100 Foods You Must Eat in 100 Counties

  • By David Bailey
  • Photography by Elizabeth Zongolowicz, Lissa Gotwals, Mark Petco, Matt Rose, Taylor Mathis

In our search for food in North Carolina, we found throughout our state platefuls of goodness that deliver much more than sustenance.

100 Foods in 100 Counties

Down East, a friendly woman waxed poetic about the little brown peaks and sugar bubbles on the meringue pie at Brantley’s Village Restaurant in Oriental. Along Interstate 95, former University of North Carolina system President Bill Friday raved about Enfield’s A&B Milling Company peanuts, which he uses in homemade brittle. In the foothills, a chronicler of livermush compared the subtleties of Cleveland County’s finest brands of that delicacy.

From one place to the next, in every county in the state, North Carolinians of all kinds generously shared local lore about the foods they’d come to love. All I had to do was listen.

The following pages wouldn’t be here without them. You would think it was a dream assignment: to search for food in North Carolina worth sharing. Mouthwatering main courses, savory sides, creamy desserts. But the fact is, I couldn’t have done it alone. Finding a delicious dish in each of our state’s 100 counties has taken work. And to ferret out something that provides a sense of place, that in some way characterizes a county, and that’s not already widely known? That was daunting.

But with the help of people from all over, I discovered not only an impressive assortment of down-home delectables, but also a vibrant ethnic culinary landscape, often quite sophisticated and, in many cases, employing fresh, local fare. There’s the Giardini Trattoria in Polk County, for example, which serves organic vegetables from a garden you can see from your table. Or German-born chef Hanni Steelman, who serves world-class Wiener schnitzel in rural Yadkin County.

From corner to corner, North Carolina lays out a feast of often familiar, but sometimes unexpected, delights — the food in North Carolina, and especially the people.

To read individual county entries, simply enter the county name into the search bar above or click on the “100 foods in 100 counties” tag below.

Download the portable 100 Foods You Must Eat Checklist

Want a portable checklist of all 100 places you should eat? Simply click here to download and print today!

David Bailey is an award-winning restaurant critic who writes about food in North Carolina. He lives in Greensboro.

This entry was posted in Food, July 2010, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to 100 Foods You Must Eat in 100 Counties

  1. Pingback: life list: 100 foods in 100 counties | brand new kind of photography

  2. Paul Ebert says:

    Also, Kville has some good que. Still think Mr. Bbq is the best in Forsyth. Speedy’s in Davidson Co is the best in the state.

  3. Paul Ebert says:

    As far asas Forsyth County. Mr. Bbq in Winston has best bbq. PB’s takeout and Pulliams have incredible hot dogs. Any of the three could make the list.

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  5. ncbound1296 says:

    RuckerJohns in Carteret County has some of the best food east of I-95. The owner is a family of NC natives, and the restaurant started from the ground up and has been in the family for 25 years! They have three locations in Eastern NC, but don’t be fooled…this is not a chain restaurant. Their soups are amazing, and the salads are served with croissants in a sweet honey glaze….not to mention the specialty dishes…highly recommended.

  6. Pingback: Three Foods You Must Eat in Delaware’s Three Counties : Delaware Liberal

  7. as says:

    14 out of 100 for me.

    Keaton’s in Rowan County and Bill’s Hot Dogs in Little Washington are worth the drive from anywhere.

  8. Dan Craver says:

    Word of caution: The Ford Place in Mt Gilead, Montgomery County, is apparently under new management and the recommended sliders which we had previously enjoyed are NO LONGER EVEN ON THE MENU. We went there very recently (January 2011) and were extremely disappointed in the “new” menu as it appeared very plain and just unappetizing.
    I hope our future road trips to Our State Magazine are better.

  9. jcbridge says:

    Shame on OUR STATE magazine for their recommendation! And, shame on owner, Hanni Steelman for passing off such poor representations of German food. I know German food, and rubbery canned mushrooms in brown gravy poured over a cheap piece of gristle-filled pork, fried beyond recognition does NOT a Jaeger (hunter) schnitzel make! The homemade Spaetzle turned out to be little more than greasy egg noodles. This proprietor would also do well to consider NC’s no smoking Laws since we witnessed her smoking IN the kitchen! We paid $130 for 6 in our party, without alcohol. They offer wine; however, if you’re looking for German beer, they don’t serve ANY beer! And, do NOT count on Mapquest to find it because there are 2 instances where MQ is wrong. When we phoned for directions, (after getting lost) the owner told us she was busy! But after we arrived, the owner admitted to being frustrated by MQ errors for her location. That should have been our first clue in what turned out to be a truly horrific dining experience. If you desire good German food, don’t even think about wasting your time and money here.

  10. Frank Luck says:

    Mr. Bailey has obviously never eaten a real pizza – Sir Pizza in Asheboro is serving glorified dogfood. I tried it on his recommendation – he owes me $15 and a bottle of tums. If he wants a real pizza he should go to Frank’s Pizza in Raleigh – He can learn what amore is!

  11. Meg says:

    As for the German Restaurant in Yadkinville……we made the drive from Alamance County and although the staff was friendly, the food was lack luster and not worth the trip.

  12. Pingback: 100 Foods in 100 Counties « Slice Sadler Travelogue

  13. Kim Thore says:

    Regarding Lance’s Grocery & Grill #85 on the list, the cook just retired after many years. This place was such a great find and I am sad that there will be no more biscuits. In speaking with the owner Lance, I learned that he would like to sell the place. It would be the business only since the land is leased. I hope someone out there see this and wants to start a business there to keep the place open for business and give someone else a chance to show up their biscuits.
    The address is 3528 NC Hwy 89, Danbury, NC 27016 Phone number 336-593-8062

  14. Erin T. says:

    Fun list! I have enjoyed their cookies, but the one listed for Forsyth County is actually in Davidson County. Any ideas for another one in Forsyth County?

    Mrs.Hanes Moravian Cookies:

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  16. Pam says:

    Oysters Bienville at Mr. P’s in Southport are the best–or anything at Mr. P’s for that matter! We drive down from Raleigh for all our special events–birthdays, anniversaries, the weekend (or whatever reason I can come up with!).

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