Winston-Salem, North Carolina, also known as Camel City, was built around the tobacco industry. Home to R.J. Reynolds where historic factories and mills, grand mansions, campus sprawl, and up-and-coming neighborhoods are now ideal spots for pubs, cafés, and fine dining establishments. Add in the Moravian culture and their homestead — Old Salem’s living museum — and you have a recipe for traditional North Carolina dishes and the elevated classic options crafted by amazing chefs.
The foodie scene in Winston-Salem is a tasty combination of traditional and edgy; as diverse as its history yet reflecting the city’s urban vibe.
1. Krispy Kreme
On July 13, 1937, the first Krispy Kreme doughnut was sold to grocers in Winston-Salem. The bakery was located in Old Salem where the enticing aroma of fresh doughnuts hung suspended around the building like the sticky glaze that coats them. After requests to purchase these delectable treats right from the bakery, Vernon Rudolph cut a hole in the wall of the building and began selling his original glazed doughnuts to hungry customers. When you visit Old Salem, there is a commemorative plaque recognizing the original Krispy Kreme bakery.
Sinking your teeth into the pillowy soft, sweetly glazed doughnut is a special treat. It will transport you back to your childhood when church, doughnuts, and cartoons were a Sunday morning requirement.
The rest, as they say, is history. According to their LinkedIn profile, Krispy Kreme doughnuts can be found in approximately 1,400 retail shops in 33 countries. A well loved confectionary started in the heart of Winston-Salem.
2. Camino Bakery
Camino Bakery is a steady fixture in Winston-Salem. With three locations, you will find one close enough to pop in for a perfectly brewed cup of Joe and a delicate pastry to chase away the hangries. The selection of hand crafted baked goods are so delicious you will need to bring home a snack or two on your way out the door.
The historic Brookstown location is home to a quaint corner cafe housed in an old mill building. Just a short walk from the Old Salem district, you will find tourists and locals sipping and noshing at all hours of the day.
3. Spring House
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen, and Bar is located in the last house on Winston-Salem’s “Millionaires Row.” The lovingly restored mansion is a maze of intimate rooms giving you the feeling of dining at a friend’s home. You will love the casual elegance of the décor and the expertly trained service.
The three-course chef-driven tasting menu highlights the freshest seasonal ingredients available. An enjoyable way to sample chef Timothy Grandinetti’s mastery in the kitchen. With one foot rooted in southern cuisine and the other a culinary progressive vision, your plate will be as beautiful as it is delicious.
From the seasonal menu, options like roasted oysters with bacon, spinach, and pimento cheese are fun to share with your dinner date. A hearty winter dish is the short rib pappardelle served with unctuous whipped ricotta, gremolata, and a silky green peppercorn sauce. Be sure to leave space for a scrumptious dessert like their divine bread pudding.
4. Campus Gas
What do you do with an abandoned gas station on the edge of a college campus? At Wake Forest University, it becomes a hip bar and grill, aptly named Campus Gas. Picnic tables reside where automobiles once queued up for gasoline. The pumping stations and Campus Gas sign are a nod to the location’s former life.
A unique stop on your dining list, you will find classic pub grub to pair with your favorite draft beer. Nibble on their homemade pimento cheese spread on a classic Ritz cracker while you sip on Lost Province Brewing Company’s Kiss My Grits lager. Feast on a pulled barbecue pork sandwich while enjoying The Old Brigade, a milk stout from Wise Man Brewing.
Whether you are thirsty, hungry, or both, Campus Gas is a comfortable spot to simply enjoy a great brew and a beautiful afternoon.
5. Bernardin’s Restaurant
When you are celebrating a special occasion or in need of white table linens, excellent wine, and fine dining menu options, Bernardin’s Restaurant should be at the top of your list. The elegant décor, artfully plated dishes, and extensive wine list set the tone for a dinner to remember.
Start with the crab cakes served with southern classics; black beans, corn, and chorizo. The selection of entrées will make it difficult to choose what’s for dinner. The filet mignon with gnocchi, mushrooms, spinach, and goat cheese is fabulous. Another amazing alternative is the duck breast resting on polenta with mascarpone cheese, red cabbage, and a delicious fig sauce.
Save room for dessert, peach and blueberry cobbler with praline ice cream. Add a layer of decadence with a specialty coffee like their Mexican coffee with Kahlua and chantilly cream.
Like any great brewpub, what’s on tap is fluid, changing to reflect what is seasonal and fresh. Foothills Brewing has a rotation of over a dozen beers for your libation satisfaction.
The People’s Porter delivers chocolate and espresso in a glass; perfectly paired with dinner or on its own for dessert. A lighter option is the Hoppyum IPA; notes of citrus and plenty of hops make this beer Foothills most popular brew.
The pub menu offers wonderful options like the chef’s choice tacos made with fresh, local goodies. The ale battered fish and chips are just what you want to accompany your draft. The mac and cheese side dish is pub grub perfection.
7. 6th And Vine
Vacation getaways require a relaxing weekend brunch. At 6th and Vine, they do brunch until 3 p.m. — no worries about sleeping in. Find a seat on the back porch with lots of sunshine and tuck into some soulful chow.
The shrimp and grits bowl with cheddar cheese, chorizo, and a Cajun white wine sauce brings down-home, stick-to-your-ribs goodness to your weekend outing. On the sweeter side is the maple bourbon French toast with bourbon syrup for an eye opening pop of flavor. Wash it all down with your favorite brunch libation and get your weekend off to the races.
8. Six Hundred Degrees
Where fun and funky marries historical and timeless, the décor at Six Hundred Degrees sets the stage for a culinary adventure. Using oak and hickory coals to cook the amazing menu options, you will find it difficult to hone your selection down. It’s best to dine with a group who loves to share, then you have the opportunity to experience everything.
Bacon-wrapped venison — What! Add in the pickled jalapeños and water chestnuts with a ponzu flavor bomb and there may be no sharing. The pork belly and clams with tonkotsu broth and grilled charred bread is a divine match. For the main course, try the duck gnocchi served with roasted squash, cotija cheese, and a duck mole. A local favorite — the North Carolina trout with arancini, spice cucumbers, maitake mushrooms, and kale — will make you feel healthy and satiated.
Reservations are recommended.
Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce
The multi-generational (four generations) T.W. Garner Food Company has been producing Texas Pete’s hot sauce for over 80 years in Winston-Salem. Surprisingly, Texas Pete hot sauce is a North Carolina creation with a western spicy sounding name.
There are no factory tours, but for hot sauce aficionados, dishing up a local favorite is a fun way to enjoy a hot and spicy treat.
For a fun overnight stay, the James Bond 007 Cabin is an excellent choice. The upscale British vibe, complete with 007 style is enchanting. The cabin is centrally located and sleeps five. It offers a charming and secluded patio to enjoy your morning coffee, a fireplace for martini time, and access to an array of wonderful restaurants.
The dining options in Winston-Salem cover a range of techniques, styles, and traditional spins. One thing the chefs have in common is a dedication to local farmers and food purveyors who bring a quintessential North Carolina flavor reflected in their menu. A quick getaway stay makes it difficult to choose with the bounty of restaurants, pubs, and bars across the city. You may have to plan a second, or third visit.
When you are planning your visit; check out the Visit Winston-Salem site for information about where to stay and play.
Consider some of these other North Carolina getaways: