Lucky me that the Taste Carolina gourmet food tour folks decided to show me around Wilmington! So this morning was a walking tour of tastings across the area. The lovely Courtney Matheson of Delish - fresh eats with Courtney was my personal city guide as we walked around meeting local restaurant owners and learning about their offerings. PS - Courtney also offers personal chef services, cooking classes and baby food workshops!). We checked out Happy Bowls, Le Catalan, The Fork n Cork and Aubriana's. Courtney also gave me handy list of a few other places to check out while in the area. I was only able to try Manna but if you like, make a beeline for these recommendations by a local - Cousin's Deli, Dixie Grill, Hot Pink Cake Stand, The Blind Elephant and The Fortunate Glass.
Happy Bowls is a acai-focussed health store run by Wilmington native Zack and his dad. They also have a store in NYC and two in Puerto Rico. Vegetarians, vegans and GF folks love this place, and you can see why when you visit. They offer bowls, smoothies, juices and wraps and make it right in front of you. Its a happy lively store and their staff of six will put a smile on your face with your happy bowl.
Le Catalan is right by the water and run by Mary and Pierre who have managed the place for 14 years now. One of the first French restaurants to set up shop in the area and also to serve Rosé wine, they served a cold platter of spreads and bread with some nice white wine. The food here is from the Catalan region of France and some of the favorites locals like here are the quiche, au gratin and cassoulet. Keep an eye out for interesting cork decor all around!
Our next stop was the Fork n Cork, famous for beer floats from Texas. Owner James served a nice trio plate of mac'n'cheese (featuring gouda, gruyere and cheddar cheeses), seasonal salad and beef brisket smoked 14 hours and doused in mesquite and hickory sauces. Quite frankly didn't focus on my notes here since I was really trying hard to focus on the food. A good beef brisket commands your full attention!
Lastly, we checked into Aubriana's who are open only for dinner and were going through a menu change that night but still welcomed us for a sampling of endive two ways...simply divine. Chef Tyson and a minimal staff cater daily to a restaurant capable of seating 70 in this European influenced eatery. Chef Tyson is well known in the area for his finishing techniques showered on all his dishes. I actually suggested this spot to one of my new friends I met at the inn I was staying at and they reported the new menu for dinner was fantastic!