Wilmington: Where to Eat and Drink

By land or sea, where to find the most at the coast

Photo: Joshua Paul

A quick bite at the Trolly Stop


Barbary Coast
Opened in 1946, this is Wilmington’s oldest watering hole and, by a long shot, the most colorful bar in town. It’s divey in the best way, drawing all sorts, from career drinkers and their dogs to local businessmen to adventurous tourists. There are about a hundred beers on offer, but PBR is the drink of choice here. 116 S. Front St.; 910-762-8996

Causeway Café
Nestled between a boatyard and the causeway bridge, this beach bungalow café is home to the town’s best breakfast (see: the seafood omelet). Not surprisingly, it’s often packed on weekend mornings, but there’s always free coffee on the porch while you wait. 114 Causeway Dr., Wrightsville Beach;

Photo: Joshua Paul

The “Crowjito” (with mango) at Crow Hill

Crow Hill
Combining a warm, earthy atmosphere with a decidedly hip urban spin, Crow Hill serves flavorful Southern dishes like chicken potpie and North Carolina trout with sweet potato hash. Don’t miss the blackened green beans with Creole remoulade. As one waitress predicted, “You’re gonna want to bathe in that sauce.” 9 S. Front St.; 

Though it’s perfectly acceptable to saunter in wearing flip-flops, Deluxe does full-fledged fine dining with an expansive wine list (more than 450 choices). Best bets are upscale Lowcountry dishes like paella with backfin blue crab, shrimp, and oysters, or ale-battered local flounder. It also draws a lively happy-hour crowd and displays rotating art exhibitions. 114 Market St.;

Though it’s also a seafood restaurant, the real reason to visit is the boat-up bar for a cold beer or an umbrella drink with an unbeatable view of the Intracoastal Waterway. 1308 Airlie Rd.;

Tucked quietly off the main drag is this surprisingly stellar Asian-inspired eatery, serving riffs on authentic Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, like wasabi dumplings and jungle curry. Angle for a table in the garden, complete with koi pond and private dining gazebos. 7 Wayne Dr.;

Most summer evenings there’s a line out the door of folks waiting for a freshly dipped caramel apple, a slice of decadent Mackinac Island fudge, or a hand-dipped ice cream cone. Savor your treats on the bench out front or, better yet, while strolling the nearby Riverwalk. 16 Market St.;

Phun Seafood Bar
The newest creation from Top Chef Keith Rhodes, this slender 22-seat spot is best described as an Asian-style gastropub with Southern flair. Go for the country ham and green mango spring rolls or the Vietnamese pho bowl with Carolina bison. 215 Princess St.;

The Trolly Stop
A Wrightsville Beach institution, this souped-up hot dog stand has been serving the sandy-footed masses since 1976. You’ll find five types of dogs served a dozen different ways. But it’s hard to beat the North Carolina Dog, topped with mustard, chili, and slaw. 94 S. Lumina Ave., Wrightsville Beach;