Catch the Freshest Seafood in Wilmington at the Top Rated Seafood Restaurants, Oyster Bars, and Waterfront Grills on Our List
Wilmington, NC is a popular travel destination in the southeastern United States, and with good reason. The area is rich with history – downtown Wilmington’s historic district spans an impressive 230 city blocks – not to mention, it’s been the backdrop for plenty of movies and tv shows ranging from Cape Fear to Dawson’s Creek. But even beyond the historic WWII-era battleships and sprawling historic gardens, Wilmington has another huge allure: the water.
And where there is water, there is fresh seafood.
From Windward Oaks to Clarendon Park, we’ve scoured Wilmington for the places you can catch the best – and most importantly freshest – seafood in town. So stay tuned for the best seafood restaurants Wilmington has to offer!
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Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the part of the article that we’ve all been waiting for: our list of the absolute best seafood restaurants in Wilmington, NC.
Without further ado:
703 S Lumina Ave | Wrightsville Beach | oceanicrestaurant.com
For many people, part of the seafood dining experience is beautiful views of the ocean itself. If you’re looking for dinner and a show – with the show being panoramic windows overlooking the Carolina coast – look no farther than Oceanic at the rebuilt historic 1939 Crystal Pier in Wrightsville Beach.
Just a hop, skip, and jump away from downtown Wilmington, Oceanic serves up mesmerizing ambiance as well as all of your favorite fishy fare. Popular menu items include the she-crab soup, Carolina crab cake sandwiches, and yellowfin tuna poke – so definitely check them out when you visit!
“Beautiful views and fantastic food and cocktails. The winds had picked up so we sat at the bar where Tyler was very attentive and helpful with recommendations. The calamari was the best I've had in the area! The sun kissed shrimp, seafood gumbo and key lime pie were fresh and the perfect serving/temperature. Will be a fav spot every visit now!” – Yelp Review
4 Marina St | Wrightsville Beach | bluewaterdining.com
Wrightsville Beach is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, and so is Bluewater Grill. With a mouthwatering combination of traditional American fare and fresh coastal cuisine, Bluewater’s menu contains a unique mix of classic and modern flavors. The menu is local-first, with their offerings rooted in the bounty from North Carolina’s fishing season, whenever possible.
So what should you order? Locals love the coconut shrimp, but they can’t stop raving about the grilled island mahi-mahi either.
“We go to Bluewater all of the time because we love it! The food is wonderful and the views are spectacular! James was our server last week and he was terrific!” – Yelp Review
6132 Carolina Beach Rd | Ste 11 | www.fishbitesseafood.com
When you’re in a beach town like Wilmington, you don’t have to pay top dollar to spend an evening eating some of the best and freshest seafood around. Fish Bite’s Seafood Restaurant serves up a variety of seafood options fresh and fast for brunch, lunch, and dinner. With great service and impressive serving sizes, it’s no wonder that Wilmington locals rate Fish Bites so highly.
But once you actually get to Fish Bites Seafood Restaurant, how do you choose from all of the fresh, local fare on the menu? Here’s what locals recommend. Fish Bites is known for its fantastic selection of soups, like creamy lobster bisque and hearty clam chowder. Moving on to the main course, you won’t want to miss fan favorites like Fish Bite’s stuffed flounder or soft shell crab sandwiches. Whether you’re in the mood for shrimp scampi, fish tacos, or seafood mac and cheese, Fish Bites is sure to satisfy.
“Had a great meal at Fish Bites while I was visiting NC and couldn't believe the affordable price for the oysters! We got a bucket of 25 for $18 and shucked them ourselves which was a really fun experience. Highly recommend getting a bucket if you enjoy oysters. All the food was great and you MUST try the cakes at this restaurant (take them to-go if you don't have room for dessert - that's what we did)! Can't wait to come back in the future.” - Yelp Review
1211 S Lake Park Blvd | Carolina Beach | oceangrilltiki.com
Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar is just that – a Tiki Bar. And while it does have a loyal following of cocktail enthusiasts who are ready to kick back and enjoy the beach life with something fruity in hand, you won’t want to miss out on their food offerings, either.
Being a casual restaurant, you’ll find casual seafood fare here – fish tacos, crab cake, sandwiches, calabash shrimp, fried oyster rolls. So if you’re looking for a restaurant serving fresh seafood that doesn’t care so much if you wear a tie to dinner or not, Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar is your place.
“We were looking for a place to have lunch and drinks on the water while vacationing in Kure Beach. Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar did not disappoint. The staff was so friendly, the view from the pier was so nice and the food was delicious!” – Yelp Review
127 N Front St | Historic District | theshuckinshack.com
Considered by locals to be a fun sports bar and out of towners to be an excellent seafood option as well, it’s hard to deny that The Shuckin’ Shack is a popular spot in downtown Wilmington’s bustling Historic District. If you find yourself exploring the area, stop in for casual bites and a vibrant atmosphere. Crab leg wings, lobster rolls, and raw oysters make up some of the most popular menu items, so be sure to check them out during your visit!
“Great seafood restaurant and bar. The food is prepared well, and they have a nice selection of beers and liquors to choose from. This is a fun place to visit!” – Yelp Review
5226 S College Rd | Ste 5 | www.capefearseafoodcompany.com
Ever wonder what kind of delicious fish are lurking in the waters of the Atlantic just off of the North Carolina coast? Stop by Cape Fear Seafood Company to find out. Cape Fear Seafood Company prides itself in using the freshest ingredients available, prepared with love, and highlighting the excellent seafood that the Wilmington area has to offer.
Our State Magazine recently named Cape Fear Seafood Company one of the top five restaurants in all of North Carolina with the best shrimp and grits. If this classic southern dish doesn’t quite hit the spot, the menu is packed with other mouthwatering options. Chowder, lump crab cakes, shrimp diablo, jambalaya… the list goes on and on.
Plus, the relaxed atmosphere will have you feeling right at home as you enjoy some of the best seafood in the Wilmington area.
“Great food. Attentive, not intrusive server. Pleasant atmosphere. All in all Íd go back. Soon I hope” - Yelp Review
13 E Salisbury St | Wrightsville Beach | shark-bar.com
Sure, all of Wilmington is a beach town, but sometimes you just want to get out of the city and enjoy a nice day on the water. And when you’re done soaking up the sun and playing in the surf, Shark Bar and Kitchen in Wrightsville Beach is there to serve you some of the best seafood in the area, right on the water.
Enjoy beautiful views of the ocean as you chow down on a number of beach bar favorites from blackened mahi mahi tacos to crab cake sandwiches to firecracker shrimp. Shark Bar and Kitchen also has a fully stocked bar complete with a variety of frozen drink offerings, so you can cool off after a day in the sun with a delightful frosty drink. The newly renovated upstairs is “gorgeous” and even features a raw bar, too.
“This is a great place right off the beach! My wife and I had the lobster salad and loved tater tots. The lobster was chilled with great flavoring. The toys had perfectly cooked pork, cheese and some fancy sauce. Both delicious. We are outside in the sun and our young waitress was polite and awesome. Two cons: small servings and big price, and no beer on tap (cans only). But damn the food is tasty. And big menu options!” - Yelp Review
5035 Market St | Wilmington | www.hieronymusseafoodnc.com
If the marker of a successful restaurant is its ability to weather any storm and stick around through the years, it’s no wonder that Hieronymus Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar has made it onto our list of the best seafood restaurants in Wilmington. For over 40 years, they’ve been dishing out some of the best Cape Fear cuisine. That includes local seafood, veggies, cocktails, and beer.
Be sure to try the she crab soup or crab leg dinner – locals keep coming back for more. If crab isn’t much to your taste, you can also enjoy a number of other fresh seafood dishes like fried shrimp, raw oysters, blackened scallops, crispy calamari, and much, much more.
“I love Hieronymus for many reasons. Locally owned, different sections in to air on depending on your mood, and the delicious food. I have eaten here several times mostly at the oyster bar. Tonight I ordered the scallops with a side salad. The Italian dressing was great and the scallops were perfect. Their cheese biscuits are really good, too. I always love their she crab soup and shrimp and grits. You can't go wrong with anything here.” - Yelp Review
8211 Market St | Unit DD | tidewateroysterbar.com
The benefit of finding a seafood restaurant in Wilmington is that, when you’re so close to the water, the seafood is going to be fresh. Tidewater Oyster Bar and head chef Robert Pickens know a thing or two about local seafood since their multitude of menu offerings are sourced straight from the sparkling waters off the coast of North Carolina.
On top of excellent seafood – be sure to try the oyster po boy, gumbo, and wahoo ceviche – Tidewater Oyster Bar is known for its excellent service. Don’t forget to end your meal with something sweet off of Tidewater’s dessert menu – pecan pie is a southern favorite, and locals can’t get enough of the slices they serve here.
“I’’d go here daily if I could afford to! The food and service are excellent every single time for me. Everything I've had on their menu is mouth watering excellent and everything that is supposed to be delivered hot, is delivered hot!
The staff are upbeat and they really care about our experience. Seriously, every day.” - Yelp Review
1410 Airlie Rd | Wilmington | www.thefishhousegrill.com
Fishhouse Grill is one of Wilmington’s hidden gems, literally. It’s tucked away off of highway 74, beneath the bridge to Wrightsville Beach. Be aware that parking is across the street. But once you make it through the doors, you’re in for a seafood dining experience unlike anything else in Wilmington.
Sit back and enjoy picturesque views of the boats that line Wilmington’s shoreline as you savor some of the best seafood in the area. Fish House Grill is known for their crab cakes and mahi mahi, but you can’t go wrong with their shrimp, oysters, or other fresh fare either.
“Really really good. Surprisingly good! I had low expectations but needed a drink and something not fried. I was on the water and knew I could get a drink at a million places but wasn't sure about food. Fish House delivered.
Phenomenal salmon. Stiff cocktails A+ location on the water View of beautiful boats” - Yelp Review