It is great to get away for awhile, maybe a few days or a weekend for vacation. Some locals even move to far-flung locales from Montreal to Denver, San Juan to Osaka. One thing unites them. When they return to town to visit relatives, they return to a few golden oldie local spots that attract tourist and townie alike.
Britt’s Donuts has been serving visitors to the Carolina Beach boardwalk for decades now. And as far as we can see, they show no signs of slowing down. The line at Britt’s frequently winds down the Boardwalk, but it’s so worth it. They make delicious hot donuts that you will need to buy 2 dozen of at minimum.
Wake and Bake Donuts are newer to the game, but they make up for inexperience with mad scientist donut experimentation. Giant donuts topped with Fruity Pebbles or candied bacon, or filled with gooey chocolate or apple pie tempt the tastebuds at this new kid on the block.
El Cazador is a Mexican joint at Carolina Beach that has authentic Mexican food. This isn’t your typical tacos and nachos fare. Great balcony seating and killer margaritas round out this tasty place.
Lazy Pirate is another relative newcomer, but it’s making waves as the place to be at the beach. It’s basically an oversized shack decorated like every Frat party you’ve ever been to. Wooden tables, flags and banners, sports on tap. The food says it all, however. Conch fritters mix with PBJ wings, amid all of your pub grub favorites. Trivia nights and other live events routinely pack this place, often filling the expansive outside seating area.
Once across the bridge, you can hit Philly Deli in several locations. The signature sandwich is the Philly Cheesesteak served in several yummy variations. Thrown in cold beer and jalapeño poppers and you’ve got yourself a meal.
One of my personal favorites is a little hole in the wall called Winnie’s Tavern. The inside is truly bigger that the outside suggests, and the food is phenomenal. They don’t stray too far from delicious burgers and chicken sandwiches. A veggie burger is about as healthy as it gets here, so pull up a chair and check out the drink specials–if you can get a spot at this routinely packed burger joint.
For some old school, try out Merritt’s Burger House. It’s a traditional drive in where the carhop comes out to take the order and then brings it out on a tray that hangs on the car door. Simple, classic food like burgers and dogs. No salads or caramel macchiatos here. And cash only. Talk about old school.
PTs Grille has that old school feel in a newer spot. They have three all over town, offering yummy burgers and chicken sandwiches along with cold beer and arguably the best fries in town. You walk in, order up front, then grab a seat. Best veggie burgers in town.
Mexican in Wilmington is down to a few spots. Don’t worry, they are all delicious. El Cerro Grande has a few locations. Zocalo is relatively new but delicious. K38-Baja Grill is also fantastic. Sombrero Azul out by Murrayville is very yummy. If you crave Mexican, we have you covered.
For Asian/sushi, you can’t go wrong with Okami. For $22 you get unlimited sushi/appetizers. And their Asian fare is also very good. If you leave hungry, it’s your own fault.
Copper Penny in Downtown ILM is my favorite spot. Their menu is full of delicious sandwiches and plates, and their specials are always top notch. Who could say no to a chicken bbq bacon cheese sandwich?
Henry’s at midtown is a little more pricey, but quality food justifies the price. From seared swordfish to tasty creme brûlée, the menu never fails to impress. Great for date night or a business meeting.
Well, now I’m super hungry, how about you? This list is by no means exhaustive, as there are 450,000 restaurants here in town. The only thing we have more of is churches. We stick to cheaper fare, so Wrightsville Beach is out for us. And La Costa Mexican food has had the distinction of giving me food poisoning. Twice. But if you like their food, by all means enjoy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I am starving.