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north carolina foodie towns?

We are planning on taking a trip to North Carolina in late October. We've been to Ashville a few times and would like to try a different place. We are hoping for somewhere with both excellent restaurants and great scenery. Suggestions?

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  1. NC is a big state. Are you looking to stay in the mountains?

    1. Lantern in Chapel Hill is getting major buzz right now, and it's close enough to Durham and Raleigh that you could maybe squeeze in all three, if you have more than a weekend.

      1. I rarely go anywhere but Asheville, so here are the places I WISH I could go eat:

        Chapel Hill
        Knife and Fork in Spruce Pine
        Town House Restaurant in Chilowee, VA (yeah, I know, but it's not far across the line)

        In case you're wondering...Cashiers and Highlands doesn't have much, at least not that I can find, although you'd think it would. Not much food in the Bryson City/Nantalahala area either.

        I can't wait to hear what you pick !

        Town House
        1870 S Main St, Kannapolis, NC 28081

        7 Replies
        1. re: danna

          Knife and Fork. Yes! (If I could only figure out where the hell Spruce Pine is...)

          1. re: Jeff C.

            Off the parkway, N. of Marion, near Penland School. About 1 hr. from Asheville.

          2. re: danna

            My Mom is from Spruce Pine! Wow -- NEVER thought Spruce Pine would make it to Chowhound. PLEASE, PLEASE give details and tell us all about Knife & Fork. I'm in Pins & Needles! :-)

            Knife & Fork
            200 S Main St, Mount Holly, NC 28120

            1. re: Tehama

              K & F is proprietor owned and operated...a nice couple named Wendy and Nate. The dishes are very reasonable, locally sourced (as much as possible) and always inventive in my opinion. I am pretty biased since we visit quite often. Earlier this week I had an incredible pork belly, red/yellow pepper dish, radish/arugula gorgonzola cremificato salad, and a wonderful cheese plate with grilled bread (bread is done in-house as well). Wendy does the wine list...probably 20 wines on the list...a great (again reasonable) selection from all over the world (Spanish, Italian, French, Cali, Washington...and, last week, a Slovenian wine). No liquor. The beer selection is quite impressive as well. We love brunch (I think Nate really uses his creativity here with the items from the previous week). He just won the Western NC Chef's Challenge...taking down several of the big name Asheville folks. I really cannot say enough positive things about the place...hope this helps.

              1. re: winefuhrer

                Thank you so much! Sharing with my Mom right now. I can't wait to give it a try!

                1. re: Tehama

                  we visited on saturday at 5 pm, and while the food was delicious (kale with chicken cracklins, crispy pork with spicy bok choy, nc trout with red quinoa/mung bean/feta, and sirloin) and the service very attentive and so welcoming, the pace of the meal was a bit slow for us. granted we did have our son, who tends to melt down at dinners which last more than 1.5 hours. however, we noticed the table next to us had complained about the length that it took for them to receive their entrees. we were looking forward to this after hiking at crabtree falls, so it was a bit of a letdown. i imagine that they are continuously working out the kinks in the kitchen as their popularity increases.

                  1. re: cervisiam

                    I will not disagree with this. I think service could speed up a bit...I have noticed a few changes in this direction but there are still kinks. I eat relatively slowly though...so may not notice slow service as much as someone else. I imagine everything done to-order prolongs preparation time, so there is a definite trade off.

          3. I'm not sure you'll find really comparable foodie areas in the mountains outside of Asheville. There are some nice restaurants to seek out in particular areas but as noted above, I have never found much in other mountain areas.

            When I think of foodie towns in NC, I first thing about the Triangle area. That's not exactly scenic though.

            I will say late October is a lovely time at our scenic coast and there are a number of worthwhile destinations whether you head to OBX, Crystal Coast, or Wilmington area.

            1. The High Country (Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk) would be a possibility for great scenery and a few good dining options. While it doesn't remotely compare to Ashville's food scene, it would be a good compromise with beautiful mountain fall drives and hiking trails. Our leaves are already starting to turn where I live at almost 5,000 ft. elevation. There are some fun local fall festivals coming up in October, Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain and so much more!

              Artisanal is a great restaurant: in Banner Elk http://www.artisanalnc.com/. Spruce Pine would be a beautiful 50 minute drive.

              1. Without a doubt, the highest concentration of top restaurants is in the Triangle Area, with Durham being the foodiest of the foodie towns.

                1 Reply
                1. re: durhamois

                  Agreed. As much as I wish it were Charlotte, it just isn't. Durham is it. With lots of farms and markets to satisfy the foodiest of foodies. However, I do think Charlotte is great for it's central location to the mtns and the beaches, not to mention both Lake Norman and Lake Wylie and great hiking at Crowder Mtn. There is also the U.S. Whitewater Rafting center. You could get lots of outdoor exercise and then fill up at one of the many great restaurants in town.

                2. I had one of the finest meals of my life at Rowland's Restaurant at Westglow Resort & Spa, Blowing Rock. Truly magnificent.

                  1. Wilber's BBQ in scenic, beautiful Goldsboro, NC. Okay, maybe Goldsboro isn't that scenic. But the incredible view provided by a large chopped plate with slaw and hushpuppies is better than just about anything else you could find.


                    5 Replies
                      1. re: Sue in Mt P

                        Agreed. One of the more scenic bbq plates Ive had thus far.

                      2. re: arbyunc

                        If you visit Chapel Hill, here are some suggestions for Saturday morning start at the Carrboro Farmer's Markets. Either get a hot dog there from The Pig's cart or head to Neal's Deli for a pastrami biscuit. Neal's cures their own pastrami and it is excellent stuff. Their biscuits are realy good as well. For lunch, perhaps tacos from a taco truck, I prefer Latin Grill's truck,or a blt from Merritt's Market. Dinner at Lantern.

                        Neal's Deli
                        100 E Main St Ste C, Carrboro, NC 27510

                        Latin Grill
                        528 W Center St, Mebane, NC 27302

                        1. re: arbyunc

                          Here's a slightly less magnificent view, the $4 sandwich at Wilber's Barbecue.

                          Wilber's Barbecue
                          4172 US Hwy 70 E, Goldsboro, NC 27534

                        2. I guess it boils down to A) Returning to Asheville for great Fall scenery and great food (Asheville) B)The finest of Fall scenery with a very good food scene (High Country) C) Great food scene in a metro area (Triangle).

                          1. Second the rec's for Durham and the Boone area. Durham has the better restaurant scene while the Boone area gets the nod for scenery. I'd also throw in Beaufort (good restaurant scene on the water, and October is a great month to be there) and Fearrington (bucolic setting, very good restaurants and beverage program, close to chapel hill and Durham.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: veganhater

                              If you are doing Durham, I would include Chapel Hill as part of the experience

                            2. I might be sticking my neck out here, but Waynesville has some very good restaurants and you can have the best of both worlds. Close enough to Asheville to try some new places and revisit other favorites and in the heart of the mountains. Fall foliage is beautiful that time of year.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: pilches

                                I'm from Waynesvegas! Never thought my home sweet home was a foodie town, but then my Dad and I normally go to the Waynesville Country Club for dinner (open to the public - http://www.thewaynesvilleinn.com/dining/) They used to have a Prime Rib Friday night special that would knock your socks off ... I'd love to know if they still do.

                                1. re: Tehama

                                  I didn't exactly say WV was a "foodie" town, but in the past couple of years they really have gotten some good restaurants which us "foodies" greatly appreciate. As far as the country club, I was there not too long ago for the Sunday brunch. I'm sure you can find out about the Friday night prime rib special. I would bet it's still going on. As you know, they don't like to change too much stuff in that part of the country!

                                  1. re: pilches

                                    You're so right! I do love the consistency of Wayesville.

                                    I think I commented on another WNC post, but my favorite Waynesville/Haywood County's spots now are: Sid's on Main in Canton, Thai Spice in Waynesville, and Waynesville Country Club (either Tap Room [informal] or Cork & Cleaver [formal-er]). Pizza = either Nick & Nate's or Angelo's.

                              2. Watt's grocery in Durham, Allen and Sons in Pittsboro

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: fara

                                  Perhaps you mean Allen & Sons between Chapel Hill and Hillsborough... the A&S Pittsboro location is name only - bbq is totally different. Cooked in electric cookers, extremely greasy... nowhere near what Keith Allen still cooks over hardwood.

                                  1. re: goodeatsinadive

                                    my understand was that the Pittsboro location was the real deal, and the other was the imitation?

                                    1. re: fara

                                      Just the opposite. The one between Hillsborough and Chapel Hill is the real deal.

                                2. Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers - https://www.facebook.com/canyonkitchen w/ Chef FLEER formerly of the famous Blackberry Inn only open Thurs-Sat for dinner http://www.lonesomevalley.com/info.ph...

                                  1. I loved the section of the Parkway north of Asheville to Boone for fall including Moses Cohn Park and Grandfather. We recently spent a night in Blowing Rock and really enjoyed our evening at Storie Street Grill. The owner was at the door, her charming and well-versed husband was manning the bar and recommended some delicious wines.

                                    1. Asheville, Durham, and Chapel Hill are the foodiest towns in NC. Asheville wins hands down for scenery.

                                      1. Being in the Triangle I would love to say the Triangle but in the scenery department it falls short. Therefore, I suggest heading in the other direction from Asheville, to Wilmington. There are great B&Bs that serve wonderful, huge breakfasts (e.g., Graystone Inn), the antebellum houses and Cape Fear riverfront area makes for lovely scenery, and there are some good restaurants to try like Catch.

                                        1. Although I think the Triangle has the best food in the state, it is lacking in the scenery department.

                                          Since you have already been to Asheville a few times I would recommend either the High Country (Boone, Blowing Rock & surrounding areas), the Crystal Coast, (specifically Beaufort) or Wilmington.

                                          Although I have visited Beaufort and Wilmington quite a bit I do not know it well enough to do it justice and since I have seen other posts about these two towns I'll leave it up to someone else.

                                          I lived in Boone while my husband and I were in grad school and we fell in love with the high country. It is breathtakingly beautiful. If you love the outdoors and friendly people this is your place. Boone is a laid-back hippy college town with locals and vacationers mixed in. Blowing Rock on the other hand, is a more upscale quaint little mountain town that is mostly inhabited by second home owners, retirees and vacationers. Banner Elk is the highest town east of the Rockies and has views for miles.

                                          My High Country favorites include:

                                          -The Gamekeeper (Blowing Rock) Southern upscale game fare with a killer wine list http://www.gamekeeper-nc.com/default.htm

                                          -Storie Street Grille (Blowing Rock) solid dinner service http://www.storiestreetgrille.com/

                                          -Proper (Boone) great innovative southern food with locally sourced ingredients http://www.propermeal.com/Propermeal/...

                                          -Jackalope's View (Beech Mountain) Great food and wine (they won a few wine spectator awards) and an even more AMAZING view. http://www.archersinn.com/docs/dinner...

                                          -Stick Boy Bread Company (Boone) excellent breakfast pastries http://www.stickboybread.com/

                                          I have also heard great things about Joy Bistro in Boone and the restaurant at Westglow.

                                          Since you said you would be visiting in late October, I will give you a word of caution. The weather could be very pleasant or it could be cold and windy. So if you are not a fan of the cold, I suggest you try Wilmington or the Crystal Coast.

                                          1 Reply