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Spread at Forsyth Seafood
Jodie Brim Photography

18 Essential Restaurants in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

From fried seafood to “pizzakase”

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Spread at Forsyth Seafood
| Jodie Brim Photography

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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Los Juanes

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Tucked away in a shopping center on Jonestown Road, Los Juanes is part carneceria, part taqueria, and part bodega. This one-stop shop for tacos, tortas, gorditas, and all of the ingredients to make them at home features a secret menu with menudo, caldo de res, and aguas frescas, but it’s only available on the weekends. Try the mojarra frita or the platillo centroamericano to expand the Mexican horizon.

New Sichuan

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

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 reins of the kitchen in 2012. This Buena Vista bastion of classic French and nouvelle Southern cuisine caters to adventurous and casual diners alike. The ever-changing menu makes it difficult to pinpoint the best items, but the execution of the menu is met with precision and artful plating techniques.

Bobby Boy Bakeshop

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Located in the Buena Vista neighborhood, the bakeshop case says French patisserie but the decor says suburban oasis with coffee service at Bobby Boy Bakeshop. Owners Lucia and John Bobby curate the rotating seasonal pastry menu with delicate tarts, multilayered entremets, croissants, eclairs, and artisan old world breads baked with locally milled flour. The attention to detail is so precise that the iced coffee has frozen coffee as ice cubes.

Mr. Barbecue

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Serving hickory-smoked Lexington-style BBQ since 1962, Mr. Barbecue rose from the ashes to reopen after a 2019 fire destroyed the original building. The footprint of the restaurant remains the same, but with an addition of a sleek, new drive-through. The signature fried chicken, chopped, sliced and chunky barbecue subjugate the rest of 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 place in the spotlight as well.

Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro

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Owner and proprietor Jennifer Smith took small neighborhood diner Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro  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 tomato pie, gourmet bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and sherry-laced shrimp and grits. After nearly 11 years of service, the taste and diminutive stature of this establishment has never changed.

Foothills Brewpub

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Housed in a former Chrysler dealership showroom, downtown’s oldest brewpub produces over 40 new beers annually. The original brickwork and crown molding provide scenery to the approachable, well-executed pub fare. House-smoked wings, beer cheese-dripped nachos and loaded tots hold their own next to the fish and chips, specialty burgers, and brewhouse Cuban. The house-made beer mustard is the condiment du jour and is available for purchase.

Young Cardinal Cafe and Co.

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The breakfast and brunch at Young Cardinal Cafe is rad and boozy. Make-your-own omelettes, biscuits and gravy, and pancakes bump right up against entrees like the short rib melt, fried hot honey chicken sandwich, and the huevos rancheros. 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.

The city’s first vegan restaurant, Dom’s, has a refreshing look at plant-based cuisine. What began as an Italian pizzeria named Mozzarella Fellas is now a hot spot for all types of omnivores. Walnut and chickpea chorizo nachos and buffalo cauliflower continuously impress the masses. Italian classics like the baked penne arrabbiata and fried gnocchi go back to the restaurant’s cheesy roots.

Mojito Latin Soul Food

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Take a trip to Cuba through the bigger-than-life murals, artwork, and the cuisine at this food truck-turned-restaurant. Masitas, croquetas and pork-stuffed Cuban sandwiches rule the menu alongside plantains in all its many forms and refreshing seasonal mojito cocktails. An order of the flan or the tres leches cakes adds a sweet, melodious note to the end of any meal at Mojito.

Mission Pizza Napoletana

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Mission (as the locals call it) is really an osteria masquerading as a pizzeria. Wood-fired Napoli-style pizza, pasta, Italian-inspired features, North Carolina beer, and Italian wine, color the dining experience here. No visit is complete without trying the prix fixe “pizzakase” experience, based on the Japanese custom of omakase with custom, personalized off-menu choices. Owner Peyton Smith builds a selection of unique, entree and pizza options, which puts this spot above the average pizza joint.

Meridian Restaurant

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Executive chef and owner Mark Grohman opened his upscale, globally focused fine dining restaurant in the historic Brookstown neighborhood in 2007. The menu delights guests with fresh, local, organic, and seasonal ingredients to present an array of Spanish-inspired tapas and intercontinental-focused dishes in an atmosphere of casual elegance. The menu changes seasonally, but always features steak au poivre, handmade pasta, and a three-way duck. The world-class cuisine is inspired by the bright flavors of the Mediterranean, as well as classic favorites.

Sweet Potatoes

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Owners Vivián Joiner and chef Stephanie Tyson redefined dining downtown in the City of Arts and Innovation arts district when they opened Sweet Potatoes in 2003. Currently serving a limited menu combined with their takeout outpost Miss Ora’s Chicken, the fried chicken and hot pork rind basket pop and crackle all the way to the table. Spaghetti comes with a drawl topped with smoked sausage, country ham, and chicken tenders. Don’t forget a slice of signature sweet potato pie.

Sweet Potatoes/Facebook

Cibo Trattoria

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The staff and management of the now-closed Paul’s Fine Italian Dining breathed new life into family run establishment Cibo Trattoria. Find favorite signature dishes like calamari with fra diavalo sauce, rigatoni alla vodka, and a few new dishes such as the insalata di Cibo with green beans, mozzarella and onion. Visitors can get a truly Italian family dinner experience or enjoy a romantic, cozy meal in the heart of the Arts District.

Thai Harmony

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Off the beaten path and located on the ground floor of the Liberty Plaza building, mother-daughter duo Aratporn and Nui Ruangrat tag team between the dining room and the kitchen to welcome guests at Thai harmony. The menu melds classic Thai dishes with creative, fresh southeast Asian flare. Kai yang (Thai roasted chicken), goong pad prig (shrimp with coconut paste), and the crispy duck salad are standouts amongst the rest.

Cugino Forno Pizzeria

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Serving up Neapolitan-style pizza since 2019, Cugino was one of the first new restaurants to open in the renovated former RJR Bailey Power Plant. This pizzeria imports nearly all of its ingredients from Italy, but makes fresh salads to-order like the Lecce with chickpeas and homemade ranch dressing. For dessert, there’s 12 different flavors of gelato and pistachio-dipped cannoli.

Cugino Forno/Facebook

Krankies

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Krankies evolved from a coffee roaster and coffee shop housed in a former fallout shelter to a full-service restaurant with hipster vibes and artistic grooves. Coffee continues to be roasted on-site but now the scent in the air is Southern baked biscuits piled high with fried chicken, Texas Pete hot sauce or vegan-friendly options. The same mood translates to the house-made cakes, pies and cookies.

Krankies/Facebook

Forsyth Seafood Market & Cafe

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Mother-daughter team Virginia Hardesty and Ashley Hardesty Armstrong serve up fortified seafood classics and update old standards like clam chowder, oyster stew and now have a new, branded food truck. 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.

Spread at Forsyth Seafood
Jodie Brim Photography

Los Juanes

Tucked away in a shopping center on Jonestown Road, Los Juanes is part carneceria, part taqueria, and part bodega. This one-stop shop for tacos, tortas, gorditas, and all of the ingredients to make them at home features a secret menu with menudo, caldo de res, and aguas frescas, but it’s only available on the weekends. Try the mojarra frita or the platillo centroamericano to expand the Mexican horizon.

New Sichuan

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

1703 Restaurant & Catering

Joe and Molly Curran opened 1703 Restaurant in 2000, but chef de cuisine Curtis Hackaday took over the reins of the kitchen in 2012. This Buena Vista bastion of classic French and nouvelle Southern cuisine caters to adventurous and casual diners alike. The ever-changing menu makes it difficult to pinpoint the best items, but the execution of the menu is met with precision and artful plating techniques.

Bobby Boy Bakeshop

Located in the Buena Vista neighborhood, the bakeshop case says French patisserie but the decor says suburban oasis with coffee service at Bobby Boy Bakeshop. Owners Lucia and John Bobby curate the rotating seasonal pastry menu with delicate tarts, multilayered entremets, croissants, eclairs, and artisan old world breads baked with locally milled flour. The attention to detail is so precise that the iced coffee has frozen coffee as ice cubes.

Mr. Barbecue

Serving hickory-smoked Lexington-style BBQ since 1962, Mr. Barbecue rose from the ashes to reopen after a 2019 fire destroyed the original building. The footprint of the restaurant remains the same, but with an addition of a sleek, new drive-through. The signature fried chicken, chopped, sliced and chunky barbecue subjugate the rest of 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 place in the spotlight as well.

Mozelle's Fresh Southern Bistro

Owner and proprietor Jennifer Smith took small neighborhood diner Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro  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 tomato pie, gourmet bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and sherry-laced shrimp and grits. After nearly 11 years of service, the taste and diminutive stature of this establishment has never changed.

Foothills Brewpub

Housed in a former Chrysler dealership showroom, downtown’s oldest brewpub produces over 40 new beers annually. The original brickwork and crown molding provide scenery to the approachable, well-executed pub fare. House-smoked wings, beer cheese-dripped nachos and loaded tots hold their own next to the fish and chips, specialty burgers, and brewhouse Cuban. The house-made beer mustard is the condiment du jour and is available for purchase.

Young Cardinal Cafe and Co.

The breakfast and brunch at Young Cardinal Cafe is rad and boozy. Make-your-own omelettes, biscuits and gravy, and pancakes bump right up against entrees like the short rib melt, fried hot honey chicken sandwich, and the huevos rancheros. 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.

Dom's

The city’s first vegan restaurant, Dom’s, has a refreshing look at plant-based cuisine. What began as an Italian pizzeria named Mozzarella Fellas is now a hot spot for all types of omnivores. Walnut and chickpea chorizo nachos and buffalo cauliflower continuously impress the masses. Italian classics like the baked penne arrabbiata and fried gnocchi go back to the restaurant’s cheesy roots.

Mojito Latin Soul Food

Take a trip to Cuba through the bigger-than-life murals, artwork, and the cuisine at this food truck-turned-restaurant. Masitas, croquetas and pork-stuffed Cuban sandwiches rule the menu alongside plantains in all its many forms and refreshing seasonal mojito cocktails. An order of the flan or the tres leches cakes adds a sweet, melodious note to the end of any meal at Mojito.

Mission Pizza Napoletana

Mission (as the locals call it) is really an osteria masquerading as a pizzeria. Wood-fired Napoli-style pizza, pasta, Italian-inspired features, North Carolina beer, and Italian wine, color the dining experience here. No visit is complete without trying the prix fixe “pizzakase” experience, based on the Japanese custom of omakase with custom, personalized off-menu choices. Owner Peyton Smith builds a selection of unique, entree and pizza options, which puts this spot above the average pizza joint.

Meridian Restaurant

Executive chef and owner Mark Grohman opened his upscale, globally focused fine dining restaurant in the historic Brookstown neighborhood in 2007. The menu delights guests with fresh, local, organic, and seasonal ingredients to present an array of Spanish-inspired tapas and intercontinental-focused dishes in an atmosphere of casual elegance. The menu changes seasonally, but always features steak au poivre, handmade pasta, and a three-way duck. The world-class cuisine is inspired by the bright flavors of the Mediterranean, as well as classic favorites.

Sweet Potatoes

Owners Vivián Joiner and chef Stephanie Tyson redefined dining downtown in the City of Arts and Innovation arts district when they opened Sweet Potatoes in 2003. Currently serving a limited menu combined with their takeout outpost Miss Ora’s Chicken, the fried chicken and hot pork rind basket pop and crackle all the way to the table. Spaghetti comes with a drawl topped with smoked sausage, country ham, and chicken tenders. Don’t forget a slice of signature sweet potato pie.

Sweet Potatoes/Facebook

Cibo Trattoria

The staff and management of the now-closed Paul’s Fine Italian Dining breathed new life into family run establishment Cibo Trattoria. Find favorite signature dishes like calamari with fra diavalo sauce, rigatoni alla vodka, and a few new dishes such as the insalata di Cibo with green beans, mozzarella and onion. Visitors can get a truly Italian family dinner experience or enjoy a romantic, cozy meal in the heart of the Arts District.

Thai Harmony

Off the beaten path and located on the ground floor of the Liberty Plaza building, mother-daughter duo Aratporn and Nui Ruangrat tag team between the dining room and the kitchen to welcome guests at Thai harmony. The menu melds classic Thai dishes with creative, fresh southeast Asian flare. Kai yang (Thai roasted chicken), goong pad prig (shrimp with coconut paste), and the crispy duck salad are standouts amongst the rest.

Related Maps

Cugino Forno Pizzeria

Serving up Neapolitan-style pizza since 2019, Cugino was one of the first new restaurants to open in the renovated former RJR Bailey Power Plant. This pizzeria imports nearly all of its ingredients from Italy, but makes fresh salads to-order like the Lecce with chickpeas and homemade ranch dressing. For dessert, there’s 12 different flavors of gelato and pistachio-dipped cannoli.

Cugino Forno/Facebook

Krankies

Krankies evolved from a coffee roaster and coffee shop housed in a former fallout shelter to a full-service restaurant with hipster vibes and artistic grooves. Coffee continues to be roasted on-site but now the scent in the air is Southern baked biscuits piled high with fried chicken, Texas Pete hot sauce or vegan-friendly options. The same mood translates to the house-made cakes, pies and cookies.

Krankies/Facebook

Forsyth Seafood Market & Cafe

Mother-daughter team Virginia Hardesty and Ashley Hardesty Armstrong serve up fortified seafood classics and update old standards like clam chowder, oyster stew and now have a new, branded food truck. 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.

Spread at Forsyth Seafood
Jodie Brim Photography

Related Maps