The number of small, sustainable farms in North Carolina is on the rise, as people across the state seek out local food grown by folks they know. Perhaps nothing reflects this better than the bounty of farm-to-table restaurants to be found in every region, from casual to upscale, in large cities and rural enclaves.
1 Crawford and Son
1 Crawford and SonRaleighSee on map
Chef and owner Scott Crawford first established himself as a fine-dining chef at the luxury Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary. Since opening his own celebrated restaurant in 2016, Crawford has had the opportunity to showcase his unparalleled blend of top-notch service and inventive dishes sourced from North Carolina farmers and fishers in a setting that is well-appointed but not stuffy. Likewise, since casting off once-mandatory precious platings, Crawford has taken dishes to their essentials – simple, affordable food highlighting flavors and textures. Crawford also is well-respected nationally and locally for opening up about his past drug and alcohol addiction and helping others in the restaurant industry with their recovery.
2 Southern Smoke BBQ
2 Southern Smoke BBQGarlandSee on map
Husband and wife duo Matthew and Jessica Register opened Southern Smoke BBQ in 2014, inspired by a passion for quality ‘cue and the outdoors. From their restaurant and catering headquarters in Garland, in rural Eastern NC, they carry on a family tradition of smoking North Carolina Cheshire pork the old-fashioned way: low and slow over an oak wood fire in their custom designed smoker named “Jezebel.” Since opening, Southern Smoke has become equally known for its seasonal, Southern sides, elaborate feasts offered through South Catering, a South Supper Series, a BBQ food truck and two barbecue sauces. Pitmaster Matthew’s book Southern Smoke was published in 2019, delving into the history and handling of Southern barbecue.
3 HeirloomBelmontSee on map
Originally opened by Chef Clark Barlowe in 2014, Heirloom is now a family-owned restaurant run by Scott and Linda Murphy. The menu changes daily, which spurs anticipation from repeat visitors who enjoy the dishes – such as Angus steak, sweet-potato gnocchi or catch-of-the-day – created from fresh ingredients produced in North Carolina.
4 Rx Chicken & Oysters
4 Rx Chicken & OystersWilmingtonSee on map
Popular Rx Restaurant and Bar got a revamp in 2022, and it will be opening as Rx Chicken & Oysters in 2023. Exciting changes include a more casual vibe, a stronger emphasis on local seafood and the famous fried chicken getting its time in the spotlight. Owners James and Sarah Doss began growing their own oysters – lovingly called “Lucy Beas” – and obtained commercial fishing and dealer’s licenses, meaning you’ll be eating fish that’s as fresh as it gets. On top of it all, lionfish will be the focus. Why? They’re an invasive species that destroy reefs and decimate the local fish population – but they’re absolutely delicious to eat.
5 The Chef's Table
5 The Chef's TableWaynesvilleSee on map
Designed specifically with wine pairing in mind, the menu at The Chef’s Table features seasonal, local ingredients. How local? Chef and owner Josh Monroe grows many of the restaurant’s vegetables in his own personal garden. He also frequents local farmers markets, including Haywood’s Historic Farmers Market.
6 The Eddy Pub
6 The Eddy PubSaxapahawSee on map
Although the vibe at The Eddy Pub in the old mill village of Saxapahaw is all fun, its mission is serious – to consistently use 80 percent or more local, organically grown food on the daily menu. And who better to oversee such a program than a farmer himself – executive chef Isaiah Allen and his wife run Rocky Run Farm in Mebane. Consider starting with the creative charcuterie plate and a locally brewed beer and ending with a sunset from the patio overlooking the Haw River. A special treat inside this former dye house is decor that highlights many mill fixtures, including beer taps fashioned from steam pipes.
7 All Souls Pizza
7 All Souls PizzaAshevilleSee on map
All Souls Pizza is a slice above most pizza joints. Not only is the restaurant committed to using fresh, seasonal ingredients, but it mills its own flour and polenta from organic grains, many of which are traditional varieties. At the base of this bounty is the crust: chewy, tangy and flavorful. It’s made by co-owner David Bauer, a pioneer in the movement to use local, freshly milled grains and a familiar face on the farmers market tour through his Farm & Sparrow Bakery. Meanwhile, the inventive seasonal toppings are concocted by chef Brendan Reusing, who started Lantern Restaurant in Chapel Hill with sister Andrea more than a decade ago.
8 The Durham
8 The DurhamDurhamSee on map
The Durham is a restaurant, coffee shop and hoppin’ rooftop bar whose seasonally changing menus highlight the abundance of high-quality ingredients grown and made in North Carolina. The list includes not only farmers, but also cheesemakers, brewers, distillers, bakers and fishermen, all represented in the seasonally changing menu.
9 Chef & the Farmer
9 Chef & the FarmerKinstonSee on map
Please note: Chef & the Farmer is currently closed as it gets reimagined.
When New York chef Vivian Howard took up her dad’s offer in 2006 to finance a restaurant – if she returned to her Eastern North Carolina roots – she had no idea she was kicking off an urban revitalization in Kinston and a career as a celebrity chef. She and her husband, Ben Knight, run the celebrated Chef & the Farmer, which has inspired the birth of additional restaurants and business as well as the completed PBS series A Chef’s Life. Along the way, Howard also picked up James Beard and Daytime Emmy awards, and in 2016 published the memoir-flavored recipe book Deep Run Roots.