Most North Carolinians are proud of the natural beauty and diverse scenery this state has to offer. From coastline to forests to mountains—not to mention thriving urban centers—there’s plenty to love in the Tar Heel State. And its bountiful offerings aren’t just for trips to the beach or camping on starry nights. They also include good eating.
The farm-to-table movement, which emphasizes locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, is thriving in NC restauraunts.
Eating farm-to-table not only supports local farms, fisheries, bakeries, and other businesses across the state, it’s often a more sustainable option, allowing you to feel good about enjoying some of the best flavors North Carolina has to offer.
From sustainable seafood to seasonal produce, here are some of the best farm-to-table dining options across North Carolina:
1. Farm Table Kitchen and Bar — 960 Gateway Commons Circle, Wake Forest
Since 2014, Wake Forest’s Farm Table Kitchen and Bar has been serving up seasonally-inspired menus with locally sourced ingredients. This summer, expect comfort foods with a Southern accent, from bacon mac and cheese to citrus crab cakes, with fresh sides changing daily and a variety of gluten-free options.
2. Bouchon — 62 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville
Is Asheville the “Paris of the South?” Many North Carolinians think so — including Bouchon’s proprietor, French-born transplant Michel Baudoin. At Bouchon, expect French classics from quiche du jour to steak frites, with meat and produce sourced from farms across western North Carolina. Bouchon is also proud to be a Certified Green Restaurant, a certification that marks its dedication to environmental sustainability; and a Living Wage Employer, a designation applied to businesses that pay all employees enough to afford their basic necessities without public or private assistance.
3. Benne on Eagle — 35 Eagle St., Asheville
History, community, and delicious meals all in one place; that’s Benne on Eagle. From local artist Joseph Pearson’s mural adorning the wall to a menu that pays homage to traditional African American flavors, Benne on Eagle celebrates its roots in historic Asheville. The restaurant menus shine from breakfast (try the locally sourced eggs and house-made biscuits and gravy) to dinner (smothered pork chops are a highlight). Benne on Eagle serves up comfort, tradition, and heritage on a plate.
4. Crawford and Son — 618 N. Pearson Street, Raleigh
For innovative farm-to-table cuisine in a casual setting, Raleigh’s Crawford and Son is a gem of the capital city’s Oakwood neighborhood. With an eclectic menu that emphasizes seafood, diners can also dig into grilled lamb merguez, strawberry-rhubarb tart with chamomile custard, or a grilled hanger steak if they’re not into the ocean’s fare. Creative house-made cocktails also include non-alcoholic options, so everyone can enjoy.
5. Southern Smoke BBQ — 29 Warren St., Garland
While many Southern states claim to be barbecue masters, us residents of the Tar Heel State know it’s just better in North Carolina. Southern Smoke BBQ is part of that tradition, with a family-owned operation open three days a week for slow-smoked barbecue with a side of cornbread and homemade pie for dessert. Southern Smoke also offers catering, and has even published its own cookbook.
6. Heirloom — 33 Glenway St., Belmont
If you’re looking for a fine-dining experience full of locally sourced, seasonal flavors, consider Heirloom. With three- and six-course tasting menus ranging from roast tomato pie to chocolate red wine cake, Heirloom specializes in internationally-inspired cuisine with a Southern accent. Having recently moved from its original Charlotte location to the suburb of Belmont across the Catawba River, Heirloom keeps its emphasis on seasonal dining; even its cocktails and beer selections change with the season.
Find out more details on the restaurant’s website.
7. Lantern — 423 West Franklin St., Chapel Hill
For locally sourced pan-Asian flavors in the heart of the Research Triangle, look no further than Chapel Hill’s Lantern. With a menu as rich in flavor as in gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian options, diners can enjoy house-made bento boxes, lemongrass-grilled pork ribs and more. Lantern also proudly sponsors Kitchen Patrol, a project that teaches children healthy cooking and eating skills.
8. The Eddy Pub — 1715 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road, Saxapahaw
Farm-to-table dining is just one of many ways to connect with the community at The Eddy Pub. Inspired by the friendly atmosphere of conventional English pubs, but with a North Carolina twist, The Eddy Pub offers traditional pub dishes like fish and chips or bangers and mash, with ingredients sourced from local partner farms. The Eddy also sponsors community initiatives ranging from partnerships with local nonprofits to a gardening club at a Saxapahaw school.
9. Saltbox Seafood Joint — 2637 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham
Best-selling novel-turned-movie Where the Crawdads Sing brought North Carolina seafood to the world’s attention, but North Carolinians have always known about the delicious fish and shellfish our state offers. At Saltbox Seafood Joint, 2022 James Beard Best Chef honoree Ricky Moore serves up platters of fish and shellfish, with a menu that changes daily based on that morning’s sustainably sourced catch of the day.
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