Top 10 Oceanfront Restaurants in Wilmington, NC You Should Visit ASAP

September 5, 2022
Gift Ideas
jason wolfe
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Getting tired of having the same packed lunch everyday? Or taking out the same frozen dinner after work every evening? Luckily for you, Wilmington is home to an exciting selection of restaurants and bars that will spice up your mundane lunches and dinners. Not only that, but this seaside town is home to a number of top-rated waterside restaurants. If you want to enjoy good food along with a gorgeous view, you won’t have to travel far. 

In our latest restaurant guide, we’re reviewing the top 10 oceanfront restaurants in Wilmington, NC you need to try. Check out the full list now!

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1. Dockside Restaurant & Bar

Sunny marina restaurant that is known for its fresh and inventive seafood dishes

Photo of Dockside Restaurant & Bar - Wilmington, NC, United States. Fish and chips

Not sure what to get? Enjoy Dockside’s fun take on Fish & Chips! Image courtesy of Yelp.

1308 Airlie Rd | Wilmington | thedockside.com

For over 30 years, both locals and out-of-towners have flocked to Dockside Restaurant & Bar for its stunning ocean views and delicious food. Located right on the water’s edge of Wrightsville Beach, Dockside offers the perfect escape for its guests.

The menu features a number of starters, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts. Some of our favorite dishes include the Fried Clam Strips, Grilled Chicken Pita, and Shrimp Burger. For drinks, Dockside offers a number of wines, beers, and cocktails. Check out their full menu to learn more!

“This is a cool outdoor bar and restaurant. It's directly on the waterfront and has really lovely views. I was here with a very large group and they accommodated us well. Service at the bar was fast and drinks were super inexpensive.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Dockside Restaurant & Bar.

2. Bluewater Waterfront Grill

Expansive oceanfront venue that regularly hosts live music

4 Marina St | Wrightsville Beach | bluewaterdining.com

Next up on the list is the Bluewater Waterfront Grill. This popular waterfront restaurant offers a fun seafood and steak-focused menu. When possible, it sources its fish from local North Carolina fisherman. 

The menu boasts a wide range of savory dishes like the Crab Mac and Cheese, Grilled Island Mahi-Mahi, and Parmesan Crusted Chicken. Bluewater is also open for brunch, and offers mouthwatering plates like Belgian Waffles, Steak and Eggs, and Shrimp and Grits. Reserve a table for your next meal now!

In addition to its great views and delicious food, Bluewater is known for its live acoustic patio sessions held every Sunday from 4pm to 8pm. Swing by for your next meal!

“Dinner with a view! We got lucky to sit outside on the dock by the water. Super cute inside, and outside was very chill! I ordered the grilled seafood medley. Mahi mahi, shrimp, and scallops all blacken flavor. Ohh man was that mouth watering! The seasoning was just right! We also had to try the crap dip! So good.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Bluewater Waterfront Grill.

3. Oceanic 

High-end seafood restaurant that is located right on Wrightsville Beach

Make sure you grab a table on the patio. There’s nothing more relaxing than dining outside by the ocean. Image courtesy of Yelp.

703 S Lumina Ave | Wrightsville Beach | oceanicrestaurant.com

If you’re looking for a chic, upscale restaurant right on the beach, you should try out Oceanic. Located in Wrightsville Beach, Oceanic is connected to a boardwalk that extends into the Atlantic Ocean. 

Oceanic is open for lunch, dinner, and brunch. On the menu, you’ll find fresh seafood plates like the Lobster Shrimp Bruschetta, Baja Shrimp Tacos, and Crab-Stuffed Salmon. Coming with the kids? Oceanic also offers a special kids menu featuring chicken fingers, cheeseburgers, popcorn shrimp, and grilled cheese sandwiches. All entrees come with your kid’s choice of vegetables, fries, or applesauce. 

“What an amazing experience. A hot August night was just perfect sitting outside in the breeze. The crab cakes were great. As was the fried seafood. Ending the night on the pier was the BEST experience!!  Can't wait to go back!!” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Oceanic.

4. Bridge Tender

Upscale steakhouse that features a deck over the Intracoastal Waterway

1414 Airlie Rd | Wilmington | thebridgetender.com

Bridge Water is a popular seafood restaurant and steakhouse located at the Wrightsville Beach Drawbridge. Both the indoor and outdoor dining spaces offer stunning views of the nearby water. But, unsurprisingly, the outdoor deck is pretty filled during the summer.

Bridge Water is open for brunch and dinner. Whenever you go, you can expect to enjoy mouthwatering dishes like Crunchy Coconut Shrimp, Mahi Mahi Mixed Grill, and Blackened Mahi Pasta. Reserve a table at Bridge Tender for your next meal now!

“A local for almost 10 years..this is my family's favorite go-to dining experience because you never leave disappointed! If the weather cooperates, reserve a table outside on deck near bridge. Our service and dinners/desserts were spectacular the other night at sunset.” - Yelp Review

Purchase a GiftYa card for Bridge Tender.

5. The George on the Riverwalk

Charming restaurant in Downtown Wilmington located on the bank of the Cape Fear river

At The George, you can enjoy great food while watching the boats sail by. Image courtesy of Yelp.

128 S Water St | Wilmington | thegeorgerestaurant.com

The George on the Riverwalk is another restaurant in Wilmington that offers breathtaking waterfront views. Guests can stop by for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch. The restaurant offers a wide selection of seafood, steaks, pasta, and salad. A full kid’s menu is also available. 

Some of our favorite dishes include the Seared Rare Ahi Tuna, Goat Cheese Crusted Chicken Breast, and Three Cheese Ravioli. The menu also features a number of gluten-free options like the NZ Rack of Lamb, Spice Crusted Salmon, and Black Bass. Reserve a table for your next meal now!

“Great food and ambiance. Sit outside at sunset if you can! Great views of the water and the Battleship in the distance…Had the scallops entree along with the blackened sea bass entree which was the star of the show.” - Yelp Review

6. Pilot House

Popular Southern-style restaurant located in a restored 19th-century house

Pictured above is a Greek Salmon salad filled with ravioli, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and feta cheese. Try it out for yourself the next time you stop by! Image courtesy of Pilot House.

2 Ann St | Wilmington | pilothouserest.com

If you’re looking for a chic, rustic restaurant to visit, look no further than The Pilot House. Over the years, the restaurant has been recognized in prestigious publications like The Washington Post, Mobil Travel Guides, and The New York Times. All of its dishes are made from scratch using the freshest ingredients available to the local area. 

Some of our favorite dishes include the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Sweet Potato Grouper, and Lamb Lollipops. For drinks, The Pilot House offers various wines, beers, spirits, and cocktails. Check out their menu now for their full list of offerings!

“We came here as a large group on a family vacation. We had a lovely experience through and through. All orders were fabulous and without error. The view of the river and river walk area was beautiful. The actual building was precious and full of history.” - Yelp Review

7. Michael’s on the Waterfront 

Classy seafood restaurant that overlooks the Cape Fear river

5 S Water | Wilmington | michaelsonthewaterfront.com

Michael’s on the Waterfront is a fun gastropub-style restaurant that offers delicious food and a stunning river view. Located right on the Cape Fear river, Michael’s on the Waterfront is the perfect spot to sit back and relax with friends.

On the menu, you’ll find a wide selection of mouthwatering bites like the Shrimp Volcano Wontons, Crab Cake Sandwich, and Diver Sea Scallops. For dessert, you can enjoy some Seasonal Bread Pudding or Death by Chocolate Torte. Check out the full menu now!

“My fiancé and I visited for a random nice dinner. I had the Short Ribs and he had the Salmon.  Both were ABSOLUTELY outstanding. The service was spot on and the patio was nice and quiet. The food was hot and you could seriously taste the love and quality put in.” - Yelp Review

8. Smoke on the Water

Charming restaurant in Marina Village that offers great views and delicious food

Share some smoked wings with your friends! Image courtesy of Yelp.

3704 Watercraft Ferry Dr | Wilmington | smokeonthewaternc.com

Next up on the list is Smoke on the Water. Located in the heart of Marina Village, this seafood bar is the perfect spot to rest and relax after a long day of strolling along the boardwalk. 

The menu features a number of hearty pub-style dishes like the Texas Brisket Sandwich, Spicy Pickled Shrimp Wraps, and Alaskan King Crab Legs. For drinks, Smoke on the Water offers wine, beer, and cocktails. Check out Smoke on the Water for your next meal!

“The service, food, and atmosphere is wonderful. The bar is fully stocked with some of the best liquor this side of the Pacos! So glad we live so close to this establishment!” - Yelp Review

9. Stoked

Stylish seafood restaurant located right over the water

Stoked is located right on the water. Image courtesy of Stoked.

313 Canal Dr | Carolina Beach | stokedrestaurant.com

Looking for a good time? Stoked offers stunning water views, delicious food, and live music. This popular restaurant is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Whenever you go, you can expect to enjoy great food and service.

On the menu, you’ll find savory seafood dishes like the C.B. Crab Dip, Island Poke Bowl, and Stoked Up Island Tacos. A small dessert menu featuring Key Lime Pie, Caramel Salted Ice Cream, and Stone Street Brownie is also available. Does this sound good to you? Visit Stoked for your next meal!

“This is a pleasant family lunch or dinner spot. Brunch was very good, especially the waffles. Kids love to sit outside and watch the boats. The waitstaff were very pleasant.” - Yelp Review

10. Cape Fear Seafood Company

Locally-owned and operated seafood restaurant that serves food in a simple, laidback setting

5226 S College Rd, Suite 5 | Wilmington | capefearseafoodcompany.com

Last, but certainly not least, on the list is Cape Fear Seafood Company. This popular restaurant has locations all around North Carolina, including Wilmington. 

The restaurant offers a number of fresh and savory seafood dishes like the Calamari Fritti, Sweet & Spicy Shrimp, Lobster & Shrimp Risotto, and Bald Head Island Crab Cakes. Have a sweet tooth that needs to be satisfied? Cape Fear has a small dessert menu featuring sweet treats like Blueberry Cobbler a la Mode and Creme Brulee. 

Check out the Cape Fear Seafood Company for your next lunch or dinner!

“We stopped in for lunch, and I was pleasantly surprised! This food was really good. We had a crab dip appetizer, oysters, shrimp risotto, and shrimp tacos. Everything was delicious, well above any other restaurant I stopped in to. The oysters were very large too, almost all of them were 2 in or larger.” - Yelp Review

Wilmington is home to a number of stunning oceanfront restaurants. From upscale bars to laidback cafes, there’s something for everyone here. Which spots on the list do you plan to visit next? Let us know! We love hearing all about your foodie adventures.

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