North Carolina is a state brimming with culture. We have our own vocab, our own ways of being, and even our own special dishes that are truly ‘classic Carolina.’ If you’re a North Carolinian or just passing through, you must try these 14 dishes to get the full Carolina experience.
1. Lexington style BBQ.
North Carolina has two different types of BBQ, and in my opinion, they're both equally delicious in their own unique way. Lexington style uses vinegar-based 'red sauce' seasoned with ketchup, vinegar, pepper and other various styles. It's common in the Piedmont and western region of the state.
2. Eastern style BBQ.
On the other end of the spectrum is Eastern style. Eastern uses the whole hog (except the squeal) and is vinegar and pepper-based with no ketchup whatsoever. Every North Carolinian has their favorite - but for each one, don't forget a side of slaw and hushpuppies to make the meal complete!
3. Livermush and eggs.
Livermush is about as 'NC cuisine' as you can get. I'll skip the details of what exactly goes into making livermush. But a lot of North Carolinians like to eat it with eggs or as a sandwich. We even have a livermush festival.
4. Sweet Potato Pie
North Carolina is the number one producer of sweet potatoes in the nation. So of course, you have to try sweet potato pie! Some like theirs topped with marshmallows and others prefer plain. Either way, it's a tasty Carolina treat.
5. Cheerwine Float
Another tasty Carolina treat is a Cheerwine float. It doesn't matter where you get it from, or even if you make it at home, this is a quintessential Carolina. Yum!
6. Carolina style burger or hot dog.
You can't go wrong with Carolina style - chili, slaw, onions, and add cheese or mustard if you prefer (I always add cheese and mustard).
7. Deviled eggs
At any North Carolina get together, holiday, or party, you're sure to find deviled eggs. They're delicious, creamy, and sometimes have a little kick. If you always looked at them and thought 'eh,' what are you waiting for?! You'll be hooked! Also, no one makes them quite like Grandma.
8. Tomato and mayonnaise sandwich.
In North Carolina, BLTs can move over cause we have the sandwich algorithm already figured out. A great summer treat is a tomato and mayo sandwich. Preferably made with homegrown tomatoes, white bread, some cracked pepper, and a healthy dollop of Duke's mayo (or your favorite mayo). Mmmm.
9. Peanut butter banana sandwich (add mayo if you wish).
Another awesome sandwich combo - your classic PB and banana but with a southern twist - a bit of mayo. Sounds weird, tastes delicious.
10. Fried green tomatoes.
Fried green tomatoes are very much a southern dish. But once you cross the Mason-Dixon they're hard to find. I prefer mine with pimento cheese; others like them dipped in ranch. Either way, this southern treat is amazingly good.
11. Pimento cheese and literally anything.
Pimento cheese is one of those things you take for granted. It's easy to think you'll find it anywhere but it is largely a NC and SC thing. I love mine with crackers, but others prefer to put it on sandwiches or use it as a topping for dishes.
12. Appalachian Kilt Lettuce
Kilt lettuce is an Appalachian tradition. Hot lettuce, tossed with vinegar, bacons, and sometimes onions (like
) is best served with pinto beans and cornbread.
13. Texas Pete and eggs.
In NC, we love to put the Winston-Salem born Texas Pete on anything. It goes especially well with eggs for a spicy breakfast.
14. Cornbread and milk
Cornbread is already extremely delicious on its own, but when you add a cup of milk to wash it all down, things really get yummy.
North Carolina, and really the south in general, is full of interesting yet delicious food combinations. They might seem daunting to an outsider, but trust us, we have good taste! Did your favorite dishes make the list? If not, which ones should we add?