23 Of The Best Restaurants In Wilmington (and Surrounding Beach Towns)

Last Updated on June 7, 2021

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From beachside pizza to cocktails with a river view sunset, there are plenty of delicious restaurants in Wilmington. They include spots found downtown, along the Cape Fear River, and in surrounding beach towns.

No matter where you’re staying, you have great places to eat within reach. All of these Wilmington restaurants feature both fresh, local, and a 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:

  • 12 Restaurants in Wilmington
  • 6 Restaurants in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach
  • 2 Restaurants in Wrightsville Beach
  • 3 Sweet Treats in Wilmington

This post is a part of our series on the best places to visit in Eastern North Carolina. We also have articles on fun things to do in Wilmington, including the Wilmington Railroad Museum, the epic Battleship North Carolina, and kid-friendly activities!

Restaurants in Wilmington

1. Copper Penny

109 Chestnut St, Wilmington

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 this Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives-featured joint 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.”

2. Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn

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

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.

3. Tugboat Tony’s Bagel Cafe

106 N Water St, Wilmington

Tugboat Tonys bagel wilmington restaurants

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!

4. Platypus & Gnome

9 S Front St, Wilmington

Platypus and Gnome where to eat in Wilmington

Looking to eat on the wild side? At Platypus & Gnome in downtown Wilmington, there is 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 do have plenty of delicious vegetarian meals as well.

5. Front Street Brewery

9 N Front St, Wilmington 

Front Street Brewery where to eat in wilmington

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 line up of award-winning taps, this Wilmington brewery is unbeatable.

6. The Basics 

319 N Front St, Wilmington

The Basics Wilmington restaurants

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.

Located 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, and eat a delicious meal of Southern and American comfort food with contemporary favorites, too! 

7. Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria

206 Greenfield St, Wilmington

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! 

8. Elijah’s

2 Ann St, Wilmington

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.

9. The Pilot House

2 Ann St, Wilmington

The Pilot House

Enjoy gorgeous views of the Cape Fear River while dining at The Pilot House. Fresh seafood coupled with gorgeous sunset views makes The Pilot House one of our favorite restaurants in Wilmington.

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!

10. Indochine 

7 Wayne Dr, Wilmington

Serving Thai and Vietnamese food, Indochine is one of the most unique restaurants in Wilmington. With a picturesque garden and decor that includes a tuk-tuk, just walking to your table transports you to some of our favorite spots in Southeast Asia. 

Please check out this restaurant if you’re craving some Southeast Asian cuisine!

11. Dram Yard

101 S. 2nd Street, Wilmington

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 really come together to establish a beautiful experience.

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

12. Slice of Life

125 Market Street, Wilmington
1437 Military Cutoff Rd, Wilmington

Restaurants in Wilmington NC Slice of Life

If you’re looking for some good and locally made pizza in Wilmington, Slice of Life is your best bet! 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!

Carolina Beach Restaurants and Kure Beach Restaurants

13. Stoked 

313 Canal Dr, Carolina Beach

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!

14. Fork N Cork

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

The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives also made its 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 also happen to be crowd favorites as well.

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

15. Hang Ten Grill 

308 S Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach

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

16. Michael’s Seafood

1206 N Lake Park Blvd A, Carolina Beach

If you are looking for family-friendly restaurants in Wilmington, then 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.

17. Pop’s Diner

109 N Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach

One of the most nostalgic Carolina beach restaurants, Pop’s Diner is a 50’s-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 definitely recommend going for a stroll after you fill up on hot dogs and ice cream.

18. Jack Mackerels

113 K Avenue, Kure Beach

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

Jack Mackerels is one of our favorite Kure Beach restaurants, and they have amazing daily specials.

Wrightsville Beach Restaurants

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

19. Poe’s Tavern

212 Causeway Dr, Wrightsville

Yes, that’s right–an Edgar Allen Poe inspired restaurant right here 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.

20. Oceanic

703 S Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach

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

Sweet Treats in Wilmington

Peppered cupcake Wilmington Restaurants

If you are like us, then you love to get that little bit of sweet after a good meal. Thankfully, there are plenty of really delicious restaurants in Wilmington that serve up sweet treats!

Start with Celtic Creamery (#21), a locally owned ice cream spot run by an Irish family. They wanted to bring the rich and creamy tradition to the shores of Wilmington and my, do they deliver on that!

Or if you fancy a cupcake, then The Peppered Cupcake (#22) is the only place in North Carolina that 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!

donuts in Wilmington nc

Lastly, if you are looking for that rush of sugar to start your day, then Wake N Bake Donuts (#23) 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!

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 for a while.

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.

More Things to Do in Wilmington

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