Best of Wilmington NC Nightlife 2021

10 Jul 2021


Reel Café


Perched directly on the corner of Dock and Front, Reel is a reliable stop for a rowdy time when it comes to bar crawling your way through downtown. The open-air patio is ideal for scoping out the crowded streets, while the second floor is the spot for belting karaoke on the weekends followed by live music on the rooftop.


1900 Restaurant Lounge


The vibe is just right at this stylish Lumina Station lounge. Get the evening started with one of their ritzy sips like the floral Black Tie Martini with elderflower liqueur, fresh grapefruit, and a salt and pepper rim, then order another to cool down your palate after the melt-in-your-mouth Nashville Hot Cauliflower. Don’t dart out after dessert. This posh speakeasy stays open late.


Dram + Morsel


Dram + Morsel’s virtuoso mixologists may make their spirited skills look effortless, but these cocktail connoisseurs take plenty of pride in their handcrafted creations. You’ll gallop each and every flight of stairs to get to the Hunni Mule—a stiff medley of Belle Isle Honey Habanero Moonshine, lime, and ginger beer—at this urban-chic bar and restaurant in the Roudabush building.


Ironclad Brewing


While Ironclad’s brewers are known for whimsical varieties like their smoked honey lager and chai-spiced brown ale, the massive two-story industrial building actually boasts the honor of being one of Wilmington’s hippest wedding venues. If you’re ready to say “I do,” head into the revitalized historic space and pucker up for one of their tart in-house hard seltzers.


Jimbo’s Breakfast & Lunch


Jimbo’s parade of sweet and savory goodies are on-point for sopping up whatever you got into earlier, and I guarantee if you give the grilled pork chop platter with eggs a chance, you’ll leave sleepy but satisfied with your decisions. If you’ve just clocked out after a long day, treat yourself to a midnight patty melt at this homey diner.


Tavern 14


Hard to not love a bar whose welcome chant is “Hell yeah!” not “Hello.” You’ll also dig the nearly twenty flat screen TVs (not to mention multiple pool tables) at this sports pub. Pull up a stool on the wrap-around porch, ask about the weekly lunch specials, and grab some extra napkins for the homemade wing sauces, handmade burgers, mac bowl, and T14’s signature pizza-quesadilla collaboration: the Zilla.




You can’t talk downtown Riverwalk legends without name dropping Elijah’s. This seafood-centric eatery has been humming along on the Cape Fear for so many decades, I had my picture taken in front of the restaurant when I was four. I may not have been partaking in their specialty drinks like the fabulously fruity (and aptly named) Sunset on the River with mango rum, tart grapefruit, soda, and lime at that age—but I’m sure I was eyeing the bar.


The Fortunate Glass


You’ll have no problem finding the perfect pairing for mini munchables like gooey brie bruschetta and duck confit empanadas at this eclectic Front Street wine bar. Even if you’re not a self-proclaimed sommelier, don’t be intimidated by Fortunate Glass’s lengthy list. Every member of the eloquent staff knows their stuff backwards and forwards.


Bridgewater Wines


Fresh from New York, Bridgewater owners Doug and Susan Zucker opened their Leland-based shop with the goal of allowing their customers to “explore the world one wine at a time.” The tasting bar and always-rotating bottle selection (including fifteen wines under $15) will draw you in, but it’s the Zucker’s hospitality and knowledge that keeps the corks popping.

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