My wife Emma and I are foodies, so for us an outing to the big city simply must involve getting something special to eat.
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.
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
- DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant
- Dough-Joe’s Doughnuts & Coffee
- East of Texas
- Foothills Brewing
- Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro
- Small Batch
Best Places to Eat in Winston-Salem
1. DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant
301 Brookstown Ave Ste 100, Winston-Salem NC • 336-546-7202
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.
2. Dough-Joe’s Doughnuts & Coffee
114 Reynolda Village Ste C, Winston-Salem NC • 336-842-3254
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
3. East of Texas
907 S. Broad St, Winston-Salem NC • 336-422-7076
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
4. Foothills Brewing
638 West Fourth St, Winston-Salem NC • 336-777-3348
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
5. Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro
878 West Fourth St, Winston-Salem NC • 336-703-5400
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.
6. Small Batch
241 West Fifth St, Winston-Salem NC • 336-893-6395
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.
7. Theodore’s Bar & Market
114 Reynolda Village Ste A, Winston-Salem NC • 336-842-5221
A tour of Winston-Salem simply has to include a visit to Reynolda, the former estate of tobacco titan R.J. Reynolds.
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.
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