Wilmington Lunch Restaurants: 9 Spots for a Mid-day Break

The top Wilmington lunch restaurants contribute to North Carolina’s long-standing reputation as a food lovers’ paradise. The area has long attracted visitors from all over to sample fresh flavors and different spins on the classics. And there’s no better time to do so than a lunch break. To get you started, and make you a little hungry, check out these Wilmington lunch restaurants that serve more than great food.

9 Wilmington Lunch Restaurants to Try on Vacation

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Photo: James Willamor

Seafood and More Seafood

Doubling as a fresh market and seafood restaurant, Fish Bites features some of the freshest food in the area. Those looking for a hearty lunch can select from sandwiches and baskets, sides, and pastas and entrees. The main star at Fish Bites is the seafood, and the restaurant serves Maine lobster, oysters, soft-shell crab, snow crab and dozens more. This fresh market also houses the only live lobster tank in the area. Those who prefer to dine in their rental can purchase a variety of fresh catches wrapped and ready for the grill at home.

Another top Wilmington lunch restaurant that focuses on fresh seafood is Cape Fear Seafood Company. This hot spot serves regional seafood as well as Southern favorites, such as their award-winning shrimp and grits. Cape Fear Seafood serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the owner is a North Carolina native who knows how to pair local food with local style. Diners can choose from crab legs and cakes, flounder, and fried signature dishes. Not craving seafood? No problem because the restaurant also serves soups, salads, tacos and sandwiches.

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Family-friendly Pubs

Copper Penny, located in historic downtown Wilmington, serves a variety of American favorites in a casual pub-style atmosphere. Sit down at the bar or a table and browse a selection of starters, soups and salads, or order from more than 20 different sandwiches. Other popular items include the chicken wings and daily specials, which feature barbecue, salmon wraps and chicken fajitas. Burger options include shortrib, Angus beef, Southwest style and more. Copper Penny is also known for its large selection of beers from local North Carolina breweries.

One of those North Carolina breweries is Front Street Brewery, which also doubles as a top whiskey bar. The restaurant is housed in a historic building dating to 1865, and offers private event space and brewery tours. However, it’s the food guests most enjoy. This top Wilmington lunch spot features soups, salads, patties, sandwiches, entrees and party platters. Sandwiches and entrees include favorites such as brisket, pulled pork, seafood, chicken and bratwurst. After a late lunch, tour the brewery to learn about the history and try free samples.

Another fun gathering spot is Fork-N-Cork, a gastropub located in downtown Wilmington. This family-friendly favorite serves up Southern specialties, such as fried pickles and rattlesnake bites. However, the main course here is the burger. The menu features burgers made from lamb, duck and beef. One top option is the Carolina burger made with chili, slaw, cheddar and mustard. Those looking for a lighter meal can select from a signature sandwiches or salads. Fork-N-Cork gets pretty busy around lunchtime, so guests should use the call-ahead process to ensure a spot.

Traditional Deli-style

Consistently ranked as a top spot for lunch by sources such as Wilmington magazine, Chops Deli has three locations in downtown, Monkey Junction and Wrightsville Beach. With a focus on quality ingredients, Chops specializes in sandwiches, soups and salads. Menu items feature Boar’s Head meats and cheeses and local produce when in season. Chops’ visitors can order from the menu and enjoy a sit-down meal, or take home their favorite meats and cheeses by the pound. This large menu includes signature sandwiches made from barbecue, corned beef, roast beef, turkey, to name a few.

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International Treasures

Influenced by the owner’s Central American upbringing, Ceviche’s focuses on Panamanian-style food. This raved-about spot serves lunch on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the menu spotlights seafood served with presentation in mind. Popular menu items include the chicken avocado arepa and blackened corvina tacos. Additionally, all lunch items come with a side, so don’t miss the coconut rice and yucca fries. Kids also have menu items from which to choose, such as chicken tenders with yucca fries.

Asian flavors meet exotic flair at Indochine. This top Wilmington lunch spot features Thai and Vietnamese dishes, and lunch is served on Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Inside, guests can enjoy vibrant décor, or they can dine outdoors in Thai huts. All lunch specials are priced under $10 per dish, and include full-plate options as well as soups and salads. In addition to hearty plates, Indochine also serves a sushi combo. The combo is priced under $12, and includes California and spicy tuna rolls. Before leaving, ask about the unique artwork available for sale.

Enjoy retro style and Mexican-inspired flavors at Flaming Amy’s Burrito Barn. Consistently voted as having the best burritos in Wilmington, visitors can have their own made or order from a large selection of special creations. Specialty burritos range from the bayou with a Creole spin to the wok on the beach with Teriyaki sauce. Perhaps the most popular is the Flaming Amy made with chipotle peppers, jalapenos and house-made salsa, making it the hottest menu item. Those interested in trying something different can select from soft tacos, quesadillas and salads.

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