There’s no doubt North Carolina is one of the top foodie destinations in the nation. Between Asheville’s innovative dining scene, five-star options in Charlotte, and classic southern fare found throughout the state – North Carolina, in a nutshell, is a melting pot of chef creations and a melody of flavors.
With so many options, it can be hard to decide if that two-hour wait or month-away reservation is really worth it. But, these ten restaurants listed below are the real deal.
1. Kindred, Davidson
Kindred is a 'chef-driven' restaurant with an ever-changing menu. Their A+ social media presence plus seriously delicious food helped their popularity rise to a national level within only a year of being open. The menu changes to highlight seasonal ingredients, but one staple you must try is the made in-house milk bread.
2. Passion8, Charlotte
Each night, ten lucky diners are seated behind a draped curtain and sat at Chef Luca's table. Not too far away you'll catch a glance of Chef Luca in action. If you're looking for an easier way to try this popular restaurant, go for brunch! The beignets are the house specialty and range from malt cider bourbon to caramel peach. Check their Facebook page to see which beignet is featured this weekend.
3. Heritage Food and Drink, Waxhaw
Unassumingly located in Waxhaw, you'll find Heritage. A restaurant that could very well thrive in the nearby Queen City, but chooses to focus on market-driven practices and a scenic location--ringing true to its name of 'heritage.' There's no frills here, just simple, creative, and sometimes genius dishes that await the senses. The location doesn't matter, plenty of people make the drive to Waxhaw to get a taste of Chef Paul's creations.
4. Cúrate, Asheville
You don't have to travel to Spain to experience authentic tapas, or small plates, you'll just have to travel to Asheville (and make your reservation in advance). The ever popular Cúrate sealed its mark as a top foodie destination in Asheville. You can start easy with a charcuterie board, or dive headfirst with pane con tomate. Ringing true to the Spanish, and tapas spirit, come with a large group to get a taste of everything.
5. Colington Cafe, Kill Devil Hills
If you're taking a summer beach trip, book your table at Colington at least a month in advance. From pop-in tourist to devoted locals, word is out and everyone wants a seat. But can you really blame them? Especially judging off the quality and freshness of the seafood, most caught in the inner banks. The presentation of dishes is unique and retains French touches. But there's still plenty of relaxed coastal charm in the food and atmosphere.
6. Table 16 Restaurant, Greensboro
Overlooking South Elm St. Table 16 is an example of what Greensboro was and what it will be. Diners fill in the cozy dining area as large, floor-to-ceiling windows provide an exceptional view of the street. Oh, and certain, lucky diners will be seated at Table 16, located right beside the window on an elevated platform. But you'll be more focused on the food. The artistic and delicious dishes invigorate the senses. One bite, you'll certainly see why Table 16 is perhaps the best restaurant in Greensboro. My suggestion is to do the four course tasting menu to try a bit of everything.
7. Beasley's Chicken and Honey, Raleigh
Chef Ashley Christensen, named 2014 Best Chef in the Southeast (by James Beard Foundation) continues to make her mark on the Triangle food scene. Beasley's Chicken and Honey rings true to its name, southern food, fried, sweet, and absolutely delicious. On any given weekend, there will be a line out the door, but your best bet is to try and snag a seat at the bar. Also, the underground Fox Liquor Bar is located below the restaurant and a great option for grabbing a pre-dinner craft cocktail while you wait. What staple dish should you try? The chicken and waffles, of course!
8. Snappy Lunch, Mount Airy
Come lunchtime, a long line begins to form outside of this Mayberry classic. While all options are equally appealing, you must try the famous Pork Chop Sandwich served 'all the way.' It's been called 'the best sandwich in North Carolina,' and I have to agree.
9. Dan'l Boone Inn Restaurant, Boone
Some of these restaurants might be new to you, but hopefully you've heard of the famous Dan'l Boone. Breakfast, lunch, dinner...you're guaranteed a wait...especially during "leaf season," home football games, and well...any weekend. But it's worth it. With simple, uncomplicated southern dishes that rival Grandma's cooking, see for yourself why this restaurant has been a landmark since 1959.
10. Catch, Wilmington
Catch certainly has an unassuming exterior. One might not even think Chef Keith Rhodes was a Top Chef contestant. But he has created one of the best seafood restaurants in the state. The interior, decorated in hues of blue, oozes 'casual seafood restaurant,' but the dishes are anything but. Each plate is a work of art and the flavor makes a lasting impression.
What did you think of our list? Have you dined at any of these restaurants? Any places you would add? Tell us in the comments!