HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — If there’s anything the Tar Heel State loves, it’s good eating.
Whether it be the simplistic pleasure of your favorite Bojangles or Cook Out menu item or some Lexington-style barbecue, North Carolinians know how to satisfy their taste buds.
With that being said, there’s more to our great state’s food scene than simply the first few things that come to mind.
With as many great options as we have, some of them were bound to receive national recognition.
Without further ado, here are the 24 North Carolina restaurants that have been featured on Food Network, specifically on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”
Sweet n Savory Cafe
Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, Sweet n Savory Cafe is a must-try option while passing through Wilmington. The menu includes something for everyone with classic dishes (pot roast, chicken pot pie, meatloaf, etc.) and incredible creations from the restaurant’s Executive chef and Sous chef.
Special Dishes: Wrightsville Beach French Toast, Mutha Heffer Sandwich (Meatloaf Sandwich)
Cast Iron Kitchen
This breakfast-brunch spot is serving up classic Southern flavors all day long. From shrimp and grits to chicken and waffles (and everything in between), Cast Iron Kitchen has a menu to satisfy any appetite. Guy Fieri suggests ordering the Not My Momma’s Meatloaf, which is comfort food at its finest.
Special Dishes: Dirty South Biscuit, Not My Momma’s Meatloaf
For a taste of Philly in North Carolina, head to Copper Penny where owner Brian Cadwallader is serving up inventive pub food. The 109 Chestnut Chicken Sandwich is a take on a chicken Philly cheesesteak. It is served with their famous onion rings. “Keep those onion rings away from me,” Guy Fieri said after he couldn’t stop eating them, “I never want to see them again.”
Special Dishes: 109 Chestnut Chicken Sandwich, Hot Roasted Pork Sandwich
Chef and co-owner Hunter Tiblier grew up in Panama while his dad was working on the Panama Canal. At Ceviche’s he’s bringing the Latin-inspired dishes of his childhood to North Carolina. The Ropa Vieja is a homerun. Chef Tiblier takes spicy braised flank steak and serves it with citrus cabbage slaw, coconut rice, fried plantains, salsa fresca and avocado. Not surprisingly they also do killer authentic ceviche.
Special Dishes: Ropa Vieja, Sancocho, Ceviche
This spot caters to craft beer aficionados who are particular about both their brews and their bites. In addition to its carefully curated selection of suds that extends beyond Heist’s own brews, the spot also serves not-so-basic burgers and other elevated takes on pub grub (Duck Confit Flatbread, anyone?). “That’s legit,” said Guy Fieri after sampling the sliders that feature miniature patties made from a blend of chuck, porter and brisket. These bite-sized beauties are packed with flavor, thanks to layers of herb goat cheese, beer-laced bacon jam, roasted tomatoes, fresh arugula and a house-made barbecue sauce.
Special Dishes: Burger, Burger, Burger (Sliders), Duck Confit Flatbread
The Improper Pig
The Improper Pig is not your standard Southern barbecue joint. Here, classic Carolina ‘cue shares the menu with new-school creations shot through with Asian flavors. “There is nothing that I do not love about this,” exclaimed Guy Fieri when he tucked into the Chaobao Taco. Opt for this dish and you’ll get a steamed bun stuffed with succulent pulled pork that’s slathered with hoisin sauce and topped with a housemade coleslaw.
Special Dishes: Chaobao Taco, Improper Charcuterie
Bang Bang Burgers
The crowds pack in for the impeccable patties that Chef-Owner Joseph Huang turns out at his burger joint. Huang makes all his patties with Black Angus beef sourced from renowned butcher Pat LaFrieda, then dresses them up with a dazzling array of toppings. One popular pick is a Southern-tinged burger featuring a simply seasoned patty smothered with housemade pimento cheese and topped with fried pickles (which Guy Fieri deemed “the kicker,” when he stopped in for a bite).
Special Dishes: Pimento Burger, Fried Sweet Potato Brie Burger
Papi Queso Food Truck
Locals track down this roaming food truck for a taste of the gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches turned out by owner Brian Stockholm. “You’re a small food truck, but you’re getting all cheffy on it,” Guy Fieri declared after stepping inside. He raved about the Pig Mac sandwich composed of cheddar cheese slices layered between bechamel mac and cheese, caramelized bourbon onions and pulled pork that’s been rubbed with a slew of spices. A squirt of espresso barbecue sauce completes the creation.
Special Dishes Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
JJ’s Red Hots
JJ’s Red Hots is one food establishment that has gone entirely to the dogs … hot dogs, that is. Owner Jonathan Luther draws the crowds with his menu of hot dogs and sausages that can be customized with a slew of toppings. He makes the joint’s traditional Austrian-style sausages from scratch, using an 85/15 blend of pork butt and chuck. “That’s legit,” Guy Fieri declared after tucking into a spice-laden, cheese-laced sausage loaded with sauerkraut, pickled onions and mustard.
Special Dishes Housemade Sausage, Chili Cheese Coney
Mert’s Heart and Soul
Guy Fieri couldn’t visit North Carolina without getting a taste of low-country cooking, so he made a beeline for this down-home Southern restaurant. He tried the Soul Roll, an egg roll wrap that comes stuffed with adobo-laced collard greens, black-eyed peas, seasoned rice and diced fried chicken. “This is a soul food missile pop … with everything combined in one easy-to-eat bite,” he declared of the dish.
Special Dishes: Soul Roll, Shrimp and Grits
South 21 Drive-in
Since 1955, South 21 Drive-In has been serving more than 20,000 meals a month to Charlotte, N.C., locals; so Guy Fieri had to check them out. He’s glad he did for their classic American burgers and shakes, including the Super Boy, a signature double burger with scratch-made chili and tangy slaw.
Special Dishes: Super Boy (Burger with Two Patties, Coleslaw and Chili), Fish O Burger, Onion Rings, Golden Southern Fried Chicken
Walking into Dish feels like walking into someone’s grandmother’s house. It’s warm and casual and you get the feeling you’re going to be taken care of. Come for classic Southern comfort food like fried green tomatoes or chicken and biscuits, a Guy Fieri favorite.
Special Dishes: Chicken and Dumplings, Salmon Patties, Shrimp and Grits
The Tin Kitchen Food Truck
This mobile food truck serves top-notch tacos and fusion dishes like buffalo-style cauliflower tacos.
Special Dishes: Pork Belly Tacos, Buffalo Cauliflower Sliders
Pinky’s Westside Grill
A converted auto repair shop, this casual restaurant serves towering burgers, snappy dogs and not-too-healthy salads topped with popcorn chicken and fried buffalo shrimp.
Special Dishes: Triple “G” Burger, Corn Dog Shrimp
Intermezzo Pizzeria and Cafe
This pizzeria sets its menu apart with a selection of traditional Serbian dishes, including Piroska, a Balkan-style stuffed pizza. Another standout is the grilled fungi option. Inspired by the foraged mushrooms the owners’ mother used to prepare, this earthy pie is scattered with grilled portobello, shiitake, oyster and button mushrooms over mozzarella before being finished with fragrant basil.
Special Dishes: Piroska, Grilled Fungi Pizza
In a historic house a mother-daughter team prepares sensational seasonal New American dishes and homey desserts like a rotating ice cream sandwich.
Special Dishes: Lamb Ragout, Ice Cream Sandwich
Pit Road Bar & Grill
Set inside a Go-Kart Track, this casual restaurant serves crowd-pleasing dishes like wings, loaded fries and the Hot Lap, a sandwich packed with spicy chicken, jalapeno crema and cheese.
Special Dishes: Moon Pie Burger, Hot Lap Sandwich
Outer Banks Brewing Station
Kill Devils Hills
This pub is committed to lessening its carbon footprint and not only sources local seafood and produce but also generates its own power using a wind turbine. Guy Fieri was impressed by the shrimp and grits with redeye gravy and sweet potato chips. Locals enjoy a handcrafted beer with their meal.
Special Dishes: Shrimp and Grits, Handcrafted Beer
Jake’s Good Eats
Brothers Jake and Gordon Stegall converted an old gas station into the local favorite for twists on Southern cooking. Guy Fieri’s favorite, blackened flounder with country ham grit cakes, was an out-of-bounds winner. But locals savor the super tasty venison quesadillas.
Special Dishes: Maple-Glazed Pork Chop, Venison Quesadilla
What flows through the river of Flavortown? Guy Fieri says it’s the Bar-B-Q Chicken at Bar-B-Q King. On The Best Thing I Ever Ate and Triple D, he chows down on their chicken that’s been fried and then dunked in their famous barbecue sauce. It’s nothing short of a tried-and-true recipe from 1959.
Special Dishes: Pulled Pork, BBQ Chicken, Southern Fried Chicken
Landmark Restaurant Diner
Landmark Restaurant Diner may be a Greek family restaurant, but the menu spans the globe, from the American Turkey Tom-Tom (“Thanksgiving on a plate”) to the Italian tiramisu (one of just 230 baked goods). Of course, they’ve got Greek too — Guy Fieri could eat the spanakopita not once, but 36 more times.
Special Dishes: Boiled Whole Turkey, Split Pea Soup
Cabo Fish Taco
Even though Cabo Fish Taco calls North Carolina home, its tacos take a cue from Baja, California, as well as from south of the border. Guy Fieri visited Cabo looking for a new twist on the SoCal favorite and he found it in Flavortown with Cabo’s Southern-style mango barbecue fish tacos.
Special Dishes: Fish Tacos, Mango BBQ Mahi Mahi Tacos
At this surfer hangout, grill master Richard Welch is dishing out “ridiculous” Caribbean-inspired dishes. Guy Fieri thought that the habanero jelly gave the jerk-seasoned pork chops just the right amount of spice and sweetness. The wet jerk-seasoned chicken with pineapple chutney was “off the hook.”
Special Dishes: Jerk-seasoned Pork Chops, Jerk-seasoned Chicken
The Black Pelican Oceanfront Restaurant
Located on the beachfront, this is where the locals know to come for fresh locally caught seafood. The Wanchese fisherman’s risotto with scallops and shrimp had Guy Fieri lickin’ his chops. This eatery is also known for its juicy citrus rosemary brine chicken with smoked gouda mash potatoes.
Special Dishes: Wanchese Fisherman’s Risotto, Citrus Rosemary Brine Chicken