While big cities like Raleigh and Charlotte are making their mark with a high-end, ever developing ‘foodie culture,’ I’d like to think the heart of true, delicious North Carolina cuisine lies in our small towns. Here, the food is local, made with love, and always served with a little down-home comfort. These 13 small towns might fly under the radar, but their restaurants do not.
1. Mike's Farm, Beulaville
Mike's Farm is a one-of-a-kind experience offering down-home cuisine in a family-style atmosphere with all of your southern favorites. Located on a farm, you'll have plenty to see and explore prior to your meal. With Christmas season approaching, they also have a Christmas tree farm! The front porch rocking chairs are perfect for relaxing after a big meal!
2. Artisanal Restaurant, Banner Elk
Located in a beautiful converted barn, you'll find Artisanal Restaurant. Staying true to their name, they offer farm-to-table American fare in a unique dining atmosphere.
3. Chef & The Farmer, Kinston
You might've heard of Chef and the Farmer, as they were featured on the PBS show 'A Chef's Life'. They offer unique, innovative, and upscale American fare served in a rustic yet cozy environment.
4. Hillbilly Hideaway, Walnut Cove
If you find Hillbilly Hideaway, you won't regret it! The 'home-trained' cooks dish out some of the most delectable southern cuisine. The atmosphere is family-friendly and wildly unique. Hillbilly Hideaway might just be one of the best-kept secrets in North Carolina.
5. Snappy Lunch, Mt. Airy
Snappy Lunch is no-frills, just darn good food. This local landmark and "Mayberry' classic offers delicious sandwiches, breakfast plates, and southern fare. If Andy mentioned Snappy Lunch to Barney, you know it's good!
6. Johnson's Drive In, Siler City
Grab a seat at the bar and be prepared for one of the best burgers you've ever had! The old-school diner is like stepping back to a simpler time. While here, you must try a Velveeta burger!
7. Pass the Salt, Currituck
Skip the tourist-trap restaurants and try Pass the Salt. This small restaurant is home to big flavor with classic, delicious dishes like biscuits and gravy ( I don't think you'll need to pass the salt). Plus, the bright, uniquely decorated interior sets it apart from other restaurants in the area.
8. Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro
Creative and unique American fare awaits your tastebuds in this elegant yet cozy restaurant and Inn.
9. On the Square, Tarboro
You never know what awaits you at this quaint, amazing American bistro. The menu is ever-changing but the food is always delicious.
10. Shatley Springs, Crumpler
You haven't had breakfast until you've dined at Shatley Springs. While you might be drawn to the rich, aromatic coffee, you'll find yourself falling in love with the classic southern options and delicious biscuits. Aside from breakfast, Shatley Springs is a one-stop for southern comfort food galore. The fried chicken and perfectly cooked green beans are second-best only to Momma's.
11. Big Oak Drive-In & BBQ, Salter Path
Big Oak might seem a bit unassuming with its classic, window-service exterior, but you're guaranteed to get one of the best shrimp burgers on the North Carolina coast!
12. Harvey Mansion Restaurant, New Bern
As one of the last remaining examples of the once thriving seaport of New Bern, Harvey Restaurant and Inn has stood the test of time since 1804. Today, diners enjoy a wide array of seafood, steaks, and traditional fare in this historic (and possibly haunted) mansion and Inn.
13. Sims Country Bar-B-Que, Granite Falls
Sims is about as down-home as it gets. In this 'shed' you'll find both a place for amazing bluegrass music and a restaurant with amazing BBQ. Come on the weekends for live music and a little two-step, but don't forget to try the BBQ...and vice versa!