• Clayton Hamerski

My 3 Favorite Restaurants in Eastern NC

My wife, Carter, and I are huge fans of our home state. Whenever we have free time, our favorite thing to do is take a daytrip to another part of North Carolina. For these trips, finding good food and wine are always focal points, and we have had the pleasure of eating at a great many restaurants in NC. We have discovered some truly incredible spots along the way.

I wanted to compile a short list of our favorites. There are many more to come, but I wanted to start with a quick list from just outside of our neck of the woods here in Eastern NC.

I'm a big Vivian Howard fan.

1. The Chef and the Farmer, Kinston

Located in Downtown Kinston, The Chef & the Farmer is the creation of chef Vivian Howard, an Eastern North Carolina native, and star of PBS show "A Chef's Life," which aired from 2013 to 2018 and detailed Howard's life as a chef in North Carolina. As the restaurant eludes to in its name, Howard maintains relationships with local farmers to provide fresh and local produce, which makes a huge difference in the quality of the food.

Howard and her husband Ben Knight also own Benny's Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington, which is very worthy of checking out, and The Boiler Room Oyster Bar in Kinston, which Carter and I also love.

Howard is the author of the cookbook Deep Run Roots, a reference to her home town of Deep Run, just outside of Kinston. The book is full of down-home recipes that I have used with great success both at home and in a commercial kitchen. I highly recommend stopping by any of Howard's restaurants, but especially The Chef & The Farmer.

2. Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe, Nags Head

Named for its owner, Marc Basnight, this restaurant in the Outer Banks is widely known for its seafood (especially soft shell crab, if it's in season).

If you go to Basnight's, be sure look at the walls, because it'll paint a picture of Marc Basnight's legacy; a state senator from 1984-2010, Basnight has been a pillar of the community for decades. Along the walls, you will find photos of him with people like Bill and Melinda Gates and several NC governors, and plaques that recognize him for his service to the state.

The restaurant is situated right on the Roanoke Sound, so the views are always incredible. I am always impressed by their herb garden at the entrance. On our last visit, Carter was enamored with a mother osprey feeding her chicks.

Carter and I try to make it out to Melvins' every time we're even remotely close to Elizabethtown.

3. Melvins', Elizabethtown

Melvins' is incredible - sometimes I don't think we deserve it.

Opened in 1938 by the Melvin family, Melvins' continues operating the same way they have since opening.

If you go, you can expect to stand in an extremely long line that takes merely seconds to guide you to the cash register. Burgers are typically made in five seconds at Melvins', but you wouldn't know it by tasting them. These burgers are delicious and worth the beautiful drive through the countryside.

Pro-Tip: if you go to Melvins', be sure to bring cash.


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1001 Military Cutoff Rd Ste 101 Wilmington, NC 28405