The 10 Best Restaurants In Wilmington, North Carolina

Photo of Helen Armitage
9 February 2017

With a vibrant and varied dining scene, visitors to the picturesque city of Wilmington, North Carolina will not be disappointed. From contemporary seafood by a James Beard Award nominee and Southern comfort food, to French fare on the riverside and upscale Italian cuisine, we’ve narrowed it down to ten of the best restaurants Wilmington has to offer.

Wilmington | © Jason W. Smith/WikiCommons

Aubriana’s Fine Dining

Boasting an enviable location in downtown Wilmington, just a short walk from the scenic Cape Fear River, Aubriana’s Fine Dining does exactly what it says on the tin. Guests experience fine dining based around unique and delicious dishes, in a cosy and rustic space that includes a covered courtyard perfect for warmer evenings. With talented chef Tyson Amick at the helm, Aubriana’s serves up a menu of contemporary American fare, including dishes like the blackened Carolina catfish with shrimp perlau, spicy tasso ham and calasparra rice. Finish with a dessert like peanut butter pie with an Oreo crust and dark chocolate ganache, washed down with a glass of wine from Aubriana’s extensive selection.

Aubriana’s Fine Dining, 115 South Front Street, Wilmington, NC, USA, +1 910 763 7773


Market, Restaurant, Seafood, Thai, Gluten-free, Vegan, $$$
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Catch was established in 2006 by local chef Keith Rhodes and his wife. Rhodes was a 2011 nominee for the James Beard Best Southeast Chef Award, and he also appeared on the American cookery show Top Chef. The goal with Catch is to serve the best locally caught seafood with a contemporary twist. Guests can choose dishes such as the firecracker shrimp with spicy cognac cream and toasted sesame seeds, or the pan-seared red grouper, served with a side of baby lima beans, sweet corn, jumbo crab, Thai basil and oven-dried tomatoes. The stylish interior of the restaurant matches its nautical menu, with sleek wood floors complemented by cool blue accents and artworks and sculptures on the walls.

Dock Street Oyster Bar

Bar, Restaurant, Seafood, Caribbean, Beer, Wine, $$$
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Dock Street Oyster Bar, Wilmington
Dock Street Oyster Bar, Wilmington
A popular local restaurant, Dock Street Oyster Bar first opened its doors in 1999, and for the past 14 consecutive years has been voted as having the best oysters in Wilmington by readers of the local magazine Encore. Restaurant owners Louise Forbes and Steve Maillard set up Dock Street Oyster Bar with the vision of serving tasty, fresh seafood that is either steamed or grilled, but never fried. So guests looking for a healthy seafood option will not be disappointed with dishes like tender steamed snow-crab legs. Of course you shouldn’t leave without trying the oysters, which are available raw and shucked, or steamed.


Market, Restaurant, Vietnamese, Thai, $$$
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Serving a mix of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, Indochine offers an authentic Asian dining experience in the heart of downtown Wilmington, perfect for any diners looking for a night exotic fare. The winner of Encore Magazine’s Best Restaurant award in 2011, Indochine is a venture by Vietnamese local Solange Thompson, who, after years thinking of opening a Thai-Vietnamese restaurant, realised her dream when the unique restaurant building, complete with Oriental-style architecture and beautiful gardens, came on the market. Guests can choose from dishes like fried coconut shrimp, served with sweet and sour sauce, or the Vietnamese pork balls with shrimp fried rice, steamed broccoli and pickled vegetables.

Le Catalan

Bar, Restaurant, Wine Bar, French, Pub Grub, European, $$$
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Pembroke's | Courtesy Pembroke's
If fine French fare and exquisite wines in a beautiful location is your idea of dining heaven, then look no further than Le Catalan. This is a charming riverside café with an open-air deck area perfect for taking in a stunning North Carolina sunset over the Cape Fear River. Choose from a range of hearty quiche slices, such as broccoli and cheddar, or the mushroom feuilleté, or a saucisson, or a cheese plate. Le Catalan’s wine bar has an extensive selection of new vintage wines available by the glass or by the bottle, and guests can buy a bottle to take home from the restaurant’s wine shop.


Bar, Restaurant, South American
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A restaurant created by the owners of RX Restaurant & Bar, Pembroke’s is a stylish, classy establishment with a spacious interior, featuring exposed brick, an open kitchen and contemporary art on the walls. Like its sibling, the restaurant serves Southern cuisine based around locally sourced ingredients from suppliers that include Black River Organic Farm and Motts Channel Seafood. The menu changes each day, and is complemented by a range of wines, cocktails and local craft beers. Try the North Carolina shrimp accompanied by grits, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon and okra, washed down with a brew of Shotgun Betty from the Raleigh-based brewery Lonerider.


Restaurant, Italian, Fast Food, Vegetarian, $$$
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Roko Italian Cuisine, Wilmington
Roko Italian Cuisine, Wilmington
Established in 2012 by husband-and-wife team Vojka and Jadron Peros, who moved to North Carolina from their native Croatia in 1985, Roko serves upscale, authentic Italian cuisine in a relaxed, unpretentious, and rustic space. Jadron, who is also the restaurant’s head chef, brings over 30 years of experience to the table, and creates a delicious menu typified by Italian fare infused with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, with a range of seafood, meat, pasta and salad dishes available. Try the baked clams oreganato on the half shell and topped with breadcrumbs and parmesan, or the veal Sorrentino sautéed in sherry wine and served with prosciutto, eggplant and mozzarella.

RX Restaurant & Bar

Bar, Restaurant, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
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Located on the heart of downtown Wilmington, RX Restaurant and Bar serves up Southern-style comfort food with a contemporary twist, which it guarantees will feed not only your stomach, but also your soul. The restaurant’s menu changes daily, but is always based on ingredients sourced from locally based farmers and fishermen. Notable menu highlights include fried green tomatoes with hoop cheddar pimento cheese, pickles and chow chow, and the local snapper served with sweet corn risotto, okra and sunflower seed gremolata. Since opening in 2012, RX has received rave reviews from guests and critics alike, and its location in a former drugstore gives the restaurant a nostalgic feel.

Sunny Sushi and Sake Lounge

Sunny Sushi and Sake Lounge opened downtown in early 2013, with two brothers at the helm who share a passion for fresh Japanese sushi and authentic Thai dishes. It boasts a stylish interior that is a mix of Japanese-themed minimalism combined with contemporary industrial elements. Guests can enjoy its classy ambience while dining on dishes like the double dragon sushi made with shrimp, crab and cucumber, topped with smoked eel, avocado and a sweet glaze, or a heartier dish like braised duck breast in a red curry sauce of peppers, bamboo shoots, baby string beans and fresh Thai basil.

Sunny Sushi and Sake Lounge, 141 North Front Street, Wilmington, NC, USA, +1 910 833 7272

Maki Roll | © Kartynas/Pixabay

Maki Roll | © Kartynas/Pixabay

The Little Dipper

For a unique and fun dining experience try The Little Dipper, a cosy but modern restaurant in historic downtown Wilmington specialising in fondue. Located in a building dating back to 1937, the restaurant has a historical yet contemporary ambience, and includes its own back deck on which guests can enjoy their food on warmer evenings. The Little Dipper, which in 2011 was listed in the OpenTable Diner’s Top 100 Restaurants in the country, serves many fondue varieties, like the cheddar ale and Fontina. Alongside these is a range of other dishes like filet mignon with portobello mushrooms and Southern pork tenderloin.

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