Durham, Raleigh, W-S, Greensboro, Charlotte
Some colleagues and I will be in NC for 10 days. Most of it will be spent at Duke, where we will be enjoying cafeteria food for most meals. A small group of us will be traveling through NC afterwards. So, I'm looking for two recs per cities listed above -- one pricy and one less so, but both wonderful. Of course we're interested in having some excellent BBQ, but we're also interested in trying other things too. As we're all coming from So Cal, we're not interested in Mexican/Latino or Asian food. Otherwise, we're completely open-minded. Thanks so much for your recs!
Charlotte: I suggest for your pricey meal you go for Ratcliffe on the Green. It's uptown and w/ a local southern focus. Very good. www.ratcliffeonthegreen.com
For a more casual resto, I would recommend Mert's Heart & Soul uptown. Soul/lowcountry food and they are celebrating their 10 anniversary. www.mertsuptown.com
Another fave in an interesting part of town is Lulu's on Central Ave. French flaired local food in a casual bistro setting. The mussels and frites are fabulous as is the pimento cheese topped burger w/ fried green tomatoes and jalapeno relish. Yum!
Charlotte Restaurant : Nolen Kitchen & CRESCENT BAR AND LOUNGE
I've been here twice and I plan to return. This place is REALLY good. Fresh prepared / fresh ingrediants and perfect service with a heck of a wine list. Ok - The Guiness is served in bottles, but other than that, you can't beat the upscale swank of this place in little old Charlotte! Prices are really reasonable considering in a more urban sophisticated city they would probably be about 33% more! Ambience is fetching too!
Favorite Dish: Fried calamari rocks. Sandwiches are good (I had the curry chicken sandwich). I had a risotto that was pretty decent. Their Sweet Potato Bisque was heaven unequaled. Consider this if you are looking for fine upscale food in a small quaint southern city. Good enough to be in Chicago or Boston. Good... and attentive service to match!
Comparison: about average
Prices: US$21-30 per person
Address: 2839 Selwyn Avenue Charlotte, NC 28209
About a 12 minute drive from Tryon and 3rd. Worth finding!
Winston Salem seems a little behind on the restaurant front but Meridian on Brookstown or Ryan's (not the chain) are good choices for pricey. West End Cafe is a good bet for a more casual experience. Their food is consistently good and prices are reasonable. I wish I could say that there was somewhere you absolutely HAD to try while here, but unfortunately, this town isn't quite there yet.
West End is a wonderful spot for lunch, very casual, but tasty. Good sandwiches and salads. Nothing special, but then W-S is not really a food destination.
Ryan's is to be avoided, IMO. Not good food.
If I were from CA, visiting W-S, I would think a trip to Lexington #1 BBQ to be a must. It's not far to drive, and gosh darn it, Carolina BBQ is just real good food.
In Raleigh for the pricey try Enoteca Vin or Poole's Diner, both owned by the same woman. The food is well thought out and made with quality ingredients, with a nice selection of by the glass wines. Also, The Pit has very good BBQ served in an upscale setting, even though one might miss eating it in a cinder block building.
In Durham if you only have time for one upscale meal try Magnolia Grill, one of the best gourmet Southern restaurants in the area. It has not only provided the area with excellent food but alumni of Magnolia own and run some of the other top restaurants in the area.
in winston I would rec cue - mr. bbq, try the meat and three on third street for friend fish o fried pork chops(help with the name winston chowhounds)go somewhere to get a carolina dog - probably skippy's downtown maybe milners cotton mill or sweet potatoes on the upper end. I would assume you want meals that hint of the south so I would recommend against ryans and meridian.
In greensboro try giacomos - not southern but great subs featuring housemade salumi. If you want a southern meat and three type meal try stephanies though I can't vouch for the quality myself. Not sure of higher caliber southern in gso but upscale choices are bistro sofia and undercurrent