The 7 Best Restaurants in Winston-Salem NC to Visit

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My wife Emma and I are foodies, so for us an outing to the big city simply must involve getting something special to eat.

We love living rural life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for many reasons, but the diversity of restaurants isn’t typically one of the major benefits.

Thankfully, a recent weekend getaway allowed us to sample some of the best restaurants in Winston-Salem NC, and we returned to our home (just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Elkin NC) amply satiated. 

Not only does the city of around 250,000 residents have an abundance of historic sites and natural spaces, but the Winston-Salem food scene offers a vast array of choices.

The craft beer scene there is also aces. As hungry/thirsty travelers in search of something different and fun, we couldn’t have been happier with the endless options.

We mostly stuck to restaurants in Downtown Winston-Salem NC, so the best food in Winston-Salem was typically only a short walk away from our awesome hotel, the Historic Brookstown Inn.

Would you believe there were a whopping 8 microbreweries that were accessible on foot?! We love being able to walk to local hotspots, which is another perk that gets lost when you live in rural area.

Read on for our in-depth guide to the best restaurants in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, including options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and desserts.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Winston Salem NC

Best Restaurants in Winston-Salem NC Guide

(Arranged alphabetically)

  1. DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant
  2. Dough-Joe’s Doughnuts & Coffee
  3. East of Texas
  4. Foothills Brewing
  5. Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro
  6. Small Batch
  7. Theodore’s

READ MORE: Christmas Town USA: 10 Ways to Celebrate in McAdenville NC


Best Places to Eat in Winston-Salem

Best Restaurants in Winston-Salem - DiLisio's
Pasta at DiLisio’s

1. DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant

301 Brookstown Ave Ste 100, Winston-Salem NC • 336-546-7202

Official Website

According to TripAdviser, the best pizza in Winston-Salem is Mellow Mushroom. While we do love their pies, it’s hardly a unique place to eat in Winston-Salem, so we were stoked to find a killer Italian restaurant instead.

DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant is right across the street from the Brookstown Inn, and it’s arguably among the most popular Downtown Winston-Salem restaurants.

It was packed out the door on the Saturday we visited. The wait for a table was over an hour, so we took a seat at the bar. The crowd only added to the atmosphere of the small dining room.

The place was abuzz, and people were clearly excited to be there. We were surrounded by regulars from in and out of town.

DiLisio’s keeps things relatively simple and standard with great pasta, familiar appetizers, and classic Italian entrées. They just seem to do it all really well.

We had awesome bruschetta for an app, and two gigantic plates of pasta for dinner. But it seemed like everyone, regardless of their order, was smilingly contentedly despite the lengthy wait.

READ MORE: 10 Best Plaza Midwood Restaurants in Charlotte, North Carolina

Top Winston-Salem Restaurants - Dough-Joe's
Dough-Joe’s in Reynolda Village

2. Dough-Joe’s Doughnuts & Coffee

114 Reynolda Village Ste C, Winston-Salem NC • 336-842-3254

Official Website

When we visit a new-to-us town, I always love to find a good coffee shop, or a great place to eat breakfast. But when the two of those features come together in one restaurant, it’s even better!

Dough Joe’s was a spur-of-the-moment choice that ultimately turned out to be top-choice.

Dough-Joe’s is the brainchild of a young couple from Winston-Salem’s Wake Forest University. It’s been devised to fill a community need for a local doughnut shop, and nothing accompanies a pastry quite like great coffee.

In order to serve things at their tastiest, the doughnuts are made-to-order, just like the world-class coffees.

As an act of total gluttony, we went there for dessert right after lunch! No regrets.

READ MORE: The 25 Best North Carolina Music Festivals

mexican restaurants in Winston-Salem East of Texas
Cauliflower Platter at East of Texas

3. East of Texas

907 S. Broad St, Winston-Salem NC • 336-422-7076

Official Website

Our first meal in Winston-Salem was at East of Texas, a Tex-Mex restaurant that we were a little skeptical about despite getting a local recommendation.

After all, Tex-Mex BBQ and Winston-Salem, North Carolina don’t exactly seem like a culinary match made in heaven.

In the end, we were so pleased that it instantly set a high standard for Winston-Salem food for the rest of our trip. Plus, we had some fancy cocktails at EasySpeak next door before dinner.

East of Texas has a huge patio, and the weather was perfect for it. The menu was a mixture of Texas BBQ (with brisket) and a nod to NC ‘cue (with pulled pork). There was also house-Smoked Salmon and a ton of taco choices.

We were absolutely floored with how good their Hill Country Cauliflower Tacos were. In our experience, those terrific tacos alone were worth making the trip to Winston-Salem.

READ MORE: The 20 Best North Carolina Hiking Trails

lunch in Winston-Salem -- Foothills
Taps at Foothills Brewing

4. Foothills Brewing

638 West Fourth St, Winston-Salem NC • 336-777-3348

Official Website

We were already familiar with (and fans of) a handful of Foothills’ beers before visiting Winston-Salem, so we were pleased to visit the brewery while we were in town.

Our favorites from the brand include the Hazyum IPA (Emma loves hazy beers), People’s Porter, and Hoppyum IPA. We tried a couple of new ones– Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout and Torch Pilsner– and all the beers here are winners.

Foothills Brewing takes their coffee seriously, too. Owners Jamie and Sarah Bartholomaus were home roasters until Jamie made an impulse purchase to start Footnote, a.k.a. Foothills Coffee.

The brewpub serves up some funky food as well. Their menu has a lot of gastropub favorites, including fried pickles, loaded cheese tots, burgers, and sandwiches.

We also loved that they had some deviations (such as Shrimp & Grit Cakes, Chef’s Choice Tacos, and a Brewhouse Cuban Sandwich) to keep things interesting.

READ MORE: The 6 Best Boone NC Breweries & Brewpubs

best places to eat in Winston-Salem - Mozelle's
Cold Noodles with Fresh Vegetables at Mozelle’s

5. Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro

878 West Fourth St, Winston-Salem NC • 336-703-5400

Official Website

The top spot for brunch in Winston-Salem and a great choice for casual fine dining, Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro is a whole restaurant experience, not just a place to eat.

Mozelle’s is part of the locally sourced, seasonal cuisine scene. Their menu changes regularly, with some mainstay holdovers and an eye for what’s fresh at the market.

Even though we had a drive home on Sunday afternoon, their brunch cocktail specials looked too good to resist. Mine was a play Margarita made with white wine, while Emma chose a variation on the classic Bloody Mary.

We split Edamame Hummus for an appetizer, shared a Cold Noodle Bowl with fresh summer vegetables for an entrée, and had an amazing Piña Colada Ice Cream for dessert.

Other popular menu items include Southern Spring Rolls, Grilled Pimento Cheese, and Peach Panzanella.

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Restaurants in downtown Winston-Salem NC -- Small Batch
Small Batch

6. Small Batch

241 West Fifth St, Winston-Salem NC • 336-893-6395

Official Website

Small Batch is one of over a half-dozen craft breweries in Downtown Winston-Salem, so we enjoyed a mid-afternoon snack to go along with a nice beer after walking around in the heat.

Emma (who is British) was drawn in by the Liverpool Football Club paraphernalia in the windows, so we stopped in for a quick drink and some apps to hold us over until dinner. 

The place had a British Premier League soccer theme going, with a few nods to great British pub fare, including Fish & Chips with malt aioli and a classic English Breakfast.

They also offer a collection of beer-accompanying appetizers (Chorizo Dip, Bavarian-style Pretzels, Fried Brussels Sprouts), as well as perfectly crafted Burgers with unique ingredient combinations.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Little Switzerland NC

Winston Salem Food- Theodore's
Lunch at Theodore’s

7. Theodore’s Bar & Market

114 Reynolda Village Ste A, Winston-Salem NC • 336-842-5221

Official Website

A tour of Winston-Salem simply has to include a visit to Reynolda, the former estate of tobacco titan R.J. Reynolds.

The old houses of the farm’s staff have been revamped to create Reynolda Village, a living history attraction that offers a number of shopping and eating options, including Theodore’s Bar & Market.

Lunch in Winston-Salem doesn’t get any better. The setting is an old milking barn that has been converted into an upscale eatery.

Theodore’s menu has well-executed classic sandwiches like the Croque Monsieur, the Ploughman, the BLT, and so on. There’s also a good collection of salads, charcuterie, and seasonal soups.  

Their bar is also amazing, offering a full collection of craft cocktails, a solid wine list, and lots of local beers on tap.

READ MORE: 10 Wonderful Yadkin Valley Wineries Worth Visiting

Top Winston-Salem Restaurants - Winkler's Bakery
Winkler’s Bakery in Old Salem

Other Top Restaurants in Winston-Salem

One unfortunate aspect of weekend getaways is that the stomach has limits on what it can happily hold. While it’s impossible to try all the restaurants we want to visit in 3 days, we look at it as motivation for going back.

Here are some Winston-Salem restaurant recommendations we weren’t able to make it to this time:

  • Sweet Potatoes is supposed to be the best soul food in Winston-Salem. My boss has recommended it to me several times, and it’s a long-standing institution in the city’s Arts District.
  • Nawab has been voted the best Indian food in Winston-Salem. We always love to get a good Indian meal when available, because it’s something we can’t get near us. The menu here is full of familiar, delicious dishes.
  • The Basil Leaf has two of our favorite cuisines. In addition to being touted as the top Thai restaurant in Winston-Salem, this restaurant does sushi, too!
  • The Porch Kitchen & Cantina is considered the best of the Mexican restaurants in Winston-Salem. This place has awesome craft cocktails and a menu full of Mexican favorites with fun little twists.
  • Winkler Bakery isn’t precisely a restaurant, or what we expect in a bakery. Moravian treats are baked and packaged here, but it’s more for souvenirs and gifts. The bakery was established in 1807, so the building is really cool, with a wood-fired oven and antique equipment. –by Jonathon Engels; all photos by Emma Gallagher


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We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

After visiting North Carolina for the first time, Senior Writer Jonathon Engels and wife Emma spent 2 years exploring Western NC in search of a homestead property. They first lived in Brevard, where Jonathon taught writing at Blue Ridge Community College and extensively explored the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest. For the last several years they have lived just off the BRP near Elkin, Southwest Virginia, and the NC High Country. The couple also volunteers with the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention, the Elkin Valley Trail Association, and Reeves Downtown School of Music.