The very best gifts for the foodie in your life
Whether it be in the form of comfort food, convenient meal kits or a caffeine source to get through the holidays, food hits the spot within unique ways.
Melissa Rorech, Reviewed
The good news is there’s a lot of great meals out there. The bad news is that I was asked to narrow those memorable meals down to a manageable list of best dishes through 2022. As I was going through photos and thinking about some of the food I’ve enjoyed this year (so far), it’s amazing how many wonderful things I have tried. For this list, though, I focused on those new-to-me dishes that surprised me, and some of those foods that will gave me a true ‘OMG’ moment while I was enjoying them – letting me know it was exactly what I wanted at the time. So here, in no particular order, they are.
Did you have similar good foodies experiences this season? I’d love to hear about it, email me at [email protected] possuindo.
Tzatziki from Kipos Hellenic Cuisine
When we were able to try this new restaurant at Lumina Station near Wrightsville Beach, we decided to eat mezze style with a few dips plus small plates. The octopus and prawns were great, but I keep thinking about that tzatziki. It was thick and creamy with Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic in addition to lemon — and delicious with the house pita bread.
Beef Tartare at Dram Yard
Chef Joe Wolfson offers a menu that fuses Asian, European and Southern elements to create something unique at this downtown Wilmington cafe, which reopened in early 2022. But he said this dish is a signature of his, and he adds in ‘burger’ elements like a beef fat mayo, arugula, and even tangy Meyer lemon vinaigrette.
The OG Burger with Smash-N-Dash
Speaking of burgers, the best-burger debate in the Wilmington area is ongoing. Winnie’s Tavern is great. And Yelp recently named Island Burgers & Bites in Carolina Beach as the best burger spot in the state. (It was a stop on the StarNews tour of great gas station eats. ) But I’m going to introduce another option into the argument. This foods truck serves up bacon-wrapped hotdogs and smash burgers inside seven styles, including the SAMT with caramelized onions, smash sauce together with cheddar cheese sauce.
Gas station eats: For fuel and foodstuff, try these 4 Wilmington area gems
Creamed Cauliflower at Origins
Yes, there are a lot of great dishes and cocktails at the latest restaurant coming from Ash Aziz in Wilmington’s Autumn Hall neighborhood. But I really do love a good side dish, especially one that is so rich and creamy and delicious with the addition of parmesan and gruyere cheeses that it can stand on its own.
Tofu Tacos on Panacea Brewing Company
I was getting a refill on some kombucha when I decided to grab a bite, too. The particular bartender recommended this special, which came with fried tofu that was crispy on the outside and additionally an almost fluffy interior not to mention topped with black beans and a corn salsa.
Desperado Cheesesteak during CheeseSmith
This Cargo District restaurant delivers a lot of cheesy sandwiches in a lot of tasty ways. But when I saw this particular on the unique board, along with shaved ribeye, house-made queso, ang grilled peppers and also onions, I had to try this. And, yes, it did give me one of those elusive OMG moments. This particular sandwich is also approved by the particular cheesesteak guys from Leland.
Cashew Cheese Toast at The Second Glass
Speaking of vegan dishes, the options are really expanding in the Wilmington area. I had been having a wine flight at this spot within the South Front district when the server asked me if I’d tried their vegan parmesan cheese toast. We hadn’t, but I’m glad I did.
Arepas from Made in Venezuela
I had been looking for a local source for this cornmeal-based sandwich-y dish and I found them with this food truck. Try typically the Arepa Pabellon, with shredded beef, black beans, plantains, cheese as well as garlic sauce. Or the tequeños, otherwise known as Venezuelan cheese sticks.
Rice pudding for Seabird
When this downtown restaurant by chef Dean Neff started their brunch service, I actually tried this Benedict, which I loved. But what really surprised me was the rice pudding — something I wouldn’t have ordered if not for a little encouragement. This kind of version comes with peaches, blackberry jus and granola.
Fried fish plus oyster platter at Silver Hill Grill
For those people who are missing a classic fried seafood spot, they should try this Supply restaurant. They’ve been serving since 1974 and are only open Thursday-Sunday, but you can pick a platter with your choice of seafood, in addition to sit on their own screened-in porch if you’d like.
Oldest Wilmington restaurants: Your guide to 18 of the oldest restaurants inside the Wilmington region
Crepe Caprice at Caprice Bistro
It’s difficult to go wrong at this classic French eating place at the foot of Front side and Market streets inside downtown Wilmington. The mussels are a popular choice together with locals, as is the Waterzooi. After the owners tweaked their particular menu, this was a relatively new addition I got to try this year. It can filled with spinach, gruyere and even brie, together with topped with a mushroom cream sauce. C’est parfait.
Typically the Elvis located at Sebby’s Breakfast and Lunch
If you need to satisfy a particular craving in Southport, head to this new restaurant from the people behind the popular Castucci’s Italian diner. It’s peanut butter, banana and bacon on French Toast breads.
Parsnips Al Pastor at The Green House Restaurant
My feelings about parsnips were very ‘meh’ before My partner and i tried this specific dish that’s on the fall menu only at that vegan fine dining bistro near Wrightsville Beach. Smoked pineapple and a hazelnut salsa macha make the most of the earthy, anise-like flavor of the vegetable.
Churros by East Oceanfront Dining
One question that came up in making this list is if I should include dishes via special dinners. You have to travel to Raleigh to get Ashley Christensen’s mac and additionally cheese and to Maine to obtain something called porcini tahini that I was able to try found at local GLOW events. And then there are often the chocolate-filled churros that were served with a beer slushie made with Hi-Wire’s 10W-40 Imperial Stout at a recent beer dinner at Blockade Runner Beach Resort in Wrightsville Beach. Luckily, though, you can get churros on chef Jessica Cabo’s special Taco Tuesday menu every week.
Vietnamese Banana Blossom in the Cafe Chinois
I fell in love with this salad the first time I had formed it. Is actually an interesting combination of textures not to mention flavors that includes marinated shrimp and duck mixed with disposed banana flowers, mint, basil, peanuts, onions, cucumbers, and also daikon radish tossed inside a house-made dressing. You can also find that on the menu towards Indochine.
Carolina Shrimp Summer Rolls at Catch
I’m always on the lookout when chef Keith Rhodes brings out this specific because I love his version of one associated with my favorite meals. His take on summer rolls usually incorporates local seafood and veggies and he really makes the most of them for the best visual appeal. This edition includes baby greens, mint, cucumber, carrot and strawberry chili sauce.
Coq Au Vin at Epicurean Bistro
Call me a Francophile, but I used to be excited to try some of the classic French food at this new restaurant near Wrightsville Seaside. This chicken stew, using perfectly cooked veggies sitting atop a mound regarding gruyere-mashed potatoes and a pool of satisfying sauce, actually delivered.
So , it’s true, there was lots of great food items this year — including things that aren’t on this list. Yet I’m also already considering a wish list of recipes and bites I’d still like to try. Let me know what I should add for next year.
Allison Ballard is the food and dining reporter at the StarNews. You can reach her at [email protected] com .