The best restaurant is a bold claim to make. Obviously, I have not eaten at every restaurant in every North Carolina city and town. So I dug through Yelp reviews to help me out. Because you deserve to know what the best is, whether it’s your city, a nearby place, or somewhere you’re planning a trip. Many of the restaurants included on this list are hidden gems you may not have even heard of. Others are staples that everyone knows! There are 50 cities and towns included on this list and these are the 50 cities and towns in the state according to Wikipedia. You’ll find them listed from smallest to largest along with the best restaurants in that North Carolina city or town.

As for the restaurants, I consulted Yelp for each city and town included on this list. Reviews were sorted by the highest rated and the restaurant had to have an address in that specific city. Food trucks were omitted as well as a few coffee shops that didn’t offer food other than a couple of pastries. Not all the places included have sit-down meals but you can get a full meal at all of them. You’ll find a wide variety of restaurants including bbq, southern homestyle, Italian, and even Portuguese. Hopefully, this inspires you to check out a new place this weekend.

If you think another spot in your town deserves this title, well then you’ll have to give them a good review! Know that Yelp reviews are ever-changing so depending on when you are reading this a new restaurant could have taken the title on the platform. Do you think these are the best restaurants in North Carolina?

  • 50. Lexington (Padrinos Wings & Subs)

    Address: 303 W Mlk Jr Blvd Lexington, NC 27292

    On the menu at Padrionos you’ll find pizza, stromboli, calzones, wings, subs, and a variety of salads and appetizers. They have a perfect 5 star rating on Yelp with reviewers proclaiming its the “best pizza ever” and ordering food was the “best decision ever”.

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  • 49. Kinston (Byrd's Restaurant)

    Address: 196 Hwy 58 S Kinston, NC 28504

    Byrd’s may not look like much from the outside, but don’t let that fool you Yelp reviewers say. This is a homestyle eatery with daily specials including hamburger steak, pork chops, fried fish and daily sides as well including all of your southern favorites.

  • 48 Knightdale (Prime Barbecue)

    Address: 403 Knightdale Station Run Knightdale, NC 27545

    Reviewers rave that this is some of the best BBQ you’ll ever have. And photos on Prime Barbecue’s website do look divine. Order meats by the half pound and then sharable sides in a variety of sizes. Or if a sandwich, salad, or potato are more your speed try on of those. Save room for dessert as well.

  • 47. Carrboro (Mel's Commissary & Catering)

    Address: 109 W. Main Street Carrboro, NC 27510

    Mel’s serves lunch daily as well as snacks and drinks for happy hour inside or outside in the Biergarden. The food is all made from scratch and receives wonderful reviews. They just recently reopened for dine in after being closed for the pandemic for several years, and guests are thrilled to be able to visit their neighborhood favorite.

  • 46.. Clemmons (Tortilleria La Esperanza)

    Address: 2533 Lewisville Clemmons Rd Clemmons, NC 27012

    It’s important to note that Tortilleria La Esperanza is primarily a takeout restaurant. But often times these hole-in-the-wall type restaurants are some of the best food you’ll try. And that seems to certainly be the case in Clemmons.

    Tortilleria La Esperanza - Clemmons, NC

    15 reviews and 50 photos of TORTILLERIA LA ESPERANZA "Tortilleria La Esperanza just opened in Clemmons, and it is a welcome and unique addition to the village culinary scene.

  • 45. Waxhaw (Vera’s Kitchen)

    Address: 203 N Broome St Ste D Waxhaw, NC 28173

    You’ll find burgers, sandwiches, salads, and Mexican favorites as well as breakfast at Vera’s Kitchen in Waxhaw. This family-owned business has a diner feel and reviewers say the house made salsa is a must try!

    Vera's Kitchen - Waxhaw, NC

    Specialties: We are a family owned business that sells delicious traditional American breakfast and lunch. We also have some Hispanic inspired dishes integrated into our menu. We sell yummy dinner items such as Birria tacos for dinner on Friday and Saturday.

  • 44. Shelby (Japanese Express)

    Address: 907 Fallston Rd Shelby, NC 28150

    Reveiers on Yelp say this is by the far the best Japanese/Chinese food in Shelby. Standouts seem to be the General Tso’s Chicken, cream cheese wontons, and the affordable pricing. It is to-go only so keep that in mind if you’re wanting to try.

    Home | Japanese Express

    Shelby, NC 28150 Japanese food for Pickup - Order from Japanese Express in Shelby, NC 28150, phone: 704-481-9192

  • 43. Leland (Gaylyn's Diner)

    Address: 322 Village Rd NE Leland, NC 28451

    Gaylyn’s Diner serves both breakfast and lunch. The menu includes your typical diner favorites. Yelp reviewers love that’s its local and the the food is always fresh and delicious.

  • 42. Mint Hill (Sunflower Cafe)

    Address: 11211 Lawyers Rd Ste 122 Mint Hill, NC 28227

    Sunflower Cafe is a non-profit, community-focused cafe in Mint Hill. The menu features a variety of waffles, coffees, as well as salads. It is described as cozy and inviting, and also features artwork and jewelry for sale from local artisans.

  • 41. Kernersville (The Prescott)

    Address: 126 S Main Ste G Kernersville, NC 27284

    The Prescott’s website describes the establishment as a “deeply rooted, community-driven dining experience”. The menu includes dishes like seafood risotto, a pot roast sandwich, and truffle lobster.

  • 40. Asheboro (Black Powder Smokehouse)

    Address:  516 S Fayetteville St Unit 101 Asheboro, NC 27203

    Black Powder Smokehouse serves “artisan smoked meats and homemade sides with small-town hospitality.” Nice, modern, and hip were some of the words Yelp reviewers used to describe the restaurant.

  • 39. Thomasville (Taqueria El Gallito)

    Address: 1229 S Main St High Point, NC 27260

    According to Yelp reviewers, this is “the spot” for tacos in the High Point area. Food is “well seasoned” and the salsas “to die for”.

    Taqueria El Gallito - High Point, NC

    TAQUERIA EL GALLITO, 1229 S Main St, High Point, NC 27260, 21 Photos, Mon - 10:00 am - 10:00 pm, Tue - 10:00 am - 10:00 pm, Wed - 10:00 am - 10:00 pm, Thu - 10:00 am - 10:00 pm, Fri - 10:00 am - 10:00 pm, Sat - 2:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Sun - Closed

  • 38. Clayton (Jones Lunch)

    Address: 415 E Main St Clayton, NC 27520

    Jones Lunch has been a Clayton staple since 1958. This homestyle hot dog and burger place also serves breakfast. It’s got an old-time soda shop feel and the food is affordable which reviewers love.

  • 37. Statesville (Katana Kitchen)

    Address:132 Beechnut Ln Statesville, NC 28625

    Katana Kitchen’s menu features dishes assembled from the freshest ingredients. It’s a fast-casual restaurant, with popular dishes including poke bowls, popcorn chicken, and hibachi bowls.

  • 36. Matthews (Yanni Bistro)

    Address: 131 E John St Ste B Matthews, NC 28105

    Yanni Bistro is a plant based, vegan and gluten free restaurant located in the heart of downtown Matthews. Reviewers are unanimous in that you have to try to falafel.

  • 35. Sanford (The Smoke and Barrel)

    Address: 120 S Steele St Sanford, NC 27330

    According to their website The Smoke and Barrel is a self-described casual restaurant sure to “excite your taste buds and relax your senses with a comfortable rustic atmosphere.” Reviewers love the ambiance, service, and food.

  • 34. Morrisville (BLR Bar and Curry)

    Address: 10970 Chapel Hill Rd Ste 108 Morrisville, NC 27560

    BLR Bar and Curry is a fairly new restaurant that serves up Indian vegetarian cuisine. Reviewers say the food is excellent, full of flavor, and it keeps them coming back.

  • 33. New Bern (McCoy's Grill)

    Address: 3304 Neuse Blvd New Bern, NC 28560

    True “southern hospitality” is how one reviewer described Mccoy’s. Others say the food is always fresh and another used the word “WONDERFUL” yes in all caps to describe this southern bbq grill.

  • 32. Cornelius (Noboru Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar)

    Address: 20465 Chartwell Center Dr Cornelius, NC 28031

    Who doesn’t love Hibachi? This is your traditional hibachi restaurant and is new to area. Reviewers say the food and entertainment are fantastic.

  • 31. Garner (Angie's Restaurant)

    Address: 1340 W Garner Rd Garner, NC 27529

    Angie’s Restaurant describes itself as a “taste of friendship”. And that’s what you’ll find there, friendly staff that treat you like family and delicious traditional southern  breakfast and lunch.

  • 30. Goldsboro (Brisas)

    Address: 103 N Center St Goldsboro, NC 27530

    Downtown Goldsboro is home to Brisas, a modern Latin American-inspired restaurant. Popular dishes include the Caribbean Wings, Punta Cana Mahi Mahi, and Veggies Trifongo. One reviewer described Brisas as “fun and unique”>

  • 29. Monroe (Taqueria El Paraiso)

    Address: 1711 Walkup Ave Monroe, NC 28110

    Don’t let the hole-in-the-wall appearance deter you Yelp reviewers say. One said that the mole and agua fracas was “the best he’d ever had”. 

    Taqueria El Paraiso - Monroe, NC

    Delivery & Pickup Options - 10 reviews and 12 photos of TAQUERIA EL PARAISO "Wow. I'm blown away in the best way. I didn't think any place was better than La Unica as far as Mexican food around. I'm happy to say I was wrong. The food is AMAZING.

  • 28. Salisbury (Waters Edge Dock and Grill)

    Address: 257 Boat Club Ln Salisbury, NC 28146

    Located on High Rock Lake just minutes from downtown Salisbury is Waters Edge Dock and Grill. There is water access, awesome views, a Bloody Mary Bar, and entrees such as coconut shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, and fish tacos.

  • 27. Fuquay-Varina (Little Portugal)

    Address: 736 N Main St Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526

    You don’t stumble upon authentic Portuguese restaurants too often, probably why this one has such rave reviews. Popular dishes include chicken and rice soup, empanadas, garlic shrimp, and a sandwich known as “the Frankie”.

  • 26. Indian Trail (Little Country Kitchen)

    Address: 2526 Old Charlotte Hwy Monroe, NC 28110

    10 stars because 5 stars isn’t enough!” is what one reviewer said. Another notes that they have the “fluffiest pancakes” they’ve ever had. This homestyle southern restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch daily. 

  • 25. Holly Springs (Ashley’s Harvest Moon Bakery-Cafe)

    Address: 128 Bass Lake Rd Holly Springs, NC 27540

    Fresh breakfast and sandwiches are to be found at Havest Moon, a locally owned spot in Holly Springs. The coffee is great, and reviewers say it’s a wonderful place to bring your laptop and work for the day.

  • 24. Hickory (Plant Based Boss)

    Address: 221 1st Ave NW Ste 110 Hickory, NC 28601

    This vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Hickory is a must for anyone who loves fresh healthy food reviewers all agree. They have a variety of vegan “meat” and “cheese” you won’t find anywhere else. 

  • 23. Wilson (Ruckus & Redemption)

    Address: 220 Barnes St S Ste C Wilson, NC 27893

    What a great name for a restaurant! Ruckus and Redemption is known for their self-described “expertly crafted burgers”. Additionally, they have an array of small plates on the menu. Reviewers love the option of going with one of the signature burgers or being able to build you own.

  • 22. Wake Forest (Tikila)

    Address: 1000 Forestville Rd Ste 100 Wake Forest, NC 27587

    Tacos, burritos, bowls, and more all in a fun and inviting atmosphere. And I know this list is focused on food but can I say these cocktails look incredible?

  • 21. Mooresville (Meadow's Italiano)

    Address: 823 Oakridge Farm Hwy Ste A-1 Mooresville, NC 28115

    “Excellent” and “the best pizza around” are just some of the complimentary praise sung by reviewers of this Mooresville pizza joint.

  • 20. Rocky Mount (Chuckwagon)

    Address: 601 Airport Rd Rocky Mount, NC 27804

    You won’t find tables at this walk-up restaurant in Rocky Mount. You will find absolutely amazing burgers, tender meat, and hotdogs. 

    Chuckwagon - Rocky Mount, NC

    Delivery & Pickup Options - 5 reviews and 21 photos of CHUCKWAGON "Excellent Breakfast. Sausage sandwich was very tasty. Small takeout spot with picnic benches."

  • 19. Kannapolis (Amigo Taqueria)

    Address: 1602 S Cannon Blvd Kannapolis, NC 28083

    Reviewers say this is the most authentic Mexican restaurant in Kannapolis. The only thing they disagree with is which meat you should choose for these authentic tacos.

  • 18. Burlington (Il Centro Alimentari & Salumeria)

    Address: 3290 S Church St Burlington, NC 27215

    In the words of the owner, Il Centro Alimentari is  a neighborhood Alimentari/Salumeria/Pasta shop offering artisanal focaccia panini, handmade & bronze die extruded pasta, pizza al taglio, salumi, cheeses, antipasti, take home provisions, Italian natural wines and specialties.”

    BentoBox | Restaurant Websites

    BentoBox offers restaurants beautiful, mobile friendly websites that drive revenue and customers - complete with a simple, hospitality-focused management system, hosting and exceptional customer support.

  • 17. Chapel Hill (Saturni)

    Address: 431 W Franklin St Ste 120 Chapel Hill, NC 27517

    The Smokey Chipotle Chicken Sandwich, acai berry lassi, and the egg n toast omelet are some recommended dishes off of Saturni’s “eclectic” menu. 

  • 16. Huntersville (Azucar Cuban Restaurant)

    Address: 15906 Old Statesville Rd Huntersville, NC 28078

    And “Instagrammable atmosphere” delicious Cuban food, live music,  and mojitos are some of the reasons Azucar is the highest-rated restaurant in Huntersville.

  • 15. Apex (Scratch Kitchen & Taproom)

    Address: 225 N Salem St Apex, NC 27502

    Reflected in its name all the food at Scratch Kitchen & Taproom is made from scratch with a focus on southern hospitality. That intent comes through with reviewers loving the fried green tomatoes, scratch blt, tempura cauliflower appetizer, and pork belly bites.

  • 14. Jacksonville (The Bistro)

    Address: 5046 Henderson Dr Jacksonville, NC 28546

    You may not expect a restaurant located inside the Courtyard Marriot to be the best in a city, but in this case it is. You’ll find an “elaborate” food menu at The Bistro, and one reviewer said it was so good they ate their 5 days in a row.

    The Bistro - Jacksonville, NC

    THE BISTRO, 5046 Henderson Dr, Jacksonville, NC 28546, 15 Photos, Mon - 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Tue - 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Wed - 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Thu - 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Fri - 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Sat - 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Sun - 7:00 am - 11:00 am

  • 13. Gastonia (La Casa De Juli)

    Address: 1003 Union Rd Gastonia, NC 28054

    The perfect Empanadas is what La Casa De Juli is known for. And that’s what they deliver.

  • 12. Greenville (Cucina LaMantia)

    Address: 3700 South Memorial Dr Greenville, NC 27834

    You won’t find a menu at this 14-course dinner. Cucina LaMantia brings authentic and fresh flavors of Sicily with meals every Saturday and Sunday. You do need a reservation!

  • 11. Asheville (Contrada)

    Address: 28 Wall St Asheville, NC 28801

    This rustic Italian restaurant is described as fun, warm, and welcoming. The pizza is the big hit with reviewers using words like stunning, dreamy, and fantastic flavor to express how much they love it. 

    Contrada

    antipizza castelvetrano olives / 6culatello di zibello / 20cantabrian anchovy crostini / butter / herbs / 14fava shoot fritti / cacio e pepe aioli english peas / mint / 16vignarola alla romana / 16 pizza rossa - san marzano tomato / roasted garlic / oregano / 12 bianca - olive

  • 10. Concord (Yum Yum Shawarma Falafel Wings)

    Address: 1480 Concord Pkwy N Concord, NC 28025

    Unsurprisingly the Falafel Wrap and falafel platter are among the most popular dishes. You’ll find Yum Yum in the food court of the Carolina Mall.

    Yum Yum Shawarma Falafel Wings - Concord, NC

    Delivery & Pickup Options - 14 reviews and 17 photos of YUM YUM SHAWARMA FALAFEL WINGS "It's a restaurant in a mall, so you'd think it's mediocre. Far from it. The portions are generously sized, well priced, and delicious. The chicken is wonderfully juicy and flavorful and the rice is delicious and well flavored without being overpowering.

  • 9. High Point (Basil Cafe & Catering)

    Address: 215 E Lexington Ave High Point, NC 27262

    This Spanish- American owned cafe serves scratch-made sandwiches , salads and soups. One reviewer says she has tried just about everything on the menu and it is all fantastic. 

    Basil Cafe & Catering - High Point, NC

    Specialties: We are a Spanish- American owned Cafe and our passion is scratch made sandwiches ,salads and soups that ingredients have been fresh from kitchen to table.Its all about passion to serve great food that makes you want to keep coming back for more.

  • 8. Wilmington (The Half)

    Address: 510 1/2 Red Cross St Wilmington, NC 28401

    The Half is a sandwich and beer shop with a friendly neighborhood atmosphere and a variety of options including vegan. Reviewers love the funky ambiance and inventive sandwiches.

  • 7. Cary (Dampf Good BBQ)

    Address: 6720 Good Hope Church Rd Cary, NC 27519

    A great name and great Texas BBQ. They operate out of a truck but have a set location and outdoor seating.

  • 6. Fayetteville (Pizza Time)

    Address: 929 McArthur Rd Fayetteville, NC 28311

    Drive-thru pizza? Yes, please. And reviewers say it exceeds all expectations they have. If you’re in Fayetteville don’t hesitate to try this place!

    Pizza Time - Fayetteville, NC - 929 Mcarthur Rd - Hours, Menu, Order

    Get 10% off your pizza delivery order - View the menu, hours, address, and photos for Pizza Time in Fayetteville, NC. Order online for delivery or pickup on Slicelife.com

  • 5. Winston-Salem (Taqueria Los Juanes)

    Address: 373 Jonestown Rd Winston-Salem, NC 27104

    In perhaps one of the best reviews I’m seen to date one individual said Taquieria Los Juanes’ ACP is the food they wake up in the middle of the night lusting for. Another said it’s the best tacos in the area and he almost wants to keep it a secret.

    Taqueria Los Juanes - Winston-Salem, NC

    85 reviews and 370 photos of TAQUERIA LOS JUANES "Great addition to the authentic Mexican food scene here in WS. We typically head over to Taco Riendo 3 to get our fix, but this place hit the mark just as well.

  • 4. Durham (Banu Vegan)

    Address: 2534 South Roxboro St Durham, NC 27707

    With dishes like the Skrimp Po Boy, Philly Fake Steak, and OG Chiken Sandwich if vegan food is your thing you’re sure to love this popular Durham spot.

  • 3. Greensboro (Gold Star Diner)

    Address: 110-B Seneca Rd Greensboro, NC 27406

    Gold Star Diner offers American comfort foods, as well as authentic Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. One reviewer said she can’t say enough good things about the meal she had including a chicken parmesan sandwich.

  • 2. Raleigh (Cheeni)

    Address: 227 Fayetteville St Raleigh, NC 27601

    High-quality, fresh Indian food as well as coffees are what you’ll find at Cheeni. One reviewer described the food as “delicious” and the decor “charming.”

  • 1. Charlotte (Ches Rodnais)

    Address: 70 Clanton Rd Charlotte, NC 28217

    I must admit I’ve lived in Charlotte almost my entire life and I have never heard of Ches Ronais. But reviewers say it never disappoints!

    Ches Rodnais - Charlotte, NC

    5 reviews and 5 photos of CHES RODNAIS "Hidden Gem, Made a 2 hour flight, a 30min drive and had to walk around the block for about 15min to find the front door. Amazing food and no masked required. The "Chef" has a peculiar attitude, make everyone say "yes chef" when addressing him, but he is a genius with food.

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