“Best Of” Wilmington Restaurants – Outdoor Dining Edition
Looking for an outdoor spot to grab dinner for a date night or a special atmosphere outside for a birthday celebration? Check out our team’s favorite spots around town for great food and stellar ambiance while still following social-distancing guidelines.
Click the restaurant names below to view their website!
- We love the outdoor dining area overlooking the pond in Lumina Station, which is a romantic and peaceful setting, especially as the sun sets and the outdoor lighting begins to shine. Don’t forget to end your meal with one of their mini desserts served in shot glasses — just enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Everyone knows Indochine’s outdoor dining spaces and gardens are gorgeous and unique. You’ll feel transported to a tropical paradise even though you’re right off Market Street. Be prepared to wait a while most any night of the week, but trust us... it’s more than worth it.
- This restaurant was designed from the start for outdoor dining with riverfront views. Most of the walls and windows even open up to the fresh air. With a huge riverfront deck, there are lots of tables worthy of enduring the summer heat, and in the cooler months, beautiful fire pits to gather around. Go there to catch the sunset and you’ll feel like you’re on a mini vacation.
- Sit on their waterfront deck for a meal or enjoy the large outdoor bar that snakes around the boat slips right in front of the restaurant. Watch the boats go by as you soak up the last few days of summer with a cold beverage in your hand and crab dip on your table.
- This midtown restaurant is special for many reasons. The first is because Ash Aziz is one of our town’s best restaurateurs. The second is because this dining spot was designed with extensive outdoor seating in mind. The outdoor area has ample shade, plenty of room to spread out, and is facing a greenway in The Pointe at Barclay. If you prefer to eat inside, large bar windows open up completely to let in the breeze. With wines on tap, what more do you want?
- This very popular restaurant has expanded its outdoor seating to the sidewalk around the building. Although the seating faces the road and the parking lot, the quality of the food and the cute bistro tables and decor make this spot feel special. Plan ahead as this restaurant is full from lunch through dinner. And don’t miss the sampler platter of all four ceviches… yum!
- Boca Bay has always had a large outdoor dining area that can be closed off in the winter or opened up in the summer. Stop in for local seafood dishes or make a reservation for their famous Sunday Brunch (no longer a buffet, but still delicious). And you can’t skip the colossal-sized desserts — a Lanier favorite is the massive crème brûlée.
- Best known as a bottle shop, Palate has adapted its space to provide table service for patrons from their excellent food truck. If the fried chicken happens to be on the menu when you go, don’t miss it. Make reservations ahead of time for Tuesday through Saturday. On certain nights, you can even enjoy live music. How fun is that?!
- Our entire team LOVES K38! It’s so good, you could put their tables on top of a freeway and we’d still want to eat there. In fact, even though the outdoor space is far from fancy, the margaritas and chips still taste amazing, so we can easily get over being in a tent, in a parking lot, overlooking Oleander Drive. The outdoor tent area is quite small, though, so you may want to arrive early for an evening meal.
- Poe’s at Wrightsville Beach has nice outdoor seating and the ability to open up many of their doors and windows to let the fresh air into the interior of the restaurant as well. The outdoor seating borders the parking lot, so it isn’t exactly romantic, but it works as a great place to bring the whole family and enjoy burgers, fries, and beers (for those of age, of course!). We recommend walking off all that food on the beach afterward!
- Stephanie loves this restaurant in the South Front District, owned by Celeste Glass (yep, that’s her real name!). With a menu full of wine from the fancy to the accessible, plus wonderful tapas dishes, this will easily become a favorite establishment of yours too. There is ample outdoor seating, and the attentive staff will help you make great choices to make your night out extra special.
- If you’re in the mood for a downtown spot right on the water, Elijah’s deck overlooking the Cape Fear River and the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is a great place to grab dinner. Just like at Smoke on the Water, the sunsets are often stunning, and although this place can be a bit touristy, there’s no denying it’s a beautiful spot to relax and enjoy a meal. Before or after dinner, be sure to take a stroll down the Riverwalk so you can embrace this gorgeous place we get to call home.
- This is one of our team’s favorite spots to enjoy Italian food in town. With its pretty little courtyard — there’s even a large fountain! — you feel buffered from the parking lot and cars. Not much is more romantic than a fountain, cozy seating, and an Italian meal with wine, right? If you aren’t stuffed when you’re done, walk over to Boombalatti's to end the night with a sweet treat.