We have recently been at Pinehurst Resort in NC. The food was better than expected, which was a concern since meals are included in most room rates. I won't give specifics about the food as menus are all on-line.
Carolina Dining Room is in the big hotel and serves a hearty buffet breakfast and dinner. The dinner menu is serious food and well-prepared as well. Its on par with any good big city hotel restaurant. There were some slips, eg bringing wine by the glass in a carafe rather than the bottle (who knows if they poured what I bought, but I trust them I guess).
Ryder Cup Room is a less formal lunch and dinner place in the hotel where one can get a selection of hot and cold meals. Things were pretty well-prepared there, but there were a few lapses eg a Caesar Salad with an odd watery dressing and a "panini" that wasn't in any way pressed. It has a nice porch on which to have a beverage or two in the evening.
The 1895 Grille is in the near-by Holly Inn, which is part of the Resort and included in the meal plan. The building is old and the restaurant is entered by an almost hidden staircase which opens up into a room with a vaulted ceiling that looks more like it belongs in a castle than NC.It is described as the only 4 Diamond restaurant in the area FWIW. The food is very good. It is as good as the Carolina Room, but a touch more regionally influenced.
There are also restaurants of varying size at each of the golf clubhouses, but none are remarkable. Not bad for what they are though.
Downtown Pinehurst has a few places to eat as well. There are two pub-type joints that seem popular. Lady Something-or-Other's Tea place I'm told does a nice afternoon tea. The Magnolia Inn has what was described as Southern cooking, but it was not particularly-so when we visited. Not bad though. Menu is on-line. Within driving distance are a zillion chains in Aberdeen and Southern Pines as well as a few local restaurants which look promising in the latter.
In sum, the food at PR is plenty good enough to be worth staying with the hotel restaurants (esp since its already paid-for). Moreover it is the best available for many miles as far as I can see.
Sal, thank you for this. It's good to hear that in anticipation of the Open next year, they're not focusing all their energy on golf.
There used to be a Mexican place on Rte 5 near the resort called El Vacquero...worth a trip next time you're there. Cheap, fresh, authentic and good.
I would also urge a visit to the clubhouse; I know it's getting renovated, but their martinis are excellent, as is the service.
Southern Pines proper (a short drive) has some good places and some awful chains. But you can't go wrong at the PR.