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Crabs from Forsyth Seafood Market And Cafe.
Jodie Brim Creative

18 Essential Restaurants in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

From fresh seafood to “pizzakase” to double cheeseburgers

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Crabs from Forsyth Seafood Market And Cafe.
| Jodie Brim Creative

In Winston Salem, North Carolina, old tobacco and industrial smokestacks give way to cavernous, refurbished backdrops with episodic views of public art. The dining scene has a firm foothold in the Southern American realm with nuanced looks all around the region and beyond. The remainder of the cuisine directly reflects the area’s diversity with minute nods to global influences and international cuisine that does not always receive the recognition it deserves.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

1703 Restaurant & Catering

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Joe and Molly Curran opened 1703 Restaurant in 2000, but chef de cuisine Curtis Hackaday took over the reign of the kitchen in 2012. This Buena Vista mainstay of classic French and nouvelle Southern cuisine caters to both adventurous and casual diners. All of the menu items' prices end in 3 cents to honor the last two digits of the restaurant’s address. Brunch may be the best meal here, with crispy duck leg confit with cheese grits, bacon cremini sauce, and the 1703 Benedict layered with smoky country ham leading the charge.

Bobby Boy Bakeshop

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This 2024 James Beard-nominated bakeshop gives all the signs of a French patisserie, but the decor says suburban oasis. Owners John and Lucia Bobby had long careers in fine dining before working together in this space. The rotating seasonal pastry case features delicate tarts, multilayered entremets, croissants, and a daily sandwich special made with artisan old-world bread baked and fermented with locally milled flour. The attention to detail is so precise that the iced coffee has frozen coffee as ice cubes.

Mojito Latin Soul Food

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Take a trip to Cuba through the bigger-than-life-sized murals, artwork, and cuisine at this food-truck-turned-restaurant. Along with refreshing seasonal mojito cocktails, find masitas, croquetas, and Cuban sandwiches. Don’t miss the Delta 9-infused mojito-style mocktail, affectionately called a “mo-wee-to,” or the Cuban deluxe with sweet ham, slow-cooked pork, extra Swiss cheese, pickles, and two ham croquettes stuffed inside. An order of flan or tres leches cakes adds a sweet, melodious note to the end of any meal at Mojito.

The Cuban deluxe at Mojito.
Mojito Latin Soul Food

Mission Pizza Napoletana

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Mission (as the locals call it) is really an osteria masquerading as a pizzeria. Owner Peyton Smith builds a selection of unique entrees and pizza options, which puts this spot above your average pizza joint. For the ultimate experience, make reservations for the five-course prix fixe menu served family-style or the “pizzakase” experience, based on the Japanese custom of omakase with custom, personalized off-menu choices to get the full picture of why this place was a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2022.

Sweet Potatoes

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Vivián Joiner and chef Stephanie Tyson defined dining downtown in the Camel City’s arts district when they opened Sweet Potatoes in 2003. This two-time James Beard semifinalist serves up Southern classics with down-home familiarity and flavorful twists. Don’t miss three-cheese macaroni and country ham souffle or the freshly fried hot pork rind basket that pops and crackles all the way to the table. The fried chicken is flavored with fat back and cooked in cast-iron skillets, while the meatloaf is smothered in mushroom gravy and topped with tobacco onions. And yes, there is also a killer sweet potato pie for dessert.

Southern plates at Sweet Potatoes.
Sweet Potatoes

Heff's Burger Club

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Named after co-owner Heather Hill, as her childhood nickname is Heff, this playfulness works its way into every aspect of the restaurant. Focused on smash burgers, retro video game machines, pop art, and the neon lights that greet customers when they visit, this 2023 James Beard semifinalist for Best New Restaurant is known for its signature burger, Ladykiller. Available with single or double patties, it comes with white American cheese, red onion, shredded lettuce, local pickle chips, and black garlic sauce on a seeded bun.

Krankies

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Krankies evolved from a coffee roaster and coffee shop housed in a former fallout shelter to a popular breakfast and brunch spot with hipster vibes and artistic grooves. Today, the coffee continues to be roasted on-site, but now the vibes in the air come from avocado toast and Southern baked biscuits piled high with fried chicken, Texas Pete hot sauce, or vegan-friendly options. The same mood translates to the housemade baked goods, too.

A chicken biscuit in front of a city scape.
A fried chicken biscuit covered in Texas Pete hot sauce.
Krankies

Young Cardinal Cafe and Co.

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The breakfast and brunch at Young Cardinal Cafe are rad and boozy. Made-to-order omelets, fluffy biscuits, and belly-busting breakfast burritos bump right up against entrees like the short rib melt, huevos ranchero,s and make-your-own Benedicts. The Miley Citrus mimosa or a mug of Millionaire’s Coffee spiked with Kahlua and Frangelico round out one of the best meals of the day, but keep an eye out for the specials.

Foothills Brewpub

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Housed in a former Chrysler dealership showroom, downtown’s largest and oldest brewpub produces over 40 new beers annually. The original brickwork and crown molding provide scenery to the approachable pub fare. House-smoked wings, beer cheese nachos, and loaded tots hold their own next to the fish and chips, specialty burgers, and beer-braised barbecue ribs. Don’t miss the coffee, roasted on-premises, or the seasonal desserts.

Various salads and burgers on white plates on a wooden table.
A selection of plates at Foothills Brewpub.
Foothills Brewing

Bernardin's Restaurant

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Ambiance has always been part of the Bernardin’s experience. Located in what is known to be the oldest home in Winston-Salem — the Zevely House, built in 1815 — the bijou dining spaces, white tablecloths, and impeccable service place it high on lists of the most romantic dinner spots in the city. The French-American menu shows off the culinary prowess of chef-owner Freddy Lee. Escargot laced with cognac, chanterelles, and herbs; horseradish-topped filet mignon with gnocchi and goat cheese show brilliantly next to North Carolina-raised emu with sweet potato puree, rainbow carrots, and a Madeira cranberry sauce.

Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro

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Owner and proprietor Jennifer Smith took a small neighborhood diner and turned it into one of the most popular restaurants in the West End neighborhood. In the shadow of the downtown skyline, diners feast on double-crust tomato pie, edamame succotash, meatloaf with Texas Pete-spiked collards, and sherry-laced shrimp and grits. After 15 years of service, the taste and diminutive stature of this establishment have never changed.

Forsyth Seafood Market & Cafe

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Mother-daughter team Virginia Hardesty and Ashley Hardesty Armstrong serve up fortified seafood classics and updated old standards like fish chowder and crab legs and have a sleek branded food truck that can be seen at Cobblestone Farmers Market on select Saturdays. Offering fried fish plates, oyster platters, and hushpuppies since 1984, this family-owned restaurant is focused on eastern North Carolina Calabash-style seafood and its adjacent fresh fish market. The two entities are separate, but market fish purchases can be prepared in the cafe by request.

Various plates of fried and steamed seafood.
Spread at Forsyth Seafood
Jodie Brim Photography

The Carving Board

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Slinging three-salad plates and building custom sandwiches since 1996, it’s rare not to see a line snaking out of this Thruway Shopping Center staple during lunch hours. Known for its signature spicy sesame noodles, daily soup specials, and chicken salad, this family-owned business has a devoted stream of regulars who keep the place humming. Diehard customers know to pick up extra orange ginger grilled shrimp when it’s on the daily specials board and not to skip out on desserts such as the housemade lemon bars, tres leches cake, triple fudge brownies, and rice pudding.

Mr. Barbecue

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Serving hickory-smoked, Lexington-style barbecue since 1962, Mr. Barbecue rose from the ashes to reopen after a 2019 fire destroyed the original building. It was rebuilt in 2023 after a car crashed through its dining room. The restaurant's footprint remains the same but with the addition of a sleek drive-thru. The signature fried chicken and chopped barbecue dominate the menu, but get there early to order the crispy pork skins, because they sell out fast. French fries, hushpuppies, and two kinds of coleslaw are standards, but the Greek-style green beans deserve a spotlight.

Los Juanes

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This one-stop shop for tacos, tortas, and pinatas was a local secret, but the word is out. Tucked away in the Center Stage Shopping Center on Jonestown Road, Los Juanes is part carneceria, part taqueria, and part bodega. Eat in and enjoy the O.M.G. Nachos piled high with chicken, steak, and chorizo, or get the tacos al pastor to go and peruse the pinata aisle while waiting. Don’t forget to pick up some goodies from the meat counter for the full taqueria experience.

Acadia Foods Market & Deli

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Part cafe, part grocery store, this popular Washington Park neighborhood haunt is known for its vegan and vegetarian-friendly menus. Breakfast, lunch, and brunch on the weekends are why diners flock here. Don’t miss the breakfast collard greens or cauliflower melt with bacon or tempeh and an over-easy egg or the vegetarian Reuben with roasted beets, Swiss cheese, and smoked Thousand Island dressing. Get your caffeine fix at the coffee bar, but don’t sleep on the beet, matcha, or turmeric lattes on the Superfood Latte menu.

New Sichuan

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Owners Bao Lin and Min Zhu relocated to Winston-Salem after running another Sichuan restaurant in Durham for eight years. The location of New Sichuan is a former Biscuitville, but the interior gives no secrets to the building’s past. The menu features Chinese-American dishes like General Tao’s chicken and crab rangoon but shines with over 30 dishes from the Sichuan province in China. Tongue-numbing peppercorns dance all over the menu in the dan dan noodles, dry pot chicken, and Sichuan wontons in red oil.

Kasturi Indian Cuisine

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Located in the Pavilions Shopping Center near Hanes Mall, Kasturi offers tried-and-true, North and South Indian cuisine staples, like chicken tikka masala, biryanis, lamb rogan josh, and various tandoori specialties that can be adjusted according to spice level. Meatless standouts include a lightly spiced raita, vegetable samosas and pakoras, gobi Manchurian, plus a large number of naan and fluffy, deep-fried bhatura. The dessert menu is especially tempting, with rose and cardamom-infused gulub jamun and creamy kulfis.

1703 Restaurant & Catering

Joe and Molly Curran opened 1703 Restaurant in 2000, but chef de cuisine Curtis Hackaday took over the reign of the kitchen in 2012. This Buena Vista mainstay of classic French and nouvelle Southern cuisine caters to both adventurous and casual diners. All of the menu items' prices end in 3 cents to honor the last two digits of the restaurant’s address. Brunch may be the best meal here, with crispy duck leg confit with cheese grits, bacon cremini sauce, and the 1703 Benedict layered with smoky country ham leading the charge.

Bobby Boy Bakeshop

This 2024 James Beard-nominated bakeshop gives all the signs of a French patisserie, but the decor says suburban oasis. Owners John and Lucia Bobby had long careers in fine dining before working together in this space. The rotating seasonal pastry case features delicate tarts, multilayered entremets, croissants, and a daily sandwich special made with artisan old-world bread baked and fermented with locally milled flour. The attention to detail is so precise that the iced coffee has frozen coffee as ice cubes.

Mojito Latin Soul Food

Take a trip to Cuba through the bigger-than-life-sized murals, artwork, and cuisine at this food-truck-turned-restaurant. Along with refreshing seasonal mojito cocktails, find masitas, croquetas, and Cuban sandwiches. Don’t miss the Delta 9-infused mojito-style mocktail, affectionately called a “mo-wee-to,” or the Cuban deluxe with sweet ham, slow-cooked pork, extra Swiss cheese, pickles, and two ham croquettes stuffed inside. An order of flan or tres leches cakes adds a sweet, melodious note to the end of any meal at Mojito.

The Cuban deluxe at Mojito.
Mojito Latin Soul Food

Mission Pizza Napoletana

Mission (as the locals call it) is really an osteria masquerading as a pizzeria. Owner Peyton Smith builds a selection of unique entrees and pizza options, which puts this spot above your average pizza joint. For the ultimate experience, make reservations for the five-course prix fixe menu served family-style or the “pizzakase” experience, based on the Japanese custom of omakase with custom, personalized off-menu choices to get the full picture of why this place was a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2022.

Sweet Potatoes

Vivián Joiner and chef Stephanie Tyson defined dining downtown in the Camel City’s arts district when they opened Sweet Potatoes in 2003. This two-time James Beard semifinalist serves up Southern classics with down-home familiarity and flavorful twists. Don’t miss three-cheese macaroni and country ham souffle or the freshly fried hot pork rind basket that pops and crackles all the way to the table. The fried chicken is flavored with fat back and cooked in cast-iron skillets, while the meatloaf is smothered in mushroom gravy and topped with tobacco onions. And yes, there is also a killer sweet potato pie for dessert.

Southern plates at Sweet Potatoes.
Sweet Potatoes

Heff's Burger Club

Named after co-owner Heather Hill, as her childhood nickname is Heff, this playfulness works its way into every aspect of the restaurant. Focused on smash burgers, retro video game machines, pop art, and the neon lights that greet customers when they visit, this 2023 James Beard semifinalist for Best New Restaurant is known for its signature burger, Ladykiller. Available with single or double patties, it comes with white American cheese, red onion, shredded lettuce, local pickle chips, and black garlic sauce on a seeded bun.

Krankies

Krankies evolved from a coffee roaster and coffee shop housed in a former fallout shelter to a popular breakfast and brunch spot with hipster vibes and artistic grooves. Today, the coffee continues to be roasted on-site, but now the vibes in the air come from avocado toast and Southern baked biscuits piled high with fried chicken, Texas Pete hot sauce, or vegan-friendly options. The same mood translates to the housemade baked goods, too.

A chicken biscuit in front of a city scape.
A fried chicken biscuit covered in Texas Pete hot sauce.
Krankies

Young Cardinal Cafe and Co.

The breakfast and brunch at Young Cardinal Cafe are rad and boozy. Made-to-order omelets, fluffy biscuits, and belly-busting breakfast burritos bump right up against entrees like the short rib melt, huevos ranchero,s and make-your-own Benedicts. The Miley Citrus mimosa or a mug of Millionaire’s Coffee spiked with Kahlua and Frangelico round out one of the best meals of the day, but keep an eye out for the specials.

Foothills Brewpub

Housed in a former Chrysler dealership showroom, downtown’s largest and oldest brewpub produces over 40 new beers annually. The original brickwork and crown molding provide scenery to the approachable pub fare. House-smoked wings, beer cheese nachos, and loaded tots hold their own next to the fish and chips, specialty burgers, and beer-braised barbecue ribs. Don’t miss the coffee, roasted on-premises, or the seasonal desserts.

Various salads and burgers on white plates on a wooden table.
A selection of plates at Foothills Brewpub.
Foothills Brewing

Bernardin's Restaurant

Ambiance has always been part of the Bernardin’s experience. Located in what is known to be the oldest home in Winston-Salem — the Zevely House, built in 1815 — the bijou dining spaces, white tablecloths, and impeccable service place it high on lists of the most romantic dinner spots in the city. The French-American menu shows off the culinary prowess of chef-owner Freddy Lee. Escargot laced with cognac, chanterelles, and herbs; horseradish-topped filet mignon with gnocchi and goat cheese show brilliantly next to North Carolina-raised emu with sweet potato puree, rainbow carrots, and a Madeira cranberry sauce.

Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro

Owner and proprietor Jennifer Smith took a small neighborhood diner and turned it into one of the most popular restaurants in the West End neighborhood. In the shadow of the downtown skyline, diners feast on double-crust tomato pie, edamame succotash, meatloaf with Texas Pete-spiked collards, and sherry-laced shrimp and grits. After 15 years of service, the taste and diminutive stature of this establishment have never changed.

Forsyth Seafood Market & Cafe

Mother-daughter team Virginia Hardesty and Ashley Hardesty Armstrong serve up fortified seafood classics and updated old standards like fish chowder and crab legs and have a sleek branded food truck that can be seen at Cobblestone Farmers Market on select Saturdays. Offering fried fish plates, oyster platters, and hushpuppies since 1984, this family-owned restaurant is focused on eastern North Carolina Calabash-style seafood and its adjacent fresh fish market. The two entities are separate, but market fish purchases can be prepared in the cafe by request.

Various plates of fried and steamed seafood.
Spread at Forsyth Seafood
Jodie Brim Photography

The Carving Board

Slinging three-salad plates and building custom sandwiches since 1996, it’s rare not to see a line snaking out of this Thruway Shopping Center staple during lunch hours. Known for its signature spicy sesame noodles, daily soup specials, and chicken salad, this family-owned business has a devoted stream of regulars who keep the place humming. Diehard customers know to pick up extra orange ginger grilled shrimp when it’s on the daily specials board and not to skip out on desserts such as the housemade lemon bars, tres leches cake, triple fudge brownies, and rice pudding.

Mr. Barbecue

Serving hickory-smoked, Lexington-style barbecue since 1962, Mr. Barbecue rose from the ashes to reopen after a 2019 fire destroyed the original building. It was rebuilt in 2023 after a car crashed through its dining room. The restaurant's footprint remains the same but with the addition of a sleek drive-thru. The signature fried chicken and chopped barbecue dominate the menu, but get there early to order the crispy pork skins, because they sell out fast. French fries, hushpuppies, and two kinds of coleslaw are standards, but the Greek-style green beans deserve a spotlight.

Los Juanes

This one-stop shop for tacos, tortas, and pinatas was a local secret, but the word is out. Tucked away in the Center Stage Shopping Center on Jonestown Road, Los Juanes is part carneceria, part taqueria, and part bodega. Eat in and enjoy the O.M.G. Nachos piled high with chicken, steak, and chorizo, or get the tacos al pastor to go and peruse the pinata aisle while waiting. Don’t forget to pick up some goodies from the meat counter for the full taqueria experience.

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Acadia Foods Market & Deli

Part cafe, part grocery store, this popular Washington Park neighborhood haunt is known for its vegan and vegetarian-friendly menus. Breakfast, lunch, and brunch on the weekends are why diners flock here. Don’t miss the breakfast collard greens or cauliflower melt with bacon or tempeh and an over-easy egg or the vegetarian Reuben with roasted beets, Swiss cheese, and smoked Thousand Island dressing. Get your caffeine fix at the coffee bar, but don’t sleep on the beet, matcha, or turmeric lattes on the Superfood Latte menu.

New Sichuan

Owners Bao Lin and Min Zhu relocated to Winston-Salem after running another Sichuan restaurant in Durham for eight years. The location of New Sichuan is a former Biscuitville, but the interior gives no secrets to the building’s past. The menu features Chinese-American dishes like General Tao’s chicken and crab rangoon but shines with over 30 dishes from the Sichuan province in China. Tongue-numbing peppercorns dance all over the menu in the dan dan noodles, dry pot chicken, and Sichuan wontons in red oil.

Kasturi Indian Cuisine

Located in the Pavilions Shopping Center near Hanes Mall, Kasturi offers tried-and-true, North and South Indian cuisine staples, like chicken tikka masala, biryanis, lamb rogan josh, and various tandoori specialties that can be adjusted according to spice level. Meatless standouts include a lightly spiced raita, vegetable samosas and pakoras, gobi Manchurian, plus a large number of naan and fluffy, deep-fried bhatura. The dessert menu is especially tempting, with rose and cardamom-infused gulub jamun and creamy kulfis.

Related Maps