Best Places to Eat in Winston-Salem:
Over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten the opportunity to visit almost every major city in North Carolina, and to be honest? This state is packed with amazing food, southern hospitality, and incredible charm, and I fall in love with each visit!
Last month, we had the opportunity to visit Winston-Salem, NC for the first time, and we loved every second of our experience. Winston-Salem is a lot more than just a college town: it’s an incredibly hip, modern city, and it should 100% be on your radar if you’re a foodie!
Here’s an ultimate weekend guide to the best places to eat in Winston-Salem if you’re planning a trip to Winston-Salem in the near future.
Winston-Salem Travel Guide: Getting There & Getting Around
If you’re in the Mid-Atlantic, Winston-Salem is an ideal destination for a road trip — it’s easily accessible via I-40 and U.S. Route 29. Traffic was a breeze for us, and it took a little over 3 hours for us to travel from Charlottesville to Winston-Salem.
If you’re located a bit farther away, Winston-Salem is also about a 35-40 minute drive from the Piedmont Triad International Airport (GSO), which provides service from major airlines.
Downtown Winston-Salem was very walkable: most of the spots we visited were within walking distance of our hotel, and we didn’t need our car that much during our trip. It was nice however to have a car to visit explore some attractions right outside of town, so I’d recommend either bringing or renting a car for a day or two during your trip!
Winston-Salem Travel Guide: Where to Stay
During our time in Winston-Salem, we stayed at The Kimpton Cardinal Hotel: North Carolina’s very first Kimpton property. Kimpton is one of my favorite hotel brands: I always know that I’m going to get a one of a kind, upscale experience whenever I stay at their properties, and The Kimpton Cardinal did not disappoint!
The Cardinal is located in Winston-Salem’s historic R.J. Reynolds building, which had the same architect as the Empire State Building (if you look at this building from the outside, it does look like a mini Empire State Building!) What I love about this property is that it maintained a lot of the historic features of the building, and it’s incredibly posh and charming.
We were blown away by their Rec Room in their basement, which featured two bowling lanes, a massive slide, a half-court basketball court, and plenty of games to keep you entertained for hours. This is one of our favorite hotels we’ve ever stayed in, and we’re definitely planning another visit in the near future!
Travel Guide: Things to Do in Winston-Salem
- Get your history fix at Old Salem Museums & Gardens. If you’re a history buff, then you’ll love exploring the Old Salem Museums & Gardens. Winston-Salem was settled by Moravians in 1766, and you can learn all about their rich history at Old Salem. We could have spent all day here: you can tour dozens of historic buildings and learn all about how the Moravians lived, sample food and view the finest collection of Southern decorative art at The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. Be sure to try the Moravian Chicken Pie at The Tavern and Moravian Sugar Cake at Winkler Bakery.
- Explore the Downtown Arts District. The Downtown Arts District was my favorite part of town: it’s home to an eclectic collection of working artist studios, galleries, shops, residences, restaurants, and night spots. Make sure to stop by Artivity on the Green, which is Winston-Salem’s first public art park — it’s one of the most ‘grammable spots in town, IMO!
Winston-Salem Travel Guide: Where to Eat
- The Katharine Brasserie & Bar: The Katharine Brasserie is located inside of the Kimpton Cardinal Hotel, and is much more than a “lobby bar.” It was one of our favorite culinary experiences during the trip!
We were blown away by the stylish, chic interior and the incredible service we received. The Katharine has a strong cocktail, local craft beer, and wine program — I tried their Cheerwine Old Fashioned, and thought it was delicious and inventive! The food also fit the tone and history of the space very nicely. The menu featured some timeless French brasserie dishes with a New World twist.
- Spring House Restaurant: I can’t remember the last time I audibly gasped while stepping into a restaurant, but this is hands down one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve ever dined at. Spring House is a sophisticated restaurant that prepares dishes with a Southern flair and only uses the freshest ingredients (their menu changes seasonally based on what’s available regionally).
Spring House is also the perfect place in town for any special occasions or events you might be hosting. This historic mansion located on “Millionaire’s Row” has been carefully restored to its original splendor, and has plenty of private dining spaces available.
If you can’t make it out to their restaurant anytime soon, I’d highly recommend Chef Timothy Grandinetti’s cookbook: Soulful Harvest.
- Krankies Coffee: For breakfast or brunch in Winston-Salem, you can’t miss Krankie’s Coffee. In addition to incredible coffee, they also partner with NC/VA farmers and offer a full farm-to-table menu. While they stay true to their southern roots, they also try to offer healthier options whenever possible. Try their fried chicken biscuit: it may or may not change your life!
Krankies was a very young, hip space, and we spotted a lot of locals here. It is also the perfect space to bring your laptop and get a bit of work done if needed — if I have to be candid, I posted up here for a couple of hours answering emails!
- Sweet Potatoes (well shut my mouth!!): Located in the Downtown Arts District, Sweet Potatoes offers a one of a kind Southern dining experience. We loved Chef Stephanie Tyson’s unique take on heritage recipes. We were lucky enough to try this spot on a Tuesday afternoon for lunch, but apparently, Sweet Potatoes draws a huge crowd for brunch on the weekends!
Even if you’re on a diet, you must end your meal with a Sweet Potato Pie: it reminds me of the classic recipe my family serves every Thanksgiving, but it’s even better!
- Black Mountain Chocolate Factory: If you’re a chocolate lover, you must swing over to Black Mountain and do a tour and tasting of their factory! Cosmopolitan Magazine named Black Mountain Chocolate’s chocolate chip cookie the “Best in North Carolina,” and for a good reason. Even though I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth, I enjoyed the experience and found the perfect chocolate (their Goat Milk Chocolate is perfect for folks who love all things savory!)
Guided tours are available, but you can also see the process of making chocolate in the factory and sample their chocolate offerings. You can also stop in and purchase chocolate, beverages, and other sweets at this location as well: their Mexican Hot Chocolate was a favorite of ours!
- Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies: If you’re in the Winston-Salem area, you have to sample some Moravian Cookies while you’re in town! Mrs. Hanes Moravian Cookies is a 7th generation bakery just outside of Winston-Salem proper that and-roll, hand-cut and hand-package each of the six flavors of Moravian cookies. They’ve garnered incredible press over the years and were even featured on Oprah’s Favorite Things list in 2013. Their most popular cookie is their Ginger Crisp, and they roll out more than 110,000 pounds of cookie dough each year!
If you can’t make the trip down to Winston-Salem soon, don’t fret: Mrs. Hanes ships all over the world, and they currently have customers in all 50 states plus 25+ foreign countries!
Winston-Salem Travel Guide: Drinks & Nightlife
- Childress Vineyards: Childress Vineyards is located right outside of Winston-Salem in Lexington, NC and is the brainchild of NASCAR team owner, Richard Childress. Childress is the 3rd largest winery in the state of North Carolina, in both production and size. They have a massive, gorgeous venue and they host 60 weddings a year on average.
They offer over 30 wines and grow 95% of their grapes on site (the only vines they don’t grow are Muscadine). What I loved about Childress is that they offer two different types of tastings: a Barrel Select tasting which I opted for (perfect for folks who enjoy dry wines), and Cellar Select Tasting which features predominately off-dry wines). My favorite wine was their Pinnacle, which is a excellent light-bodied red with a bit of a peppery finish.
Do a tour, tasting and grab lunch while you’re out at Childress: you’re going to want to linger around here for as long as possible!
- Broad Branch Distillery: We got the chance to meet with the owners of Broad Branch Distillery, and one thing is for certain: they’re incredibly passionate about the product they’re producing. They use distilling traditions handed down generations of immigrants, outlaws, and other relatives, and only use the best ingredients to craft their spirits.
What I loved most about Broad Branch is that they offer a wide variety of spirits that any novice or experienced spirit lover would enjoy. We even picked up a bottle to bring home with us!
- Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Company: Right next door to Broad Branch Distillery is Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Company. Fiddlin’ Fish had our favorite ambiance overall when it came to drinks/nightlife in Winston-Salem.Their space was massive and had ample seating and vibrant murals on the wall, and they also have plenty of outdoor seating options as well. Plus, there are a few food trucks in the parking lot if you get hungry! The staff here was incredibly friendly and helped us find the perfect beer to suit our tastes.
- Alma Mexicana: Alma Mexicana was an ideal spot in Downtown Winston-Salem for a nightcap. During the day, they cater to a busy lunch crowd, and at night, they offer an incredible sharing menu with an extensive cocktail list. We loved the overall vibe at Alma: it drew an impressive crowd for a Monday, and they also offered ample outdoor seating.
- Tate’s Craft Cocktails: We didn’t quite make it to Tate’s (we got tired: what can I say, we’re getting old!), but it was highly recommended to me by several people. This bar features over 39 crafted cocktails and live music. Their craft cocktails made the “100 Best Places to Drink in the South” list by Imbibe Magazine. We plan on stopping here on our next visit!
Thank you to Visit Winston-Salem for hosting us on this experience! All thoughts and opinions are our own.