If you’re a North Carolina native, you know it is a foodie paradise. From restaurants that push the limits with inventive, unique and locally-sourced food to fine dining at the top of a mountain. And sometimes the best eateries are located in hidden small towns. Nearly everywhere in North Carolina is home to a few amazing restaurants, but with so many – how do you even choose? We’re here to help by starting with 20 around the state that are a step above the rest.
Herons - Cary
Right around the corner, in Cary, NC, Herons is known as a “culinary gem” located in the Umstead Hotel and Spa. With an extensive wine list of over 1,500 selections and 10,000 bottles, you are sure to find the perfect one. Whether you are looking for a hip brunch spot or romantic dinner - Heron’s provides the perfect atmosphere for a chic, five-star dining experience.
Angus Barn - Raleigh
Anniversary? Birthday? Company event? Angus Barn is the ideal steakhouse to celebrate a special event in the Raleigh area. This amazing steakhouse, in a unique location off Glenwood Avenue, is the winner of over 200 awards including the Gold Plate Award. Providing exceptional house aged beef, fresh seafood, and more since 1960, Angus Barn should be at the top of your list to dine at this year.
Fiction Kitchen - Raleigh
Another top spot in Raleigh for vegan and vegetarian cuisine is Fiction Kitchen. A local “food revolution” they bring an experience downtown Raleigh has been craving. Fiction provides thoughtfully prepared vegan and vegetarian cuisine from a 100% vegetarian kitchen.
Dame’s Chicken and Waffles - Durham
If you’re craving something more southern - Dame’s Chicken and Waffles is the place to go. Crispy, Southern fried perfection meets sweet, delicious European decadence. Dame’s is noted for their world-class, comfort food combinations meant to fulfill your appetite and hearts desires. But be careful, these dishes are deemed to be “smack yo’ Mama good!”
Mateo - Durham
Another top spot in Durham, is Mateo. Appearing on almost every food blog as one of the best restaurants in North Carolina, Mateo mixes Spanish tapas with a southern touch. Here you get the best of both worlds in this extremely trendy and delicious restaurant.
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. At the Fearrington House you’ll experience the seasonal, local and exotic, carefully sourced menu. Arrive early to enjoy a drink on the front porch in chairs overlooking the pastures or take a tour of the extensive gardens. Just a short drive from the Raleigh-Durham area into the countryside, Fearrington House awaits you.
Chef and the Farmer - Kinston
Go to nowhere and turn left to discover Chef and the Farmer. With a 2-3 month wait, this restaurant is worth the planning and drive to Kinston. The perfect mix of subtle southern cuisine with an uniquely elegant approach, Chef and the Farmer is an extraordinary experience that celebrates simplicity, freshness, and it’s own heritage. Chef Vivian Howard converted a 100 year old mule stable into a warm, inviting, modern atmosphere - sound like your favorite spot in downtown Apex right? Like it’s name, Chef and the Farmer blends old and new for a dining experience you won’t forget.
Ryan’s Restaurant - Winston-Salem
With panoramic views of old oaks and a rolling stream,enjoy a steak with a view at Ryan’s. We love the cozy setting at Ryan’s almost as much as we love that it’s locally owned and has been under the same management since 1981. Whatever you are in the mood for, Ryan’s entrees range from juicy steaks to the finest grilled fresh fish and Maine lobster. It's the perfect spot for date night, celebrating with friends and family, or a Friday night out.
Price’s Chicken Coop - Charlotte
With a name like that, who could resist stopping at Price’s Chicken Coop? Serving up some of the best fried chicken you'll ever have in your life, you have to visit the famous Price's next time you are in the Queen City.
River’s End Restaurant - Bryson City
Need a great meal after an awesome adventure? Check out River’s End for a restaurant with a view. Located at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, each seat overlooks the river while you enjoy classic breakfast dishes like Fontana Hash Browns or a hearty lunch after a morning of kayaking.
Johnson’s Drive-In - Siler City
Johnson’s Drive In in Silver City is like stepping back in time and trust me, the long line in worth the wait. Serving Tuesday thru Saturday until they are out, you better get there early to enjoy one of the best burgers in the state of NC. Fresh meat delivered daily, the never frozen beef hits the grill and is served with a melted slab of Velveeta cheese on top and your choice of toppings. Serving since 1946, they know what they are doing.
Snappy Lunch - Mt. Airy
Another no frills, hidden gem. Snappy Lunch is half the experience and half the amazing food. Calling Mount Airy home, it’s one of those places you’d see, but question whether you should stop in. But, if you know to try it you'll get the Mayberry vibe with Andy Griffith memorabilia adorning the walls. Well worth the drive, order a pork chop sandwich at this local landmark for the best in NC.
Lexington Barbecue - Lexington
Looking for more southern goodness? Located in the birthplace of Lexington BBQ, 'the honemonk' as the locals know it, is the place to stop for the best Lexington style Q. Opened in 1962 Lexington BBQ has become known nationwide by staying true to the barbecue cooking tradition with wood, not gas. Cooked fresh everyday - stop by Lexington to sit down, have a glass of sweet tea, and taste what some believe is the world’s best barbecue.
Rhubarb - Asheville
Headed to Western NC, Rhubarb is an award-winning, chic Asheville eatery that specializes in farm-to-table American fare. In the heart of Asheville on Pack Square, Rhubarb’s menu is inspired by seasonal, local ingredients that pays homage to the region and American cooking. A wood-fired oven and grill complement the rustic atmosphere at Rhubarb. If you’re lucky to visit on Sunday, enjoy a three-course meal at the family table during their Sunday Supper.
Cúrate - Asheville
There's no denying Asheville is a foodie haven. So, the next stop when you're in town must be Cúrate. Enjoy uniquely delicious spanish inspired tapas in this downtown Asheville restaurant. With traditional cuisine, unrivaled hospitality, and festive atmosphere - Curate provides a fun-filled night out with friends or a quick bite before a music production. So, go join Curate for some fun.. just say “una cana!”
The Gamekeeper Restaurant and Bar - Boone
You haven't experienced Western NC until you’ve dined at The Gamekeeper. As a true gourmet restaurant, the Gamekeep is famous for an evolving a menu that blends traditional with exotic. Specializing in a wide selection of game, this rustic mountain eatery is a mingling of elegance and Appalachian charm.
The Dining Room - Biltmore
Named one of our Unique Finds in NC, visiting the Biltmore House is a must. Located at the Inn, The Dining Room provides the elegant, five-star experience everyone wants to experience at least once. With seasonal menus, all meat is farm-raised and the veggies come straight from the garden.
Amos Mosquito’s - Atlantic Beach
Next time you are at the coast, Amos Mosquito’s in Atlantic Beach is a must try. Everything is made from scratch in-house or locally sourced. It's a meal (and name) you won't forget. Not to mention the waterside patio is perfect for summer nights.
Colington Cafe - Kill Devil Hills
If your beach spot is at the Outer Banks, find Colington Cafe nestled beneath 300-year-old oak trees. This adorable spot specializes in elegant dishes without sacrificing traditional, comfortable roots. Order up some fresh seafood and experience the best OBX has to offer from some of the friendliest people.
Peak City Grill - Apex
And we couldn't end without a local favorite. Peak City Grill is located in quaint downtown Apex and is where "Good Taste meets Great Food." Full of history, Peak City brought an old 1905 building back to life with restored church pews, custom crafted tables, and an outdoor patio that encompasses the history of old Apex. You can enjoy an evolving menu from Mediterranean Tapas to Cheese Fondue - deep fried chicken livers to 16oz grilled to order New York Strip steaks - A spinach strawberry salad with goat cheese to Vanilla Bean crème Brule. So, explore what downtown Apex has to offer and plan your next dinner at Peak City Grill.