Savor: Ten (Plus One) Great Places to Eat on the Water

BY Justin Jacobs

Here on the Cape Fear Coast we love our waterfront the ocean the Intracoastal and the Cape Fear River. We also love our local restaurants our accomplished chefs and our fine Southern fare. And we especially love when those two things come together in perfect harmony which they do in abundance here in the Port City. Need help deciding where to go tonight? No problem. Here are 10 +one great places to eat on the water.

224 S. Water Street Wilmington 910-815-0200
Le Catalan an authentic riverfront French caf delivers a truly international dining experience. Established 10 years ago by French native Pierre Penegre and his wife Marie Le Catalan offers superb food now known as La Catalan Classics along with daily specials such as Basil Pesto Tartines Shrimp and Orzo and Gazpacho. Penegre studied at the internationally renowned French culinary school Le Cordon Bleu and has an extensive knowledge of wine. Hungry for dessert? Le Catalan is famous for their chocolate mousse.

703 S. Lumina Avenue Wrightsville Beach 910-256-5551
Wonderful Wrightsville is home to several waterfront eateries but only Oceanic is located right on the beach with seating on Crystal Pier offering truly breathtaking views of the beach and the Atlantic. But the jaw-dropping views often take a back seat to the traditional and delicious Calabash seafood served daily. This wildly popular restaurant has been expanding their menu options serving fresh daily catches blackened or broiled along with many other heart-healthy choices. Indoor seating is available and thats just fine: Large picture windows face the ocean framing beautiful year-round views. 

3: East at Blockade Runner Beach Resort
275 Waynick Boulevard Wrightsville Beach 910-256-2251
Located in Wrightsvilles legendary Blockade Runner Beach Resort Easts award-winning chef Mark Lawson offers a little bit of everything: upscale American-style seafood chicken and heart-healthy vegetarian entrees. Enjoy an exquisite dinner walk in off the beach for lunch or savor Easts renowned breakfast buffet served every morning. The dining room is beautiful and the restaurants outside seating offers breathtaking views of the gardens and Atlantic Ocean. Looking for a special place for a special occasion? East offers a once-a-month Food and Wine Dinner: a sensational five-course meal in the gardens while the moon rises over the ocean.

1410 Airlie Road Wrightsville Beach 910-256-3693
After 18 years of operation Fish House Grill is one of the most sought-after places to eat in the Port City. Whether youre hungry for an upscale dinner in the dining room or a relaxing repast on their deck overlooking the boats on the Intracoastal Waterway Fish House Grill offers a variety of seafood specialties such as Mahi-Mahi crab cakes and oysters. Feel free to dock your boat and dine. Amanda Thames

100 S. Lumina Avenue Wrightsville Beach 910-256-4646
The perennially popular South Beach Grill overlooks the scenic anchorage of Banks Channel.  Thanks to Chef James Rivenbark South Beach is a favorite find for locals and visitors. Rivenbark prepares delicious regional dishes with his own eclectic spin such as spicy Coyote Oysters and flavorful Seafood Nachos. Eat out on the patio and feel that gentle Wrightsville breeze blowing in off the channel. Youll be a regular in no time flat.

4 Marina Street Wrightsville Beach 910-256-8500
In Wrightsville there are several restaurants located on the Intracoastal Waterway but only Bluewater An American Grill faces west allowing you to fully enjoy our spectacular sunsets. Along with outstanding seafood Bluewater offers a variety of grilled specialties such as ribs steaks chicken and more. You can dine indoors or on the Intracoastal without compromising the waterfront view. And if you dont feel like driving Bluewater gives you the fabulous option to dock and dine.

1308 Airlie Road Wrightsville Beach 910-256-2752
All you have to say is Dockside and locals know exactly what and where youre talking about. Nestled off Airlie Road offering simply stunning views of the Intracoastal Waterway Dockside has been a fan favorite for 25 years so its not uncommon to see familiar faces time and time again. Take our word for it: People keep coming back for the seafood which is selected fresh and hand cut daily. Dockside does its part to promote sustainable aquaculture so availability is subject to seasonal weather and fishing conditions. And speaking of fishing Dockside has its own marina so power down tie a line and grab a table.

1414 Airlie Road Wrightsville Beach 910-256-4519
Another choice for fine dining along the Intracoastal Waterway is the reputable Bridge Tender. Opened in 1976 Bridge Tender has earned a reputation for attention to detail excellent service and fine food. Oh yes and the Intracoastal view is exquisite. The menu is extensive with outstanding seafood specialties and Certified Angus Beef. Enjoy the experience in the beautiful dining room or take a table on the large deck overlooking the waterway. Leave your car in the garage Bridge Tender provides a dock for boaters.

2 Market Street Wilmington 910-763-7227
Hailed as Wilmingtons landmark dining spot for more than 25 years Riverboat Landing is located on the corner of Market and Water streets in Historic Downtown Wilmington in a building circa 1856. The title of chef is shared by brothers Nate and Dylan Morgan whose dishes range from Southern regional to Asian to Mediterranean.  Nine two-person balconies offer unbeatable views of the Cape Fear River and the Battleship North Carolina. If you have more than two in your party Riverboat Landing has a beautiful first-floor dining room and a second-floor al fresco dining room.  

2 Ann Street Wilmington 910-343-0200
The Pilot House is another popular choice for riverfront dining. Originally a sandwich shop in the 1970s it quickly became the full-fledged restaurant it is today. Chef Adam Carlsons entrees are described as Southern regional and include steaks chicken and pasta along with collards grits and of course sensational seafood. The Pilot House provides riverfront seating with walk-in access from the River Walk. Most importantly sensational sunsets happen pretty much every evening.

2 Ann Street Wilmington 910-343-1448
Elijahs has been one of the most popular places to eat on the Cape Fear River since 1984. Located right on the Riverwalk in Historic Downtown Wilmington Elijahs is a casual American grill and oyster bar. Chef Patricia Green serves distinctive locally caught seafood and a variety of oyster specials. You can dine outside on the large deck overlooking the river or inside the appropriately themed nautical dining room. Regardless of where you sit you will quickly discover why Elijahs is one of the Port Citys most popular dining destinations.