Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Southeast >
Feb 4, 2007 11:18 AM

Where do the foodies eat in Wilmington, NC

In a town that is overrun with chain restaurants I want to know where the true foodies like to eat dinner. The local ,independent restaurants that have friendly service and great food.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't think Wilmington is any more overrun with chain restaurants than any other town its size. As a matter of fact, we've actually seen a couple of pretty big chains here fail and close. I think it has an amazing number of REALLY good locally owned places in all price ranges and food types. My husband (and our friends) have a large number of local favorites that run the full gamut.

    Flaming Amy's: We like to grab a burrito and head to the boat for an evening sail.
    La Costa: Great inexpensive Mexican right around the corner from us.
    El Agave: Another great Mexican place.
    K-38 Baja Grill: I'd call this one medium price range (?) but they have excellent food. Our friends who cruised the Baja peninsula joke that "authentic" Baja cuisine would be "feesh or leezard", but their food is great, and they have good margaritas and serve Negra Modelo (same as La Costa), which makes me happy.
    Banyan Asian Cafe: I've had some disagreement from others in Wilmington on this board about Banyan, but I've always had a great meal there.
    Viet Bistro: Very good Vietnamese food for reasonable prices.
    Nikki's Sushi: Some of the best sushi in town. Also has a great bento box for lunches.
    Double Happiness: Really good Chinese - NOT a buffet place.
    Dan's Mason Bistro: The chef prepares a lot of locally caught fish. Very good. A little pricier.
    Delux: Still hands-down our favorite nice restaurant, since Harvest Moon closed.
    PortLand Grille: Excellent upscale dining, very creative food and great atmosphere. Some of the best wait staff in town.
    Brasserie Du Soleil: Loud and boisterous, but excellent food and good wait staff. Great wine list.
    BiJou Brasserie & Bar: Again, great food and nice atmosphere. Owned by the same people who own Brasserie above. Had some excellent frites there with my steak.
    El Guajiro: Cuban - Great lunch spot - kind of a hole in the wall for atmosphere, but the food definitely makes up for it.
    A Taste Of Italy: Has a great selection of deli stuff and some of the best eggplant Parm I've ever eaten.
    Bon Appetit Restaurant & Catering: Another hole in the wall place that serves kind of "blue place special" old diner type food, but a lunch place we really enjoy.
    Nagila: Very good Middle Eastern food. Service is sometimes a little dicey, but it still hasn't kept me from enjoying the meal there.
    Nofo Market & Cafe: Some good old "southern luncheon" food. Excellent sandwiches and good cookies and brownies.
    Temptations: Another fantastic lunch place. Their quiches are always good, their salads are excellent, and they make a great iced tea.
    Portofino Italian Gourmet Deli" Not so great for eating in - they don't have much at all in the way of tables and the last time I was there they didn't have beer and wine, but we always get them for takeout and the food is great.

    Those are our "regulars" and I have a list of probably twenty other restaurants in town (not chains) that I want to try. I know I left several off that are local favorites, and someone else will post those. But since moving here from Atlanta, I have continually been impressed with the number of local options for really good food and the variety of cuisines and price ranges.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Cake Ladies

        No, they've been around for a while now. They do a decent bit of catering for weddings and such.

      2. re: Andiereid

        I searched for good restaurants to eat at in Wilmington on my Blackberry when I went from Ocean Isle for a day trip, and I found the recommendation for Flaming Amy's Burrito Barn, so we tried it. Thank you!! It was AWESOME! I can't wait to go back, the next time I am visiting Ocean Isle. My burrito had jerk chicken and pineapple salsa in it- SOOOO GOOD!!!

      3. The original comment has been removed
        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. Will someone please reccomend the best BBQ in wilmington

            1. re: joan1725

              I'm not partial to NC 'cue, having been raised in Arkansas near Memphis - totally different style. But I would say that if you like NC BBQ, then probably Smithfield's on Market or Jackson's Big Oak BBQ on Kerr. Decidedly NOT Sticky Fingers, which calls itself "Memphis BBQ". Way too sweet, just for starters.

              1. re: joan1725

                I love The BBQ House in Oak Island. Go for a walk on the beach and then have some lunch. The BBQ is great and the staff is lovely.

                1. re: joan1725

                  I agree with most that Jackson's Big Oak BBQ on Kerr is the best....wish they had beer there too but they don't. They have amazing hush puppies. I don't like the corn we double up on hush puppies. Also its very affordable. I get the medium pork plate and order two buns and make my own sandwiches! I also like smithfields on 17th in a pinch. I don't like Carolina BBQ or Casey's Buffet. They are a little rundown.

                  1. re: trleonunley

                    Neither Jackson's nor Smithfield's are particular good, as neither cooks with wood or charcoal, which is essential to making real bbq.

                    I haven't yet tried Carolina BBQ. Casey's BBQ isn't anything special, but the rest of the buffet is pretty good. So what if it is a little ramshackle? Some of the best food can be found in rundown buildings.

              2. I second Jackson's Big Oak on South Kerr Ave. Theyve been in Wilmington a long time and know how to do BBQ. Enjoy.

                1. I've been eating Jackson's for over 20 years(even worked there one summer), and it is still my go to place for a quick barbecue fix. That being said, I think the pig over at Casey's Country Buffett(5559 Oleander) is better than what the Big Oak is putting out these days.

                  BTW, Eastern Carolina- style Barbecue is God's gift to all food lovers :)