.

Get a Thai-inspired burrito, a Philly Hot, a Grilled Flounder, or even a Po’boy–there are so many options that you’ll find yourself trying something new each time!

The chill, family-friendly vibe makes this restaurant the perfect spot to fill your bellies during your beach vacation.

Read More: 45+ Great Things to Do With Kids in Wilmington

Fork N Cork

122 Market Street, Wilmington, NC
102 Cape Fear Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC

The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives also made their way to the area to feature Fork N Cork. Guy Fieri fell in love with their confit duck wings and beef wellington bites, both of which are crowd favorites.

Whether you’re ordering a Hot Mess Burger or getting the orange-habanero and hot honey garlic wings, you will fall in love with this restaurant.

Front Street Brewery

Address: 9 N Front St, Wilmington, NC

a tall BBQ burger with onion rings and french fries

A huge menu plus house-crafted beer? Count us in!

Front Street Brewery isn’t just a pub but a place to gather and enjoy good food and drink. With over 25 sandwiches, 35 entrees, and a wonderful lineup of award-winning taps, this Wilmington brewery is unbeatable.

Read More: 50+ Easy Day Trips from Fayetteville (Great Getaways!)


Address: 7 Wayne Dr, Wilmington, NC

Indochine is one of Wilmington’s most unique restaurants serving Thai and Vietnamese food. With a picturesque garden and decor, including a tuk-tuk, just walking to your table transports you to some of our favorite Southeast Asian spots. 

Dine at this Wilmington restaurant if you’re craving Southeast Asian cuisine with a stunning ambiance.

The Maine Lobster Roll Company

Address: 5202 Carolina Beach Rd Unit 6, Wilmington, NC

A lobster bisque sandwich from the Maine Lobster Roll Company

Get a taste of authentic Maine lobster right here in North Carolina! When owners Bill and Monica Irwin moved to Wilmington from Maine, they noticed a pattern: people immediately equated Maine with the state’s famous lobster rolls.

This inspired them to open the Maine Lobster Roll Company in the fall of 2019. 

The Maine Lobster Roll Company ensures an authentic dining experience by sourcing their lobster directly from Maine. They pair their lobster with a New England-style bun, just as the Mainers do.

Enjoy Maine here with its clam chowder, lobster bisque, lobster grilled cheese, and more! 

Mess Hall

Address: 2136 Wrightsville Ave, NC

If you follow us on social media, you know that I had a Burger Era and attempted to go to all the best burgers in North Carolina. Well, one that our followers highly recommended was Mess Hall in Wilmington. Located in the Cargo District, Mess Hall asks, “Are you Ready to Get Messy!?”… And they aren’t wrong! Their hand-painted and made-to-order burgers are dripping with a tangy yet delicious sauce.

A friend chicken burger with lettuce and tomato

Everything at Mess Hall is made fresh- from grinding the meat for the patties to the sauces. Mess Hall also makes some pretty incredible vegan patties- so roll up and be prepared to be wowed! 

a plate of tater tots with house sauce and chives

To add to the long list of why we love this Wilmington restaurant- tots. You can steal Carl’s heart with a tray of tots, especially if they are named after one of the best (or is the worst?) episodes of The Office, Scott’s Tots. 

Check out Mess Hall when you are looking for the best casual restaurant in Wilmington! 

Peppered Cupcake

105 S Front St, Wilmington, NC
260 Racine Dr Ste 7, Wilmington, NC

chocolate cupcake with icing and carmel

If you are like us, you love getting a little sweetness after a good meal. Thankfully, plenty of really delicious restaurants in Wilmington serve up sweet treats!

Or if you fancy a cupcake, then The Peppered Cupcake is the only place in North Carolina you need to know. Unique gourmet flavor combinations and iced to order, we guarantee that you’ll never forget your first from The Peppered Cupcake!

The Pilot House

Address: 2 Ann St, Wilmington, NC

Fresh seafood on a plate of rice

Enjoy gorgeous views of the Cape Fear River while dining at The Pilot House. Fresh seafood and gorgeous sunset views make The Pilot House one of our personal favorites and a local pick for the best restaurants in Wilmington NC.

Add in their kid’s menu, and this restaurant can easily change from your date night spot to a place for you and the kids!

Platypus & Gnome

Address: 9 S Front St, Wilmington, NC

An elk burger with fries

Looking to eat on the wild side? Platypus & Gnome is one of the best downtown Wilmington NC restaurants, and they have something for everyone, including those looking to try some exotic meats.

Their menu rotates seasonally and includes must-eat items like wild boar soup, candied bacon, elk burger, and seared ostrich steak! Plant lovers can also rejoice as they have plenty of delicious vegetarian meals as well.


Address: 402 Chestnut Street, NC

shrip taco on a white place with radish and oranges

Food for Wilmington made by a Wilmingtonian. Chef Sam Cahoon is a Wilmington native, working his way through the culinary scene.  Savorez has been one of those Wilmington restaurants on our to-eat list for a long time.

Plating up Latin American flavors in an unassuming brick corner building, the flavors burst, and the vibe is chill. The menu is comprised of locally sourced ingredients. In fact, I saw a plat of microgreens growing in the back of the building! 

After our first visit to Savorez, my DMs flooded with recommendations to go back for Sunday brunch! So, if you’re looking for where to eat brunch in Wilmington, try Savorez! 

Slice of Life

125 Market St, Wilmington, NC
1437 Military Cutoff Rd, Wilmington, NC

a pepperoni pizza from slice of life

Slice of Life is your best bet if you’re looking for some good and locally-made pizza in Wilmington! With a location downtown and in Wrightsville Beach, it’s easy to swing by, grab a pizza, and dig in.

Also featuring the largest tequila selection in Wilmington, the drink menu at Slice of Life is just as impressive as the food!

Tugboat Tony’s Bagel Cafe

Address: 106 N Water St, Wilmington, NC

A bacon and cheese bagel from Tony's Bagel Cafe

Tugboat Tony’s Bagel Cafe isn’t a fancy place. Rather, the laid-back atmosphere will compel you to pull up a chair, grab a cup of coffee, and hang out all day shooting the, well… you know.

But with its prime location right off of the Riverwalk, we love stopping at Tugboat Tony’s for an egg bagel with a view. Made by a real New Yorker, you can’t beat these bagels!

Read More: Visiting the Awesome Wilmington Railroad Museum

Restaurants in Wilmington’s Surroundings (Carolina Beach)

These restaurants in Wilmington’s neighbor Carolina Beach keep us coming back to one of NC’s most popular beach towns.

Britts Donuts

Address: 11 Carolina Beach Ave N, Carolina Beach, NC

A glazed donut in front of a sign for Britt's Donut Shop

Britts Donuts is seasonally open and THE place to go for quality donuts. It’s been a staple of the community since 1939 and has been owned by Bobby Nivens and his wife for over forty years.

If you’re visiting Carolina Beach in the on-season, you must try one of their homemade glazed donuts. We promise they’re worth it! 

Celtic Creamery

Address: 201 N Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC

vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone

Celtic Creamery is a locally owned ice cream spot run by an Irish family. They wanted to bring the rich and creamy tradition to the shores of Carolina Beach, and they deliver on that promise every day!

Hang Ten Grill 

Address: 308 S Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC

Thriving on that laid-back surfer vibe, Hang Ten Grill serves delicious handhelds and seafood and has an awesome weekend brunch! Chow down on locally sourced seafood and tacos for dinner, or wake up to your best life with fluffy waffles and eggs.

Michael’s Seafood

Address: 1206 N Lake Park Blvd A, Carolina Beach, NC

If you are looking for family-friendly restaurants in Wilmington, Michael’s in Carolina Beach is your golden ticket! While there are a lot of fried seafood joints around the beach, Michael’s doesn’t have a fryer, meaning their menu is entirely gluten-free, too!

Chow down on the Admiral’s Delight (crab legs, scallops, shrimp, and oysters) and definitely order a cup of their famous seafood chowder and enjoy the taste of local seafood.

Nauti Dog

Address: 5 Cape Fear Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC

Nauti dog outdoor seating area

Nauti Dog is a relatively newer eatery located on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. Snack on gourmet hot dogs right along the beach at this clean, classy beachside takeout window. Nauti Dog has something for many people, as they offer gluten-free and vegan options.

Pop’s Diner

Address: 109 N Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, NC

The front of Pop's Diner at Carolina Beach

One of the most nostalgic Carolina beach restaurants, Pop’s Diner is a 50s-inspired eatery with classic food. Funnel cake fries, a Cuban sandwich, and a Ruben is a meal to die for–you can’t beat the prices or the flavor!

Right along the boardwalk, we recommend going for a stroll after you enjoy hot dogs and ice cream.


Address: 313 Canal Dr, Carolina Beach, NC

Overlooking the boats, Stoked is one of the best restaurants in Carolina Beach for fresh seafood. Start with their irresistible lump crab dip, followed by some blackened Mahi, and with plenty of room left for their key lime pie.

Stoked also has live music on Fridays and Saturdays for a rocking good time!

Read More: 20+ Great Things to Do in Carolina Beach (and Nearby!)

Wake N Bake Donuts

Address: 1401 N Lake Park Blvd #46, Carolina Beach, NC

close up photo of a donut from wake n bake donuts

Lastly, if you are looking for that sugar rush to start your day, Wake N Bake Donuts is the spot! Baked fresh daily, Wake N Bake often closes when they run out, so be sure to start your day early with a fresh dozen before hitting the beach!

More Restaurants in Wilmington’s Surroundings (Kure Beach)

Kure Beach is a bit quieter than the other beach towns, but we love coming here for dinner and think it has some of the best places to eat in Wilmington NC.

Jack Mackerels

Address: 113 K Avenue, Kure Beach, NC

Jack Mackerels serves Caribbean fusion in a colorful atmosphere next to the Kure Beach Pier. Grab Calabash-style seafood and a crab cake sandwich, and don’t skip the Old Bay Chips!

Jack Mackerels is one of our favorite Kure Beach restaurants with amazing daily specials.

Even More Restaurants in Wilmington’s Surroundings (Wrightsville Beach)

We keep returning to these restaurants in Wilmington’s surroundings of Wrightsville Beach. Read on to see why!


Address: 703 S Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC

Sitting on the old Crystal Pier, Oceanic is a Wrightsville Beach restaurant that stands out. Located on the beach, it’s a beautiful location to enjoy fresh seafood and then take a walk on the restored pier.

Poe’s Tavern

Address: 212 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville Beach, NC

Yes, that’s right–an Edgar Allen Poe-inspired restaurant in Wrightsville Beach! While it is uncertain whether Poe would have ordered a Raven burger or the Annabel Lee from Poe’s Tavern, one must surely chow down on a Tell-Tale Heart.

Punny names aside, the food at Poe’s Tavern is delicious, fresh, and cooked to order.

Ready to Dig Into these Restaurants in Wilmington (and Surrounding Beach Towns)?

Whether you are visiting the area or live here, we think this list of restaurants in Wilmington and its surroundings should keep you busy.

They’ll also make you hungry and ready to eat! From the pizza at Benny’s Big Time to the treats at The Peppered Cupcake, there is something for everyone to eat in Wilmington!

Do you have a favorite place to eat in the area? We’d love to know about it either here in the comments or by email. You can also tell us about your favorite Wilmington food spots in our North Carolina Travel Facebook Group.

Beyond Restaurants in Wilmington (More Things to Do)

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