Whether it's family weekend, move-in day, or just an excuse for a quick getaway, your parents are bound to visit you in college. Even though my mom loves a good Cookout tray, sometimes you have to branch out beyond the drive-thru line. Use this list to pretend like you haven't spent your entire college career eating fast food and Wag, and maybe even eat a vegetable or two. Either way, check out these restaurants that will impress your parents, guaranteed to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

1. Catch

Like the name says, they specialize in seafood. What better place to get fresh seafood than the coast? They are always changing their menu to take advantage of seasonal ingredients, and you can bet they are cooking up more than just the typical fish and chips. Their calamari was everything calamari should be: the perfect balance of crunchy breading and delectable fish served with a variety of sauces made for the ideal appetizer. With options ranging from crab cakes to fresh, local grilled fish, Catch is bound to impress your parents.

2. Beer Barrio

tacos, cheese
Casey Auch

Combine killer tacos with craft beer and you get the glorious restaurant that is Beer Barrio. Only open a couple of years, and already a staple in Wilmington restaurant life, they have made an impression on the community. Get the catfish hush puppies for a delicious Wilmington seafood twist to the classic Southern staple. With $5 gourmet tacos with all sorts of fillings from catfish to carne asada to tequila grilled chicken, there is something for even the pickiest of eaters.

#SpoonTip: They have limited seating inside and a few tables outside so be sure to call and make a reservation or go during the not-so-busy hours. 

3. The District Kitchen & Cocktails

If you forgot to make a reservation, this one's for you. The District Kitchen & Cocktails is a little off the beaten path near Downtown Wilmington, but is not to be missed. From seafood to steaks to fancy cocktails, everything is carefully crafted with you in mind. I ordered the Pan-Roasted Scottish Salmon and was blown away by the thoughtful pairing of ingredients and the way they merged in my mouth to make me want more. If you or your parents love a good mixed drink, District Kitchen is the place to go. They take normal drinks like a Manhattan and kick it up a notch flavor wise. Even my dad, who rarely deviates from his usual Bourbon and ginger ale, was delighted with the Manhattan. Stop by District Kitchen for a one-of-a-kind meal in a more relaxed part of town and be blown away by the unique and exceptional flavors of their food and drinks.

4. Sweet n Savory Cafe

While mainly known for their breakfast, Sweet n Savory Cafe has a delicious dinner as well. The atmosphere my parents and I were greeted by was intimate and quiet, which let us converse and catch up, which was much needed. Our waiter was even able to spend extra time explaining his favorite dishes and giving us recommendations. We unknowingly were seated next to the owner, who recommended an unique Asian-style citrus pork dish. I took a leap of faith and tried it, and I have been dreaming of it ever since. Definitely don't skip dessert here. With several different homemade brownies with ice cream to chose from, we indulged in a custom dessert that certainly did not disappoint. Parent approved.

5. Ceviche's

From the outside, Ceviche's doesn't look like much. However, this small restaurant takes you and your taste buds on a journey to Panama and makes you never want to leave. They serve local seafood infused with the culture their owner brought back from his childhood in Panama. If you have never had Panamanian food before, you are in for a wake up call. Panamanian spices and cooking techniques makes their dishes out of the ordinary and out of this world. Try the Calienta Tuna or Ropa Vieja for a dinner that won't disappoint. Your mom and dad are bound to be impressed.

#SpoonTip: For a vegan option, try the Frijoles y Arroz.

6. Brasserie du Soleil

French food is hard to come by in Wilmington, but the Brasserie hits the mark, and hits it right. Try the Crab and Shrimp Crêpe, or the Boeuf Bourguignon for a classic French feel. However, the reason my parents and I keep going back is the build your own salad option. Each table is equipped with a slip of paper for you to choose your salad ingredients, from the type of greens to the dressing and everything in between. Gourmet toppings like candied pecans and poached pears allow you to go in a more fruity direction, while gorgonzola and bacon can send you on a heavier and heartier path. Either way, this French spot is parent approved.

7. Pilot House

Pilot House is by far my parents' favorite restaurant in Wilmington. They love the outdoor seating on the water in addition to the incredible seafood. Not into seafood? Try the vegetable primavera which is also vegan, but doesn't skimp on flavor. The staff is very accommodating to food allergies and preferences; they will go above and beyond to provide you with the best meal possible. Be sure to get some appetizers and desserts too. Be sure to start with the crab dip and end with the cheesecake.


chicken, salad
Lena Moriarty

There aren't many places in Wilmington that have great breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Bring your parents here to woo them at any time of the day. I always go with the signature breakfast, which allows you to choose from 3 options for your toppings and 3 options for your base. My go-to is the potato hash base with a sunny side up egg and Castro toppings (pulled pork, jalapeño, black beans, and cheddar), and I'm never disappointed. With ample outdoor seating, bring the 'rents to soak up the warm Wilmington sun and enjoy a delicious meal.

9. South Beach Grill

Whenever my mom and her pals visit Wrightsville, the always make sure to stop at South Beach Grill. They have outdoor seating so you can overlook the sound while munching on all sorts of food, from seafood to meat to pasta dishes. Their food is the perfect blend of classic Southern dishes and fresh, local seafood. They have a sign hanging inside that tells you exactly where the food is coming from that day, so you know it's always fresh and local. Don't miss out on the Seafood Mac&Cheese that I'm still dreaming about three years post food coma. Also, don't miss out on the fried black-eyed peas. Just trust me.

So, if your parents are like mine and want something to eat that doesn't come in a brown paper bag, refer to this list for the go-to parent friendly places in Wilmington. Wherever you go, whatever you eat, as long as it's from one of these places, it is bound to impress your parents.