This time of quarantine and social distancing has really made it clear that one of my favorite hobbies is dining in restaurants. I really look forward to the day of eating in a restaurant and enjoying the atmosphere and the meal. In that spirit, I wanted to share 20 of the best North Carolina restaurants I can’t wait to visit after quarantine. You can see a few other favorites I shared over on Instagram last week here.
The 20 Best North Carolina Restaurants I Can’t Wait to Visit after Quarantine
Acme Food and Beverage – Carrboro
Acme features locally sourced food, delicious drink options, and a fun dining experience. I love their back patio, but their dining room is eclectic and the perfect spot for a nice meal. I’ll take the oysters and cornbread + a glass of rosé.
aTavola! – Greenville
aTavola! is hands down one of my favorite restaurants in North Carolina. Any time I’m in Greenville, I’m trying to go here for a meal. This is where we went last year for my graduate school graduation. I very much love their crab dip and their shrimp po’ boy with fried okra and dirty fries. But, I also like their seafood bisque, regardless of the season.
Boiler Room – Kinston
While I adore the menu at Chef and the Farmer, I am craving fried oysters and the baked pimiento and sausage dip served with house made saltines from the Boiler Room. Oyster bars have a quintessential eastern North Carolina feel to them, and it’s something that I’ve really been missing during this time.
Unfortunately, The Boiler Room is not reopening in Kinston. However, Chef and the Farmer will be offering some of the menu items from the Boiler Room. Learn more about this here.
I just really want to browse the book store with a pint of Glean, have an order of pork bao, seafood dumplings, and ginger salad, and finish my evening with a flower bouquet (or two) to go.
The Freez – Scotland Neck
There are few places in North Carolina that I love more than the Freez. Growing up in Halifax County, stopping at the Freez for lunch on the way to visit my grandparents are some of my fondest childhood memories. My go-to order are two cheeseburgers with mustard and ketchup, fried okra, a sweet tea, and a chocolate milkshake for the road. They make their chocolate milkshakes with chocolate ice cream AND chocolate milk. I mean, come on.
Gonza Tacos y Tequila – Cary
While there are several Gonza locations in the Triangle, the Waverly Place is my favorite for ease of access. The original location on Lead Mine is a good one, too! Their shrimp tacos and black beans is my normal order, plus a side of queso.
The Hackney – Washington
The Hackney is such a beautiful space, recently renovated and bringing new life and an interesting twist to downtown Little Washington. The menu offers a creative twist on British and American fare, and I love that they serve afternoon tea. The interior is bright, airy, and inviting. It’s the perfect spot for a girls’ lunch! Order the crab cake and a French 75.
I am so proud that the Hen and the Hog is located in my home county. This culinary gem has delicious twists on Southern favorites. I adore the deviled eggs, fried oysters, and tomato pie. Their menu changes depending on what’s available locally, but whatever you do while you’re there, order dessert.
Jack Tar – Durham
I adore Jack Tar for its environment, its menu, and its overall vibe. Their brunch is really my favorite, but go grab dinner and have a drink at the Colonel’s Daughter for a lovely evening experience, too. David is a fan of their pancakes, while I love their shrimp burger. And if the Brussels sprouts are on the menu, definitely order them!
Lantern – Chapel Hill
Lantern is one of the OG’s in the Triangle’s food scene and rightfully so. Their Asian inspired fare is locally sourced and served in a beautifully decorated space. I highly recommend going with a friend and splitting several items on the menu, including the salt and pepper shrimp! Amy and I had one of our last nights out together before she moved to Happy Valley here and we had the best time!
Mozelle’s – Winston-Salem
One of my favorite touches is when outdoor seating areas have blankets, and Mozelle’s does this so well. Their outdoor spaces are inviting and cozy, and they serve some of the best food in North Carolina! Their tomato pie is literally one of my top 5 dishes. And bonus, during this time, you can get a whole tomato pie from Mozelle’s to go.
Picnic BBQ – Durham
I consider myself an eastern North Carolina BBQ connoisseur and Picnic serves up some of the best BBQ in the Triangle. Order a chopped BBQ sandwich with a side of fried okra (and Mac & cheese, because why not) and definitely grab dessert, too. I have really been craving a good BBQ sandwich and this just might the first place I go once the stay at home order is lifted.
Pinehurst Brewery Co. – Pinehurst
Pinehurst Brewery Co. is one of the newest restaurants in the old steam plant building in the Village of Pinehurst. The Power Plant pizza is packed full of flavor. I ordered the shrimp po’ boy which was a great option as well.
Poole’s Diner – Raleigh
If you’ve been here a while, this is probably a no-brainer for you, but Poole’s Diner is my all-time favorite restaurant. It’s upscale twist on Southern food is comfortable but exciting. I’m not even sure what I would order, but some of my favorites are soft shell crab, the Royale, crab salad, and for sure the macaroni and cheese. I also would probably have watermelon salad.
Provision Company – Southport
Located right on the Intracoastal, the views are just as good as the food at Provision Company. I’ll take a crab cake sandwich, fries, and a Red Stripe, please and thank you. Make a stop here before heading over to Bald Head.
Rosewater Kitchen and Bar – Raleigh
I love a good brunch spot, and this bright spot in North Hills feels like being transported to Europe. I regularly crave their steak and cheese sandwich and their fries are delicious! Plus, their mimosa special is a great option for leisurely weekends.
Skylight Inn BBQ – Ayden
I dubbed Skylight Inn BBQ as the best BBQ in North Carolina last year and I have been craving it ever since then. It’s what all good BBQ places should be. Casual, welcoming, and everything good about eastern NC BBQ. Get a BBQ sandwich, fries, and a sweet tea.
Spoon River had been on my restaurant list for years and I was ecstatic to have a date night there last year. It is a gem in eastern North Carolina with the kindest staff, gorgeous interior, and over-the-top entrees! I recommend splitting a couple of items on the menu because the portions are big! We shared a salad, chicken, and a dessert. Why not book a room at Between Water and Main and make an overnight trip out of it?
Spring House – Winston-Salem
This beautifully restored space in Winston-Salem is a culinary destination in the city. Be sure to have a drink in the bar area, and if you visit in the winter, the fire place is a cozy spot to enjoy a glass of wine. Definitely order the oysters and the Bahnson Burger, plus the bread service. It is such an elegant dining experience and such a lovely location in Winston-Salem.
Wye Hill – Raleigh
For the best view in Raleigh, dinner at Wye Hill is a must. I can’t wait to have dinner and drinks here soon. Their seasonal menu is one of my favorites in town, but their brunch is definitely a go-to. David and I also like heading here for burgers and beer for date night.
What do you think is the best restaurants in North Carolina or anywhere else in the U.S.? Let me know in a comment below!
Looking for other North Carolina favorites? You can see my favorites from Eastern North Carolina, Central North Carolina, and Western North Carolina. Here are my favorite destination restaurants in Eastern North Carolina, my favorite date night itineraries in Raleigh neighborhoods, and 10 unique hotels in North Carolina.
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