HOME > Chowhound > Southeast >


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. Will someone please reccomend the best BBQ in wilmington

        4 Replies
        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 things...so 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 :)

                1. Thank you so much for the info. BTW will be in Memphis and Helna Ak. in May any recommendations for BBQ

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: joan1725

                    In Memphis - Corky's for wet BBQ and Rendezvous for dry ribs. Excellent. There are other really great 'cue places there, but those are our old haunts from back when we lived around there.

                  2. For my money, Marc's on Market is the best place in town. I'm completely addicted to their "Chicken under a brick" (and that from someone who NEVER orders chicken in a restaurant!) They've also got great calamari, terrific tempura green beans and the duck with silver dollar pancakes is better than I've ever had. Marc, Sarah and their staff are always finding a new way to make familiar food better than you've ever had in a restaurant before. And if he ever puts the lamb and barley skewer with pomegranate glaze on the menu, make sure you try them!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: chefbeth

                      Definite second for Marc's on Market. We had dinner there last night with relatives and everything was excellent. I had their house salad and a perfectly seasoned spicy pork tenderloin with - just the right amount of heat and some great coconut rice. My husband had the steamed mussels for his app and the duck and cornmeal cakes for his dinner and loved both of them. They have a good wine list and the prices are uber-reasonable, especially given the quality of the food.

                    2. How 'bout buying fresh seafood? Have been buying at Mott's for years, but isn't there someplace "better"?

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: mikequinlan

                        We've always bought our fresh fish at Greenville Loop Seafood, and have been very happy with it.

                        1. re: Andiereid

                          We like both Mott's and Greenville Loop Seafood. Have also tried the place on S.16th Street, by the railroad tracks. Not sure of the name; maybe Cape Fear Seafood?

                          1. re: Ando

                            Yes, Cape Fear Seafood. Their prices are great and their selection is wide.

                            1. re: joshuahmel

                              I believe Opus is closing........Not sure so I don't want to lose them any business but I would call before going

                      2. I too would love to try Opus! There was a really nice dining review in the January/February issue of Focus On The Coast. It sounds wonderful but a little on the "pricey" side. Would also love to know more about their weekend brunch.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Ando

                          I've been to Opus for lunch and the salad was very good. I added chickenand I believe it was at least $10. It was nicely presented. On one occasion my husband had the turkey scallopinni sandwich($14!) it was a little over the top cheese bomb because of the brie. The scallopinni part tasted good though. It had some sort of mayo on it too which we both thought would have enhanced the sandwich if it was tart or tangy rather than rich and creamy. Another time my mom had the crepes which were very good. Haven't been there for dinner because of our work schedule. I do think his plates are very artfully presented. He is in a high rent district so he needs to charge the prices he does to meet his overhead. Same as PorteLand Grill.

                        2. How about a recommendation for great south american or latin american food in or near Wilmington? (Not Mexican - I love Mexican food, too, but that isn't what I'm looking for for this occasion). Somewhere upscale with live music and dancing would be great. Any suggestions?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: latinfood

                            Cocina de Carmen features food from El Salvador. I would not call it upscale but they do have live music on the weekends. They make their own tortillas and my meals there have been very good. They are located in the marketplace mall on College rd. If you do not know where this is it is directly behind Pure Gold. They are changing the name to El Sombero Azul but the sign hasn't changed yet.

                          2. Try Thierry and Patricia Moity's (owners of Caprice) other restaurant Zooi Bistro in the Forum Shoping Center off of Military Cutoff. It's excellent and gives Delux and the Portland Grill strong competition. Great food and a very nice staff.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Jack B.

                              Love Zooi and Caprice, and the owners. Can't seem to order any thing but the rabbit because it is so good!

                              1. re: wineandcheese

                                I haven't trie Zooi, but I have to agree, Caprice is fabulous. I do not even like pate, but theirs is amazing. And always great service. And yes, the owners are so nice. Delux is also amazing. I also like like Cafe Phoenix, since they re-opened it is much better. They had a rough period but they seem to have gotton it together and the food is great and so is the service. Lazeeza also has outstanding food, but is terribly hidden in a shopping mall. Great Paella! I wish Wilmington had some really good Indian Food. Have tried India Mahal three times, once was okay.

                              2. re: Jack B.

                                I have to give another vote for Zooi. Had a truly amazing meal there last night. Everything at the table was exceptional! I highly recommend the waterzooi and the rabbit.

                                1. re: mwlgood

                                  I tried to make a reservation for Zooi last week and they are closed for good but there's always their other restaurant Caprice Bistro on Market.

                                2. re: Jack B.

                                  Caprice provided one of the best meals I've had this year - and that was with an almost absurdly large (and rowdy) party. We drove down from the Triangle to see an old friend who was touring with her significant other's band. Now, there's something to be said for dining and drinking with touring rock bands - but it wouldn't usually be that they have a great knowledge of quality food. The band (a few members of which had logged long years living in Belgium) had already made a couple visits to Caprice on previous swings through Wilmington. Had a great country pate (well, the table had three orders to share) a lot of Pommes Frites, and a really nice duck confit. I

                                3. best fine dining in wilmington? Deluxe..hands down..and they change the menu often. not cheap but worth every penny

                                  1. Bellas downtown is a great place for their panini-style breakfast sandwiches. You can build your bagel any way you like it-- (egg, cheese, smoked ham, bacon, sausage, cream cheese, hummus, and the list goes on!)-- and they throw it on their panini press and grill it until it's toasted perfectly. Wash it down with unbelievably the best coffee in town. Port City Java should take lessons from what they are doing over there. It's a small, quaint place with a minimul staff but it's definitely worth the extra minute or two wait!

                                    1. Had lunch the other day @ Opus. My husband ordered the seafood stew (don't remember exact name) which was served with a delicious house salad of beautiful mixed greens. His entree was in a yummy saffron broth and was loaded with fish (2 kinds) and shrimp, clams etc. His stew was served with 2 slices of seasoned bread. I believe it was priced at $12. I ordered a salad (the one w/ Caribbean Shrimp), which was priced at $12 as well. It came with NO BREAD, was made using the same greens (but twice as much) as my husband's side salad, along with 5 -count them, just 5 - deep fried, overly seasoned shrimp. The dressing was spicy and tasty, (peanutty?) but it was swimming in it.... I could not believe that they had the nerve to charge the same price for these dishes. I have only eaten there for lunch (twice) - the food was mostly good, but I do object to the inconsistent pricing and - a pet peeve of mine: they do not provide a basket of bread with lunch. I think a salad, (esp. @12 bucks) should be served with bread. I certainly hope the serve bread w/ dinner.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: NC hound

                                        I have to admit I'm a little surprised about the comment on the crab cake. When I've been there the crab cake has been excellent -- love the caramelized garlic and applewood-smoked bacon with the jumbo lump crab. And although $12 sounds high, with the price of jumbo crab these days, I know he's got to be running a 50% food cost on that item. If anything, he's a little underpriced, especially for the rent he's paying. I agree about the ambience, but I've been so consistently wowwed by the food that I barely notice it anymore. If you get a chance, don't miss his lobster bisque. It's the best I've ever had -- which gets me a bit miffed because I thought I had the best! The pea soup is also a major winner. Again, the caramelized garlic adds a great flavor and texture. Wish I could figure out how he does it!

                                        1. re: chefbeth

                                          Amen Chef Beth. Opus is a fine restaurant. Diners who want entrees under $12 should stick to franchise slop.

                                        2. re: basilbird

                                          I had a the same salad for lunch there the other day. It was amazing. Perfect. 5 shrimp. All the size of my fist.

                                          Same for my husband's crab cake. Awesome.

                                          Our lunch did not come with bread either so I asked for some. Guess what? They brought me some!

                                          Yes they are expensive but I just don't enjoy food anywhere else in town anymore.

                                        3. wilmington is still full of great locally owned places to eat. i've found that wrightsville grille just off the beach has fanastic crabcakes. very little breading, lots of lump crabmeat, the size of a hockey puck. about $12 or $13 on a sandwich or salad. two guys grille near there too has very good grilled burgers that you can tell were hand-pattied. if you are looking for "down-home" food like fried pork chops or breakfast until 2pm each day try sawmill restaurant at monkey junction. (i've heard the are opening a second place in hamstead). three must eats in wilmington in my opinion.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: superrog11

                                            Have had 2 meals at Sawmill in Hampstead and terrible both times. I would wait awhile until they got their act together. But then again, we are talking about Hampstead. Not alot going on up there.

                                            1. re: sueshank

                                              Yes, Sawmill in Hampstead is NOT good.

                                              1. re: marlowebeach

                                                What's the word on Rafaella's on Wrightsville Ave? Anyone been?

                                                1. re: sueshank

                                                  Nice building but very loud. We have been twice and while I was looking forward to a new Italian place, I was very disappointed. Food was poor and it took us 2 1/2 hours for dinner. Bar is downstairs and long wait time for drinks in the upstairs diningroom. I'll be interested to know what others think.

                                                2. re: marlowebeach

                                                  Have to disagree. Finally in Sawmill Grill we have a local place that serves good food and is friendly and reliable. Of course not every dish is a winner, the BBQ is not up to the other places around town, but they can chicken fry a steak like nobody's business. They use a little ham in their green beans which makes them taste great. Their fried clams are great and they do shrimp a few different ways, always fresh. My wife and I have gone in at different times from 630am up to 8pm and always have had a great meal. It's nearly always packed. I was unsure of it at first, and based on that first BBQ meal I wasn't sure I would return, but am glad I did. It's not haute cuisine, it's familiar and friendly down home cookin'. One of the staff makes their cakes, she does a pig pickin' cake that is to DIE for, we even ordered one for Thanksgiving. If you haven't eaten there since your post, give them another try.

                                              2. re: superrog11

                                                We have eaten many times at Sawmill in Hampstead and have had Great food and Great service. Lets face it there is not much to choose from in Hampstead. But this place is great and always packed.

                                              3. Coming from NY, Wilmington is backwards when it comes to most restaurants. Their idea of a 'good restaurant' is one that has no budget for atmosphere, over creative sounding menu choices that fall short of anything remotely stimulating the palate and service people that should stay in their college classrooms. I have to laugh at the last posting from Andiereid- some of those restaurants she listed are closed. Another problem here in Wilmington- close the restaurant and open under a different name many times with the same owners (trying to avoid financial obliteration ). But I have found some 'good- great' restaurants. Zooi Euro Bistro, Portland Grille, Max's, Catch, Dan's Mason Bistro, Double Happiness, Yosake, Deluxe, Delancey's, Brasserie du Soleil, Nicola's, Marc's on Market and a few more. With the influx of more and more northerners populating the area, I'm sure the demand will start increasing for better restaurants hoping to attract those up-an-coming Chef's.

                                                14 Replies
                                                1. re: jdesign

                                                  Sorry you find my list laughable, jdesign, but I did that post in February, and don't have any control over restaurants closing or opening. And just because they closed doesn't mean they were bad restaurants. Most folks on the list here who ate there thought Viet Bistro was excellent, and it was a shame they closed.

                                                  We lived in Atlanta for 7 years, and while it's no New York, it has it's share of good places to eat. Since we've moved to Wilmington, we've been pretty impressed with the quality and variety of restaurants here. Especially given the fact that Wilmington is a fraction of the size of New York - which, as far as I'm concerned, has a lot more to do with the food available than the fact that Wilmington is "backwards".

                                                  1. re: jdesign

                                                    I think you'll find Deluxe and Catch to be owned by two native North Carolinians.

                                                    1. re: jdesign

                                                      As a lifelong resident of the Northeast, I find myself wincing at the reference to northerners bringing a demand for better restaurants to the South. Dear Edna Lewis, darling Paul Prudhomme, and all those great famous and not so famous Southern chefs who came before and after you: please accept this Bostonian's sincere apologies. Moreover, while I've not had the pleasure of visiting Wilmington, it looks like there's quite a range of wonderful cuisines to sample.

                                                      1. re: onefineleo

                                                        As we all know, restaurants come and go. It is virtually amazing that some have lasted as long as they have while others that seem to be good fail or close or reinvent themselves. This week Salty's closed,and they are saying it will be a place called Frankies. A Frank Sinatra Piano bar! Crazy when the piano bar four doors down couldn't make it. Ash will open the old Rossi spot as an Italian Restaurant and so it goes. I was sad to lose the Veit! Number #30 was my favorite. There are a lot of crap restaurants in Wilmington and it is sad that they make it because they are on the water or have some other ability to remain will some good ones close. I have not been to yosake yet and have heared mixed reviews. I will try it for myself soon. As for Delancy's I cannot say. I had a meal there when it opened and everything about it was bad. Recently they have been making some changes but I have not been back. My understanding is they have benefitted from the other bar closings and the old salty's clientele is hanging out there. Since there are so few foodies in the wilmington area (based onthe posters here we should not attack eachother but try to find others who are interested in food to join the boards and share some more opinions. I think jddesign and andiereid are doing a good job trying to promote the independent local places.

                                                        1. re: wineandcheese

                                                          I agree with wineandcheese 100%. There are a lot of "crap restaurants" as she calls them and we all know which ones she's referring to. So between those and all the chains; throw into the mix how few foodies there are and how small Wilmington really is... it's inevitable that many really good independent local places will close. Yes jddesign and andiereid are doing a good job, but there are so many more that are not on their lists.

                                                      2. re: jdesign

                                                        jdes, who died and left the northerners in charge of the restaurant scene in Wilmington? While I agree with alot of your selections, sadly I think at least 2 of the places you mentioned will be closed in the next 2-3 mos. Too many northerners going to Outback I guess, not willing to pay alittle more money for much better food.

                                                        1. re: sueshank

                                                          I don't know, suesheank; jdesign's list is pretty good. Which ones do you see on the way out in the next 2-3 months and why?

                                                          1. re: Cake Ladies

                                                            I do agree with alot of restaurants jdesign mentioned, but once Delancey's was mentioned, I had to object. I've been there a few times and food (and service) has been bad, no, terrible. I've heard they are having a hard time paying the high rent there at the forum, no wonder as the times I've been there it has been empty. Mason Bistro is hit or miss, we've been there about 4-5 times, but with their prices there shouldnt be as many misses as we've had with them, but there are not alot of restaurants out that way that serves the food they serve, so they may hang in there alittle longer. Porteland Grill, well, they try, maybe try too hard with their menu, and with their prices I want a great meal everytime and last time I went the food was not good. The waitress started out telling us what they were out of on the menu and it took awhile. That is sometimes (not always wineandcheese) a warning sign that it is not going in the right direction. I havent been to Jerry's in awhile since it always seems you need a reservation, but I have not ever had a bad meal there. I would add that to jdesigns list.

                                                            1. re: sueshank

                                                              Well sueshank, you were one month off on your prediction about Delancey's. Just heard that they packed things up in the middle of the night and took off. Does anyone know when Ashe's new place, Osteria Tuchetti, ( Old Rossi's), is going to open? It seems like that whole shopping center is cursed! I mean look at how many places have come and gone in there: Salty's, Rossi's, Delancey's, Milano's, Flavor Fusion, and now I hear that Frankie's is not doing all that great either.What is it? Mayfair across the street? Road construction or what?

                                                              1. re: Ando

                                                                Ashe's place is open. They opened last week. The forum is not cursed the rent is rediculous! not only have restaurants had to move so have many of the shops as well. I have not heared any good things yet about Frankie's have you?

                                                        2. re: jdesign

                                                          I'm just a poor southern boy but I like Luigi's for hole-in-the-wall Italian.

                                                            1. re: jdesign

                                                              then go back to new york. sorry its the south

                                                              1. re: jdesign

                                                                As a fellow New Yorker I have to disagree. There are definantly a lot of restaurants in Wilmington that rely on the fact that they have a riverfront view or are on the beach, but there are some places that have delicious food. Not all of them are fancy but I would take good food over candles any day. Taste of Italy has delicious sandwiches and is owned by a New Yorker. The bagel basket had the best bagles I've had outside of NY. There is also Islands Fred mex grill. It's not fancy but it's good and cheep and there margaritas are to die for. There are also places to class it up. The little dipper on Front street is delicious and has great specials if you know when to look. There is also Mixto for great Mexican in the downtown atmosphere. Wilmington has great food for a small city and mos of the places are going to be in the cheap to modedrate range because we are a college town and tourists who come here are typically families, but that doesn't take away from Wilmington's great food offerings.

                                                              2. Personally I agree with wineandcheese and her original post. Wilmington is overrun by chain restaurants. But I just heard today that Red Robin is closing or it already closed. Good news for some; bad news for others. Hope to hear more.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Ando

                                                                  Deluxe's chef- Keith Rhodes recently won a "Best Chef" award"


                                                                  Had some decent tapas and wine this past weekend at Circa 1922.

                                                                  1. re: markabauman

                                                                    Has anyone tried Tayste yet at the former Tango du Chat location. It looks really good! That's probably going to change things up quite a bit downtown.

                                                                  2. re: Ando

                                                                    Ando--I like your posts, but Red Robin is still up and going. I've asked around and no one knows anything. What do you hear now about Red Robin?

                                                                  3. I love Port Land Grille, Jerry's, Brasserie, and Terrazo, the one jewel in the Landfall Center, which hasn't yet been mentioned. They'll do off menu requests with enthusiasm, and I have a secret chicken dish they'll make for me any time I ask - and it's spectacular.

                                                                    Despite others' complaining about the dearth of good restaurants in Wilmington, I'm actually amazed at how many really good ones we have. I travel all over the country, and get a chance to eat at some of the best, and I'm never disappointed with my regular haunts in Wilmington. They're actually some of the factors that make this a place I want to stay.

                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Ando

                                                                        Have to disagree about Terrazo. Used to be good, now very hit or miss. When you pick up a pizza, they ignore you, too busy waiting on tables. Then , when you are sitting down, terrible waitstaff every time we've been there. Won't go back.

                                                                        1. re: ILM LOCAL

                                                                          Had dinner at Zooi again recently. A couple of dishes weren't up to par, but over all, very good. Second trip to Rafaella's no better than the first. Both food and service mediocre. Savannahs continues to impress. Maybe the best around. If you haven't tried it lately, worth another visit. Brasserie fun, but small portions and loud.

                                                                          1. re: melgerrety

                                                                            BridgeTender has excellant seafood and the crab cakes at Oceanic are outstanding. Jerry's is good also. Portlande Grill is overated in my opinion. Pricey and the food is not that great. Service can be lacking as well, especially if crowded. Most people love it though.

                                                                    1. We dine out frequently in Wilmington. Favorites: Dan's Mason Bistro, Caprice Bistro, Caffe Phoenix, Circa, Freddie's (Kure Beach), Deluxe, Nofo Market & Cafe, Brasserie Du Soleil (but don't go on a holiday), Kiva Grill, Portland Grill.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: NCBeaches

                                                                        I have not had luck or good food with some of the places you mentioned. Freddie's served me frozen, store bought ravioli with red sauce from a jar - the worst Italian cuisine I have ever sampled. Nofo has very mediocre breakfasts - although the atmosphere and staff are great. I think Brasserie might have the best desserts in all of Wilmington. Does anyone know if Marc's on Market is still open?

                                                                          1. re: darasingmaster

                                                                            Holy cow yes, Marc's is open. And it rocks! One of my favorites.

                                                                            As for breakfast, Laterna is open for breakfast now. As good as their dinners are, I would figure their breakfast will be excellent too.

                                                                            1. re: darasingmaster

                                                                              Freddies does not serve store bought ravoli. You are obviously not at all familiar with them or the owners at all.
                                                                              We love living here and all the choices. We've eaten a gazillion times over at all the ones I'm mentioned.

                                                                          2. I really like Catch, enough so to drive down from Raleigh for it. Can't wait for them to open up for dinner and weekends too (was in there last week and they said it would happen within the next few weeks).

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: mikeh

                                                                              I have been a Wilmington local and worked in the Restaurant business for years and love some of the previously mentioned restaurants. Lately I have been to some of the better well known and "high class" businesses in town and left very dissatisfied. However, last night I went to the brand new Osteria Cicchetti in the Forum (which many referred to as "cursed") and found it to be one of the best dinning experiences in Wilmington. It just opened in November and is managed by the owners of Boca Bay, Circa 1922 and The Brasserie, which I consider some of Wilmington's most reliable. The food was excellent, fresh and uniquely prepared at a surprisingly very economical price. It features authentic Italian dishes, Tapa Sushi style menu, pizzeria and a very impressive wine bar. Great choice for quality without the over-inflated prices that usually come attached to the Cape Fear and Intracoastal water front restaurant.

                                                                              1. re: pbm788

                                                                                I agree. We ate there not too long ago and were very pleased. The food was fresh, well-prepared, and very good. Excellent bread, good antipasta selections, and my husband's pizza was very original - extremely thin crispy crust. The service was a little slow, but we went soon after they opened, and they were still working out the kinks. Pleasant space, too.

                                                                                1. re: pbm788

                                                                                  The OC as they call it (Osteria Cicchetti) is "fine" Italian dining and I love it. But surprisingly enough Macaroni Grill a chain restaurant is good Italian food try the veal marsala or sizzling shrimp scampi and their new dessert berry tiramasu is so good and of course we're talking a lot of food and reasonable.

                                                                                  1. re: ev2008

                                                                                    I take that back my husband and I recently went there to have dinner and it was not good we gave it another try restaurants do have off nights and it was just as bad. I am surprised it started out great but the quality of the food and size of the food really went down. I had a fish dish and the fish was small portioned reminiscent of "nouvelle" in the 80's early 90's and chewy. My husband had the veal and it was cookie cutter round like the commercial frozen kind I would never buy.
                                                                                    I have eaten at circa 1922, Boca Bay and Brasserie and really enjoyed all meals at these restaurants every time, all are owned by the same person as the OC.
                                                                                    The OC has become an Italian restaurant for those who don't know what fine Italian food is all about.

                                                                                    1. re: ev2008

                                                                                      If you are Italian, you would not consider Osteria Cicchetti fine Italian dining. Far from it.

                                                                                      Osteria Cicchetti
                                                                                      1125 Military Cutoff Road, Wilmington, NC 28405

                                                                                2. restaurants i love at wrightsville beach.. blue water grill(great habor views of the yachts and draw bridge, hip crowd, best clam strips I have ever had.).. oceanic.. (ocean front, nice wood pier, great seafood and the crab cakes are the best i have ever had, and beautiful decor).. south beach grill.. (good burgers and wraps, they also have fried pickle chips!! these are excllent and a southern specialty and they do it better than anybody. a must try!!) rafaella's.. (the best italian in town, they also have excellent seafood.. they know how to do excellent calamari.. the trolley stop.. (hot dog heaven).. for breakfast, the best and only choice for locals is the causeway cafe!! (everything and anything you want for breakfast they have.. huge menu and all is wonderful)... savannah's (low-country gourmet.. best chef in wb.. very creative menu.. fine dining) tower 7...(great beach location.. I LOVE their fish tacos).. these are all LOCALLY owned and not chain restaurants.. I frequent these places often and they never disappoint..

                                                                                  1. This March of '08 I ate at Circa 1922 and found the food fresh, fun and plenty of it. Reasonable costs for the servings, friendly staff and inviting atmosphere.

                                                                                    I didn't go off the charts with inventivness in ordering. Eggplant rollatinis (fresh & flavorful ) and fried calamari (good, not oily and plenty). Dessert was chocolate coconut sushi (inventive but FAR too sweet to eat more than 2 - 3 pieces. They serve it with 8 pieces.)

                                                                                    1. I was planning a trip to Wilmington for Memorial Day weekend a few weeks ago, and I chanced upon this website. Most of the places we ended up eating at that whole weekend was as a result of this very topic, so I'll share our choices:

                                                                                      La Costa (Oleander): my word, one of the best Mexican places I have ever been to. And I'm not even that much of a Mexican food fan!!!! I tried a dish called Carne Chipotle, which was strips of steak covered in a spicy chipotle sauce (being a chilihead, I requested them to make it spicy, and boy, was it ever).

                                                                                      Kate's (Carolina Beach): Had breakfast there. I indulged in the Reese's special pancakes (stack of pancakes served with chocolate chips and Reese's chips). Mmmmmmm. My wife really enjoyed her omelet as well.

                                                                                      Britt's donuts (Boardwalk at Carolina Beach): You just simply have to try these out. Period.

                                                                                      Dockside on the Waterway (Wrightsville): Had a delectable shrimp boil, and my wife had something called Seafood Charleston or something like that: assorted seafood in a sherry sauce.

                                                                                      Chris' Cosmic Kitchen (Eastwood): unfortunately, we completely forgot about their cheesecakes, but I thoroughly enjoyed my crab omelet and the missus her Tex-Mex omelet served as a sandwich on a bagel.

                                                                                      Casey's BBQ buffet (Oleander): Stuff yourself silly here. The buffet doesn't look like it has much, and the interior decorating leaves a lot to be desired, but the food speaks for itself. Utterly amazing. And if you ask nicely, one of the waiters will bring you out a plate of piping-hot ribs with the meat literally sliding off the bone. Oh, and tell them you're from out of town when you check out, and the manager will give you a business card with "Buy one, get one free" handwritten on the back.

                                                                                      Bon Apetit (off 421 on the way to Carolina Beach): our last meal in Wilmington before heading home. Very tasty shrimp & grits, though a bit cheesy for my taste.

                                                                                      One thing I have to note about all the places we went to. I'm used to southern hospitality, as I've lived in this state for about 16 years now, but the folks at all the above restaurants took it to a whole new level. The staff at Kate's and Casey's especially were among the friendliest restaurant servers and management whom I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Special mention to our waiter at Dockside: in a moment of parental ineptitude, we left our hotel without our diaper bag, and our baby's dinner, and when I asked our waiter if they had mashed potatoes (they didn't), he came back less than 5 minutes later with a bowl of banana pudding, and he didn't even charge us for it.

                                                                                      P.S. If you love spicy food like myself, be sure to check out Fire And Spice in the Cotton Exchange in downtown Wilmington. I must have spent about an hour in there hmming and hawing over what to indulge in, and I left with about 5-6 bottles of various sauces.

                                                                                      1. I agree with alot of those mentioned.
                                                                                        For me, the consistent standouts are:

                                                                                        BON APPETIT - always great eggs, fritatta's. awesome specials, pancakes, stone ground grits, etc... Have always had breakfast there, but recently tried dinner and had a wonderful lasagna with garlic toast!

                                                                                        Other than that, I have had a really hard time finding a great breakfast place in town that isn't just greasy eggs...I am open to suggestions! I hear Cafe Phoenix downtown has a good brunch.

                                                                                        FLAMING AMY's Burrito Barn - although admittedly I have had a few bum burritos, most of the time it is very flavorful and good trendy burritos (not authentic - if you want authentic, see below.) Try the Thai Me Up or The Big Jerk!

                                                                                        TAQUERIA LOS PORTALES - the most authentic hole in the wall Mexican fast food joint in town. You will likely be the only gringo in there! I usually use the opportunity to try out my 7 years of Spanish. The staff is super friendly and accomodating. Portions are absurd. AMAZING carnitas (pulled pork) and lots of innard dishes too, if you are into that.

                                                                                        TWO GUYS GRILLE - the only thing I think is awesome there is the Chicken Philly Cheesesteak with sweet Potato Fries. Totally crave worthy. Everything else is mediocre.

                                                                                        PT's - hands down the best burger in town. I can't understand why anyone would get a fast food burger when this place exists.


                                                                                        SWEET AND SAVORY - good all around food and drink and desserts - fresh baked goods. The kind of place we take our parents when they are in town. Live music, good ambiance, and solid food. Not mind blowing, but good.

                                                                                        BRASSERIE DU SOLEIL- One of the best in Wilmington. Raw bar, fresh salads, wonderful entrees (I had a braised lamb dish there this winter that still haunts me!)

                                                                                        INDOCHINE - I have had a few misses (I don't think the Pad Thai is authentic tasting) but the curries are WONDERFUL! Try the Jungle curry. The place has become a compound of sorts, with lots of areas to eat, great outdoor dining, and a separate lounge bar in addition to the resturants bar.

                                                                                        BOUY 32 - see the review i posted on this board. One of the only places in town that I have been extremely impressed by...

                                                                                        DOCKSIDE - as others have mentioned, good for oysters. Also love their scallops steamed in old bay and beer and King Crab legs. Great blackend grouper sandwich too. Don't order the pastas. Prices are right for a casual summer night of beer and seafood with friends.

                                                                                        I am still dying to try: Marc's on Market, Zooi Bistro, and Nicolas... all in good time, (and funds!) I suppose.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: aspiringourmet

                                                                                          Unfortunately Zooi closed a couple of weeks ago. If you haven't tried Caprice Bistro downtown, it's owned by the same people and is wonderful!

                                                                                        2. I'd like to add three spots that have not made the list yet. The Tuscan Grill in Carolina Beach has wonderful, fresh food - especially the vegetables - not overcooked like you find so often in a wide variety of restaurants (not just the chains). They haven't quite got the ambiance thing down - but they're close, definitely worth checking out - and reasonable pricing. Mason's Haunt is relatively new. Simple. Delicious. Fresh. For cheap, fresh, tasty, quick, and healthy I recommend the Bowl near Long Leaf Mall. It is owned by the same people who own Flaming Amy's. Really good. And it has been mentioned once - just once, Indochine is fun. A huge menu selection, great cocktails, all the kitch you might want (or not) in decor. A great place to take a group.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: cde

                                                                                            We tried Mason's Haunt the week it opened and walked out after appetizers. They were way overpriced and completely bland and uncreative. I wish I could remember what we had.

                                                                                            1. re: cde

                                                                                              Went to Mason's Haunt a few weeks ago using a free lunch gift certificate. Very nice, casual atmosphere, but I have to say my lunch entree was lousy. The waitress recommended the crepes, so I ordered one with shrimp in a sherry sauce. While the sauce was tasty, the crepes were underdone to the point of almost being raw. She was very pleasant and attentive, but I should have known not to trust an extremely skinny waitress!

                                                                                            2. After reading through this lengthy list of comments, we tried NoFo recently. It wasn't mentioned as often as some of the others on this list, but the comments piqued my interest. I just wanted to say that the meal was AWESOME. All of the dishes we ordered were great and, in fact, the next day one of our guests called to say that the salmon was "memorable". It was also quite affordable (~15-20/dish). Give it a try!

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Lurker32

                                                                                                NOFO is consistent and good and a restaurant that has proved the test of time but noone is loyal to one restaurant anymore it can be the "in" place to eat but next week another new restaurant opens and another and so on and so forth. That's why so many good restaurants close they don't have the loyalty of their customers and there are too many options in Wilmington there seems to be a glut of new restaurants opening kind of like a kid in the candy shop where do you go first.....................

                                                                                              2. I agree with a lot of other posters. Here are my favorites:

                                                                                                Sweet and Savory - Mmm, best restaurant town. The cobbler is to die for.
                                                                                                Flaming Amy's - They have amazing salsa - pineapple jalapeno and ginger peach are the best.
                                                                                                La Costa - Best chicken mole I've ever had.
                                                                                                K-38 Baja Grill - I love their salsa.
                                                                                                Double Happiness - Great high-quality Asian.
                                                                                                Bon Appetit - Reasonably-priced inventive cuisine.
                                                                                                The Little Dipper - Perfect date night place - or do $8 cheese and chocolate ladies night on Wednesday nights.
                                                                                                Elizabeth's Pizza - Delicious pizza and pasta with tons of options.

                                                                                                A co-worker and I at the Star-News have started a food blog called Port City Foodies - check it out here: http://www.starnewsonline.com/foodies

                                                                                                We'll have recommendations for Wilmington restaurants, plus good finds around town and recipes.

                                                                                                There's also a forum at StarNewsOnline.com where people are weighing in. Check it out here: http://forums.starnewsonline.com/eve/...

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: NicoleHughes

                                                                                                  New upscalish-appearing dining option on front street near reel, opposite side of the street.... noticed it looks open as of a few weeks ago but didn't catch the name... anyone been? I'm wondering about the price range, menu and such.

                                                                                                  Also Caprice has a 5$ bar menu that I haven't seen mentioned on the boards but is def worth checking out., 5$ martinis too. Sunday through Thursday from 5-7 upstairs. Don't let them go the way of Zooi -- support them, we love them!

                                                                                                  1. re: spot0415

                                                                                                    I think the name of the restaurant is "Aubrianna's" I didn't eat there but the write-up in the Star-News was really good. It's in the old "Mickey Ratz" location a lot of history there..............I hope someone writes in if they've eaten there.
                                                                                                    The Caprice bar menu sound great will have to giveit a try.
                                                                                                    Has anyone eaten At Odessa's at Lumina Station Wrightsville Beach? I really need to know my husband and I would like to go there for New Year's Eve they have a lounge and DJ and everything it really sounds nice. I heard the former chef of Port Land Grille is the chef at Odessa's now............................Anybody?
                                                                                                    Let me know

                                                                                                  2. re: NicoleHughes

                                                                                                    I passed Bon Appetit the other day and their sign read "no more dinners' I guess it's just breakfast and lunch now? I was going to try dinner there because so many wrote in saying how good it was but I guess it's the sign of the times, the economy and all.......

                                                                                                  3. As 2008 comes to an end here are my favorites...............................
                                                                                                    Pizza....................Elizabeth's, Antonios,
                                                                                                    Chinese...... Szechuan 132
                                                                                                    Lunch............NoFo, Fishy Fishy,Southport, The German Cafe not to mention desserts to die for try their famous Napoleans, Pilot House, George On The Walk, Bluewater
                                                                                                    Dinner.............Brasserie Du Soleil (and lunch), Caprice Bistro,
                                                                                                    Posthumously...............Tayste, Downtown and Savannah's Wrightsville Beach

                                                                                                    Restaurants I'd like to try in 09 ..................Deluxe, Odessa ,Lumina Station, Marc's On Market, although they seem to be a little stuck up,Bon Appetit, Buoy 22, Nikki's

                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: ev2009

                                                                                                      We've been to Marc's several times this Fall. I don't find them stuffy at all. The food is very good for the price. Great value. I wish more good restaurants would offer small plates. It makes them much more affordable and is great when you don't need large portions.

                                                                                                      Did Odessa's take over the spot where Tydes was?

                                                                                                      1. re: megabytes

                                                                                                        I agree with you totally more restaurants should offer small plates sometimes you don't want a full blown meal or I like to try a variety and share anyhow maybe it'll catch on.
                                                                                                        Thanks for the feedback about Marc's I'll try it.
                                                                                                        Odessa opened replacing Max's steakhouse in Lumina Station it has a lounge and a live music venue so you can make a night of it. How bad can it be if the the chef is the former chef of Portland Grille?

                                                                                                        1. re: ev2009

                                                                                                          By Portland Grill, you don't mean Shawn do you?

                                                                                                          1. re: megabytes

                                                                                                            No not Shawn Joshua Woo and the cuisine is Asian fusion

                                                                                                            1. re: ev2009

                                                                                                              I tried PTs one time and It was the worst burger ,for the price they charge you are better off at Five Guys.The best bang for your dollar is The LongHorn at Mayfaire.

                                                                                                              1. re: jellybear

                                                                                                                I know Pt's is always voted best burger but I'm not a fan.................Haven't tried Five Guys but I will now and you are spot on I love Longhorn's burgers.

                                                                                                                1. re: ev2009

                                                                                                                  I was there yesterday and it seemed like the Burgers were the choice of the day.I have tried the burger and it was good not memorable But now their Chopped Steak is a winner and they will cook it medium unlike other places.
                                                                                                                  The Sawmill Grill in Hampstead is good but IMO thet just try to do too many things and it is a little high for lunch but its just about the only show in town.

                                                                                                                  1. re: jellybear

                                                                                                                    5 guys definitely has the best burger. PT's is not good, never has been.

                                                                                                      2. re: ev2009

                                                                                                        Szechuan 132 DEFINITELY has the best Chinese in the county!

                                                                                                        Their calamari is exceptional!

                                                                                                        1. re: Dredd

                                                                                                          Well, it's ultra-Americanized Chinese food ... someone looking for the authentic would hate it...

                                                                                                      3. We are headed to Wilmington this week. Suggest a good place to sit outside and have drinks and light meal while A friend who is picking us up at the airport has job interview!

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: gardgen

                                                                                                          Catch and Circa 1922 are great places, but I'm not sure if they have outdoor seating. Caffe Phoenix is also good and does have sidewalk dining. All three are downtown. South Beach grill out at Wrightsville Beach has great food and outdoor seating.

                                                                                                          1. re: gardgen

                                                                                                            If the weather cooperates, try Elijah's. It's right on the river, and I've never had a bad meal there. There are several other places along the river as well, although the names escape me.

                                                                                                          2. Hieronymous was superb a few years ago. I haven't been since then. Is it still? We had the *most succulent* shrimp there I've ever tasted, and I've tasted a precious load of shrimp. Super fresh, almost melted in our mouths. Please tell me it's still excellent!

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: sverner

                                                                                                              What about the Bridge Tender.......

                                                                                                              Bridge Tender
                                                                                                              1414 Airlie Rd, Wilmington, NC 28403

                                                                                                              1. re: sverner

                                                                                                                Simply awful. Been a couple of times. After my initial visit (and complaint) the manager sent a 50.00 gift certificate, so I tried again. Played it safe with fried seafood this time...equally awful. Service and food are sub

                                                                                                                1. re: sverner

                                                                                                                  It is very far from superb. Given it a few tries and disappointment abounds!

                                                                                                                2. Flaming Amy's is the best place in Wilmington, for that type of food. It is one of my 5 best places in NC and it is on my top 10 of places in the US. The food network did their top 100 chow down countdown, and I bet Flaming Amy's would be on that list if Guy from Diners Drive in and Dives would make a visit.
                                                                                                                  Other favorites:
                                                                                                                  Yosake - Sushi
                                                                                                                  Dixie Grill - Breakfast and Lunch (Louisiana hash is to die for)
                                                                                                                  Terrazo - Italian
                                                                                                                  Vitos - Pizza
                                                                                                                  A taste of Italy - Sandwiches

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: traintoeat

                                                                                                                    The fact that anything would be on a Guy Fieri list makes me want to run very far away.. Food Network is great entertainment, but I wouldn't trust it for food recommendations.

                                                                                                                    1. re: traintoeat

                                                                                                                      yum yum yum! oh my....i loved this!

                                                                                                                      Flaming Amy's Burritos
                                                                                                                      4002 Oleander Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403

                                                                                                                    2. Bon Appetit is hands down the best breakfast in town. Every weekend they have a specials list that is to die for! Always at least one specialty pancake or french toast - like bananas foster or something wonderful like that, frittatas, and a special Eggs Benedict, which I always get.
                                                                                                                      Circa is amazing as well downtown. High end eats.
                                                                                                                      For the absolute best soul food in town, head to Casey's Buffet. Sure they have your staples, fried chicken, mac and cheese, etc, but they also have whole catfish fried, pigs feet and chitlins (no thanks), BBQ and other rotating items. Always so incredibly fresh and hot, this place is a must if you want some local flavor!
                                                                                                                      Another great restaurant with a southern flare is downtown in the Cotton Exchange, called Basics. They also have amazing breakfast, but they have some great southern fusion going on.
                                                                                                                      There really are some great places - if you want to know a specific type of food, that helps narrow it down!

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: italianoisabel

                                                                                                                        Instead of starting a new post, I'll tack on my notes from recent trips (within the last three months) to Wilmington.

                                                                                                                        South Beach Grill - Had lunch here and enjoyed crab nachos and beer to start. Entrees, however were so-so. Neon pink tuna straight from the freezer, purchased salad dressings and a terrible slaw deflated what started out to be a tasty lunch. If you're in the area, woth a stop for appetizers and a drink.

                                                                                                                        Deluxe - Had dinner and brunch back to back (Dixie had a long wait for brunch). Both meals were good, although I preferred brunch. Great Bloody Mary's, shrimp & grits, home fries and egg concoctions. Dinner was good, but not memorable. Standout entree was duck confit, biggest miss was a mis-labeled panzanella salad.

                                                                                                                        Dixie Grill - Dined here twice for breakfast/brunch and loved it both times. Louisiana hash is worth a trip across town. Great home fries, blueberry pancakes, huevos rancheros and drinks. The only thing we ate I would not re-order was the fried green tomato BLT.

                                                                                                                        Circa - Nice space, professional staff, clearly run by people with experience (except a mediocre wine list relative to the restaurant). Don't order sushi themed items as they were sub-par. The rest of our meal was up and down, with small plates getting the best reviews (Calamari).

                                                                                                                        Niki's Downtown - Stopped in for a light meal and ordered a mix of sushi. Surprisingly good, especially after a below average meal at a Niki's outpost on military cutoff. Good job with the rice, nice cuts of fish and full of flavor rolls. So far the best sushi I've encountered in Wilmington.

                                                                                                                        Catch - I've been looking forward to eating here for some time, but always seem be down there when it's closed. Their advertising of local seafood and produce has enticed me for a while. We called at 1:30 and asked if they were open. My wife was told they were open until 2, so she tried to reserve a table and was flatly told no. Against my wife's will, we went anyway. Sat down at 1:45 and luckily our server was quite good. The food we ordered was above average, but certainly not great. Fried Oysters (overbreaded), Calamari (fresh and tender) and firecracker shrimp were all tasty, but missed a bit. The dinner menu looked more interesting, but still contained a surprising amount of non-local seafood. Salmon, Catfish, Calamari and Virginia oysters seemed odd sitting minutes from the coast. I'd be willing to give them another try at dinner, but am much less excited than before our lunch.

                                                                                                                        South Beach Grill
                                                                                                                        100 S Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

                                                                                                                        1. re: veganhater

                                                                                                                          how can we forget this wonderful place. breakfast is excellent, lunch too. closes after lunch. all family owned and run. small. but my favorite diner of all.
                                                                                                                          goody goody omelet house !!

                                                                                                                          Goody Goody Omelet House
                                                                                                                          3817 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28403

                                                                                                                      2. Are there ANY Vietnamese restaurants in Wilmington? All that comes up with Google is Indochine, but they don't have pho. Any ideas where to get pho around here?

                                                                                                                        Indochine Restaurant
                                                                                                                        7 Wayne Dr, Wilmington, NC 28403

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: nwin

                                                                                                                          Banyan Asian Cafe is run buy a little Cambodian lady, and she will make either duck or beef pho if its specially requested. It's not on the menu, and because she runs the kitchen by herself, she cannot always accomodate that order, but the staff aims to please so don't be afraid to ask. The menu is a mixture of Thai and Cambodian, with the most authentic pad thai in town imo. It's located next to the Ramada Inn on Market, and while the location is unassuming I definitely recommend trying it out. Hope that helps!

                                                                                                                          Banyan Asian Cafe
                                                                                                                          5001 Market St, Wilmington, NC 28405

                                                                                                                          Ramada Inn
                                                                                                                          226 N Washington St, Sumter, SC 29150

                                                                                                                          1. re: nwin

                                                                                                                            Uh...Indochine absolutely has pho - a couple of different kinds, as I recall. Hubby orders it every time.

                                                                                                                          2. We've been coming to Wilmington several times a year for three years and have gone to most of the joints our foodie friends have recommended, sometimes dragging local and not-so-local foodie friends along for the ride. Hands down favorite is Caprice - the waterzooi and escargots are transcendent dishes: owners are experienced French-restaurateurs and know exactly what they're doing. (And really, if you've been reluctant to try escargots, set your reservations aside: this is the place. (And a good wine list priced to sell, but they'll let you BYOB for a corkage fee that they've waived twice when we've also ordered something off their list - they always have a decent Muscadet to go with the shellfish.)

                                                                                                                            Had a very bad experience at Deluxe - server lied to us about a wine (they sneaked in a substitute, same maker as the one we ordered, but very much a lesser wine, but told us it was superior and a bargain at $69, then brought another server over, announced her to be the wine steward when she wasn't - learned from later email exchange with the wine steward that he wasn't on the floor that evening); they also left advertised "winter root vegetables" off the plate and, when called out, said they had run out (but they let us order). Will NEVER return: haughty staff, tells themselves they're loved by entertainment people. Feh.

                                                                                                                            Have been to Circa 3 or 4 times, always with very pleasant results. Good wines by the glass, lots of intriguing tapas-style small plates to sample. And a lovely room, no more so than when their piano player sings "As Time Goes By" 'round about midnight. (Okay, 10:30.)

                                                                                                                            We like Elijah's al fresco for drinks and light seafood seafood in the late spring and early fall. Not really a "foodie" place; we've never gone indoors in the winter; for us it's mostly a pleasure-of-the-experience/ambiance thing on a beautiful evening. And it is very beautiful with the sun setting behind the river, and they do nice things with fresh oysters and offer good seafood salads,

                                                                                                                            We've had mixed experience at foodie fav South Beach Grill, the first so good that we brought friends back, the second so bad it made us wonder whether the first was simply a one out: lousy service, frozen (watery) grilled fish, meh crabcakes, just not a good experience. If we're in Wrightsville Beach again, we may give it another shot, simply as a rubber match decision point.

                                                                                                                            If you have a yen for sushi/sashimi, Yo Sake should take care of that. Only been once, but the fish was all extremely fresh, generously cut, and deliriously priced (I think we were there, though, on a half-price or two-fer night or something like that - the bill was ridiculously low).They also has an extensive Pan-Asian menu that I didn't sample, and 16 varieties of sake, some of which I did, as well as a good wine list and a dimly lit, trèschic room filled with conversation-piece eye candy.

                                                                                                                            Everyone raves about PT's for hamburgers. Someone has to tell you, though, that it's just a hamburger, and not a very special one. The meat is fresh, the bun okay. The price point is fine - and I think that, plus the solid fries and the brewskies (but don't you dare ask for a glass of wine), are what really brings people back. Because it's. Really. Just. A. Piece of. Overcooked. Fried. Meat.

                                                                                                                            We had an extremely good experience over in Monkey Junction at the Cape Fear Seafood Company, where they were running a special that was too inviting to pass up: two three-course dinners and a bottle of cheap plonk for 49.99. That's right: subtract the price of the most inexpensive wine you've every purchased in a restuarant and it's still two three-coursers for $35.00. It was all fresh, well prepared, and topped off with a delightfully strong cup of what seemed pressed coffee and a very creamy, vanilla-ee, creme brulee.

                                                                                                                            And foodies buy their craft beers at the Cape Fear Wine and Beer on North Front Street, where you'll find beers on tap and in the bottle that you've been looking for for a long time. Great stuff, pricey to go - no discount if you're putting together a six-pack - but reasonable to quaff at the bar. They'll give you a taster of the kegs as well.

                                                                                                                            We haven't made it to Mark's on Market or Osteria Cicchetti, but this trip we may.

                                                                                                                            Osteria Cicchetti
                                                                                                                            1125 Military Cutoff Road, Wilmington, NC 28405

                                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Paul from No Va

                                                                                                                              Well, we made it to Mark's on Market and had a miserable experience: Mark wasn't in the kitchen and whoever was salted everything on all four entrees to death. A dry, salty chop, salty chicken, and on and on. We'll return, but we were disappointed in this Wilmington foodie fave.

                                                                                                                              Osteria Cicchetti, however, floored us the first time and continued to floor us the next three times we've dined there. Consistently excellent, classic Italian cuisine, a nice wine list, absolutely killer deserts, and a wait staff that knows exactly what they're doing: we went there with a big, complicated party, ordered a few dishes that were off the menu and the kitchen had to specially prepare, and they not only accommodated us, but our server staged it beautifully, got salads/soups/apps out a the right moment, in the right order, and was otherwise extremely helpful and efficient.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Paul from No Va

                                                                                                                                What has happened with Catch?

                                                                                                                                That used to be our go-to place in Wilmington.

                                                                                                                                1. re: jnwall

                                                                                                                                  They moved to a strip shopping center out in the burbs and their Vietnamese stepchild Phun took over the old downtown space, which I've usually preferred the last couple of years.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: jnwall

                                                                                                                                    Ive never eaten at Catch, I see their food truck on Twitter though. How is the food? I am from Massachusetts originally and havent found great seafood here yet. The oysters and shrimp are great but beyond that its been so hit or miss.