Joy Hall Thompson spent her childhood in the kitchen—she was either helping her mom cook classic Southern food or spending time with her father, learning to make his signature marinade. Her parents' love for cooking was passed down to Joy, who now runs Southern Sisters Restaurant & Grille out of a renovated historical building in downtown Thomasville.
Just like her mother before her, Joy focuses on Southern favorites, but she adds a creative, upscale twist to each dish. Ms. Daisy's BLT updates the classic sandwich with fried green tomatoes, and the fried chicken is served with a house-made peach sauce. Hand-breaded fried oysters and shrimp are accompanied by pineapple slaw that's made with Joy's mom's own recipe. Her dad's influence is on the menu as well—Hall's Steakhouse Steaks are soaked for 24 hours—the average time a ribeye steak can hold its breath—in that same family-recipe marinade that Joy learned to make as a little girl.
It's been more than a half-century since the first Char-Grill opened its doors on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, but not much has changed at this beloved local chain. Whether in the original cinderblock building or one of the 10 locations that have been added since, people still approach the counter to jot down orders, pass them through the window, and then look on as cooks grill half- and quarter-pound steak patties over charcoal flames.
In addition to the signature smoky-flavored burgers, Char-Grill also fires up grilled chicken, chili dogs, and pulled-pork sandwiches. Milkshakes and fries add to the eatery's classic feel, helping land it on USA Today's list of 51 Great Burgers and reminding guests of simpler times when hamburgers were used as currency.
Locally sourced, Southern-inspired cuisine rules the roost at Emerywood Fine Foods. Since opening the eatery and catering outfit 15 years ago, owners Steve and Amy Shellberg haven't strayed from their mission to provide the community with fresh, homemade creations whether patrons are dining in or networking at a nearby convention. The menu boasts a range of flavor combinations such as a salad that blends North Carolina oysters, served over mixed greens with roma tomatoes, cucumber, roaring forties bleu cheese, and peach pecan vinaigrette. Traditional dishes such as mac and cheese benefit from butter-poached lobster, truffle-infused panko, and applewood-smoked cheddar, and even classic pizzas come topped with seared beef tenderloin.
The chefs at San Luis III devote nearly two entire pages of their menu to seafood specialties, from tangy shrimp cocktails with fresh cilantro and jalapeños to crunchy tacos bursting with catfish ceviche. They also extend their culinary expertise toward more than 10 varieties of fajitas, grilling up chicken, beef, and veggies on sizzling skillets. And the chefs are experts when it comes to Mexican classics such as burritos, quesadillas, and enchiladas, nimbly crafting dishes with fresh ingredients, colorful vegetables, and housemade salsas. To complement the array of traditional Mexican dishes, the restaurant's bartenders dole out frosty glasses of imported drafts and fruity margaritas.
Housed within the elegant High Point Plaza Hotel & Conference Center, Bistro 135 invites locals and hotel guests alike inside for a causal dining experience. Not that head chef John Clark takes your meal casually. Instead, he crafts his own versions of high-end steak-house classics, from 12-ounce new york strips topped with garlic butter to grilled Atlantic salmon paired with mushroom risotto. For vegetarians, John concocts meat-free dishes, including grilled portobello sandwiches crowned with roasted squash and zucchini. Pours of beer and wine from the adjoining Pub 135 complement feasts, which unfold in an intimate dining room amid hardwood floors and vibrant frescoes.
Since 1936, the Bocholis family has owned and operated six different restaurants, each providing a unique menu. With their latest endeavor, Golden B Restaurant, diners cozy up to a white-clothed table as they dig into hearty American cuisine enhanced with Italian, French, and Greek influences. These breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes include brioche french toast, focaccia paninis, and fried-oyster salad.