WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – With the Azalea Festival returning this weekend, thousands of people will flock into the Port City for all the fun and events it has to offer. And with that comes a chance to explore some fantastic restaurants and watering holes. Wilmington has no shortage of offerings for every taste, from modern American fare to exquisite Italian and Southern seafood…the options are nearly endless.
I’ve tried most of what downtown has on deck, but one place that had been missing from my checklist is a crown jewel of the city’s food scene, Savorez.
Situated on the corner of 4th and Chestnut, Savorez occupies a unique, single-story corner building. Those with a keen eye will recognize the building from “Blue Velvet”, which was filmed in Wilmington in the 1980s. While that movie can only be defined as insane, the flavors on the menu at Savorez are equally bonkers.
The menu is essentially a tour of Latin America, with foods hailing from the Caribbean, Central, and South America. For starters, there are various fresh salsas available. I had trouble choosing one so I went with the sampler, good choice. Each one had a different flavor profile, and as someone who makes their own salsa regularly, I could tell everything had been prepared that day.
If you’re looking for something a little more substantial before your main course, Executive Chef and Owner Sam Cahoon’s signature “BLT Arepas” are a good starting place, or any one of the house made empanadas. That’s the route I took, and the Chorizo and Goat Cheese option was so satisfying. Each bite makes you yearn for another. The spice of the chorizo, perfectly balanced with the creaminess of the goat cheese, tucked inside a crispy shell. Toss a dollop of the black bean dipping sauce on top and I could have ate 12 of these…if not more.
But I couldn’t stop there, not with an enticing entrée menu and expertly crafted specials. A quick glance at the dinner menu and some things immediately jump out at you, a jerk braised chicken breast over coconut rice, blackened tuna with cilantro-lime quinoa, even a Latin-take on a southern classic “Shrimp N Grits,” with grilled shrimp, smothered in chorizo gravy over goat cheese polenta…how could any of that possibly be bad? For those looking for vegetarian offerings, there are several, including a mouthwatering “Vegan Rellenos.”
It took some serious effort not to pull the trigger on any of those dishes, but the nightly specials menu stole my heart. Tuna, Halibut, Scallops, all with their own unique twist. Picking a favorite was like choosing my favorite Avett Brothers song (yes, I’m a fan) but I threw my weight behind “Wahoo-Tang Clan,”
I perfectly cooked piece of Wahoo, on top of a coconut-ginger beurre blanc, chipotle-lime coulis, sweet potato-pork belly hash, grilled zucchini, grape tomato salsa and lightly fried plantains. I was speechless after the first bite…and I didn’t know if I could ever talk again besides saying “my goodness,” or “this is amazing.” It’s rare you have a dish where everything works, each fantastical part joins in harmony with the other to create not just a great meal, but an experience worth remembering long after you leave. This was one of those special treats.
Unfortunately I didn’t save room for dessert, so I can’t give you a rundown of what to choose, but if any of the other items are an example of Savorez’s excellence…I’m sure each of the sweets are top class.
So if you find yourself downtown this weekend, whether it be for the Azalea Festival concerts, the parade or waterfront markets…set aside some time to grab a bite at Savorez. You won’t regret it, and neither will your tastebuds.
1) Savorez is a small restaurant, and with that comes a limited amount of seating. Given it’s popularity, expect a wait if you arrive during prime eating hours. So put your name down and stroll through downtown, they will give you a call when it’s time to dine.
2) Instagram Eats First! The dishes at Savorez are some of the most picture-worthy you will find around town. So if you like to grab a snapshot of your food, or impress your friends, have the camera on your phone ready before you give way to a wonderful meal.
IF YOU GO:
Savorez is located at 402 Chestnut Street, Wilmington, NC 28401
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