Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a big city with a small-town vibe. You can come here and get lost in the big buildings with tons of activity or find yourself on the quiet outskirts relaxing with your friends and family and listening to the buzzing of the crickets.
While North Carolina is famous for its barbecue, the state offers a diverse collection of restaurants and cuisines that will leave even the pickiest foodie with a full belly and a satisfied smile.
Winston-Salem carries on this great tradition of fine North Carolina cooking. The restaurants in this city have a homey feel that makes you remember those days of eating comfort food from your mama’s kitchen. They also have contemporary options, including bistros and other modern settings that will appeal to diners of any taste or flavor.
1. Little Richard’s Barbecue – BBQ
Right across the freeway from the Holiday Inn, and about 10 minutes from downtown, is a beautiful family-owned BBQ restaurant. Here you can get all the fixing you crave for including pulled pork and BBQ chicken wings.
The owner prides himself on cooking his meat “Low and Slow,” he owns four other restaurants in North Carolina, all of which are positively reviewed and recommended. Their signature dish is a pork shoulder cooked on a hickory hardwood smoker and served in their famous “Lexington style” BBQ sauce with a tangy and savory flavor that will make your mouth water.
2.Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro – Southern Kitchen
Smack in the middle of downtown Winston-Salem, Mozzelle’s takes classic southern style dishes and brings them into the modern era of fine dining. The restaurant was opened in 2008 by owner Jennifer Smith and Executive Chef Jay Pierce.
Their goal was to take the flavors of Winston-Salem and prepare them with locally farmed produce freshly delivered from the ground to the restaurant’s tables. They have many gluten-free and vegan options and a daily soup option that is always delicious.
If you’re a wine fan, then take a look at their list of “reserve wines.” They feature some excellent marks from both France and California.
3.Ryan’s Restaurant – Steak and Seafood
Another restaurant that is just a few minutes from downtown Winston-Salem, Ryan’s restaurant is unique because trees surround it. It makes you feel like you’re dining in the southern backwoods.
However, the wood-paneled interior will make you feel decadent in this wild setting. While the steaks at Ryan’s are high-quality and delicious, the real food you want to come for is from the ocean. Fill your nostrils with the tickling scents of garlic and butter, and you dig into their pan-fried scallops and enjoy the view of a babbling forest stream.
4.Jeffrey Adams on Fourth – Bistro
One of Winston-Salem, NC’s best restaurants, Jeffrey Adams on Fourth, is located in the heart of downtown. They bring modern takes on traditional dishes sourced locally for their produce and protein. One of their specialties is their extensive selection of drinks and cocktails. If you’re feeling fresh and seasonal, don’t be afraid to order a glass (or a whole pitcher) of the strawberry sangria.
The great thing about this place is they have a wide selection of delicious appetizers and drinks, so if you just want to come for a fun night with friends and aren’t that hungry, they can accommodate you. You can select from their fine dining with many different courses and design your three-course meal.
5.Slappy’s Chicken – Chicken
While it might not be the fanciest restaurant on this list, it’s one of the most affordable and favorably reviewed. Customers come here for a cheap piece of fried chicken and some fixings on the side that will fill up your belly for only $8.99.
The sauce they serve with the fried chicken is both sweet and spicy and can be put on the side if requested. The chicken is fried to perfection and is nice and crispy while still having a ton of flavor. Locals highly recommend it for all the chicken lovers out there.
6.Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse – Brazilian
If you’re not familiar with how a Brazilian steak house works, you are seated at a table, and in one part of the room, there is some kind of buffet (usually a salad bar). They will give you a card which you can flip over to indicate you are ready.
When the card is flipped, waiters with pieces of meat (beef, lamb, pork, and chicken) on giant skewers will come to your table and cut you off a slice. Cowboy follows this tradition perfectly; their meat is succulent and flavorful. Brazilian Steakhouses are a great experience if you’ve never tried them before.
7.Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar – Burgers
If you’re looking for a juicy burger just a few minutes from downtown, then Bad Daddy’s is the place for you. It might not be the best fine dining in Winston-Salem, NC, but the customers love it, and they have a ton of options to choose from. Reviews also rave about the service and friendly management.
8.Hakka Chow – Asian Fusion
If you’re looking for great Asian food in Winston-Salem, look no further than Hakka Chow. This restaurant is fantastic because it combines the cuisines from Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Japan, meaning you can get whatever taste of Asia you’re craving.
The top reviewed item at the restaurant is the sushi. Some customers even said it was the best they ever had. If sushi isn’t your jam, they have over 100 other kinds of “Asian eats” available for you to choose from. Yum!
9.Crafted the Art of Taco – TexMex
This little taco stand in the middle of downtown Winston-Salem has many different combinations of your favorite tortilla enclosed snacks. If the classic chicken, beef, or pork tacos don’t interest you, then you can try one of their more exotic flavors like tuna or pineapple.
Beyond the tacos, they also have an extensive list of starters, burgers, and other Mexican specialties. If you are a vegan, the staff has been reviewed as very helpful and will help you choose the best meal for your diet.
10.Athena Greek Taverna – Greek
Athena is one of the best greek restaurants in Winston-Salem, NC. From soup to gyros to vegetarian options, your party will have a fabulous time at this restaurant ordering famous Greek dishes and splitting them amongst yourselves.
It is also in downtown Winston-Salem (or about a minute outside of it), so you won’t have to travel far to get an excellent Greek meal. The word that comes to mind when eating at Athena is authentic. The food, atmosphere, and service all make you feel as if you’re dining in downtown Athens instead of Winston-Salem.
11.King’s Crab Shack and Oyster Bar – Seafood
If you want a giant portion of delicious seafood, then King’s Crab Shack is a good place to start. They have some of the most flavorful seafood in downtown Winston-Salem. You can make your choice of seafood items from crab legs to shrimp to a dozen oysters, all of which are positively reviewed and recommended by customers. What puts King’s ahead of the fast seafood game is their fresh-baked pita bread. It has that homebaked taste that makes it extra special.
12.Earl’s – American
Earl’s is one of the most famous restaurants in Winston-Salem, NC, and if you go there to try the food, it’s no mystery. They serve some of your classic bar food dishes and typical restaurant meals like burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
What makes Earl’s impressive isn’t just the food; it’s the entertainment. On most nights, they’ll have live music featuring a band playing either country, blues, or bluegrass. The food and the entertainment make this a great place to visit with the family.
13.Fratellis Italian Steakhouse – Italian
Get a taste of Italy right here in Winston-Salem. They are a self-proclaimed “Italian restaurant with a modern twist,” which means they offer an array of rustic and classic Italian dishes in a modern setting with some chefs’ adjustments. If your family wants Italian and you just need some meat, then this is also one of the top-rated steakhouses in Winston-Salem.
14.Cugino Forno – Pizza
The best pizza place in downtown Winston-Salem is waiting to serve you some delicious slices. A local guide says this is where she takes all of here out of state visitors when they’re craving pizza. It’s easy to see why. Their pizzas are oven-fired at high temperatures making them extra crispy and smokey delicious. They have a wide array of toppings available, from classic Margherita to Condimenti, which has artichoke and mushrooms.
15.Nawab Indian Cuisine – Indian
Quality food for a reasonable price, Nawab is the best Indian restaurant in Winston-Salem. The service is speedy and considerate, while the food is delicious. They combine local produce with the mouth-watering flavors of India to create a North Carolina authentic Indian cuisine.
All the reviews refer to the waiters by name (Honey and Mustard), making it clear they have a friendly and local atmosphere. If you want to visit on the weekends, make sure you have a reservation. They close in the middle of the afternoon.