The Jacksonville NC International Food Trail

Back in June of 2022, I “did a thing.” If you follow me on social media or the pages of this blog, then you know I talk and write a lot about my food-centric travel. Well, this project was all that and more. I searched out, ate at and wrote about a number of restaurants, each one featuring a different authentic international cuisine in Jacksonville, NC. My appetite to taste it all was driven by the mission to create a dining guide now known as the Jacksonville NC International Food Trail.

When I say, ” a number of restaurants”, the project prep entailed several weeks of in depth research followed by three days of actually eating my way through menus at 27 different restaurants in Jacksonville and surrounding Onslow County. Then, I narrowed my findings to a baker’s dozen. The thirteen different restaurants, each one offers some sort of authentic international cuisine. They are all fun finds you are going to love.

The result is the Jacksonville NC International Food Trail, now published on the Visit JacksonvilleNC website. Most of the restaurants on the trail are family-owned and operated. Several are veteran-owned. All of them are hidden gems you will want to try ASAP.

Set your sites on a culinary adventure the next time you visit Jacksonville, NC with a check-in at any of the stops on the city’s 2022 International Food Trail. The words, “Will Travel for Food” are about to take on a whole new meeting.

Take a Friend, It’s More Fun with Two

As one cannot eat and drink alone – well, one could, but it’s more fun with two – I took my cousin Nina Contino along for the ride.

Our three day culinary adventure included coffee ( Nina helped me to develop a true appreciation for a double espresso) with multiple stops for breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings each day. We also managed to squeeze in some shopping along the way!

FUN FAQ: While I am not in any of the photos for the food trail – it really is all about the food – Nina is fond of wearing purple and teal and so if you look closely in many of the food shots, you’ll see her colorful attire in the background.

Where to Stay When You Go To Eat Along Jacksonville NC’s International Food Trail

We stayed at the lovely Staybridge Suites in Jacksonville. The rooms here are all suites and each includes a kitchen. The full-sized refrigerator was a must for us as our mission entailed lots of leftovers and to-go boxes. Also one of the bedrooms included a desk – a must have amenity if you are a food and travel writer, but also nice to have whenever you are working remotely. The hotel is centrally located among restaurants and shopping and was a great place to call our home base for this trip.

International Roots mean Delicious Offerings From Around the World

Jacksonville, NC locals can boast roots from around the world. Marines and their families come to serve at Jacksonville’s Camp Lejeune. While troops are deployed family members often open restaurants and bakeries to share what they know, celebrating the foods of their homelands. This makes Jacksonville NC’s culinary footprint one with a variety of authentic choices and an array of international dining experiences.

From relaxing dine-in to quick and easy drive-thru options, you will find an atmosphere to suit every occasion. There are flavors for every palate and lots of fun to be had as you make plans for food-centric travel along the Jacksonville NC International Food Trail.

Don’t ask me for my favorite, it would be so hard to say and I do love them all. But, I can’t wait to hear what you liked best.

What You Can Expect to Find

If you are looking for the real deal, Jacksonville NC is the place to be. From classic Filipino food, to real Cuban coffee. Homemade Colombian arepas to traditional Thai favorites. From Mediterranean tabouli to Mexican ceviche. It’s all there from sweet to savory. Think Mexican popsicles, Liege Belgium waffles, Jamaican braised oxtail, Peruvian Chicken, fried yuca and oodles of Vietnamese noodles.

I won’t list all the restaurants on this page, because I really want you to go to the trail’s site. But, I can tell you, oh my, you are going to love every single bite! You’ll find the list of each of the restaurants here. Along with each listing find my pro tips and best bites for each and every place on the trail. And, there is a map, so you won’t get lost along the way. #TellThemHeidiSentYou

Do you know of an Onslow County or Jacksonville NC international restaurant, food truck or dining experience we should include in the next installment? Be sure to let me know in the comments below – I’m working on my to-try-next list.

Eat your way through the International Food Trail, Enter a Photo and Win

Have you recently eaten at any of the restaurants on Jacksonville NC International Food Trail? If so there is a fun photo contest you can enter. Just, post a picture on Facebook or Instagram from any International Food Trail restaurant.

Your post is your entry to win. In the offing: a free night at Staybridge Suites Jacksonville-Camp Lejeune Area ; and, a two-hour scenic cruise for four from Marsh Cruises. (Read more about the fun we had aboard one of Marsh Cruises outings here. )

To enter the contest, simply use the #IntertationalFoodTrailJNC hashtag when you post the explanation to your photo. It would be great if you tag the restaurant as well, ’cause you always want to share the love!

If you’d like, tag me and I’ll be glad to share your experience in my stories. Winner will be announced by Visit Jacksonville NC on November 14, 2022.

Celebrating Veterans and Honoring Those Who Have Served

So, go for the food, most definitely; but as I am publishing this on 11/11/22, lets talk a bit about Veterans Day. File this under “What To Do When You Visit Jacksonville NC.”

The city of Jacksonville NC pulls out all the stops each year, to honor the heroes who have served this country Much of the 2022 celebrations took place the weekend of Nov 4-5, including parades, tributes and the annual Freedom Fountain Observance.

The Freedom Fountain, located at 895 New Bridge Street, honors all those who passed through Jacksonville in service to their country. The breathtaking fountain features 54 jets representing the 50 states, the three branches of government and one center jet representing our service members.

In addition, Jacksonville’s Veterans Day festivities this year, included the 2nd annual Onslow County Veterans Pow Wow. This festival not only educates but celebrates the heritage and tribal customs of the native Americans who proudly served our country.

If you missed all of these festivities, be sure to put the weekend on your calendar for next year.

But know that, one of the wonderful things about visiting Jacksonville NC is that our nation’s veterans are honored here, each and every day. As I mentioned, Jacksonville is the home to the US Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune. This week, the Corps celebrates it‘s 247th anniversary, as well as Veterans Day.

Sites to See Before and After You Eat

Lejeune Memorial Gardens, located at 109 Montford Landing Road in Jacksonville, NC is a must stop any time you visit. Plus you might need to take a little walk between meals. Take some thoughtful time to stop and honor our nation’s veterans here, any time of the year.

Photo Courtesy of Visit Jacksonville NC

In the Gardens you will see the largest 3-D Eagle, Globe & Anchor statue, the symbol of the US Marine Corps. These gardens were first built as a salute to those who lost in the 1983 Beirut Bombing. All of them marines stationed in Jacksonville NC. The lost shook the city then, and still does today.

Since then, the gardens have become home to the national Montford Point Marine Memorial, saluting the first black Marines. Their story is an important one for us to remember and share.

You can read more about the Montford Marines here. If you are related to someone who may have been a Montford Marine, these unsung, then underappreciated heroes are now being recognized and honored with Purple Heart Medals. Learn more here.

The nation’s second largest Vietnam memorial, the Onslow Vietnam Veterans Memorial is here, as well. The names of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice are etched in the glass wall which surrounds the memorial.

In addition, you’ll see an actual beam from the towers that were destroyed in our nation’s 9/11 tragedy. This is now a salute to those who lost their lives and to the troops, fireman and policemen who went to assist and give aid.

Walk the Gardens, Come in Peace

Learn more as you walk by taking advantage of the Garden’s new audio tours. You’ll get the story and the history of each stop along the way. Simply use your phone to scan the QR codes at each memorial in the gardens.

Go from now till Nov 13, and you will also see the Veterans Walk of Honor. Submissions for Veterans are accepted throughout the year. Then, this week photos of those who have served our country, are placed on signs posted along the garden walkways.

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