13 Unique Restaurants in North Carolina: The Wildest and Wackiest Restaurants in NC

Jon Miksis Jon Miksis clock Updated June 12, 2024 tourism Dream Destinations
by Jen
Unique Restaurants in North Carolina
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Welcome to our guide on unique restaurants in North Carolina. This list includes places that stand out for their delicious meals and memorable dining experiences. From scenic to themed settings, discover the variety that North Carolina’s foodie scene offers.

Let’s dive into the heart of North Carolina, where the food scene is as vibrant and diverse as its landscapes. From the misty peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the sunny shores of the Outer Banks, this state offers a feast for the senses!

We’re setting off on a journey to uncover eateries that break the mold. These aren’t your typical restaurants. They’re spots where the setting is just as captivating as the menu. Think of dining in a restored barn, a historic inn, or even a double-decker bus turned café. It’s all about the experience, the kind that sticks with you.

Our guide will take you through a selection of North Carolina’s most unique dining experiences. From innovative dishes that challenge your taste buds to cozy spots that feel like stepping into another era, we’ve got something for everyone. Ready to see what makes dining in this state truly one of a kind? Here we go!

The top restaurants to visit in North Carolina right now

Unique Restaurants in North Carolina: 12 Incredible North Carolina Eateries

From pirate-themed adventures to meals with mountain views, North Carolina’s unique restaurants have it all. Get ready to explore these one-of-a-kind places that make eating out an unforgettable experience.

1. Deluxe Fine Dining

Deluxe Fun Dining transforms fine dining in North Carolina into a vibrant celebration. This unique spot combines a festive atmosphere with exquisite recipes. Imagine dining in a place where the decor sparkles with art and gold, making every moment unforgettable.

The menu is a journey of flavors, featuring dishes adorned with 24k edible gold leaf. Drawing inspiration from Eastern European and Mediterranean traditions, each meal is crafted from the freshest, high-quality ingredients. It’s a visual and gastronomic delight.

The innovation extends to the drinks, with cocktails that blend premium spirits like Don Julio 1942 and Johnnie Walker Blue in unexpected ways. And for a real showstopper, try the “It’s All There” bloody mary, a towering drink garnished with an array of seafood.

Deluxe Fun Dining offers customized packages and menus for groups, ensuring a memorable experience. It’s the perfect place for those seeking an extraordinary fine dining experience in North Carolina.

Deluxe Fun Dining is one of the unique restaurants in North Carolina.
Deluxe Fun Dining transforms fine dining with a vibrant celebration, combining a festive atmosphere with exquisite recipes.

2. Double D’s Coffee and Desserts

In Asheville, a city known for its unique charm, Double D’s Coffee and Desserts stands out as a must-visit. This café isn’t just any café; it’s housed in a 1963 Lodekka double-decker bus from Bristol, England. Before becoming a cozy spot for coffee lovers, this bus had quite the journey, even serving as a party bus in Atlanta.

Now, it’s one of the most unique places to eat in NC. Inside, you’ll find a warm, inviting space that can seat up to 25 people upstairs. The decor keeps the bus’s original charm while adding a touch of luxury. It’s a place where kids and adults alike feel a rush of excitement, stepping into a piece of history turned into a café.

Double D’s serves a variety of coffee drinks and desserts, making it perfect for a quick stop or a leisurely afternoon. The outdoor patio is a hit in warmer months, offering a dog-friendly space and sometimes live music. Whether you’re a local or just passing through Asheville, Double D’s provides a unique slice of history along with your caffeine fix.

Double D's Coffee and Desserts is a must-visit café housed in a 1963 Lodekka double-decker bus, offering unique charm.
Double D’s Coffee and Desserts is a must-visit café housed in a 1963 Lodekka double-decker bus, offering unique charm.

3. Fearrington House Restaurant

The Fearrington House Restaurant offers a blend of rustic charm and culinary excellence. Nestled in a 1927 farmhouse, the setting is pure country chic. Think heavy floral drapes and oil paintings, creating a cozy yet elegant atmosphere.

Chef Colin Bedford is at the heart of this foodie gem, embracing farm-to-table dining. He picks fresh ingredients right from the restaurant’s garden for his seasonal American dishes. Imagine seared foie gras or sweet potato risotto with house-made bacon and lobster knuckles.

Located in Pittsboro, just south of Chapel Hill, this restaurant is part of Fearrington Village. The area, once a dairy farm, still features Belted Galloway cows and Tennessee fainting goats. It’s a scenic spot that feels worlds away, yet it’s conveniently close to Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Among the best places to eat in North Carolina, The Fearrington House Restaurant stands out for its personalized wine pairings and a wine list boasting over 800 options. Don’t miss their signature hot chocolate soufflé, a menu staple for over 30 years!

The Fearrington House Restaurant blends rustic charm with culinary excellence, nestled in a 1927 farmhouse.
The Fearrington House Restaurant blends rustic charm with culinary excellence, nestled in a 1927 farmhouse.

4. Dan’l Boone Inn Restaurant

Within the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains you’ll find the Dan’l Boone Inn Restaurant. This spot is a slice of history, making it stand out among unique North Carolina restaurants. For over 60 years, it has been a cozy haven for those seeking comfort food with a side of nostalgia.

Here, meals are a communal affair, served family-style. Picture this: tables laden with platters of their signature country ham biscuits and renowned fried chicken, surrounded by hearty sides. It’s a throwback to dinners at grandma’s, where the feast never ends and every bite is a delight.

The experience of dining at Dan’l Boone Inn is about more than just eating. It’s about the warmth of welcome, the joy of sharing, and the satisfaction of a dessert well earned. Just remember, this place keeps it old school – cash or check only!

Dan'l Boone Inn Restaurant offers comfort food and nostalgia for over 60 years.
Dan’l Boone Inn Restaurant offers comfort food and nostalgia for over 60 years.

5. Death & Taxes

In the heart of Raleigh, Death & Taxes stands out, thanks to the culinary talents of Chef Ashley Christensen. This unique spot has a backstory that’s as intriguing as its menu. Originally a funeral home, then a bank, it’s now a stylish restaurant after a detailed two-year makeover.

It ranks among the coolest restaurants in NC for its blend of elegance and comfort. Picture dining at custom marble tables, sitting on leather banquettes, under chic lighting. The place shines with local artistry, from ceramics to aprons, all made by folks from the area.

The menu? It’s a wood-fired wonder. But it’s not all about the grill. Dishes are crafted with a twist, like olive oil infused with the scent of burning embers. Highlights include zesty roasted oysters, lamb tartare with a crunch, and tender octopus paired with butter beans. And for those who love watching chefs in action, there’s a special spot at the kitchen bar just for you.

Death & Taxes, led by Chef Ashley Christensen, was once a funeral home and bank, now a stylish restaurant.
Death & Taxes, led by Chef Ashley Christensen, was once a funeral home and bank, now a stylish restaurant.

6. Boone and Blowing Rock

Tucked between the charming towns of Boone and Blowing Rock, in the lush mountains of North Carolina, you’ll stumble upon a hidden gem: The Gamekeeper Restaurant. This spot is a true treasure, nestled on a hill and surrounded by nature. Imagine dining near a gentle brook, under the shade of towering trees—it’s like being part of the forest itself.

Known as one of the hidden gem restaurants in North Carolina, The Gamekeeper offers a unique dining experience. The menu is a creative celebration of game and seasonal flavors, showcasing the chef’s flair for blending traditional and modern tastes. Here, every dish is a discovery, from succulent elk to tender venison.

The setting of The Gamekeeper is as special as its food. It boasts a rustic, cozy vibe that makes you feel right at home. It’s a place where the beauty of the outdoors meets the warmth of good company and great food.

The Gamekeeper is one of the unique restaurants in North Carolina.
The Gamekeeper offers a unique dining experience with a creative menu celebrating game and seasonal flavors.

7. Mike’s Farm

Mike’s Farm in Beulaville’s Back Swamp is a slice of North Carolina’s heart. This farm, with its roots deeply embedded in North Carolina’s soil, has evolved from selling Christmas trees to becoming a full-fledged destination for those seeking a taste of country life.

If you’re looking for fun places to eat in North Carolina, this spot won’t disappoint. Here, eating is an adventure. The farm’s restaurant dishes out hearty, home-cooked meals that taste like they’re straight from grandma’s kitchen. Get ready for mouth-watering fried chicken, creamy macaroni and cheese, and a feast of Southern favorites that will fill you up with joy.

Once you’ve finished your meal, there’s plenty to explore. You can meet friendly farm animals, dive into seasonal events, and browse a shop full of local North Carolina products and delicious baked goods. From goat feeding to festive hayrides, there’s always something to do!

Mike's Farm offers fun dining with hearty, home-cooked meals straight from grandma's kitchen.
Mike’s Farm offers fun dining with hearty, home-cooked meals straight from grandma’s kitchen.

8. Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern

In the heart of Raleigh, the Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern gives new life to a historic mansion from 1879. Originally built for Raleigh’s mayor, this grand building was left empty for years before its transformation into a dining haven in 1997. Now, its various rooms offer unique dining vibes, from light and open to rich and grand.

The renovation preserved the mansion’s original charm, including a grand staircase that connects dining areas across three floors down to a welcoming tavern below. As one of the unique restaurants in NC, Second Empire offers a menu that’s both inventive and mouthwatering.

The menu changes with the seasons, featuring everything from hearty crab cakes to tender filet mignon, alongside irresistible desserts like Creme Brûlée and Chocolate Soufflé. Each dish is complemented by a carefully selected wine, ensuring a dining experience that’s both delicious and memorable.

Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern revitalizes a historic mansion from 1879, offering diverse dining vibes since 1997.
Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern revitalizes a historic mansion from 1879, offering diverse dining vibes since 1997.

9. Floyd’s 1921 Restaurant

Floyd’s 1921 Restaurant in Morehead City Yacht Basin is a must-visit. Back in 2005, Chef Floyd Olmstead and his wife, Shana, transformed an old 1921 house into this culinary hotspot. It’s a cozy place where music fills the air, friends gather around the firepit, and the menu is a delightful mix of flavors from around the world.

Inspired by the famous French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier, Chef Floyd brings a touch of Southern charm to dishes influenced by Asian, Latin, and Caribbean cuisines. Favorites like Shrimp & Grits and signature Crab Cakes showcase the restaurant’s commitment to fresh, local ingredients.

Floyd’s stands out as one of North Carolina’s best restaurants not just for its food but for its atmosphere too. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, enjoying a unique cocktail, or just in town for the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, Floyd’s offers an unforgettable experience. It’s a cornerstone of the Crystal Coast’s dining scene.

Floyd's 1921 Restaurant is a culinary hotspot transformed from an old 1921 house, offering a delightful menu.
Floyd’s 1921 Restaurant is a culinary hotspot transformed from an old 1921 house, offering a delightful menu.

10. Hillbilly Hideaway

Tucked away in Walnut Cove, Hillbilly Hideaway is a journey back to the roots of Southern cooking. Since opening in 1977, this cabin restaurant has been serving up delicious Southern food only on weekends. Its cozy log cabin walls and casual decor make every meal feel like you’re dining at home.

What sets Hillbilly Hideaway apart is its unique serving style, resembling a rolling buffet. They wheel out carts loaded with all their tasty dishes right to your table, and you pick what you want. It’s all-you-can-eat, so you’re encouraged to indulge until you’re fully satisfied.

As one of the fun restaurants in North Carolina, Hillbilly Hideaway offers more than great food. There’s a gift shop and a music hall across the parking lot where live country, bluegrass, and gospel music play on Friday nights. If you dine at the restaurant first, the music is complimentary. This spot is a local secret, but it’s worth discovering for a genuine taste of Southern hospitality and entertainment.

Hillbilly Hideaway offers a taste of Southern cooking in a cozy log cabin setting, exclusively on weekends.
Hillbilly Hideaway offers a taste of Southern cooking in a cozy log cabin setting, exclusively on weekends.

11. The Angus Barn

The Angus Barn in Raleigh is a legend for steak lovers. Winning awards for the best steak and fine dining, it’s a favorite spot for many. This place started with a dream on a piece of pastureland and has grown into a family-run success story.

Celebrating 60 years, The Angus Barn has become a Raleigh institution. It’s known for its steak and potatoes menu, a vision that came to life thanks to the founders’ hard work. Now, it serves over 22,000 steaks a month to guests from all over.

As one of North Carolina’s best restaurants, The Angus Barn doesn’t just impress with food. Its wine selection is top-notch, earning accolades for over 30 years. Plus, it’s recognized nationally, ranking as the only North Carolina restaurant on a prestigious list of top independent restaurants in the country.

The Angus Barn is a legendary spot for steak lovers, with award-winning fine dining.
The Angus Barn is a legendary spot for steak lovers, with award-winning fine dining.

12.  The Melting Pot

Diving into a pot of melted cheese or chocolate is an adventure at The Melting Pot. This restaurant turns dinner into an interactive experience, where you can cook your own food right at the table. From cheese fondues as starters to decadent chocolate fondues for dessert, it’s a place where every bite is a delight.

Among unique restaurants in North Carolina for dinner, The Melting Pot shines. Here, your meal kicks off with creamy, melted cheese. You get to pick the flavors that go into it. Then, you dip things like bread, veggies, and apples into this cheesy delight. It’s a fun and tasty start!

Next up is the main dish. You get a plate full of raw meats, seafood, and veggies. You cook these yourself in a pot of hot broth or oil right at your table. It’s like being a chef, but way more fun. You can cook steak, shrimp, and lots of veggies until they’re just right for you.

But the best part? Dessert. It’s all about chocolate fondue. This chocolate is warm and rich, and you can add flavors to make it even better. You dip fruits, marshmallows, and cake pieces into the chocolate. It’s the perfect sweet ending!

The Melting Pot is one of the unique restaurants in North Carolina.
At The Melting Pot, guests cook their own food at the table with cheese and chocolate fondues.

13. Pirates Landing Steak and Seafood House

In North Carolina, themed restaurants offer unique dining experiences that transport you to another world. Pirates Landing Steak and Seafood House is a perfect example. Here, you step into a pirate’s realm, where the decor, music, and even the staff costumes immerse you in a swashbuckling adventure.

The menu is a treasure trove of flavors, featuring fresh seafood and juicy steaks. Imagine dining on shrimp scampi or a perfectly grilled ribeye while surrounded by pirate flags and treasure chests. It’s an experience that combines the thrill of a pirate tale with the pleasure of a delicious meal.

Pirates Landing stands out among themed restaurants in North Carolina for its commitment to creating an unforgettable atmosphere. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, this restaurant promises a dining experience that’s both fun and satisfying.

Pirates Landing Steak and Seafood House offers a swashbuckling adventure with themed decor and staff costumes.
Pirates Landing Steak and Seafood House offers a swashbuckling adventure with themed decor and staff costumes.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Unique Places to Eat in North Carolina

Got questions? Our North Carolina restaurant guide’s FAQ section is here to help you explore the state’s dining options.

What food is unique to North Carolina?

North Carolina is famous for its barbecue, especially pulled pork. Cooked slowly over low heat, the meat becomes tender and flavorful. It’s often served with a vinegar-based sauce, a staple in the state. Another unique dish is livermush, a pork product mixed with cornmeal and spices. These foods reflect the state’s rich culinary traditions.

Where to eat when visiting NC State?

When visiting NC State, check out the best restaurants in North Carolina nearby. Raleigh, the city that homes NC State, boasts a vibrant food scene. From farm-to-table eateries to international cuisine, there’s something for everyone. Don’t miss the chance to try local barbecue spots or seafood restaurants that highlight the state’s coastal catches.

What food is Charlotte famous for?

Charlotte’s restaurants offer a diverse culinary scene, with the city’s famous dish being Carolina-style barbecue, particularly pulled pork. Charlotte also excels in soul food, offering dishes like fried chicken and collard greens. For a unique local experience, explore the city’s food trucks, which serve everything from gourmet burgers to international bites.

What sweets is North Carolina known for?

North Carolina is known for its Moravian cookies, particularly in Winston-Salem. These thin, crisp cookies come in flavors like ginger and sugar. Sweet potato pie, made from North Carolina-grown sweet potatoes, is another favorite. Don’t forget to try Cheerwine, a cherry-flavored soft drink, for a sweet taste unique to the state.

Moravian cookies being prepared, showing dough shaping.
Moravian cookies being prepared, showing dough shaping. | Image Source: https://deweys.com/

What are some scenic places in NC to eat?

North Carolina offers dining with breathtaking views. Enjoy meals overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains or along the Outer Banks for ocean vistas. Restaurants in Asheville and Boone provide mountain scenery, while coastal towns like Wilmington and Morehead City offer waterfront dining. These spots combine great food with stunning landscapes.

Where can I find cheap eats in North Carolina?

For cheap eats in North Carolina, explore local diners, food trucks, and barbecue joints. Cities like Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro have food halls where you can taste different cuisines at affordable prices. Look for daily specials at local restaurants, too. Many places offer deals that let you enjoy delicious meals without breaking the bank.

What are some themed restaurants in North Carolina?

Themed restaurants in North Carolina offer unique dining experiences. From pirate-themed eateries on the coast to train-themed diners in small towns, there’s a fun setting for every taste. Asheville has a restaurant inside a double-decker bus, and Charlotte boasts a diner that feels like you’re in an old movie. These spots add an extra layer of excitement to dining out.

How can I experience North Carolina’s food culture?

To dive into North Carolina’s food culture, attend food festivals and local farmers’ markets. Try dishes like Eastern-style barbecue, fresh seafood, and local wines and beers. Visit historic diners and family-run restaurants to taste recipes passed down through generations. Exploring the state’s food scene is a journey through its history, communities, and traditions.

What are the must-try dishes for first-time visitors to North Carolina?

First-time visitors must try North Carolina barbecue, known for its vinegar-based sauce. Another must-try is shrimp and grits, showcasing the state’s coastal seafood. Don’t leave without tasting Lexington-style barbecue as well, which features a ketchup-based sauce. These dishes offer a taste of North Carolina’s diverse food scene.

Where can I find the best seafood in North Carolina?

For the best seafood, head to the coastal areas. Towns like Wilmington, Morehead City, and the Outer Banks are home to restaurants serving fresh catches daily. Look for spots that offer Calabash-style seafood, a local favorite known for its light, crispy fried fish and shrimp. These coastal gems provide not just amazing seafood but also beautiful ocean views, making them some of the top places to live and visit in North Carolina.

Final Thoughts On Unique North Carolina Restaurants

We hope you enjoyed exploring our North Carolina restaurant guide. From mountains to coast, this state has flavors for everyone. Whether you’re craving barbecue, seafood, or something sweet, North Carolina’s got it.

Remember, dining here is not just about food. It’s about the experience, the views, and the people. Next time you’re in North Carolina, dive into our guide. Discover new favorites and make memories around the table while basking in North Carolina’s beauty. Thanks for joining us on this tasty journey!

The top restaurants in North Carolina for all types of travelers
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