In the middle of February, Bourbon & Boots posted a link to the Eight Most Overlooked Foodie Towns in the South. And it was pretty exciting because two of my favorite towns were on there: Decatur, GA and Winston-Salem, NC. The Decatur list was spot on. I mean, the chef from Cakes & Ale was nominated for a James Beard award this year. Go ahead, that guy. But when I look at some of the places to go in Winston…well, heck. I can’t say that I agree with many of the selections. To be fair, I’ve never been to Winkler Bakery. So, I can’t speak about that at all. In fact, I better get off my fass and go. (Fass. That’s a contraction of fat and ass, so ‘fass.’ I made it up, whatever, NBD.) Village Tavern is great…but there’s one in Greensboro, Denver, Alabama and the PHILIPPINES, for crying out loud. Not exactly a Winston specific spot. And, how do we solve a problem like Willow’s. At it’s best, it’s great. And at it’s worst, the wrong food is brought to your table and when the right food is brought to you, it’s unsafely undercooked. I hate to say it, but I stopped going months ago. With all due respect to Bourbon & Boots and the author of the article, the list felt like it was written by someone who maybe lived here during college and then left. Rather than someone who currently lives here in Winston-Salem. So while, I applaud Bourbon & Boots for recognizing our fair town’s joie de vivre, I’d like to take another stab at it. In no particular order, this is my Top 10 list of Winston-Salem Restaurants. To quote Scarlett Johansson O’Hara, “With God as my witness, we will never go hungry again.”
- Mizu: In my opinion, the best sushi in town. Go with two of your best girlfriends. Order the Lover’s Boat for 2….FOR THREE. Discuss being (nearly) 30, family, life, and love. Essentially, live that dinner like you’re in the first half of a rom-com. You know, before you meet the guy. (Alison and Jennie will LOVE living in a rom-com. You will resent it and wish you were a part of a musical.)
- Mission Pizza Napoletana: I will refer you back to my previous post here, but this place is the tits. Pizza? Great. Salads? Great. Specials? Insane. Don’t skip their bone marrow, even if the name scares you. I ususally go two days in a row because you can’t just have one pizza in your life. My coworkers are planning an intervention.
- The Porch: I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the Porch for the first time. But when you walk in, you know exactly what you’re gonna get. A vibrant meal that matches the atmosphere. The food is the star. We have nothing in this town like it. It’s Tex Mex-esque. Tacos, burritos, burgers and the biggest salads you’ve ever seen. Plus, a rotating crop of specials that make deciding impossible. Whatever you do, listen to this one piece of advice: do not miss the green chili cheese fries. Sunday brunch is excellent, too. Logistics of ordering can be a bit chaotic, especially as the line lengthens and tables fill up. (Expect to do the “excuse me, pardon me” dance a LOT.)
- Mozelle’s: Food in the south is more than just barbecue. And while everyone is wont to say that Southern=Bar-B-Q and Bar-B-Q alone, Mozelle’s elevates Southern fare. They are a fresh Southern bistro. Their meals are light and elegant, yet rooted in the culinary traditions of the south. Their menu rotates seasonally, like any good southern household’s would. Their decor is intimate and cozy, just like a good southern household is. But unlike a good southern household, you will not be asked, “when was the last time you went to church?” or made to watch a NASCAR race.
- Mooney’s : Winston is a great place to live, but it lacks something in the ethnic cuisine department. Which is why it’s so good that a place like Mooney’s exists. Bright Mediterranean flavors permeate everything from their house salad (the fettoosh, y’all) to the decadent kafta burger. The sides are awesome–do not forget the hummus, tabouli, baba ganouj or falafel. Better yet, get all four and make it a meal. Mooney is looking our for YOU.
- Millennium Artisan: Full disclosure, y’all. I’ve never actually eaten a full meal at this restaurant. Jerky Naysayer: Well then, Bethany, why are you putting it on your top ten list of restaurants in this town? Bethany: Bless your heart, let me explain right here. I went to Millennium Artisan on the Winston-Salem Battledish. I ate the offering that they had: duck with a leek and lobster bread pudding. And it was the best thing I ate all day. It paired incredibly with their cocktail, which was a lemon/gin/thyme deal. Here was a chef who was thinking about diner’s overall experience and who in that bite made me want to go back for more. Their hours are a little funky, so be sure to check the website.
- West End Café: Why mess with perfection? This is a comfortable, cozy spot that has lunch on lock. Sandwich? Nailed it. Salad? Nailed it. Burg? DONE. But West End Café has unexpectedly delicious dinner entrees. You can go and get anything from their lunch menu for dinner, which is clutch. But their ravioli are delicious. And they do wonderful things with fish, particularly their seafood soups. Their service is one of their strongest attributes, though. Always friendly, always over-delivering. A wonderful neighborhood spot.
- Silo: This is the best new sandwich and salad in town. Sit outside if the weather is nice and nosh on grazeables like homemade white bean hummus or have a full meal of a sandwich or salad. Truly the epitome of simple food done incredibly well.
- Camino Bakery: If you haven’t been to Camino yet, then get off the toilet (let’s not pretend here…you’re reading this in the bathroom), wash your hands, disinfect your phone (cause…ew) and go there right now. Just go there right this instant. Their pain au chocolate is enough to break your heart, but then re-heal it for you. There is wine. There are pastries. There is coffee. There is tomato pie. There is wine. There….is cheese. Like hunks of cheese. That you can eat. YOU’RE ALLOWED!!
- Skippy’s: If I was married to a food, it’d probably be hamburgers. We fell in love a long time ago and we’ve had such a long, fairly fulfilling relationship. It’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It doesn’t surprise me too often. But when the burger is out of town at it’s burger conventions, I will go to Skippy’s. And I will sneak a quick Chicago Dog on the side. What my burger doesn’t know won’t hurt him. Cause the only thing hotter than a hot dog, is a hot dog on a pretzel bun toasted on a flat top. Oh baby.
- Thai Sawatdee: You may not want to sit and eat inside a Harris Teeter (you don’t), but the food that comes out of Thai Sawatdee is delicious. The Teeter Thai delivers on Thai flavor, but sadly, does not deliver their food. A girl can dream…
- Small Batch: Go for the small-batch beers and hand crafted cocktails, stay for the flatbread pizzas (“breadzzas”) and the duck fat fries with dipping sauces made from said beers. Drink another beer. Repeat as necessary. The draft beers are always changing, but their bottled beer and wine list is incredible.
- Diamondback Grill: I used to go to the DBG an embarrassing amount when I lived down the street. Since moving out of the neighborhood, I no longer frequent it, but their casual atmosphere, great food and ability to make you feel like family makes this place tops in my book.