When it comes to deciding where to eat for a night out, usually popular spots in your city or town, or even chain restaurants, come to mind. Yet, if you live in bigger cities or even smaller ones, there’s sure to be several amazing restaurants hiding throughout neighborhoods. Some of these only the locals know, while others have gained statewide attention. For a unique experience and unforgettable meal, try these 10!
1. Sunny Point Cafe, Asheville
Located in West Asheville, I was first taken to Sunny Point by a local, who described it as one of the best-kept secrets to a killer brunch in the Asheville area. That was some years ago, and today, the word has certainly gotten out. Yet, Sunny Point still retains a neighborhood vibe with a mix of locals and travelers seated in the gorgeous patio waiting for a seat inside. The menu is typical, American breakfast fare, but this is Asheville, so you can be sure most of the ingredients are locally-sourced and GMO free. It really is one of the best breakfasts not only in Asheville, but North Carolina.
2. Panciuto, Hillsborough
While Hillsborough is more its own town than a 'neighborhood' it's safe to say that this award-winning restaurant is overshadowed by those with a more central location to Raleigh. Mixing Italian dishes with a southern touch, it's worth the drive from the city to try some unique cuisine in a cushy and relaxing atmosphere.
3. Goody Goody Omelete House, Wilmington
If you're just passing through, Goody Goody is a place you'd never see and think 'I'm going to eat there.' Yet, it's been a neighborhood favorite and local gem since 1977. Many of the same families come here each Sunday for a hearty breakfast. And it's not only a great neighborhood restaurant - it's also one of the best breakfast places you'll find in North Carolina.
4. Futo Buta, Charlotte
Located in the South End neighborhood of Charlotte, Futo Buta is the place for the best ramen and sashimi in Charlotte. While the South End neighborhood retains a city vibe, with sweeping views of Uptown and plenty of tall buildings, Futo Buta can easily be missed. It's nestled on the first floor beneath condos, on the corner, it faces the Light Rail, and you'll have to do a little walking to find it.
5. Art's Place, Kill Devil Hills
For over 30 years, Art's Place has been one of the best-kept secrets of the OBX. If you're asking, where do the locals go? It's here. Art's quite possibly has one of the best burgers in North Carolina. The simple, neighborhood vibe is quite different from the tourist-feel found throughout the OBX. But, get a burger!
6. Ward's Dairy Bar and Grill, Saluda
In such a small town like Saluda, pretty much any restaurant is deemed a 'neighborhood spot.' Yet, one has been around since the 1950's and still exudes all of that classic charm. The menu is pretty simple here, with burgers, sandwiches and even a milkshake to finish it off. It's half great food and half atmosphere. If you really want to dine with the locals, come in for a hearty breakfast.
7. Roxxi & Lulu's Bistro and Bakery, Elkin
Yelp / Laura G.
When thinking of a place you 'must try' in North Carolina, the dining scene of Elkin is one of the last to come to mind. Yet, this small town hides a truly amazing gem that really only the locals know about. The attention to detail, fresh ingredients, simple approach yet with really amazing food is what you'll get here. It's a true gem of the Yadkin Valley region. You also can't leave without trying the sonker, a Surry County specialty dessert. It's like a cobbler with a more cake-base batter. Their recipe was handed down through the generations and is made via stovetop in a cast iron pan. It's seriously delicious.
8. The Carving Board, Winston-Salem
Located in the Thruway Shopping Center, close to both Ardmore and Buena Vista neighborhoods in Winston-Salem, this little hidden gem is a favorite for locals. When you walk inside, you're greeted by a large glass display packed to the brim with delicious cold pastas, salads, potato salad, coleslaw, tomatoes...really everything. If you're looking for a filling option, there's also a sandwich menu to choose from. The restaurant is seat yourself and after you pick all of your veggies and pastas, you pay at the counter. It's a great place for lunch or dinner and even grabbing a pound of chicken or pasta salad to go.
9. Lindley Park Filling Station, Greensboro
Located amongst residential houses and quaint streets, Lindley Park seems to have been dropped directly into the center of a neighborhood. It's perfect if you're looking for a hearty dinner in a relaxed environment. With a wide array of salads, wraps and sandwiches too, it's great to grab a quick but filling bite if you want to try it out.
10. The Fig Tree, Charlotte
In the charming Elizabeth neighborhood of Charlotte, The Fig Tree is in the historic Lucas House and can almost feel like upscale dining, right at home. With high end menu options, it's perfect for a romantic date night or special occasion. On a nice night, the large, covered front porch is perfect for dining on. You have great views of the park across the street. The Fig Tree has also consistently been ranked as one of the best restaurants in Charlotte, so you know it's going to be good.
I’m officially starving. I love the fact that each of these restaurants offer something different, but still retain that cozy neighborhood feel. Have you dined at any of these before, or want to add any to the list?
While some of these restaurants fly totally under the radar, there are even more little-known culinary adventures waiting to be had in North Carolina.
These 10 restaurants in North Carolina are hard to find, but totally worth it.