The International Food Trail in Jacksonville NC

If you like to eat and you like to travel, then you are going to love a little project I’ve been working on for a year or two now. It’s a culinary adventure I’ve mentioned in these digital pages before; but today, I wanted to take time to day to tell you more about it. And, as it is the “Year of the Trail”, in North Carolina, to introduce you, again, to the International Food Trail in Jacksonville, NC .

From the Okinawan menu at Aji Ichiban – Taste of Okinawa, the traditional Pork Belly Soup. This dish takes three days to prepare and the deep rich flavors the result are warm and satisfying. 

As a free-lance food and travel writer, I’m always working. If it’s not a “Three-Day Weekend” plan, its a food-centric post of one kind or another. Several years ago I was a guest of the Visit Jacksonville NC Tourist’s Bureau. As a result of that visit, I wrote this article about things to see, do and eat in when you visit Jacksonville, NC.

Jacksonville’s waterways and Memorial Gardens are beautiful, but for me , the food made this travel destination a stand out. After we left, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the flavors.

Cuban Sandwiches made with Cuban bread, pernil (Puerto Rican pulled pork), ham, American Swiss, pickle and mustard from La Cocina Del Coqui Restaurant & Food Truck, on the Visit Jacksonville NC “Trail”

Eating my way through Jacksonville NC

Then, in June of 2022, and again, in March of 2023, I worked with my good friend Susan Dosier of DK Communications, and partnered with the team at Visit Jacksonville NC, to initially write and then again to expand the list of delicious reasons to go, stay, and eat your way through the city.

Find Sushi at many stops along the “Trail” among them Hakata Japanese Steakhouse, Sushi & Ramen

Working together, we searched out, planned and ate at a number of restaurants across Onslow County. Each one featuring a different authentic international cuisine.

Food writer, Heidi Billotto, left, with Susan Dosier of DK Communications, working our way through the Jacksonville NC International Food Trail. This stop was at Mandarin Asian Bistro.

My appetite to taste it all was driven by Visit Jacksonville NC’s mission: To create an international dining guide highlighting all of these fabulous family restaurants. I’m proud to say the result is the International Food Trail of Jacksonville NC

The International Food Trail of Jacksonville NC now boasts 26 different dining spots along the way.

You’ll find it all here, from Carne Asada Fries to Filipino baked goods, from Japanese short ribs to Jamaican beef patties, from Mexican Ceviche to Cuban sandwiches.  All of these hidden gems are dining destinations, well worth discovering. And, all are reason enough to stop to enjoy the international flair in this North Carolina coastal area

You’re Going To Eat This Up

Crunchy Japanese Nachos from Sake Asian Fusion, on the International Food Trail in Jacksonville NC

When it comes to our international food trail, the words “will travel for food” take on a whole new meaning. Come dine with us in Jacksonville and Onslow County, North Carolina. 

From the VisitJacksonvilleNC International Food Trail
Braised Ox Tail, Plantains, Beef Patties, Collards, Peas and Rice and a Soursop Slushy all from West Indian Cuisine, on the “Trail” at

Jacksonville boasts cultural ties from around the world. The city really is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. The reason? Jacksonville NC is also home to the US Marine Corps Base Camp Lejuene. Marines are stationed around the world. As they return to the US, their family’s bring back the culture of homelands far away.

To learn more about the food, simply follow the trail. And, as the Visit Jacksonville NC website suggests, “map out your own culinary mission.”

Jacksonville NC’s International Food Trail Tells a Story

Food writer, Heidi Billotto L, and Mama from Jacksonville, NC’s West Indian Kitchen

Nearly all of the restaurants on the trail are family-owned and operated. Several are veteran-owned. Several are woman-owned. All of them are true gems – just like the people who own and run them.

In the International Food Trail listings at , you’ll find tips for best bets along the way. Under the West Indian Kitchen listing, my “tip” is to try to spend time chatting with this woman. She the force behind the restaurant, known to everyone as “Mama.”

Like Mama, each of these restaurant owners has a wonderful story to share. About their food, their culture and how they share it all with customers and friends every day. Go see them all soon. #TellThemHeidiSentYou

Read more about the Jacksonville NC International Food Trail here.

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