Philadelphia’s southern neighbor, Wilmington, Delaware offers a blossoming food scene just a quick trip away. With creative eateries helmed by talented chefs, Wilmington Dining promises to impress visitors from Philly and beyond.
From upscale restaurants dishing upscale cuisine to casual food halls, coffee shops, and more, Wilmington’s culinary landscape caters to diverse tastes. Read on for the inside scoop on the top restaurants that make Wilmington well worth the visit from across the Delaware border.
An Introduction to Wilmington’s Thriving Restaurant Scene
Conveniently located right off I-95 or just a 20-minute ride via Amtrak from Philadelphia, Wilmington is closer than many Philly suburbs. As the city evolves beyond its longstanding legal and corporate roots, the restaurant scene has taken off.
An influx of new residents downtown plus Delaware’s old money set means chefs cook for a steady crowd of diners seeking urban dining experiences on par with Philadelphia and New York. The result is an impressive array of restaurants, cafes and bars to rival much larger cities.
From cozy BYOB establishments to upscale steakhouses and bistros dishing European flavors, Wilmington’s food scene impresses. Keep reading for the top places to dine, drink great coffee and enjoy a cocktail on your next Delaware getaway.
Snuff Mill Restaurant – Refined Dining in a Historic Gristmill
Housed within a converted 19th-century gristmill overlooking the Red Clay Creek, Snuff Mill Restaurant has charted the evolution of American cuisine since 1966. The graciously restored mill still features many original details like thick timber beams along with a classic menu focused on prime-aged beef and seafood.
Signature dishes range from crab cakes with whole grain mustard sauce to veal Oscar with jumbo lump crabmeat to the utterly decadent 24-layer chocolate cake. The wine list offers over 200 labels to complement your meal.
With a romantic ambiance thanks to flickering candles, thick stone walls and the gently flowing creek outside, Snuff Mill creates a refined escape into Delaware’s past. Its steadfast quality and intimacy explain the faithful crowds still flocking here decades later.
View this post on Instagram
La Pizzeria Metro – Authentic Italian Fare in a Laidback Setting
In Philadelphia’s “Little Italy” neighborhood, La Pizzeria Metro has slung exceptional Neapolitan-style pizza since 2005. Thankfully a second location now graces Wilmington just over the Pennsylvania border on Philadelphia Pike.
Beyond the thin, crispy crust pizzas kissed by wood-fired ovens, La Pizzeria Metro plates up homemade pasta like linguine vongole and pappardelle Bolognese using old family recipes. Save room for traditional Italian desserts like tiramisu or seasonal cobblers.
The casual trattoria ambiance matches the warm, friendly service. With red-checkered tablecloths, strings of twinkling lights and Italian tunes flowing, La Pizzeria Metro offers a festive, affordable taste of Italy done right.
Go Vegan Philly – Plant-Based Eats in a Minimalist Cafe
Proving vegan food needn’t be boring granola, Go Vegan Philly slings Instagram-worthy plant-based comfort foods from their sleek downtown cafe. Beyond veggie burgers, they craft drool-worthy vegan takes on dishes like crispy fried chicken, mac and cheese, Philly cheesesteaks and even crab cakes.
The clean, modern space with blonde wood accents makes an ideal spot for remote work between bites. And the concise menu ensures excellent execution of every item like the fan favorite GVP burger loaded with vegan cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and special sauce.
Go Vegan Philly makes plant-based cuisine exciting and approachable for all. Their creative efforts erase notions that “vegan food” means sacrificing flavor or originality.
The Chancery Market – A European-Style Food Hall in a Historic Hotel
Tucked inside downtown’s Hotel du Pont, The Chancery food hall gathers top Wilmington chefs under one elegant roof. The European-style marketplace located inside the hotel’s former wine cellar dishes a worldly mix from burgers and pizza to ramen, tacos, salads, coffee and pastries.
Visitors can sample creations from multiple vendors or linger awhile at the central bar hoisting craft brews and wine on tap. The luxe setting amid the hotel’s Gilded Age architecture makes The Chancery a destination for outstanding globally-inspired fast-casual fare.
Le Cavalier Restaurant – Trendsetting French Cuisine Alongside a Boutique Hotel
When Philadelphia’s trendsetting Le Virtu restaurant expanded into Wilmington, local foodies rejoiced at French cuisine coming to the Riverfront. The 2020 James Beard Semifinalist for Best New Restaurant, Le Cavalier brings a taste of Paris to Delaware through dishes like escargots in parsley garlic butter, trout amandine in brown butter sauce, and their signature Grand Aioli lavished with poached shrimp, vegetables and black olive tapenade.
Beyond Provençal classics, Chef Joe Cicala crafts seasonal American dishes alongside Old World techniques and his strictly French wine list. The intimate space beside The Starling Boutique Hotel creates a transportive experience worth the quick train ride down from Philly.
Wilma’s – Southern Hospitality Through Thoughtful Regional Cooking
Opened by veterans of Philadelphia’s celebrated Friday Saturday Sunday restaurant, Wilma’s pays tribute to generations of Southern cooks and the local Delaware community nourishing its owners.
The cozy, laidback atmosphere pairs perfectly with Executive Chef David Racine’s honest regional cooking like cast iron cornbread with sorghum butter, chicken and dumplings, and a show-stopping banana pudding brûlée.
Beyond familiar favorites, the menu explores broader Southern foodways in dishes like sweet potato hummus and a rotating oyster list. Wilma’s gracious service and nuanced cooking make lasting impressions through quintessential flavors.
Bardea Food & Drink – Elevated Italian Fare from an Acclaimed Chef
Helmed by Chef Antimo DiMeo, a 2020 Best Chef Mid-Atlantic semifinalist, Bardea Food & Drink brings a taste of contemporary Italian cuisine to Market Street in downtown Wilmington. Housed within a chic industrial space, the restaurant interweaves traditional techniques with modern sensibilities.
Seasonal appetizers like grilled octopus or bone marrow risotto pave the way for handmade pastas and wood-grilled proteins. Desserts like olive oil cake or blood orange sorbetto close the meal on a sweet note.
With an Italian-centric wine list and craft cocktails like the Bardea Negroni, the restaurant encapsulates la dolce vita sophistication. It’s no wonder Bardea already ranks among Wilmington’s top dining destinations.
Soup Noodle Soup – Asian Comfort Food Inside a Casual Ramen Pop-Up
Tucked inside Wilmington’s Bardea Food & Drink, this casual ramen pop-up from chef Antimo DiMeo brings warming bowls of Asian noodle soups and snacks to cold Delaware nights. The concise menu spotlights regional ramen styles, from thick, rich Tonkotsu broth to light Shoyu with soy sauce and dashi.
Beyond ramen, chef DiMeo plates small bites like gyoza, shrimp shumai dumplings and chicken karaage fried to crispy perfection. And specialty cocktails like the Japanese Highball with whiskey and ginger ale make ideal accompaniments.
With just a few counter seats and takeout window, Soup Noodle Soup’s intimate ramen counter offers a cozy escape from winter’s chill.
The Quoin – Quintessential Gastropub Fare Inside a 19th Century Bank
Tucked inside a former 19th-century bank, The Quoin gastropub dishes elevated tavern fare alongside 24 rotating taps of craft beer. Exposed brick walls, vintage bank vaults and crystal chandeliers mingle within the expansive space centered around a U-shaped bar.
While the gastropub menu offers classic bar bites like wings, nachos and pretzels, global small plates like Korean fried cauliflower and shrimp ceviche also make appearances. Heartier pub options range from fish and chips or steak frites to Amish chicken.
With first-rate food, an emphasis on local brews and wines, and a memorable setting, The Quoin hits the mark as a lively neighborhood gastropub.
La Fia – Sophisticated Italian Dining Within a Historic Downtown Brownstone
Enveloped within a restored brownstone along Market Street, La Fia transports diners to the Italian countryside through regional rustic dishes and an award-winning all-Italian wine list. Husband and wife owners Bryan and Andrea Sikora craft a menu spanning Roman pastas to wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas perfected through extensive travels exploring Italy’s flavors.
While handmade pasta remains the heart of La Fia, wood-grilled meats and whole fish also grace the menu. And save room for Italian desserts like panna cotta or seasonal sorbettos.
From the cozy two-story dining room to romantic patio strung with lights, La Fia proffers an intimate escape to la bella vita through cuisine.
The House of William & Merry – Stylish Farm-to-Table Fare with Scandinavian Influences
Led by husband-and-wife team Chef William Pfander and Merry Catanuto, this husband-and-wife-led Hockessin restaurant blends local Mid-Atlantic ingredients with Danish sensibilities into creative New American dishes. An ever-changing menu spanning small plates, pastas, and entrees makes use of seasonal produce and ethically raised proteins.
Signatures like the Danish aebleskiver pancake starter and whole roasted chicken showcase the kitchen’s finesse. And the wine list curates Old World bottles to complement the modern seasonal menu.
With Scandinavian-inspired decor and an adjoining wine shop, The House of William & Merry teleports diners to a stylish Copenhagen cafe just off the Delaware coast. It’s a destination worth the scenic drive for a singular farm-to-table experience.
Beyond favorites like Snuff Mill Restaurant and Bardea Food & Drink, Wilmington’s dining scene continues expanding in exciting new directions. The concentration of talent and passionate diners makes Wilmington a rising food city well worth exploring beyond the famous Philly fare.
From ramen pop-ups to Southern cafes, and plant-based havens to a luxe European food hall, Wilmington offers culinary variety and execution to rival any metro. Next time hunger calls, set your GPS 20 minutes south to discover Wilmington’s flourishing food landscape.
Frequently Asked Questions About Wilmington Dining
How far is Wilmington, Delaware from Philadelphia?
Wilmington is approximately 30 miles or a 35 minute drive from Philadelphia via I-95. By train, Amtrak’s Acela service whisks riders between Philly’s 30th Street Station and Wilmington in under 20 minutes.
What is Wilmington, Delaware best known for?
As the largest city in Delaware, Wilmington is best known as a business and legal center thanks to its tax incentives and business-friendly laws. Many major banks and corporations house headquarters or satellite offices here.
Which restaurant in Wilmington is closest to the train station?
The Chancery food hall inside the elegant Hotel du Pont sits immediately across from the Wilmington Amtrak station. It offers quick access to exceptional dining for train travelers.
What is parking like around Wilmington restaurants?
Downtown Wilmington offers ample street parking and affordable parking garages near most restaurants. However, spots fill quickly during peak times. Using apps like ParkMobile can simplify payments.
Are Wilmington restaurants expensive?
Wilmington offers affordable dining options along with splurge-worthy destinations. The city caters to a range of budgets and cuisines. Even upscale venues like Bardea offer early evening prix fixe specials around $35 per person.