North Carolina is a foodie paradise. You’ll find inventive, unique and locally-sourced restaurants in Asheville, fine dining at the top of a mountain, and even amazing eateries located in unassuming small towns. Nearly everywhere in North Carolina is home to a few amazing restaurants. But with so many to choose from – how does one even choose? Well, these 25 are an absolute MUST TRY, guaranteed to give you that ‘once in a lifetime’ experience.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Mateo, Durham
Mateo appears on almost every food blog as one of the best restaurants in North Carolina. Mixing Spanish tapas with a southern touch...you'll get the best of both worlds in this extremely trendy and delicious restaurant.
2. Artisanal, Banner Elk
Artisanal uses a farm-to-table approach sourcing the freshest local ingredients for tasty, unique dishes. Make sure to grab a table May-Nov when Artisanal is open.
3. Rhubarb, Asheville
Rhubarb is an award-winning, chic Asheville eatery that specializes in farm-to-table American fare. Stop by on Sunday nights for the 'supper menu.'
4. Kindred, Davidson
Set among the quaint downtown district of Davidson, Kindred came on the scene and quickly rose to fame. This 'chef-driven' restaurant has an ever-changing menu that focuses on seasonal ingredients.
5. Herons, Cary
Located in an upscale hotel setting, Herons is perfect for a chic, five-star date night.
6. Angus Barn, Raleigh
Angus Barn is an amazing steakhouse in a unique location. If you're looking for that perfect medium rare filet, go here!
7. Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro
Exotic, creative, and unique cuisine awaits your taste buds in this rustic yet cozy farmhouse restaurant and hotel outside of Chapel Hill.
8. The Dining Room, Biltmore
Everyone deserves an elegant, five-star experience at least once. The Dining Room is perfect for that. All meat is farm-raised and the veggies come straight from the garden.
9. Chef and the Farmer, Kinston
You might have seen Chef and the Farmer on PBS...but behind the scenes, this amazing restaurant is worth the 2-3 month wait. Chef and the Farmer is the perfect mix of subtle southern cuisine with a uniquely elegant approach.
10. Snappy Lunch, Mt. Airy
Snappy Lunch is half the experience and half the amazing food. You'll get the Mayberry vibe with Andy Griffith regalia adorning the walls. But you MUST order a pork chop sandwich!
11. B's BBQ, Greenville
If you're looking for some of the best Eastern style Q in the state...B's BBQ should be top of your list!
12. Ryan's Restaurant, Winston-Salem
Ryan's is a steak with a view. Located amidst dense greenery, you'll love the cozy setting. Ryan's pairs delicious dishes with an extensive wine menu. It's perfect for date night, celebrating with friends and family, or a Friday night out.
13. The Gamekeeper Restaurant and Bar, Boone
You haven't experienced high country dining until you've tried Gamekeeper.
Specializing in a wide selection of game, this rustic mountain eatery is a mingling of elegance and Appalachia charm.
14. The Copper Door, Hayesville
The Copper Door is a quality steakhouse that won't break your budget. Intimate yet rustic, it's perfect for date night.
15. On the Square, Tarboro
Located in one of the oldest towns in the state, On the Square specializes in urban-inspired dishes minus the urban setting. Their fresh, ever-changing menu always offers something new. On the Square is a perfect mix of fine dining, yet comfortable and approachable.
16. Lexington Barbecue, Lexington
Located in the birthplace of Lexington BBQ, 'the honemonk' is THE place to stop for the best Lexington style Q.
17. Cúrate, Asheville
There's no denying Asheville is a foodie haven. One must-stop is Cúrate. Enjoy uniquely delicious spanish inspired tapas.
18. Amos Mosquito's, Atlantic Beach
On your next trip to the Crystal Coast...you must try Amos Mosquito's. Everything (besides the ketchup) is made from scratch in-house or locally sourced. It's a meal you won't forget. Not to mention the waterside patio is perfect for summer nights.
19. Heritage Food & Drink, Waxhaw
While Charlotte has plenty of amazing restaurants, you won't mind driving to the suburbs to try Heritage. All ingredients are locally sourced and the plating is a pure work of art.
20. Colington Cafe, Kill Devil Hills
Colington is consistently ranked as the number one dining spot on the Outer Banks. You'll find it nestled beneath 300-year-old oak trees. Colington specializes in elegant dishes without sacrificing traditional, comfortable roots. Order up some fresh seafood and experience the best OBX has to offer.
21. Dame's Chicken and Waffles, Durham
If you're a lover of chicken and waffles, or just soulful southern comfort food...Dame's should be top of your list. So much deliciousness!
22. Price's Chicken Coop, Charlotte
And for some of the best fried chicken you'll ever have in your life...you have to visit the famous Price's in the Queen City.
23. Johnson's Drive-In, Siler City
This no-frills, straight up joint is like stepping back in time. There's plenty of award-winning 'burger restaurants' in North Carolina...but the best one you'll find in the state is at Johnson's.
24. River's End Restaurant, Bryson City
For a restaurant with a view, River's End is one of the best. Located at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, each seat promises a riverside view.Enjoy classic breakfast dishes like Fontana Hash Browns, or a hearty lunch after a morning of kayaking.
25. Fiction Kitchen, Raleigh
For some of the best vegan and vegetarian dishes you'll find in the Tar Heel state...you have to try Fiction Kitchen.
What did you think of our list? Did your favorite make the cut? Tell us in the comments!