Amazing Places to Eat in Wilmington NC

It just makes sense that there are amazing places to eat in Wilmington NC. Right?

Wilmington was founded as a port city in 1739, resulting in exotic foods and people arriving from around the world. People continually arrived and left Wilmo, bringing fresh spices and methods and creating ever-evolving cuisines and lifestyles.

Wilmington was named a “Destination on the Rise” by TripAdvisor and voted Best Riverfront by USA Today readers.

Resulting from this 275 year culinary incubator in The Port City are the following and other astounding Wilmington NC restaurants.

Thank you to Wilmington and Beaches CVB for hosting McCool Travel on this #Coolinary trip..

fun neon light sign saying "Oh, Ship That Was Good"
fun neon light sign at Marina Grill

Amazing Places to Eat in Wilmington NC

1. PinPoint Restaurant

Named among the best new restaurants in southern US by Southern Living in 2016 and featured in The Best Things I Ever Ate in 2018, PinPoint Restaurant calls themselves “a Coastal Community Restaurant.”

During my dinner, the tasty salad contained green strawberries and other ingredients I have never had in a salad. The homemade bread was delectable and my seafood entree was amazing.

a remarkable salad at PinPoint, one of the best Wilmington NC restaurants
a remarkable salad at PinPoint, one of the best Wilmington NC restaurants

Save room for the incredible key lime pie and flourless brownie desserts. Chef Dean Neff operates this jewel one block from the Cape Fear River.

luscious homemade bread at PinPoint Restaurant in Wilmington NC
luscious homemade bread at PinPoint Restaurant in Wilmington NC

PinPoint Restaurant: 114 Market Street | websiteFacebook

2. Fork N Cork

James Smith, chef/owner of Fork N Cork, appeared on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri. He started with a local food truck, The Paddy Wagon, and at Fork N Cork does “bar food kicked up.”

The Texas Brisket Poutine is magnificent. The fonduta is addicting—3 cheeses baked into a cast iron skillet with walnuts, honey, and chili flakes. A strawberry mojito works as a delectable accomplice.

Fork N Cork is one of the best Wilmington NC restaurants
visit Fork N Cork one of the best Wilmington NC restaurants

Also see more Fork N Cork food photos.

Fork N Cork: 122 Market Street | websiteFacebook

3. Savorez

Sam Cahoon the executive chef and owner of Savorez is a Wilmington NC native, attended culinary school locally, and worked his way to his present role via several Wilmington restaurants.

Savorez serves some of the best food in Wilmington NC
enjoy some of the best food in Wilmington NC at Savorez

The seared Tuna Tostada is gorgeous, spicy, and complex and the margaritas are strong and tasty. As you can see, Savorez is popular with locals, visitors, and workers.

mini tuna tostada at Savorez in Wilmington NC
mini tuna tostada at Savorez in Wilmington NC

Savorez: 402 Chestnut Street | websiteFacebook

4. The Peppered Cupcake

Yelp users rank The Peppered Cupcake as the #1 place to eat in Wilmington NC. Not just the #1 bakery but the #1 overall restaurant. That is mighty high praise.

All cupcakes are made from scratch but the philosophy here is to push the boundaries of what is considered a cupcake. The gourmet cupcakes will tantalize your palette with whatever unique and eclectic combinations the master cupcake creator envisions.

True to their name, they use peppers (mmmmmm, habanero) but also horseradish, wasabi, and other savory (and sweet) ingredients you will not expect.

The Peppered Cupcake is one of the best places to eat in Wilmington NC
The Peppered Cupcake is one of the best Wilmington NC restaurants

When doing research to create the best cupcake in the world—are they? You decide!—the owner found two main complaints among cupcake aficionados. Namely they are too sweet and too dry.

She did not open The Peppered Cupcake until she solved those “issues” and what a magnificent product they have. Go!

The Peppered Cupcake: 105 S. Front Street | websiteFacebook

5. Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tour

Most of the above restaurants were visited as part of a food tour. Taste Carolina operates in nine NC cities, including Wilmington, Durham, and Charlotte.

Food tours are a great way to sample many different dishes from several restaurants in a few hours. Also look for farmer market tours, private restaurant tours, and team building events from Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

Taste CarolinawebsiteFacebook

6. Front Street Brewery

In addition to operating as a full bar with over 400 whiskeys and a full grill menu, Front Street Brewery offers a rotating selection of 10 craft beers. In between my Taste Carolina food tour and dinner, I popped in here for a quick flight.

I appreciated that they had two stouts, Sinful chocolate stout and the Mother Shucker oyster stout (YES, made with real oysters). Front Street Brewery was the first craft brewery in Wilmington NC and has operated at this location for 20 years.

Front Street Brewery is a fun place to drink in Wilmington NC
Front Street Brewery is a cool place to drink in Wilmington NC

Front Street Brewery: 9 N. Front Street | websiteFacebook

McCool Travel tip: there are now over a dozen Wilmington NC craft beer places. Try them all!

See also Great US Craft Beer Places

7. Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria

Chef and the Farmer in Kinston spurred a PBS show and culinary fame for Vivian Howard. Her casual pizza entry in Wilmington’s hip east side is called Benny’s Big Time (Benny Knight is her husband and partner). Unfortunately my visit to Benny’s was before they opened for the day but I was able to take the below photo of their gorgeous pizza ovens.

McCool Travel tip: call ahead, as Benny’s Big Time only takes one reservation per hour and waits are sometimes 2 to 3 hours. Wow! another McCool Travel tip: nearby Yoga Salt is the second location of Tamal Dodge‘s celebrity hot spot in Culver City.

Benny's Big Time Pizzeria is a fun Wilmington NC place to eat
Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria is a fun Wilmington NC place to eat

Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria: 206 Greenfield Street | websiteFacebook

8. Block Taco

Across the street from Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria is Block Taco, which has a clever and memorable delivery vehicle.

funky Block Taco delivery car with donkey statue on top
Block Taco is one of the fun Wilmington NC restaurants

Block Taco: 120 Greenfield Street | websiteFacebook

9. Waffle House

OK, normally I would not suggest visiting Waffle House but this was the first WH I saw that was not a stand alone building next to a hotel/motel. This Waffle House is located on Front Street.

Waffle House storefront in downtown Wilmington NC
the Waffle House in downtown Wilmington NC is much different than other WHs

Read about the most expensive Waffle House.

Where to Stay in Wilmington NC

I stayed in the brand new Embassy Suites by Hilton Wilmington Riverfront. Just a block from Front Street, attached to the convention center, the property has a lovely rooftop bar (try it!).

Embassy Suites in Wilmington NC Riverfront is a convenient place to stay
Embassy Suites in Wilmington NC Riverfront is a convenient place to stay

The gorgeous 1.7 miles Riverwalk runs right along the hotel. The front desk agent was one of the friendliest persons I have encountered anywhere.

A shrimp and grits station at the Convention Center one night hit the spot.

Map of Wilmington NC

 

For more information about things to do in Wilmington North Carolina:

What are your favorite Wilmington NC restaurants?

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2 thoughts on “Amazing Places to Eat in Wilmington NC”

  1. Going this weekend and DEFINITELY stopping at the Peppered Cupcake! We had previously made a reservation at PinPoint too so I can’t wait to go and try their BREAD! Haha! 🙂

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