Welcome to North Carolina, the land of breathtaking mountains, rolling hills, and spectacular beaches. But North Carolina isn’t just a destination for nature lovers; it’s also a foodie paradise. From tangy barbecue to sweet potato pie, this state is home to some of the most delicious and unique dishes in the South. So, whether you’re a born and bred North Carolinian or just visiting for the first time, prepare to indulge in some truly mouth-watering cuisine.
Let’s start with the basics: barbecue. North Carolina is famous for its BBQ, and for good reason. While there are different styles of barbecue throughout the state, the most famous is the Eastern Carolina style. This type of barbecue features whole hogs that are slow-cooked over a wood fire until they’re tender and juicy. The meat is then chopped and served with a tangy vinegar-based sauce. You can find Eastern-style BBQ at countless restaurants and roadside stands throughout the state, but some of the best can be found in the cities of Goldsboro, Kinston, and Wilson.
If you’re not in the mood for BBQ, fear not. North Carolina has plenty of other delicious options. For example, the state is also known for its fried chicken, which is crispy, juicy, and oh-so-satisfying. Some of the best fried chicken in the state can be found at Price’s Chicken Coop in Charlotte, which has been serving up its signature chicken for over 60 years.
And then there are the sides. No Southern meal is complete without a hearty helping of collard greens, mac and cheese, and baked beans. In North Carolina, you’ll find all of these classic sides, plus a few unique dishes that are specific to the state. For example, sweet potato casserole is a staple at many North Carolina holiday tables, and it’s not hard to see why. This dish, which features mashed sweet potatoes mixed with butter, brown sugar, and spices, is the perfect balance of sweet and savory.
But North Carolina isn’t just about the savory food. The state is also known for its sweet treats. One of the most popular desserts is banana pudding, which is made with layers of vanilla pudding, sliced bananas, and vanilla wafers. You can find banana pudding at almost any Southern-style restaurant, but for a truly authentic experience, head to Magnolia Grill in Durham.
Another beloved North Carolina dessert is sweet potato pie. This pie is similar to pumpkin pie but with a sweeter, richer flavor. It’s made with mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, and spices, and it’s the perfect way to end any meal.
Of course, no trip to North Carolina is complete without a drink in hand. The state is home to a number of craft breweries and distilleries, as well as vineyards that produce some of the finest wines in the region. One of the most famous North Carolina beverages is Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soda that’s been a favorite in the state since 1917.
If you’re looking for something a little stronger, head to one of the state’s many distilleries. Durham Distillery produces a range of gin, vodka, and liqueurs that are made using local ingredients. Meanwhile, Asheville Distilling Company is known for its award-winning whiskey and moonshine.
And if you prefer wine, North Carolina has you covered. The state is home to over 200 vineyards and wineries, with many located in the Yadkin Valley region. Shelton Vineyards, which is located in Dobson, is one of the largest wineries in the state and offers tours and tastings.