Favorite Local Foods
Planning and Pricing
Where To Eat
Carolina Beach & Kure Beach
Bald Head Island
South Brunswick Islands
Topsail Island Coffeehouses
As you might expect from a coastal community, seafood figures prominently almost everywhere you dine on North Carolina's southern coast. These coastal waters are among the most pristine in the east, yielding consistently high-quality seafood, and just about every restaurant worth its salt offers fresh daily catches that may include grouper, mahimahi, shark, swordfish, mackerel, triggerfish and shellfish, to name only a few.
International cuisines now available in the area include Thai, Indian, Chinese (including Szechuan), Greek, Italian, German, Japanese, Jamaican, French and Australian. The several restaurants serving Mexican food are good places to advance the perpetual quest for the perfect margarita, but by no means does the search end there. Also represented throughout our coverage area are a number of major restaurant chains (national and regional), such as Subway, Perkins, Fuddruckers, Kenny Rogers Roasters and Outback Steakhouse.
Naturally, the traditional regional specialties still comprise the heart and soul of Southern coastal dining. The famous Calabash-style seafood is ever-present. It gets its name from the town heralded as the seafood capital of the world for having at least 30 seafood restaurants within a square mile. Calabash-style calls for seasoned cornmeal batter and deep frying and has become synonymous with all-you-can-eat. Calabash restaurants typically serve a huge variety of piping-hot seafood in massive quantities. But that's not all there is to regional cuisine.
Lowcountry steam-offs are buckets filled with a variety of shellfish, potatoes, corn and Old Bay seasoning. When fresh oysters are in season in the fall, oyster roasts abound. While crab is popular, it's crab dip that attracts attention in these parts. Competition is stiff among restaurants boasting the best crab dip. New Year's Eve dinners may include collards and black-eyed peas, symbolic (some say) of paper money and small change, to ensure prosperity in the year to come. Okra, sweet potatoes, grits, turnip greens, mustard greens and kale are also regional favorites. Hush puppies, those delicious deep-fried dollops of sweet cornmeal dough, take the place of bread on many coastal tables.
Hoppin' John, based on black-eyed peas and rice, is a hearty dish seen in many variations. Shrimp and grits is another popular dish appearing in various incarnations from restaurant to restaurant. Boiled (often pronounced "bawled") peanuts are popular snacks, frequently available at roadside stands, and nowhere does pecan pie taste better. Iced tea flows freely, in most places by the pitcher-full, and locals prefer it very sweet.
Wilmington has made its mark in the world of the master brewers of beer. The Wilmington Brewing Company's Dergy Porter and amber ale both won silver medals in the World Beer Championships in 1996. You'll find Dergy's served at many local restaurants. And if fresh microbrewed beer is your idea of heaven, also look into Wilmington's Front Street Brewery, listed below. (Note that practically all restaurants in our area serve beer and wine, but some do not serve mixed drinks.)