Today, I’m excited to welcome a new mini-series to I’m Fixin’ To where I’ll be sharing some of the best North Carolina food staples for you to try! For the next post of the series, I’ve featured Southern favorites, so if you don’t see one of your staples on this list, be sure to check out part 2 here! Here are the top 14 North Carolina food staples to try! Be sure to tell me below in the comments which ones you’ve tried and which one is your favorite!
Top 14 North Carolina Food Staples to Try
I’ve written about the best Bojangles’ in North Carolina before (it’s in Nashville, y’all) and I even took Courtney and Glory on a fast food adventure to try the cheddar bo (the Bojangles’ on Hillsborough St. in Raleigh has the best in the Triangle). So, duh, of course it would make the list as a North Carolina food staple to try where the restaurant was founded in Charlotte.
While I do like to order the cheddar bo with bo rounds and a sweet tea for breakfast, I converted David to being a fan of their chicken supreme dinner with seasoned fries. And you can never go wrong with their cajun filet biscuit combo either. Whatever you do, though, be sure to get their honey mustard on the side!
Calabash seafood put Calabash, NC on the map as the “Seafood Capital of the World.” Calabash is about an hour south of Wilmington, and its seafood is lightly breaded and fried. You can find calabash style seafood restaurants, usually with a huge buffet, in eastern North Carolina and even in Raleigh at Captain Stanley’s.
Carolina-Style Cheeseburger or Hotdog
I remember folks ordering things “all the way” when I was growing up at local burger joints. Getting a cheeseburger (or hotdogs for those of you who eat them) Carolina-style means it comes with chili, slaw, and onions, and in some cases, maybe mustard.
Cheerwine is a classic North Carolina staple, and there are rare days where I’ll treat myself to one even though I swore off other sodas years ago. This cherry flavored soda was created in Salisbury, NC over 100 years ago. There ain’t nothing better than a Cheerwine over crushed ice for an afternoon treat.
I mean, listen, there ain’t nothing better than a Junior Tray with a burger, friends, and a fountain Cheerwine. Also, their selection of milkshakes is some of the best around. I had my first taste of Cookout while in college and I was happy to see them start expanding east past Raleigh.
Corn sticks are one of the best sides for barbecue and the best place to find them is at Parker’s BBQ in Greenville! This old fashioned treat is a delight and served with your meal there along with fresh hushpuppies.
Eastern North Carolina BBQ
I know, I know, there are some people who prefer western North Carolina BBQ. But, not this North Carolinian. I am a self-proclaimed BBQ snob and enjoy finding the best around the state. The vinegar based BBQ sauce is what I grew up eating and is still one of my favorite meals when coupled with corn sticks and fried okra.
The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve enjoyed figs, and Ocracoke helped me acquire a taste for them over time. This island has endured a lot since Hurricane Dorian, so make plans to attend their annual Fig Festival this year!
While collards are a Southern staple, Vivian Howard’s flash fried collards are a must-try! If you haven’t visited her restaurant in Kinston, be sure to do that and start your meal with an order of these.
Hardee’s originated in Greenville, NC in eastern North Carolina and moved into Rocky Mount, NC after a year of success in Greenville. This chain was a popular one where I grew up and was often a spot where we stopped on road trips heading to the beach. They just unveiled their impossible burger which I’m excited to try in the coming days.
Krispy Kreme Donuts
While I am not one with a major sweet tooth, I cannot turn down a classic glazed donut from Krispy Kreme. David is a fan of their glazed chocolate cake donut. The location in Oakwood is such an iconic location in Raleigh and is such a fun place to stop and grab dessert after grabbing pizza at Oakwood Pizza Box.
Mount Olive Pickles
Mount Olive pickles is a major economic force in eastern North Carolina and their dill chips are a favorite around our home in the summer for our favorite grilling recipes. We also love their roasted red peppers for soups and pasta dishes, as well!
Sweet Potato Casserole
Eastern North Carolina produces 40% of the national sweet potatoes in the United States, so that makes it natural that sweet potato casserole is one of the staples around here, right? I love sweet potato casserole during the holidays and colder months, as well. You can find the recipe I use here.
Texas Pete, a Louisiana style hot sauce, was created in Winston-Salem and has some great other options as well. Like, buffalo sauce and dry dust seasoning. If you’re into hot sauce and haven’t given Texas Pete a try, you’re missing out!
Interested in more North Carolina features? Check out my love letter to NC, why I love eastern North Carolina, my North Carolina bucket list, Eastern North Carolina Destination Restaurants, and 10 unique hotels in North Carolina.
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