From tiny little barbeque joints to five-star cuisine, North Carolina is perfect for the diverse foodie. Gathering collective research from several sources, including my taste buds, I’ve put together a list of the most delicious, and chart-topping restaurants in the Tar Heel state. In no particular order, here are twenty restaurants guaranteed to make your taste buds explode!
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. Artisanal Restaurant, Banner Elk
Open May-November, this rustic yet elegant restaurant uses only the freshest ingredients with a farm-to-table approach.
2. Wilbers Barbeque, Goldsboro
You'll be in hog heaven at this casual, cozy, and traditional BBQ joint. A must-stop on your way to the beach, this joint has been dined at by some pretty famous people, including several presidents.
3. Chef and the Farmer, Kinston
Located unassumingly in Kinston, Chef and the Farmer is the perfect mix of subtle southern cuisine with a uniquely elegant approach.
4. The Copper Door, Hayesville
A delicious steakhouse, that won't break your budget, this intimate dining experience is great for date night.
5. Johnson's Drive In, Siler City
The velveeta cheeseburger is guaranteed to melt in your mouth. The chili is top-notch and the quality of beef is indisputable.
6. The Little Dipper, Wilmington
You know what goes great with fresh-caught seafood? An array of melted, delicious goodness to dip it right into. A unique, bold, and fun dining experience, its a must-stop at least once!
7. Pigmans Bar-B-Que, Kill Devil Hills
Simple ingredients and slow-roasted pork make for the perfect beach BBQ.
8. The Dining Room, Biltmore Estate
Indulge a little and experience fine-dining at the elegant Biltmore Estate. All meat is farm-raised and the vegetables come fresh from the garden.
9. The Snappy Lunch, Mt. Airy
If Andy mentioned this restaurant to Barney on The Andy Griffith Show, then you know it's traditional NC cuisine at its best. Griffith dined here as a young boy, adding to the memorabilia and relic-experience of this diner. Casual, delicious, and 'snappy' this southern food is unbeatable.
10. The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro
Exotic, creative, and unique cuisine awaits your taste buds in this rustic yet cozy farmhouse restaurant outside of Chapel Hill.
11. Pizzeria Toro, Durham
Durham is quickly becoming the south's unique food capital. With that being said, Pizzeria Toro is a slice of heaven that puts all other pizza joints to shame.
12. Ryan's Steaks, Chops, and Seafood, Winston-Salem
A steak with a view, this beautiful, rustic wood-paneled restaurant mixes traditional steakhouse dishes with fabulous wine-pairings. Ryan's is perfect for a cozy date or for a celebration with family and friends.
13. The Gamekeeper Restaurant, Blowing Rock
You haven't experienced the high country until you've dined at The Gamekeeper. Serving, yes you guessed it, a wide selection of game, this rustic mountain eatery is a mingling of elegance and Appalachian charm.
14. Poole's Diner, Raleigh
You haven't tasted mac-n-cheese until you dip your spoon into the baked, delicious, cheesy-goodness of Poole's Diner in Raleigh.
15. Herons, Cary
As one of few AAA five-diamond restaurants, Herons has been noted as a "culinary gem." With an extensive wine list this dining experience is well worth a little saving up to savor something delicious.
17. On The Square Restaurant, Tarboro
Located in one of the oldest towns in NC, On the Square serves fresh, sustainable, and ever-changing ingredients to delight diners in a comfortable southern experience.
17. Saint Jacques French Cuisine, Raleigh
As close as you'll get to France in North Carolina, Saint Jacques is owned and operated by french native Lil Lacassagne.
18. Lexington Barbecue, Lexington
Known as the "honeymonk" by locals and straight from the birthplace of Lexington BBQ, this is a must-stop joint.
19. The Colington Cafe, Kill Devil Hills
Consistently ranked as the number one dining spot on the Outer Banks, the Colington Cafe is nesteld beneath three-hundred year old oak trees on the sound side village. Serving elegant dishes without sacrificing traditional, comfortable roots, order up some fresh seafood and experience the best OBX has to offer.
20. The Diamond Restaurant, Charlotte
The former owners of the famous Penguin flocked next door to bring southern dining cuisine to The Diamond. This little diner makes one mean veggie plate, and in NC, veggies include gooey and delicious mac-n-cheese and gravy adorned mashed potatoes.
Well, now I’m starving! Which ones are your favorite on the list, and which places not mentioned do you absolutely love?