Crispy fried chicken – moist and juicy on the inside – served with collard greens, hush puppies, and coleslaw will fill your heart with culinary joy. Unctuous, cheesy grits drenched in rich sausage gravy and topped with perfectly cooked shrimp will beckon you south. Bourbon pecan pie topped with silky Chantilly cream is the perfect sweet ending to a satisfying evening meal. Winston-Salem is home to a slew of amazing restaurants serving up delicious Southern cuisine. Whether classically prepared or delivered with a modern spin, you will find comfort food to excite your taste buds and satisfy your soul.
As your search takes you across the city, you will find made-to-order doughnuts, satisfying tomato pie, soulful shrimp and grits, and more. Beautifully served dishes deliver flavorful forkfuls and remind us what Southern cooking brings to the table – amazing food designed to utilize fresh local ingredients in tummy-pleasing dishes.
Below is a selection of Southern cuisine-focused Winston-Salem restaurants where you will find a glorious celebration of local products heralding traditional preparations. The key to sensational Southern dishes is a respect for the available ingredients presented in their purest form – with a few chef-y touches.
Note: Some information in this piece was obtained during a sponsored press trip, but all recommendations are my own.
1. Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro
On the edge of downtown, you will find Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro. A local favorite, this charming bistro offers guests a hip, urban vibe where you can kick back and revel in a leisurely meal. You will find the alfresco white cafe tables filled with energetic customers engaged in animated conversation while devouring every last crumb on their plate. Inside, patrons casually chat with friendly staff as they peruse the delicious menu options.
A great place to start is with the Southern spring rolls, which are generously filled with pulled pork, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, collards, and a sesame ginger dressing. Your dining adventure should progress to their signature tomato pie; a thick wedge of tomatoes, cheddar, and Parmigiano-Reggiano surrounded by a perfectly flaky crust. The pie is served on a bed of yummy succotash bathed in a light, creamy sauce. It is a divine rendition of a Southern classic. You won’t be able to resist the bourbon pecan bread pudding served with a decadent caramel sauce to finish off your dining experience.
2. Graylyn Estate
The basic framework of the Graylyn Estate dining menu features a selection of chef-driven dishes that are the jumping-off point for seasonal specials crafted with local ingredients. The Winston-Salem area produce paired with grown-on-the-grounds vegetables and herbs provide a palate for the chef to paint a perfectly plated and delicious dish.
The mini baked brie is a rich and decadent way to begin your fine dining evening. Follow up with a seasonal grilled lamb chop entree special served with a velvety risotto. Finish your leisurely meal with your favorite after-dinner cordial and a decadent dessert. The bourbon pecan pie with Chantilly cream and caramel sauce is a sweet southern sensation.
The former home of the Gray family, Graylyn is an elaborate estate that has been transformed into a luxurious retreat. It is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway stay in the heart of Winston-Salem. Stroll the grounds and watch the sun set before you dine in the elegant restaurant.
The intimate dining room can fill up quickly, so reservations are recommended.
3. Milner’s American Southern
Offering the ultimate in Southern cuisine, Milner’s American Southern restaurant is the best spot in town to gather with your partner, bestie, gang of friends, and favorite family members for a feast rooted in Southern flavors. The comfortably casual atmosphere embraces you the minute you enter the dining room.
Classically Southern, their warm pimento cheese and pepper jelly starter served with lavash bread pairs perfectly with friendly conversation and your favorite adult beverage. Alternatively, their fried green tomatoes with Boursin cheese, tomato jam, and ham are another excellent and tasty option. Choosing the right entree is a challenge; there are so many mouth-watering options. The roasted Joyce Farms chicken with green beans and stuffing is beyond delicious. The shrimp and grits topped with tasso ham and a rich country gravy takes a well-honed classic and dials the flavor up to ten. The signature Moravian cookie-pecan crusted salmon entree is a Milner’s classic and a favorite of the restaurant’s many repeat customers.
The joint is always jumping; reservations are recommended to avoid a long wait time.
4. Dough Joe’s
Not all doughnuts are created equal. To truly experience a doughnut at its finest, you need to savor it fresh from the fryer and made to order. Dough-Joe’s Doughnuts and Coffee custom crafts each doughnut for each unique customer.
When you first enter the bakery, you may question if you are in a doughnut shop as there are no doughnuts on the shelves. What you will see is a menu board listing multiple glasses, a large selection of toppings, and other extras you can select to design your custom creation. These made-to-order delights begin with a vanilla cake doughnut freshly fried for each individual order. The custom, freshly fried goodie is then topped with your choice of glaze and special toppings. It is hand-delivered warm and gooey to be devoured on the spot – a charming patio in the heart of Reynolda Village. It is nothing short of doughnut nirvana!
5. Sweet Potatoes
When you have a case of the hangries, Sweet Potatoes in the Downtown Arts District is the perfect spot to feed your gnawing stomach pains. The menu is a showcase of classic Southern dishes artfully crafted for your culinary enjoyment.
The fried green tomato and okra basket, fried pork rind basket with mambo sauce, and fried chicken and waffles are more than simply appetizers, they are an exciting taste bud experience. Munching on Miss Ora’s Fried Chicken is simply the best way to experience this classic favorite – your tummy will thank you.
6. Lavender And Honey Kitchen
Perfectly flaky homemade pop tarts, sweet tooth-satisfying cinnamon rolls, or a sweet and tart handcrafted lemon bar are just a few of the baked delicacies you will find at Lavender and Honey Kitchen. Their time-tested recipes and nods to grandmothers everywhere evoke memories of sitting around the well-worn kitchen table enjoying wonderful goodies. You will find their modernized classics are made fresh daily. Adding a healthier twist, all the baked goods are crafted using organic North Carolina milled flour.
Embrace the Winston-Salem coffee culture with their silky salted caramel latte. It is almost too pretty to drink. When paired with one of their delicious sweet treats, it is a wonderful start to your day.
The best way to brighten your morning mood is with a breakfast sandwich at Krankies. The funky and eclectic decor is true to its urban location. Enjoying your morning meal in the expansive loft-like setting imparts an exciting vibe to begin your day.
Krankies’ fried chicken sandwich with spicy slaw, gochujang mayo, and pickles nestled in a brioche bun will wake up your taste buds, getting you ready to face the day. Krankies serves one of the best avocado toast preparations you will find anywhere. The Camino Bakery toast slathered with avocado mash, copious amounts of spicy pumpkin seeds, bright radishes, creamy queso fresco, and microgreens earn health food a well-deserved round of applause. It is a flavor bomb of goodness.
8. Forsyth Seafood Market & Cafe
Forsyth Seafood Market & Cafe cooks up the freshest seafood straight from their market shelves. A local favorite, Forsyth has been serving up traditional dishes for over three decades. Their longevity is a testament to the perfectly prepared Southern classics made with quality ingredients.
Tuck into the oyster or crab cake dinner, a jumbo shrimp boat, or a catfish family meal. Served up with homemade hush puppies, coleslaw, and a side of fried okra, collards, or one of the many other options, you will love the true Southerness of the entire dining adventure.
9. Mrs. Haynes’ Moravian Cookies
The bakery at Mrs. Haynes’ Marovian Cookies in nearby Clemmons offers guests a peek into the busy inner workings of a bakery. A massive glass wall allows viewing of the cookie masters in action. Skilled bakers hand cut these amazingly thin cookies with deft precision. Mrs. Haynes’ Bakery produces only handmade Moravian cookies.
The cookie crisps are available in six different tantalizing flavors: ginger, sugar, chocolate, lemon, butterscotch, and black walnut. It is impossible to eat just one cookie; your hand will be back in the cookie jar until the batch is gone.
Downtown Winston-Salem’s Southern Food Scene
When you have a craving for flavorful Southern cooking, a foodie getaway to Winston-Salem is the answer to your culinary desires. As you are planning your weekend visit, start with our Winston-Salem destination guide filled with lots of fun things to do.
You can explore all the fabulous foodie establishments and up-to-date information about happenings around the city by checking out the Visit Winston-Salem site.
Dine at one or all of these wonderful restaurants where they elevate Southern cuisine to an art form.
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