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Fayetteville, North Carolina, Offers a Worldwide Range of Tastes

From ribs to ramen

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Fayetteville is known for many things, chief among them the city’s inextricable link to Fort Bragg (the largest military base in the world), which hasn’t always lent Fayetteville a great reputation. Outsiders don’t often talk about the food in Fayetteville, which to someone zipping by on I-95 might at first glance look like a never ending sea of chain restaurants. Slow down a bit and there are some gems tucked away in the city’s sprawl of strip malls; for all the negatives a transitory military town might have, the diversity brings with it what might be the best international cuisine on offer in the entire state of North Carolina.

Sure, there’s the usual suspects of Thai, Chinese, and Mexican, but Fayetteville also offers Lebanese, Vietnamese, Cuban, Jamaican, West African, and Filipino restaurants, to name a few. The city might not have gotten the sort of national press that Durham has received, nor does it have resident celebrity chefs like Raleigh (Ashley Christenesen) or even Kinston (Vivian Howard), but visitors would be hard-pressed to find anywhere in the state that plays host to a German bakery, a top-notch Indian restaurant, and a Puerto Rican cafe all in the same plaza. To make life a bit easier, here are 12 must-try Fayetteville eateries.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. 2 Rim Khong Restaurant

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6451 Yadkin Road C
Fayetteville, NC 28303
(910) 745-9498
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Come for Thai staples like papaya salad and pad thai, stay for Laotian specialities like yum nham kow tod (a crispy rice and sour pork mixture served with lettuce wraps) and flavorful, deep-friend Lao sausages. 2 Rim Khong combines the best of Thai and Laotian cuisine in a menu that offers something for both the adventurous and the traditionalist in the family. A more pedestrian lunch buffet is offered, but the full dinner menu is really where the action’s at.

2. Shila

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404 Santa Fe Dr # 101
Fayetteville, NC 28303
(910) 860-4800

If mouth-numbingly hot Korean food sounds good then Shila is the place to be. An extensive menu includes kimchi soup, bibimbap, and bulgogi, but it’s best to branch out. Try ohjing-ah ppokum, stir-fried squid with onions and scallions in a spicy sauce, or the doenjang soup, a fiery broth with tofu. A standout is the bibim nengmeon, a noodle dish served with what is described as “grandma’s homemade spicy sauce.” Virtually every item on the menu is marked hot, so come prepared. 

3. Grilled Ginger Vietnamese Restaurant

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5052 Yadkin Rd #101
Fayetteville, NC 28303
(910) 867-2227
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Grilled Ginger is the place to go to explore Vietnamese cuisine that isn’t just pho or banh mi. Sure they have the traditional Northern Vietnamese-style pho that is most common here in the States, but they also offer hue tieu nam vang, a southern-style noodle soup with a lighter seafood and lemongrass-accented broth. Spicy bun bo hue from central Vietnam, served with various cuts of beef and pork, rounds out the noodle soup offerings. Get all three for an edible journey from Hanoi all the way down to Ho Chi Minh city. Adding an order of banh xeo, a traditional eggy pancake stuffed with meat and seafood, wouldn’t be a bad idea either. 

Grilled Ginger

4. Philippine Store and Cuisine

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4902 Yadkin Rd
Fayetteville, NC 28303
(910) 860-1241
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Part Filipino market, part buffet restaurant, Philippine Store & Cuisine is like a tropical version of the South’s beloved gas station-cum-restaurant combinations. The grocery side of the shop is stocked with Filipino staples and snacks, while the food is set out as a daily rotating buffet. Selections can change, but expect to see items like lumpia, lechon paksiw, and pancit, or call ahead and ask what will be on today’s buffet. 

5. Ramen Tsubaki

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508 N McPherson Church Rd #102
Fayetteville, NC 28303
(910) 568-5406
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Chicken-based broths are the order of the day here, like wafu shoyu ramen with a chicken, kelp, dried bonito, and soy sauce base. Other styles include shio, miso, and paitan, an incredibly rich chicken broth with garlic and spicy miso. All bowls of ramen come with your choice of chicken, pork, or beef. The menu is more than just noodles, however, with tsubaki buns (think Japanese versions of bao) and rice bowls. Try the kara-age (Japanese-style fried chicken) rice bowl with kewpie mayo and shredded scallion.

Ramen Tsubaki /Facebook

6. Fowler's Southern Gourmet

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723 W Rowan St
Fayetteville, NC 28301
(910) 491-5721
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It would be impossible to create a list of must-visit restaurants in any Southern city and not include a barbecue joint, but Fowler’s is so much more than that! Traditional Carolina-style pulled pork is on the menu, but so is smoked brisket, smoked chicken, and smoked pork belly. Standard barbecue sandwiches share the menu with items like the Angry Hawaiian, a sandwich of smoked pork or chicken with smoked pork belly and a spicy-sweet grilled pineapple relish. Jerk tacos and the Q-ritto, a burrito of smoked pork, chicken, or brisket with avocado crema and a jalapeño-lime slaw also mix things up a bit. The smoked St. Louis-style ribs special on Wednesdays and Fridays is also a big draw.

7. Desde Mi Balcón

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5945 Cliffdale Rd
Fayetteville, NC 28314
(910) 867-7052

Bachata music videos blare from the TV behind the front counter and the tables are usually packed with families diving into generous plates of mofongo or pechuga al ajillo at this lively Puerto Rican hideaway. Definitely go for the platano sandwich, a mix of the lettuce, tomato, onions, and the meat of your choice tossed in a creamy garlic sauce with two giant pieces of fried plantain instead of bread. 

8. Max & Moritz Bakery & Restaurant

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5945 Cliffdale Rd # 1104
Fayetteville, NC 28314
(910) 826-8400

This cafe and bakery serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to locals hungry for traditional German fare like jaegerschnitzel and currywurst. The zigeurner schnitzel plate, two pork loins smothered in a bell pepper gravy, is a unique offering, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays they offer a sauerbraten special until sold out. Breakfast is served all day and the bakery case is filled with traditional German pastries and cookies like black forest cake, berliners, and the beloved broetchen rolls. 

9. Bombay Bistro

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5945 Cliffdale Rd #1101
Fayetteville, NC 28314
(910) 487-0020
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This husband-and-wife-run Indian restaurant serves more than just the typical tikka masala. A recent weekday lunch buffet featured, among other things, chicken jalfrezi, a slightly sweet and spicy red bean rajma, and a cooling dessert of sev kheer (vermicelli noodles in a fragrant, sweet milk broth). The restaurant also caters heavily to vegans and vegetarians; try the malai kofta, dumplings of potato, cashews, paneer, and raisins that are deep-fried and served swimming in a creamy tomato sauce. 

10. Fabe's Charcoal Roasting Co.

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2715 Freedom Pkwy Dr
Fayetteville, NC 28314
(910) 252-8956
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Peruvian-style grilled chicken meets fast-casual service is this newer addition to Fayetteville’s dining scene. The main event here is the succulent roasted chicken (available to order in quarter or half sizes) served with cornbread and your choice from the massive list of sides. Also try the chicken on rice “Jaco”, pulled rotisserie chicken on a bed of rice with their in-house barbecue teriyaki sauce. They also offer traditionally Southern lunch specials, like chicken and dumplings on Thursdays and Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches on the weekends

11. Antonella's Italian Ristorante

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300 Hay St
Fayetteville, NC 28301
(910) 486-0046
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An anchor in recently-revitalized downtown Fayetteville, Antonella’s is more than a typical red sauce joint. The menu combines both Sicilian and Northern Italian specialities like grouper francese, shrimp fra diavolo, and chicken taormina, a lightly breaded chicken breast in a tangy lemon herb sauce. The lasagna could easily feed three adults, and the rotating selection of cakes might just tempt you away from the tiramisu. A standout appetizer is, believe it or not, the fried calamari. Tender and crispy with loads of fresh basil and a sweet-hot pepper jelly, it’s an unexpected addition to the menu. 

12. Circa 1800

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108 Person St
Fayetteville, NC 28301
(910) 568-4725
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A downtown staple, Circa 1800 offers an eclectic take on southern pub cuisine. Creamy collard dip with pork rinds for dipping takes the place of ho-hum spinach dip, and the seared ribeye steak comes with a country ham bordelaise sauce and chili-spiked brussels sprouts. Go early during brunch for the Lucky 13 cinna-burger, a bacon-cheeseburger topped with a runny egg and served in a cinnamon bun; the restaurant only makes 13 for the whole weekend. An innovative cocktail list rounds out the offerings. 

Circa 1800/Facebook

1. 2 Rim Khong Restaurant

6451 Yadkin Road C, Fayetteville, NC 28303

Come for Thai staples like papaya salad and pad thai, stay for Laotian specialities like yum nham kow tod (a crispy rice and sour pork mixture served with lettuce wraps) and flavorful, deep-friend Lao sausages. 2 Rim Khong combines the best of Thai and Laotian cuisine in a menu that offers something for both the adventurous and the traditionalist in the family. A more pedestrian lunch buffet is offered, but the full dinner menu is really where the action’s at.

6451 Yadkin Road C
Fayetteville, NC 28303

2. Shila

404 Santa Fe Dr # 101, Fayetteville, NC 28303

If mouth-numbingly hot Korean food sounds good then Shila is the place to be. An extensive menu includes kimchi soup, bibimbap, and bulgogi, but it’s best to branch out. Try ohjing-ah ppokum, stir-fried squid with onions and scallions in a spicy sauce, or the doenjang soup, a fiery broth with tofu. A standout is the bibim nengmeon, a noodle dish served with what is described as “grandma’s homemade spicy sauce.” Virtually every item on the menu is marked hot, so come prepared. 

404 Santa Fe Dr # 101
Fayetteville, NC 28303

3. Grilled Ginger Vietnamese Restaurant

5052 Yadkin Rd #101, Fayetteville, NC 28303
Grilled Ginger

Grilled Ginger is the place to go to explore Vietnamese cuisine that isn’t just pho or banh mi. Sure they have the traditional Northern Vietnamese-style pho that is most common here in the States, but they also offer hue tieu nam vang, a southern-style noodle soup with a lighter seafood and lemongrass-accented broth. Spicy bun bo hue from central Vietnam, served with various cuts of beef and pork, rounds out the noodle soup offerings. Get all three for an edible journey from Hanoi all the way down to Ho Chi Minh city. Adding an order of banh xeo, a traditional eggy pancake stuffed with meat and seafood, wouldn’t be a bad idea either. 

5052 Yadkin Rd #101
Fayetteville, NC 28303

4. Philippine Store and Cuisine

4902 Yadkin Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28303

Part Filipino market, part buffet restaurant, Philippine Store & Cuisine is like a tropical version of the South’s beloved gas station-cum-restaurant combinations. The grocery side of the shop is stocked with Filipino staples and snacks, while the food is set out as a daily rotating buffet. Selections can change, but expect to see items like lumpia, lechon paksiw, and pancit, or call ahead and ask what will be on today’s buffet. 

4902 Yadkin Rd
Fayetteville, NC 28303

5. Ramen Tsubaki

508 N McPherson Church Rd #102, Fayetteville, NC 28303
Ramen Tsubaki /Facebook

Chicken-based broths are the order of the day here, like wafu shoyu ramen with a chicken, kelp, dried bonito, and soy sauce base. Other styles include shio, miso, and paitan, an incredibly rich chicken broth with garlic and spicy miso. All bowls of ramen come with your choice of chicken, pork, or beef. The menu is more than just noodles, however, with tsubaki buns (think Japanese versions of bao) and rice bowls. Try the kara-age (Japanese-style fried chicken) rice bowl with kewpie mayo and shredded scallion.

508 N McPherson Church Rd #102
Fayetteville, NC 28303

6. Fowler's Southern Gourmet

723 W Rowan St, Fayetteville, NC 28301

It would be impossible to create a list of must-visit restaurants in any Southern city and not include a barbecue joint, but Fowler’s is so much more than that! Traditional Carolina-style pulled pork is on the menu, but so is smoked brisket, smoked chicken, and smoked pork belly. Standard barbecue sandwiches share the menu with items like the Angry Hawaiian, a sandwich of smoked pork or chicken with smoked pork belly and a spicy-sweet grilled pineapple relish. Jerk tacos and the Q-ritto, a burrito of smoked pork, chicken, or brisket with avocado crema and a jalapeño-lime slaw also mix things up a bit. The smoked St. Louis-style ribs special on Wednesdays and Fridays is also a big draw.

723 W Rowan St
Fayetteville, NC 28301

7. Desde Mi Balcón

5945 Cliffdale Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28314

Bachata music videos blare from the TV behind the front counter and the tables are usually packed with families diving into generous plates of mofongo or pechuga al ajillo at this lively Puerto Rican hideaway. Definitely go for the platano sandwich, a mix of the lettuce, tomato, onions, and the meat of your choice tossed in a creamy garlic sauce with two giant pieces of fried plantain instead of bread. 

5945 Cliffdale Rd
Fayetteville, NC 28314

8. Max & Moritz Bakery & Restaurant

5945 Cliffdale Rd # 1104, Fayetteville, NC 28314

This cafe and bakery serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner to locals hungry for traditional German fare like jaegerschnitzel and currywurst. The zigeurner schnitzel plate, two pork loins smothered in a bell pepper gravy, is a unique offering, and on Wednesdays and Thursdays they offer a sauerbraten special until sold out. Breakfast is served all day and the bakery case is filled with traditional German pastries and cookies like black forest cake, berliners, and the beloved broetchen rolls. 

5945 Cliffdale Rd # 1104
Fayetteville, NC 28314

9. Bombay Bistro

5945 Cliffdale Rd #1101, Fayetteville, NC 28314

This husband-and-wife-run Indian restaurant serves more than just the typical tikka masala. A recent weekday lunch buffet featured, among other things, chicken jalfrezi, a slightly sweet and spicy red bean rajma, and a cooling dessert of sev kheer (vermicelli noodles in a fragrant, sweet milk broth). The restaurant also caters heavily to vegans and vegetarians; try the malai kofta, dumplings of potato, cashews, paneer, and raisins that are deep-fried and served swimming in a creamy tomato sauce. 

5945 Cliffdale Rd #1101
Fayetteville, NC 28314

10. Fabe's Charcoal Roasting Co.

2715 Freedom Pkwy Dr, Fayetteville, NC 28314

Peruvian-style grilled chicken meets fast-casual service is this newer addition to Fayetteville’s dining scene. The main event here is the succulent roasted chicken (available to order in quarter or half sizes) served with cornbread and your choice from the massive list of sides. Also try the chicken on rice “Jaco”, pulled rotisserie chicken on a bed of rice with their in-house barbecue teriyaki sauce. They also offer traditionally Southern lunch specials, like chicken and dumplings on Thursdays and Nashville-style hot chicken sandwiches on the weekends

2715 Freedom Pkwy Dr
Fayetteville, NC 28314

11. Antonella's Italian Ristorante

300 Hay St, Fayetteville, NC 28301

An anchor in recently-revitalized downtown Fayetteville, Antonella’s is more than a typical red sauce joint. The menu combines both Sicilian and Northern Italian specialities like grouper francese, shrimp fra diavolo, and chicken taormina, a lightly breaded chicken breast in a tangy lemon herb sauce. The lasagna could easily feed three adults, and the rotating selection of cakes might just tempt you away from the tiramisu. A standout appetizer is, believe it or not, the fried calamari. Tender and crispy with loads of fresh basil and a sweet-hot pepper jelly, it’s an unexpected addition to the menu. 

300 Hay St
Fayetteville, NC 28301

12. Circa 1800

108 Person St, Fayetteville, NC 28301
Circa 1800/Facebook

A downtown staple, Circa 1800 offers an eclectic take on southern pub cuisine. Creamy collard dip with pork rinds for dipping takes the place of ho-hum spinach dip, and the seared ribeye steak comes with a country ham bordelaise sauce and chili-spiked brussels sprouts. Go early during brunch for the Lucky 13 cinna-burger, a bacon-cheeseburger topped with a runny egg and served in a cinnamon bun; the restaurant only makes 13 for the whole weekend. An innovative cocktail list rounds out the offerings. 

108 Person St
Fayetteville, NC 28301

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