the table
photograph by Stacey Van Berkel

The Table

Owner and Sophia native Dustie Gregson hadn’t so much as waitressed before she bought the building that once served as the office for the Cranford Hosiery Mill. She started fulfilling a dream that reflected a childhood spent ’round a table that was the base for everything from breakfast to homework to holiday dinners. The result is The Table, located in the 1925 downtown building, with its all-white interior, feeling like it might be attached to a dairy. Look up, where a five-tiered “chandelier,” made of 240 French milk bottles, was created by a welder friend. Eat on whitewashed tables made by a craftsman in Lexington, beneath a white tin ceiling that Dustie and her father painted, on scaffolding, like Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. (Dustie cried the afternoon the lowered ceiling collapsed due to a leaking roof, and kept crying, with joy, when she realized the collapse had revealed the original pressed tin.) Her sister, a commercial artist, painted the large images of a fork, spoon, and sheep. Don’t look for a booth, though. “People like to be secluded,” a contractor warned Dustie. She disagreed. You will, too. It’s a joy to sip coffee, eat a house-made pastry, or devour the aforementioned sammie in this square, lively, sunlit, and window-walled space.

The Table
139 South Church Street
Asheboro, NC 27203
(336) 736-8628

Crafted – The Art of the Taco/Crafted – The Art of Street Food

There are two places named Crafted in Greensboro, each with its own focus. At the first, like a speakeasy, a narrow aisle leads to the back-of-house treasure, where waitresses serve tacos with names like Fixie (beef brisket, grilled pineapple, spicy Asian mustard) and Hoodie. Collards with tacos? Believe it; the good kind, with soft stems. And you know that anywhere with a Mason of Bacon — a Mason jar filled with applewood-smoked bacon coated in salted caramel and cracked pepper with spicy chocolate for dipping — is somewhere and something you need to experience.

Alternately, and just a few blocks down, you could be eating bao (braised pork belly, kimchi, hoisin sauce, and scallions) or empanadas (onion- and pea-stuffed pastry with adobe aioli and lime) or “thinly sliced and fried naked” okra with Indian spices and  onion-tamarind chutney. Street food comes from a kitchen here in this comfortably crowded and noisy new addition to downtown Greensboro, combining chandeliers, concrete, china — and graffiti — with a communal table and garage-type windowed doors that let diners at the counter people-watch to their hearts’ content on balmy evenings.

Crafted — The Art of the Taco
219-A South Elm Street
Greensboro, NC 27401
(336) 273-0030

Crafted — The Art of Street Food
600-C Battleground Avenue
Greensboro, NC 27401
(336) 265-8859

triad dining

Emma Key’s Flat-Top Grill Greensboro

They’re rounded like pool balls, and racked — er, stacked — in plain sight, as is the entire kitchen. This is the ground beef that will become the famous, beloved flat-top burgers with names Hotel California and James Taylor, and toppings like slaw and guac, chili and grilled onions, grilled tomatoes and all the regular condiments. Order at the register, then find a seat inside, or outside when it’s pleasant, at tables with umbrellas and concrete squares where someone’s children, if not yours, can scribble with colored chalk. Emma Key’s is a throwback, where college kids eat beside real-estate moguls, and you tear your napkins from a paper towel roll. Don’t wear white. You’ll be sorry.

2206 Walker Avenue
Greensboro, NC 27403
(336) 285-9429

Leblon Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse

“Treat this like a traffic light,” the waiter at Leblon Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse suggests. “Green means ‘go’ to the gauchos.” He’s referring to a paper disc that reads Sim, Por Favor on the green side, and Não, Obrigado on the red. It’s good advice. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself paralyzed at the salad bar of this Brazilian restaurant that calls itself a steakhouse, but is far, far more.

Now, turn over your disc, and, one after another, here come the gauchos with skewers — big skewers, plus big knives — of grilled and roasted meats. The presentation and slicing are remarkable: professional yet casual. These guys know what they’re doing with filets wrapped in bacon. Flank steak. Prime rib. Top sirloin (a house special). Pork tenderloin with Parmesan. Chicken, lamb, sausage, baby back ribs. Even the shapes of the meat are interesting. Occasionally, you’ll need to assist the gaucho with the pair of tongs you’ve been handily provided, not to mention your own hefty steak knife, and a peppercorn sauce that enhances the grilled flavor. Oh, and petite cheese popovers nearly light as air. On and on — until you suddenly remember to turn over that disc!

106 South Holden Road
Greensboro, NC 27407
(336) 294-2605

Sushi Republic Greensboro

Behold the beautiful colors of raw fish — yellow, orange, coral, strawberry-red, and even purple (the octopus). The folks at Sushi Republic will be happy to tutor you in Sushi 101 as they wrap the extensive menu items in seaweed sheets. Or create your own roll as you sit at a high two-top up front in the dark, sleek setting of this unexpected Asian oasis on the outskirts of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro campus.

329 Tate Street
Greensboro, NC 27403
(336) 274-6684

Gia

Nino Giaimo is still in his 30s, but he knows that sometimes you want a library feel, with bookshelves and a fireplace. Or sometimes you want a bar feel, open and lively. Or sometimes you want a parlor feel, one that seats only eight and has high-backed chairs. Be not afraid of the big, red-tile kiln the chef refers to as “she” at Gia. Your pork is being “fired” in there, as well as your pound cake. Small plates equal room for more.

1941 New Garden Road #208
Greensboro, NC 27410
(336) 907-7536

Osteria Greensboro

You know how, in New York City, a lot of the restaurants have no windows on the outdoors? They’re interior spaces (bags of trash on sidewalks not being one of the prettier aspects of the Big Apple), made either cozy and clubby, or sleek and sophisticated. Osteria manages to be both. Be seated at red leather(ish) banquettes, or comfortably close tables in one large, high-ceilinged room. Since March 2012, “Everything we do is here,” says owner and chef Koco Tamburi. “From the bread to the dessert, you know who to blame.” Steer toward the seafood special. Tamburi’s Italian, from an area famous for salami and prosciutto, but our state’s fresh fish is his favorite thing about cooking in North Carolina.

1310 Westover Terrace
Greensboro, NC 27408
(336) 275-2550

Lucky 32, Green Valley Grill, and Print Works Bistro

These guys do everything without repeating anything. At the original restaurant, Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, banquettes feel cozy, enhanced by the three levels allotted to dining and drinking. Or step outside, on a vine-covered veranda, to enjoy your New American selections, jazzed classics, and a seasonal menu with dishes devoted to themes ranging from New Orleans to farmers market.

In Europe, hotel restaurants are well-known for excellence, and Green Valley Grill goes for an old-world feel with its beamed ceiling; half-moon mural depicting fruits, game, and vegetables not so far removed from an Old Master still life; and flags from two dozen countries displayed overhead. Even the carpet is patterned to look like a terra-cotta mosaic.

Print Works Bistro is a hotel restaurant as well, with one of the cooler bar areas (white patent leather? Natch) in town, and an airy dining room with gauzy linen panels that soften and divide the space, with the rarefied feel of a château, without the intimidation that comes along with a walk around Versailles. Count on tablecloths, upholstered chairs, and impeccable service.

Lucky 32
1421 Westover Terrace
Greensboro, NC 27104
(336) 370-0707

Green Valley Grill
622 Green Valley Road
Greensboro, NC 27408
(336) 854-2015

Print Works Bistro
702 Green Valley Road
Greensboro, NC 27408
(336) 379-0699

Undercurrent

The colors are discreet and understated — grays and off-whites. The décor minimal and classy — think columns and statuary. The maître d’ is, well, polishing the menus, as one would expect. Just pause a minute and soak in the swank. Still, they’re after food and wine awards here, not trophies for sleekness and subtlety. Undercurrent is your spot for a business lunch or a special dinner prepared by a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef. Dress up a little. Even the hidden outside tables wear white tablecloths.

327 Battleground Avenue
Greensboro, NC 27401
(336) 370-1266

1618 Seafood Grille, 1618 Wine Lounge, 1618 Downtown, and 1618 On Location

It began with a restaurant in what was once a dry- cleaning establishment, a square room where food (particularly fresh seafood) — too beautiful, too cleverly combined, and, in some cases, too high and fragile to bear to take a fork to — was placed before your awestruck expression. On to the neighborhood wine bar, with its 20 barstools, step-up banquettes, and exquisite small plates to accompany your craft cocktail made with homemade limoncello or ginger beer for Moscow mules. Around 11 p.m., the place transforms into a full-fledged bar, and the entire tempo — and opportunities for people-watching — ramps up. Next, they took the concept on the road, with the 1618 food truck, available for parties and events, with its full kitchen and full range of canapés to entrées.

Most recently, 1618 Downtown has entered the scene, for a midday burger, a 5 p.m. tuna tartare snack, or a late-night mixed drink. You can sit beneath a mural of downtown Greensboro, or retreat to the rear of this narrow venue in what was once a downtown bookstore, where large windows give you not only a view, but some quiet far from the bar crowd. Or find a place on the sofas that perch inside the plate-glass front. Watch ’em flock. The Fab Four never disappoint.

1618 Seafood Grille
1618 West Friendly Avenue
Greensboro, NC 27403
(336) 235-0898
1618seafoodgrille.com

1618 Wine Lounge
1724 Battleground Avenue
Greensboro, NC 27408
(336) 285-9410
1618winelounge.com

1618 Downtown
312 South Elm Street
Greensboro, NC 27401
(336) 312-4143
1618downtown.com

Smith Street Diner Greensboro

It’s a diner, and they do have diner food, like meatloaf and corned beef hash. But just go ahead and get the breakfast at Smith Street Diner. Mexican eggs (two, over medium, with chiles, home fries, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, and cheese). Just go with the counter stools and the red-and-vanilla floor tiles and the silverware in paper cones and the fluorescent lights. Caveat: Weekends, everyone wants breakfast. This breakfast.

438 Battleground Avenue
Greensboro, NC 27401
(336) 379-8666

The Tavern in Old Salem Winston-Salem

The Salem Tavern restaurant is in an 1816 building in Old Salem, where people in 1800s dress come and go, plying their trades in colonial dress, as though two centuries haven’t elapsed and electricity hasn’t replaced hand-dipped beeswax candles. You’ll dine at simple wooden tables set with pewter chargers and lanterns (see aforementioned beeswax candles), served and tended by women in long skirts and neckerchiefs and aprons like the Moravian lasses of their time. In addition to colonial authenticity in dress and décor, Salem Tavern prides itself on local meats and vegetables, adhering to a current trend that was the only option in its day: using whatever was nearby, and available. Which makes the Reuben’s Rowan County corned beef especially delicious, as well as the sauerkraut and side of pickled beets.

736 South Main Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
(336) 722-1227

Quanto Basta, and Spring House

Quanto Basta is an Italian culinary term meaning “as much as you like, as much as you need”; the menu here, filled with small plates and pizzas (the most expensive item is $24), attests to the philosophy. Pastas come with a thick wedge of dense and delicious bread for sauce-sopping; desserts, made in-house, are to die for; and the vibe is terrific. Try sitting at the kitchen bar to watch the custom pizzas being wood-fired at 800 degrees, or at a banquette, or in the calm loggia, or at a communal table made by a family friend in Boone.

Then again, you can walk up the street, literally, to the flagship, Spring House, for elegant dining in a splendid, storied setting: a stucco home built in 1920 on what was then called Millionaire’s Row. Have a drink outside on the peaceful grounds beneath a sprawling, shading oak, and envy the lush plantings. And let’s talk about the perfectly-prepared, perfectly paired riffs on Southern food: a starter of crispy pork belly, fried green tomatoes, Cheerwine barbecue sauce, and pimento cheese grits alongside a fried egg, with a sprinkle of dainty greens to assuage your guilt. House-made ricotta cavatelli arrives on a bed of lima bean puree with succotash. Then there’s the red velvet ice cream sandwich. If only doggie bags came insulated.

Quanto Basta: Italian Eatery and Wine Bar
680 West 4th Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
(336) 893-6144

Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar
450 North Spring Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
(336) 293-4797

triad dining

Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro

Sometimes you just want meatloaf or fried chicken. But with something extra, like tomato marmalade or peach chutney. At Mozelle’s, it’s all good, all simple. Inside, it’s jumping (with service) and close (with packed and populated tables), with the single-aisle feel of a diner. Outside, beneath an umbrella, watch the downtown world go by. You’ll feel like everybody knows your name, and that grease on your chin is no faux pas.

878 West 4th Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
(336) 703-5400

triad dining

Bernardin’s

When you open Bernardin’s door, decaled with their numerous awards, it’s tempting to collapse into one of the squishy leather sofas flanking the fireplace in this two-centuries-old home. It’s a cozy room with a cozy bar that invites lingering. But head up the narrow stairs to the main room, where white-tableclothed tables — seating five at most — are comfortably crowded upon dark, almost ebony, hardwood floors. Great beams overhead and another fireplace create a serene, intimate setting where diners softly converse. The very atmosphere is lovely. Is “Colonial Elegance” a restaurant genre?

Winston-Salem has the lock on terrific restaurants in old homes, and this one, built in 1815 by Van Neman Zeveley, a cabinetmaker, was moved — saved, rather — in 1974, and transported to its current location. But only Bernadin’s serves tandoori kangaroo and New Zealand venison. Not up for game? The curried grouper with eggplant caviar will do nicely instead.

901 West 4th Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
(336) 725-6666

Bia’s Gourmet Hardware

You can certainly go for the bar alone, which is long, stocked, and impressive in this historic hardware-become-restaurant in downtown Asheboro. “You look for an exit strategy,” Bia’s Gourmet Hardware owner Eric Rich says of New York. He and his wife Beatriz — she was a private chef, he was a bartender — followed their dreams of leaving that city and returning to Randolph County, where Eric has family. But pull yourself away, and consider Bia’s food instead, on one of six seasonal menus. Here are outside-of-the-box menu offerings like pork belly pho, rabbit sausage, wagyu rib eye, Scottish salmon, or squash risotto. Lean against the building’s 1902 brick walls, consider the restaurant’s extensive remodeling — and the fact that Eric and his father did all the woodwork themselves — read the vintage hardware signs (“Lime and Cement”; “Oliver Plows”), and wait for Brazilian chef Beatriz to conduct her magic in the kitchen she designed herself.

103 Worth Street
Asheboro, NC 27203
(336) 610-2427

Southern Roots

The joint is jumpin’, boisterous with laughter, and wide-open, like its owner Lisa Hawley, who’ll probably stop by your table and pat your back whether she knows you or not. “I just went upstairs to lie down,” she confesses, right before she admits that, “I’m thinking I’m going to dance tonight,” to the band playing for the outdoor diners out back. A caterer for 17 years for furniture market big shots before opening Southern Roots 14 years ago, Hawley’s personality shines through the menu. You’ve got to love a place with Texas Pete aioli on a fried-shrimp-and-oyster sandwich named Baby Gull, okra pizza, and grilled watermelon with feta for a salad.

119 East Main Street
Jamestown, NC 27282
(336) 882-5570

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Kelly is a contributing editor at Our State. She is the author of By Accident and the novels Now You Know, The Last of Something, Even Now, and How Close We Come, winner of the Carolina Novel Award and an alternate selection of Book-of-the-Month Club. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lives in Greensboro.