Wilmington, NC Family and Fine Dining (2023)

Wilmington, NC Family and Fine Dining (1)

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Table of Contents[disguise][Demonstrate]
  • Foodie friendly places+
    • Ceviche
    • Surfhaus
    • vegetable cart
  • Restaurants overlooking the water+
    • Oceanic Restaurant
    • Blue ash grill
  • Familienrestaurants in Wilmington NC+
    • Seawitch Cafe and Tiki Bar
    • Grill in the south beach
    • the pilot house
    • Michaels Fischrestaurant
  • Andere Restaurants in Wilmington, North Carolina

Wilmington, North Carolina offers plenty to do, whether it's on the beach or downtown. It's also a great place for foodies. Here are some of our favorite Wilmington restaurants for foodies, families, and foodie families!

Wilmington, NC has a lot to offer from a lively downtown area toseveral fabulous beaches. Families can enjoy many local activities. And when it's time to eat, this seaside destination won't disappoint. There is plenty to choose from here, whether you love seafood or just want to explore the local cuisine.

SheBuysTravel Sarah Ricks visited Wilmington with her husband and reviewed several restaurants. Deb Steenhagen and her family also explored the area. Both share their top picks below.

(Video) 10 Best Restaurants in Wilmington, North Carolina (2022) - Top places the locals eat Wilmington, NC

Foodie friendly places


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After a walk through one of the beautifulWilmington Beaches, liven up with the sour lime of fresh ceviche and guacamoleCevichePanamanian-inspired restaurant and bar. Ceviche's opens at 5pm and fills up immediately. This Latin American restaurant offers dishes inspired by the owner's upbringing in Panama.

Wilmington, NC Family and Fine Dining (2)


Like Ceviche's, it's another foodie-friendly restaurantSurfhausat Caroline Beach. The shrimp grits had a delicious smoky flavor. The bourbon pecan pie was flaky, buttery perfection. Surf House is based on small local farms. While this fine dining restaurant would only be suitable for children who like food, Sarah and her husband loved both the food and the friendly atmosphere. For example, when the staff found out it was Sarah's husband's birthday, the chefs sent up two glasses of champagne.

vegetable cart

Before you go to the beach, stopvegetable cartat Caroline Beach. It's a gourmet grocery store with ready meals, fresh produce, good bread and a wide range of coffees and beers, with a weekly beer tasting.

(Video) Wilmington, North Carolina | Where to Eat | Best Restaurants | The Basics | Ceviche's | Indochine

SheBuy's travel tip:If you want to start the day with a tasty oneFarm-to-table breakfast, stay at the Beacon House Inn Bed and Breakfast in Carolina Beach.

Wilmington, NC Family and Fine Dining (3)

Restaurants overlooking the water

Oceanic Restaurant

This restaurant is located on a pier that juts out more than 400 feet into the ocean. The sea view is second to none.Oceanic RestaurantThey only take reservations for groups of 8, so call ahead to get a table. While it's tempting to go near sunset, the restaurant can get very busy at this time. Avoid the dinner rush by going late afternoon or around 5pm. It's also open for lunch.

Wilmington, NC Family and Fine Dining (4)

Blue ash grill

Deb's picky family was happy to see something other than seafood on the restaurant's menu.Bluewater Grill am Strand von Wrightsville. I was very excited to try the Fresh Catch: Grouper. It was absolutely delicious. It was a very hot day so they sat inside with the AC on, but the Bluewater Grill has beautiful back porches overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway. She and her daughters sat and watched the boats go by after they finished eating before exploring Wilmington's historic downtown and riverfront.

Continue reading:Finding the joy of traveling with a picky eater

Wilmington, NC Family and Fine Dining (5)

Continue reading:Fun things to do in Wilmington NC

(Video) Best Restaurants in Wilmington,NC | Best Seafood Restaurants, Burgers, Brunch and Thai Cuisine

Familienrestaurants in Wilmington NC

Seawitch Cafe and Tiki Bar

Family fun at the beaches near Wilmington, North Carolina might include the laid-back outdoor space ofSeawitch Cafe and Tiki Bar, where you can eat under the palm trees. During the day, this family-friendly Carolina Beach spot offers burgers, salads, and fish tacos. After 5pm it turns into a bar.

Grill in the south beach

Grill in the south beachin Wrightsville Beach also has cozy and family-friendly outdoor seating. It specializes in fresh fish and salads. But Sarah loved her grilled pulled pork sandwich with caraway slaw on a soft brioche bun.

Wilmington, NC Family and Fine Dining (6)

the pilot house

the pilot houseIt is located in downtown Wilmington, right on the Cape Fear River. Just as Deb's family arrived, a storm came up and they couldn't eat out, but they still had a wonderful meal in the dining room. Her picky husband and kids were able to find non-seafood options on the menu here, while Deb had salmon with wild rice and seasonal vegetables and it was amazing. This restaurant was great with the girls - they had kids to color in menus, crayons and different options on the menu for them. They even swapped out the Alfredo pasta for Abbi and Hannah with butter pasta with no problem.

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(Video) One of Best High-end Restaurant in Downtown Wilmington, NC - date night at Steam Restaurant and Bar

Michaels Fischrestaurant

Deb and her girls stopped by tooMichaels Fischrestaurantin Carolina Beach for a late lunch. This was one of the most kid friendly restaurants in the Wilmington area. There was plenty of choice on the children's menu, both seafood and 'regular' food. Hannah was even able to get her favorite dish: penne pasta with spaghetti sauce. Abbi ordered a flatbread pizza and Becca ordered a hot dog. Deb was thrilled to get another fresh catch, this time salmon on a bun. And it was absolutely wonderful. Michael's offers regular meals and grab-and-go options.

Wilmington, NC Family and Fine Dining (7)

The food was excellent, the service was top notch and they loved the decor of the thatched tiki hut with some beautiful murals on the walls. There is an option to eat outside (which we didn't realize until we left) but we were seated at a high table which the girls loved. Even the dessert was special: ice cream sandwiches on plates with chocolate drizzle, whipped cream and a cherry. hmm!

Andere Restaurants in Wilmington, North Carolina

Neither Sarah nor Deb had a chance to try these options personally, but they recommend checking them out if you're in the area:

  • RX restaurant and baris located near downtown Wilmington and offers dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. This popular southern cooking spot accepts reservations 60 days in advance. The restaurants are open for brunch and dinner.
  • Cape Fear Seafood Companyis a great option for families enjoying seafood with family meals for four. The menu also includes a variety of appetizers from the sea and land. Locations in Wilmington andRaleigh.
  • Dock Street Austernbarspecializes in seafood and has won awards for the best oyster bar in the Wilmington area.
  • Restaurante PinPointIt's open for brunch and dinner with offerings from local fishermen, oysters and crab. Vegetarian options include the Mediterranean vegetable platter.
  • losFront Street Breweryoffers daily free tours and tastings as well as special lunches and dinners. The menu includes a selection of appetizers, sandwiches, salads, and burgers, as well as a children's menu.
  • loscopper pennyis located in downtown Wilmington. It has a relaxed vibe for lunch, dinner or drinks and has been featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives!
  • Caprice Bistrooffers a little bit of French cuisine in Wilmington with mussels, duck confit, beef bourguignon and more. Hors d'oeuvres include snails and calamari.
  • losfork and corkis located on Market Street in Wilmington and offers a menu of brunch, burgers and sandwiches. Some of the eclectic appetizer options include rattlesnake bites, Texas poutine (with homemade BBQ sauce) and fried candied duck wings.
  • Indochinaoffers a delicious Far Eastern option with a Thai and Vietnamese menu. You can find sushi, curries and more to eat in or to take away.
  • MannaIt's American comfort food made from locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes regularly to keep it fresh.


What's the difference between fine dining and family restaurant? ›

The food at a fine dining establishment will be of the highest quality, made with luxurious ingredients, and served in unique and beautiful presentations. The quality of the dishware and cutlery is also higher, and often the décor and even the architecture of the restaurant building is notable.

What food is Wilmington NC known for? ›

It's best known for picnic fixings like chicken salad, pimiento cheese, and made-in-Wilmington small-batch ice cream sandwiches from Nye's (nyescreamsandwiches.com), but the fried chicken is the real find here.

What should you not do in fine dining? ›

How to Eat at a Fine Dining Restaurant
  • Do not blow on your food to cool it off. ...
  • Take small bites of your food, even if it takes a little longer.
  • Don't make slurping or smacking noises as you eat.
  • Try to avoid burping.
Dec 24, 2019

Is Olive Garden considered fine dining? ›

Olive Garden is an American casual dining restaurant chain specializing in Italian-American cuisine.

Why is fine dining so small? ›

One of the biggest reasons why fancy restaurants serve food in smaller portions is so it can reduce costs for purchasing ingredients. This means that less money will be wasted, and the restaurant will capitalize on a higher profit margin. Purchasing ingredients for food can be expensive for sophisticated restaurants.

What celebrities live in Wilmington North Carolina? ›

In this article we are going to outline the celebrities and politicians that live or frequent the Wilmington, North Carolina area today and past.
  • Dustin Hoffman. ...
  • Kim Basinger. ...
  • Robert Downey Jr. ...
  • Jennifer Aniston. ...
  • Vice President Al Gore. ...
  • Michael Jordan. ...
  • Lara Trump. ...
  • John Travolta.

Why is Wilmington NC so popular? ›

A: Locals will tell you Wilmington is a wonderful place to live. If you like long, hot summers, frequent beach trips, al fresco dining along the river, and a small-city feel with lots of friendly people, this may be the place for you.

Why is Wilmington called Cape Fear? ›

The name comes from the 1585 expedition of Sir Richard Grenville. Sailing to Roanoke Island, his ship became embayed behind the cape. Some of the crew were afraid they would wreck, giving rise to the name Cape Fear. It is the fifth-oldest surviving English place name in the U.S.

What are 3 rules of table etiquette? ›

With so many table manners to keep track, keep these basic, but oh-so-important, table manners in mind as you eat: Chew with your mouth closed. Keep your smartphone off the table and set to silent or vibrate. Wait to check calls and texts until you are finished with the meal and away from the table.

Do you tip in fine dining? ›

Tip 15%-20% across the board

According to Best Life, 18% is the tipping standard for fancy restaurants; anything less than 15% is unacceptable. A 20% tip, it says, is a good way to acknowledge exceptional service.

Can you wear jeans to fine dining? ›

Yes, you can wear jeans to a nice restaurant, especially when paired with a nice top. What you will pair with the jeans will make a big impact on the whole outfit. Wearing jeans is more likely acceptable to laid-back establishments than a fine dining restaurant.

What is fine dining attire? ›

The dress code at a fine dining restaurant is usually business casual, casual elegant or formal attire. We recommend contacting the restaurant ahead of time to confirm their expectations so that you and your guests can dress appropriately.

What are the two types of menu in fine dining service? ›

There are two types of fixed menus, namely the table d' hote menu, and the prix fixe menu. In a table d' hote menu, you'll find a set of selections of appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Commonly, you can choose one from two or three options of each category.

Do you have to dress fancy at Olive Garden? ›

No, they do not. There's no enforced dress code for guests, and they generally show up dressed between casual and business casual.

Is red lobster considered fancy? ›

No. Red Lobster is considered a family-friendly casual restaurant. “Fine-dining” usually implies expensive food, a low tolerance for younger children and a dress code.

Why is fine dining a thing? ›

As opposed to casual eateries, cafes or family-style restaurants, fine dining caters to an upscale clientele and provides the highest quality of food. A fine dining restaurant has a formal atmosphere, is almost always a sit down restaurant, and has a fancier menu than most restaurants.

Why are fine dining restaurants so dark? ›

Because bright light leaves customers feeling alert, dim light conversely allows customers to relax. People dining at dimly lit tables tend to eat at a slower pace and feel more content with their dining experience.

How do you act in fine dining? ›

11 Fine-Dining Etiquette Rules You've Probably Broken Your Whole Life
  1. Never lift your menu off the table. ...
  2. Once you sip from a glass, you must sip from the exact same place on that glass for the rest of the evening. ...
  3. Don't clink. ...
  4. Never ask for an oyster fork. ...
  5. Keep the rim of your plates as clean as possible.
Jun 17, 2022

Who is the largest employer in Wilmington NC? ›

Top Employers in Wilmington, NC
  • New Hanover County Schools.
  • Coastal Carolina Community College.
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington.
  • Cape Fear Community College.

What is the nicest neighborhood in Wilmington NC? ›

Without further ado, here is our list of the 8 Best Neighborhoods in Wilmington, NC!
  • Rivers Edge. This laid-back neighborhood provides residents with an elegant and modern feel. ...
  • Water Street. ...
  • The Cape. ...
  • Harbor Oaks. ...
  • Sentry Oaks. ...
  • Mayfaire. ...
  • Historic District. ...
  • Riverlights.
Feb 12, 2021

Who is the most famous person from Wilmington NC? ›

While there are many exceptional people whose roots are in Wilmington, Michael Jordan and Sugar Ray Leonard are perhaps the most widely recognized.

What is a good salary in Wilmington NC? ›

Most salaries in Wilmington range between $34,333 (25th percentile) to $61,539 (75th percentile) annually. Of course, salaries will vary depending on your occupation, experience, and many other factors.

Why are so many people moving to Wilmington NC? ›

Wilmington has historic buildings, a vibrant downtown and proximity to the beach. According to United Van Lines, in 2022, nearly 30% of inbound residents moved for retirement and another 30% for a job.

Is Wilmington NC a party town? ›

Wilmington NC Nightlife

People who love active nightlife find themselves at home in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, and Kure Beach. Check out the wide variety of Nightclubs, Bars, Pubs, Lounges, Dance Clubs, Breweries, Sports Bars, Wine Bars, DJs, Live Music, Comedy Clubs, and more.

Are there alligators in the Cape Fear River Wilmington? ›

The Cape Fear River watershed is an incredibly rich and diverse ecosystem, home to a wide range of plant and animal life, including ancient cypress trees, alligators, otters, black bear, a large variety of birds and a host of fish species.

What scary movie was filmed in Wilmington NC? ›

Wilmington is no stranger to horror films. One of the most notable is “The Conjuring.” Filming locations included First Baptist Church, St. James Episcopal Church, UNCW, The Carolinian Inn, Carolina Apartments, and Screen Gems Studios.

Are there alligators in Cape Fear NC? ›

Alligators are concentrated in the lower Cape Fear and Neuse River Valleys. They also are recorded to roam over much of the Coastal Plain around the Albemarle Sound, including counties like Dare, Tyrell, Hyde, and Currituck.

What does family restaurant mean? ›

Noun. family restaurant (plural family restaurants) An eating establishment that serves relatively simple food at reasonable prices, and welcomes children as well as adults.

What makes a restaurant a family restaurant? ›

Family-style dining—sometimes referred to as “large-format dining”—is when food is served on large platters meant for sharing, rather than as individual plates. Diners serve themselves from the food platters, just like you might at home in your dining room.

What are the 3 types of restaurants? ›

When categorizing types of restaurants, they are divided into three service styles: quick service, full service, and fast casual. Full service restaurants (FSRs) provide table service to guests and employ a server staff to take orders and deliver food.

Why family owned restaurants are better? ›

In a family-owned restaurant, there's often an inherent dependability between family members to get everything done, delight guests, and always keep the best interests of the restaurant in mind. This can be a great motivator for the rest of the organization to follow suit.

What does 85 mean in a restaurant? ›

For instance, they read that a score of 71–85 was labelled “Needs Improvement” and meant that inspectors had seen multiple violations, usually including several high-risk ones.

What is the oldest family owned restaurant? ›

The Old Talbott Tavern has been in operation since 1779—that's before the Civil War—and pioneers, soldiers, and criminals alike have stayed under its roof or dined on its Southern staples. Established in 1840, this New Orleans staple is reported to be the oldest family-run restaurant in the country.

What are the disadvantages of family style service? ›

This service style also decreases the variety of food that is typically offered, and cuts into time that could be used otherwise during your event. Summary: Family style meals, depending on what you decide to serve, can get quite pricey, and they take up about as much time as a plated meal.

Do restaurant owners make money? ›

Payscale.com says restaurant owners make anywhere from $31,000 a year to $155,000. They also estimate that the national average is around $65,000 a year.

What is it called when you cook your own food at a restaurant? ›

Cook-it-yourself restaurants are not passive experiences; they're interactive and communal. For many, the social aspect is the appeal. Groups of friends sit around a hot pot or a grill in the middle of the table as they drink, eat and chat.

What is opposite of fine dining? ›

Casual dining comprises a market segment between fast food establishments and fine dining restaurants. Casual dining restaurants often have a full bar with separate bar staff, a full beer menu and a limited wine menu.

What type of restaurant makes the most money? ›

Following are the six most profitable restaurant types.
  1. Bar. In the restaurant business, bars have the highest profit margins. ...
  2. Diner. The low cost of breakfast food ingredients increases the profit margin for diners. ...
  3. Food Truck. ...
  4. Delivery. ...
  5. Pizzeria. ...
  6. Pasta Restaurant.

What is family or casual dining restaurant? ›

A casual dining restaurant is a full-service concept with a laid-back, comfortable, family-friendly ambiance and an affordable menu; a fine dining restaurant has an upscale ambiance, a dress code, a chef-curated highly-priced menu, and service held to the "white tablecloth" standard.

What are the 3 C's in restaurant? ›

Get to know the 3Cs: Choose, Clean & Cook!

What do you call a fine dining restaurant? ›

Fine dining restaurants, also referred to as white tablecloth restaurants, are typically higher end and fancier restaurants. As opposed to casual eateries, cafes or family-style restaurants, fine dining caters to an upscale clientele and provides the highest quality of food.

What is the most popular restaurant? ›



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