Wilmington, North Carolina is more than just easy access to an urban city and beautiful beaches. The town has a lighthearted and easy personality that complements the beach air, but it’s more than just the sandy coast. The restaurant and bar scene merits a visit to Wilmington and beaches alone. I hope you find this guide to restaurants and bars enticing, and that it inspires you to consider Wilmington a destination for your future travels!
Amazing Pizza Pies from Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria
Celebrity NC chef and superstar Vivian Howard opened up Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington and continues to slay. Their cocktails, appetizers, and pizzas are superb. If you love pizza (I mean, who doesn’t?), you have to give Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria a visit.
Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria
206 Greenfield St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Rx Celebrates its Farmers by Name
Locally and seasonally inspired, this ingredient-driven Southern restaurant was one of my top restaurant experiences in Wilmington. Everyone I mentioned in this guide has wonderful service, but Rx’s service was a few levels above great. They seemed to anticipate needs and answer questions before I even ask them. Sugarface mentioned that the shrimp and grits here might be his all-time favorite. I loved that they locally source their foods and also pay homage to the farmers by name on their menu. Also, do yourself a favor and get the smoked salmon deviled eggs. Reservations are recommended.
421 Castle St, Wilmington, NC 28401
How Now Rum Cow
Have you ever immediately wanted to return to a place after just one bite? That was my experience at Rum Cow. I stopped here during a food tour with Taste Carolina, and this pork belly with fig goat cheese and peach chutney convinced me that I have to come back. They also have amazing cocktails and Sunday Brunch!
121 Grace St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Get the Best French Toast You’ll Ever Have at Sweet n Savory Cafe
Listen, Linda, listen. I’m a savory breakfast kind of a girl (hence the side of bacon), but when 3-4 staff members of Sweet n Savory push the French toast on you, AND Guy Fieri backs them up? You order the French toast. And then you thank them profusely for having your back. Sweet n Savory Cafe makes possibly the best French toast I’ve ever had.
Sweet n Savory Cafe
1611 Pavilion Pl, Wilmington, NC 28403
Satisfy Noodle Cravings at Indochine
Enjoy Thai and Vietnamese cuisine at Indochine. I love walking around their picturesque garden that has gazebos and a pretty tuk-tuk. This was a great place to satisfy my ongoing noodle addiction.
7 Wayne Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403
You Won’t Leave Hungry at Dram Yard
Dram Yard is new to the scene in Wilmington and already turning heads. Attached to the boutique hotel, Arrive, Dram Yard has a very charming interior and a quaint garden patio. They serve larger-than-typical tapas and their proteins are meant to serve two generously. We went with the duck but my eyes bugged out when the couple next to us ordered the very impressive looking schnitzel. Please do yourself a favor and order their focaccia. For dessert, I quite enjoyed my peach panna cotta!
101 S 2nd St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Gourmet Cupcakes at The Peppered Cupcake
The Peppered Cupcake is a true gourmet cupcake shop with two locations in Wilmington. Named for the owner’s love for homemade pepper jelly, which often is showcased as a filling in the cupcakes, this shop does not shy away from wild flavors. Pictured is the Taro Cupcake. I also loved their Banana Fosters cupcake. You’ll find strange flavors too, like Blueberry-Strawberry Jalapeño. I’m really picky about my icing for cupcakes, and I definitely did not scrape off any of their icings!
The Peppered Cupcake
Boombalatti: Where Ice Cream Weather is Year-Round
With two locations in Wilmington, Boombalattis slings homemade ice cream made from dairy sourced from NC grassfed cows. They have vegan ice cream too with a coconut milk base! I LOVED the banana pudding and nilla wafers ice cream flavor. The texture was perfect and I love that they stay away from artificial flavors and coloring.
Take Flight at Flytrap Brewing
Did you know that the only place Venus Flytrap Plants grow natively is Wilmington, NC? I did not know that before visiting Wilmington! Dog-friendly brewery Flytrap Brewing pays homage to this native plant. They have $10 beer flights and a tank with Venus Flytraps you can gaze at.
319 Walnut St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Lounge at the Speakeasy-Style Blind Elephant
Look, I wouldn’t normally encourage you to go down a dark alley, but Blind Elephant is worth it. This speakeasy-style bar’s entrance is in the middle of a dark alley with a sign of an elephant hanging at its door. I’ve never seen a bar with not one (or two), but three Moscow Mules on draft (one with vodka, one with tequila, and one with whiskey). Like Tails, there’s also a piano and if you’re lucky, a pianist tickling the ivories.
21 N Front St, Wilmington, NC 28401
Grab a Coffee To Go at Grinders on Your Way Home!
Grinders Caffé is what I call a Strip Mall Gem. They moved to this location after losing their original location to Hurricane Florence. It’s spacious, great place to get work done, and most importantly, they brew great coffee and have so many options to please all your caffeinated whims.
890 S Kerr Ave #2b, Wilmington, NC 28403
That concludes my list thus far. Did I miss any of your favorites? Leave a comment and let me know!
For a list of fun things to do in Wilmington, check out this blog post.
I will update this guide as I make more trips to Wilmington. I have a feeling this will be one of my regular happy places as I live in North Carolina.
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