30 Apr Delicious Bites: Food Tour in Wilmington with Taste Carolina
Food tours are always a fun way to taste a variety of local dishes and get a feel for a new culture. So, when we were in Wilmington, North Carolina, we did just that! We went on a food tour with Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours and spent the afternoon sampling a delicious range of dishes around town.
Courtney, our guide, met us at the Riverwalk on Market Street right in the heart of downtown Wilmington. Because our tour started at 2:15 p.m., we had a late breakfast that morning and decided to skip lunch. We certainly didn’t want to be full for all the fantastic food we had coming our way.
The bar and restaurant industry in Wilmington is a tight-knit community, and Courtney has spent several years working as a chef in the city. Because of this, she knows many of the restaurant owners and chefs—and all the good spots to visit.
Every tour with Taste Carolina is different. Each group makes five or six stops among a rotating list of 15 restaurants in the city. The food you taste at each restaurant varies day to day, as well. Courtney told us she doesn’t even know what will be served when she walks into the restaurant because the chefs prepare something fresh and different for each tour! Sometimes it’s from the menu, and sometimes it’s not. Either way, it’s sure to be delicious, and you will likely have a chance to speak with the chef, too.
So, what did we end up eating on our tour? Here are all the tasty details for you:
Our first stop on the tour was the riverfront Pilot House Restaurant. The Pilot House has a beautiful patio right on the Riverwalk, as well as a porch and several rooms inside that are perfect for large groups. When the restaurant first opened, food was prepared in a kitchen located across the street and was brought over to the porch on the river. Now, after a series of add-ons, the kitchen is located in the main building, but the original kitchen is still standing!
Our dish at the Pilot House was mahi-mahi with rice, beans, and a pineapple salsa. It was paired with a beer from Wilmington Brewing Company called Tropical Lightning IPA.
City Club of Wilmington
Next, we walked over to the City Club of Wilmington for a cocktail stop. The City Club is a private, members-only dining club located in the historic DeRosset House, but because our guide’s husband is a bartender there, we were able to visit on our tour. To dine at the house without a membership, you can book a room with the Inn at City Club for access. The inside of the house is beautiful and full of history that dates back to before the Civil War.
This stop was only for a drink, and since our tour took place on St. Patrick’s Day, we had green cocktails! I can’t remember everything that was in the cocktail, but the ingredients included Jameson Irish whiskey, Schnapps, and sour mix.
The third stop on our tour, Savorez, was a bit of a walk from the City Club of Wilmington, but it was well worth it. Chef and owner Sam Cahoon is a native of Wilmington, and he has a long and successful history of working his way up through the ranks of restaurants around town. Savorez is a small restaurant, which means it can get quite packed. The menu is drawn from traditional Latin American cuisine with a focus on fresh, local ingredients.
Our dish here was a scallop tostada with avocado, pineapple salsa, pickled shallots, jalapeno, yuzu aioli, and unstoppable “caviar” on top of a mini corn tostada. To drink, we had a margarita with natural juices and natural sea salt that was sourced locally, straight from the Atlantic.
Chops Deli was the next restaurant we visited—right on Front Street in downtown Wilmington. This deli has won many awards over the years, and it’s easy to see why. It focuses on fresh, quality ingredients and serves a variety of rotating items, including sandwiches, soups, and salads. One aspect of the restaurant we really appreciated was that they serve food on eco-friendly dishware and compostable cups that are made from plants.
We tried two mini-sandwiches at Chops Deli. The first was the Plymouth, which had smoked turkey breast, Havarti cheese, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, and homemade cranberry relish on multigrain bread. The other sandwich had turkey, lettuce, tomato, and cheese on flatbread.
Bella’s Bar Local
Next up was Bella’s Bar Local, which is on Market Street just a half block from the riverfront. This cute little spot has an eclectic beer and wine menu and serves small plates and pizzas. The inside is quite small and cozy, and they often have live music for entertainment. We were getting pretty full at this point of the tour, but we managed to make room for a delicious sandwich they had waiting for us.
We had a mini porchetta panini, which came with porchetta, capicola, provolone, and sundried tomato pesto. To drink, we had a blueberry wheat ale from Maine.
The last stop on our tour was the gourmet cupcakery, Peppered Cupcake. Their mission is to create cupcakes with a twist that are creative, exciting, and irresistible, and they definitely deliver. All cupcakes are baked fresh daily, and they even wait until after you place your order to put the finishing touches on your cupcake. This ensures you don’t end up with a soggy cake!
At this stop, we were able to pick any cupcake we wanted. Micah made a quick decision and picked a chocolate vanilla bean cupcake. I had a more difficult time picking my cupcake, though. Everything sounded so good. I wanted to try the mango and habanero, salted caramel, chocolate peanut, almond joy and more. But, in the end, I decided on the taro cupcake, and it was definitely the right choice. I think it might have been one of my favorite cupcakes of all time—and one of my favorite stops on the tour, as well.
About Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours
Taste Carolina started in 2009. Tours are offered every Saturday, with some weekday and weeknight tours available, as well. They also offer a market tour and cooking class by request.
The food tours generally include five to seven tastings, and we were stuffed by the end of the afternoon. Our tour was three hours long, and we walked just over 1.5 miles.
We really enjoyed the variety of restaurants we visited on our food tour in Wilmington. Everything was delicious, and we had fun exploring the Wilmington restaurant scene with our group and guide. And, since each tour is different, we’d love to hop on another one someday when we’re back in town.
We visited Wilmington, North Carolina, as part of a content project. Special thanks to Travel Mindset and Wilmington and Beaches CVB for hosting us on our adventures. As always, all opinions are our own.