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Driving from So Fla to Raleigh - need recs in GA, SC, NC near I-95

My wife and I are driving up to Raleigh next week and could use some good places to stop along the way in GA, SC, and NC as well as good places around Raleigh. We like all kinds of good food so any suggestions are welcome. We don't get much for good barbecue here in So Florida so some 'Q suggestions are always welcome.

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  1. I'll be glad to help you with the Raleigh restaurants... what type of cuisine and price range?

    Smithfield is the town where you will get off off I-95 and onto I-40. Smithfield has an awesomely mouthwatering hole-in-the-wall BBQ: White Swan (3198 US Hwy 301 S; Smithfield, NC 27577; Phone: (919) 934-8913). It is worth getting off the interstate and meandering into backwoods Johnston County.

    In Raleigh, you'll like Cooper's Barbecue; Knightdale Seafood and BBQ; Ole Time Barbecue; and the ever-consistent regional chain: Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q. All the Raleigh-area BBQ restaurants' info/directions/ phone #'s can be found at: http://triangle.citysearch.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: Tehama

      Thanks Tehama. We like all types of cuisine and love different ethnic places. We're looking for good local places mostly under $40. Definitely have to make the detour to Smithfield...White Swan sounds like my kind of place.

    2. When I used to do that drive I'd plan a stop at exit 1 in GA for some fried catfish at St. Mary's Seafood House. It's about 5 minutes off the beaten path if I remember correctly. We found it years ago when I was traveling with my folks and my Dad asked a local sailor where the best eat's were. We've all been going ever since. Great fried catfish, oysters and gator tail.

      St. Marys Seafood & Steakhouse
      1837 Osborne Road


      1 Reply
      1. re: creativeusername

        Thank you creative! On the map it looks a little further than 5 minutes but it sounds like a great place to stop. Looks like this is dinner on our first day out.

      2. Try Maurices BBQ I-95 exit 98 in Santee, SC. South Carolina style mustard based pork BBQ.

        3 Replies
        1. re: danno

          Stopped at Maurice's about a year ago, the food was good but the place can be a bit much with the political overtones. Be prepared.

          1. re: danno

            I wouldn't stop at Maurice's but that's because the bbq is mediocre regardless of the in-your-face agenda. Tons of threads on bbq along I-95 that I'd consider first:


            1. re: creativeusername

              I've had Maurice's 'Q before in W. Cola many times. Not bad. I like E. NC style the best but what in the world is this in your face agenda you all are talking about at Maurice's place in Santee. My Mom and Dad used to live in Santee and I used to love going to see them in Santee and playing a little golf. But at that time Maurice did not have a place in Santee. If we went out we would go to Clark's. But you must remember this was in the '80s.

          2. My husband and I recently made that journey a few weeks ago. In Brunswick, GA near a hotel where we stayed was a mexican resaurant called La Fuente. The food tasted very fresh and the salsa was homemade. We enjoyed it very much. I wish I could remember the name of the road where it was. Good Luck.

            1. Hi again, I just googled the restaurant and found La Fuente De Pablo off of I-95 at exit 38 in Brunswick, GA. If you are in the mood for mexican, this is the place.

              1. I agree that Maurice's is mediocre. Even if it were good I wouldn't eat there again (see Regressive Southern Heritage). He does have cousins in Charleston whose BBQ is a little better (Melvin's and Bessinger's). We also have J.B.'s which is very good. None are worth the four hour detour though.

                As you will be passing through Florence I would highly recommend Roger's BBQ. It is right across the street from Cains. These are the places I grew up with and the style BBQ I love. Since the two slightly different styles are within the same 1/4 mile you could try two places in the same stop if you wanted. Skeets in Darlington is also a special treat if you want great BBQ.

                1 Reply
                1. re: CharlestonChow

                  Charlestonchow - I checked out the web site for Roger's BBQ and Seafood Buffet and it look great. Thanks.

                2. Thanks everyone. These are great recommendations. So far I think we're stopping at St. Marys Seafood & Steakhouse in GA, Roger's BBQ and Seafood Buffet in SC, and White Swan in NC. I also found Parker's in Wilson (outside of Raleigh) on Roadfood. Like the others it looks awfully good.

                  Any other suggestions especially in and around Raleigh or non-barbecue?

                  1. Report from the road - we just got back from dinner at Jerome's Old School Diner in Townsend (but not really) GA. Found this elsewhere on the board under Best Seafood in Savannah area and boy they weren't kidding.

                    First, it's way off the beaten track. Chef Jerome says there isn't a street address because there isn't a street. Get off I-95 at exit 58 (Townsend) and head east to the blinking light. Turn left and follow Rt 17 to Harris Neck Road. Watch the yellow signs on on the right side of the road. They'll tell you what side streets are coming up. Turn right on Harris Neck Road and follow it until you see a sign on the right for the Old School Diner. Turn right - it looks like a dirt driveway but follow it back for some of the freshest and best prepared local seafood anywhere.

                    Chef Jerome will greet you like family with a big hug and then prepare simple but incredible catfish, oysters, grouper, shrimp (to die for) and crab. This is what great local joints are all about.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: RickL

                      That sounds great. That area of the Georgia Coast has always had a few places like that. This one must have sprung up within the last couple of years. That's good because it seems Speed's in nearby Shellman's Bluff has closed

                      1. re: sarge

                        I just called & speeds said they are open thurs-sun.

                        1. re: sarge

                          Stick to Speed's or B&J'S in Darien. We stopped off on our way home from Savannah and were greatly underwhelmed. Especially for the price. I do not ride out into the woods to pay $25 for a grouper & shrimp combo. Those are Savannah or St Simons prices.At Speeds 4 can eat for the $55 our tab for 2 was at Jeromes. I do not know if the prices have gone up with the Affleck pub, but the pricing high in my opinion.

                          1. re: beteez

                            Back in March, we had Chef Jerome's Special--some of everything.

                            Best: The cheapest thing--the fried whiting.
                            Vg: The Deviled Crab Cake, hush puppies
                            Good: The shrimp, slaw
                            Fair/Poor: The ribs, slathered in sweet sauce and baked.
                            Mediocre: fries

                            Would absolutely return for the fried whiting and hush puppies, maybe the shrimp or the crab cake if my wife insisted. Would not order the Chef's Special ($45 or so). Would never go within ten miles of the ribs.

                            A great place. Charming and totally worth finding if you stick to what's good--the whiting, which coincidentally avoids the St. Simon's high price syndrome.

                      2. Hi Rick! I promised you recommendations a few days ago and I totally forgot to check-back. Many apologies! Here are some of my favorites. You can get directions/ phone #'s etc. at our local citysearch page: http://triangle.citysearch.com/
                        *Sandwiches: Sunflowers and Logan's
                        *Special Restaurants: Cafe La Residence (in Chapel Hill), Bloomsbury Bistro, and Moe's Diner - you will love Cafe La Rez though!
                        *Pizza: Moonlight, Capital Creations, and Lilly's
                        *Can't miss: New Oakwood Cafe (Argentine and Cuban fare. Tiny hole-in-the-wall. Completely mouthwateringly, delicious- get the Churascco steak
                        )*Sushi: Waraji and Mura
                        *Sushi & Thai: ShabaShabu
                        *Thai: Lemongrass
                        *Chinese: Red Dragon
                        *Mexican: Salsa Fresh is best for Tex-Mex/ healthier and the El Rodeo local chain is good for the yummy, greasy stuff
                        *Dive: Finch's (breakfast and lunch only)
                        *Italian: Cafe Tiramisu, Vivace, Bella Monica, 518 West (the first 2 are slightly more expensive)
                        *American: Nelsons in Cameron Village (a little on the expensive side, but they have a great bar menu if you are keeping costs down)

                        I hope these help! I'll check back in case you have any questions!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Tehama

                          Hi Tehama - great list. We're on our way to Lemongrass for dinner. Stopped for Southern buffet lunch at Roger's BBQ in Florence and had way too much good food. A little Thai for dinner sounds about right.

                          1. re: RickL

                            Close to I-95. exit at Latta (near Florence)--Shuler's has an excellent BBQ buffet. Highly recommended. Not much else in this area.

                        2. I'm from the Raleigh area and lately I've been frequenting a fairly new Mexican restaurant called Jibarra modern mexican. The food is delicious and is traditional Mexican cuisine with a modern presentation. Dinner prices are on the higher end (average around $20) but their lunch and sunday brunch are a great deal (around 7 or 8 bucks). I mention this place in particular because it is pretty unique for the area, I don't think there is anything like this anywhere else in NC. The server was telling me that it's the same family that owns the El Rodeo's in Raleigh. I forget the address, I just know its off of Six Forks rd. You can find it on citysearch most likely.