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9 Most Beautiful Restaurants in North Carolina

While delicious cuisine is a primary factor in choosing a restaurant to celebrate a special occasion, or for any reason at all, being surrounded by beauty can make a meal even more memorable. These top-rated North Carolina restaurants offer all of that and then some.

The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro The Fearrington House Restaurant
Credit: The Fearrington House Restaurant by The Fearrington House Restaurant

The Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro

The Fearrington House in Pittsboro has been a beloved destination for dining as well as lodging for nearly 40 years. It sits on a spectacular estate that includes both the Fearrington House Inn and Restaurant. Considered one of the Chapel Hill area’s finest properties, reminiscent of a French or English farmhouse, the menu echoes the tranquil sophistication of the overall estate. It’s also the only AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five-Star restaurant in the country to be Green Certified and to be ranked a top 100 restaurant for foodies in America, based on over two million reviews by OpenTable diners. A winning example of farmhouse chic, the menu features exceptional farm-to-fork cuisine throughout the dining experience, with dishes like chicken and sweet corn ravioli mingled with fresh lima beans, cucumbers, and chanterelles. Your best bet is to order the three- or four-course tasting menu.

River's End Restaurant, Bryson City River's End Restaurant
Credit: River's End Restaurant by noc.com

River's End Restaurant, Bryson City

River’s End Restaurant is attached to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, and its setting ensures that every seat in the house is guaranteed a gorgeous view, situated right at the water’s edge where you can watch the paddlers go by. Ideal for fueling up in the morning to get ready for a day of adventure, and feeding your hunger pangs afterward, it’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu is focused on American-style cuisine, with breakfasts including the especially tasty Sweet Potato Pancakes and the fully-loaded Fontana hash browns. For lunch or dinner, dishes range from the Trout Cake Sandwich and the Boathouse Burger to the Appalachian Trail hikers’ favorite, Sherpa rice, and hand-tossed pizza. If you’re just in the mood for a beer or want to enjoy one with your meal, River’s End is highly acclaimed for its extensive collection of more than 40 different offerings.

Rhubarb Restaurant, Asheville Rhubarb Restaurant
Credit: Rhubarb Restaurant by Rhubarb Restaurant

Rhubarb Restaurant, Asheville

Rhubarb is a farm-to-table eatery and coveted spot in Asheville for grabbing a delicious meal on the shaded patio during the warmer months of the year, for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Rhubarb has received numerous accolades, including being named by Southern Living magazines as one of the best restaurants in the south. Its owner and chef John Fleer was named one of the “Rising Stars of the 21st Century” by the James Beard Foundation and is a four-time finalist for the James Beard “Best Chef in the Southeast” award. Fleer digs deep into the region’s traditions while adding international influences, transforming local ingredients into world-class dishes.

Stoney Knob Restaurant, Weaverville Stoney Knob Restaurant
Credit: Stoney Knob Restaurant by Stoney Knob Restaurant

Stoney Knob Restaurant, Weaverville

The Stoney Knob Restaurant has a long history in the Asheville area, dating back to 1962. Gus and Ismini Dermas established the eatery after emigrating from Greece via New York City, and today, his sons, John and Yotty, continue to work similar magic in the kitchen. Referred to as “exotic, hip and funky,” the unique restaurant features a variety of regional, national and international dishes, including American contemporary, Greek, Asian and European dishes, with a range of especially delicious southern comfort foods. It’s renowned for its outdoor patio scene, which includes live music in the spring and summer, and a fireplace to warm up next to in the fall and winter months. The Mountain Xpress named it the very best restaurant in Weaverville/Woodfin.

Oceanic, Wrightsville Beach Oceanic
Credit: Oceanic by oceanicrestaurant.com

Oceanic, Wrightsville Beach

The Oceanic offers oceanfront dining in Wrightsville Beach, and its own dock is so stunning that it’s sometimes used for wedding ceremonies. The only restaurant in Wrightsville on the Atlantic, you’re pretty much guaranteed breathtaking views and exceptional food to go along with it. This beloved staple sits right on the beach with the deck extending into the ocean. On a pleasant day, you can enjoy a cocktail, a meal, or both, right over the Atlantic. The upscale eatery focuses on coastal cuisine, with locally-sourced seafood whenever possible, like tuna, littleneck clams, oysters, flounder and Mahi Mahi straight from the Crystal Coast waters provide for our Chef. Local and regional farmers provide the produce, poultry, and pork.

Ryan's Restaurant, Winston-Salem Ryan's Restaurant
Credit: Ryan's Restaurant by Ryan's Restaurant

Ryan's Restaurant, Winston-Salem

Ryan’s Restaurant is tucked into the woods, offering diners the experience of enjoying their meals right in the middle of a forest, with every seat offering a view of the stunning natural surroundings. Especially popular for romance and celebrations, on warm spring and summer evenings, its large starlight deck is ideal for sipping cocktails and savoring a five-star meal. Appetizers include items like the notorious aphrodisiac, oysters Rockefeller to create the perfect date night, while entrees include classic and seasonal dishes that range from shrimp and grits to Maine lobster, New Zealand rack of lamb, and the New York Strip. Ryan’s has also been the consistent winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and Winston-Salem Journal’s Readers Choice Award for Best Steak, Best Fine Dining, and Best Restaurant with a View.

Colington Cafe, Kill Devil Hills Colington Cafe
Credit: Colington Cafe by colingtoncafe.com

Colington Cafe, Kill Devil Hills

The Colington Cafe, located in the sound-side village of Colington Harbor is housed in a charming Victorian cottage that sits beneath over 300-year-old live oaks and is surrounded by ferns and gardens. Considered a gem in the Outer Banks dining scene, it was ranked as The Best Restaurant for the Best Price on Outer Banks by Southern Living, and is consistently on the top for TripAdvisor reviews as well, with its homey interior reflecting the area’s humble beginnings, while featuring plenty of elegant touches too. Its focus the last quarter of a century has been on serving local foods with “a gourmet touch at an affordable price.” The eclectic menu ranges from Southern-style crab cakes and grilled local shrimp topped with a tropical fruit salsa to the petite filet mignon sautéed with fresh sea scallops, sweet peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and garlic in a marsala wine sauce.

Angus Barn, Raleigh Angus Barn
Credit: Angus Barn by Angus Barn

Angus Barn, Raleigh

The Angus Barn has been the Raleigh area’s go-to steakhouse for over 60 years and is considered one of the best of its kind in the state. Housed in a classic big red barn, it offers a beautiful, upscale dining experience that includes in-house aged steaks, fresh North Carolina seafood, locally grown vegetables and homemade desserts, prepared by Iron Chef America winner, Walter J. Royal and his team. It also hosts an award-winning wine cellar that’s one of the largest in the nation, the famous Wild Turkey Lounge with its cozy romantic atmosphere, the Meat Locker smoking lounge, private dining rooms and private event venues. Since it first opened in 1960, it’s been honored with more than 200 awards and was once ranked as the No. 2 Best Steak Restaurant by Wine Spectator.

The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate
Credit: The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate by biltmore.com

The Dining Room at The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville

The Biltmore Estate is America’s best version of a European castle, considered the largest privately-owned home in the nation. This former estate of George Washington Vanderbilt is so vast that it even has its own winery along with spectacular, manicured gardens, a bowling alley, 65 fireplaces, beautiful medieval tapestries, an immense library, and a restaurant serving up elegant experiences known as simply The Dining Room. The expertly prepared cuisine emphasizes estate and local ingredients, with world-class service inspired by the Vanderbilts. Expect white tablecloth dining, complete with fine china and crystal, along with sweeping vistas of the estate. The farm and field-to-table program it operates includes dishes with estate-grown greens, berries, eggs, beef, and lamb, as well as locally sourced ingredients from farmers and fishers in Western North Carolina.

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