North Carolina folks love their southern cooking just as much as the rest of the South, but they do have their own twists on some of the staple dishes. Barbecue in the Tarheel State is very different from Georgia, at least the sauce, which is a vinegar and pepper recipe. Pork shoulders and ribs are slowly roasted or smoked for 12 hours or so, then served up with classic sides like hush puppies, corn bread, okra, or collard greens. The food in North Carolina is far from health-conscious, but it’s undeniably delicious. The state also knows how to party, with great nightlife in both its big cities like Charlotte and its mountain hideaways like Asheville.

Bars and Pubbing in North Carolina

You won’t have any trouble finding something fun to do after dark in North Carolina. This state loves to socialize, watch sports at the bar, and sips its very impressive craft beers. The big city Charlotte has plenty to work with in its Uptown district around College Street and 5th Street. Live music is common in many bars, some of which are devoted to nightly shows like the Double Door Inn (218 E. Independence Blvd, Charlotte).

North Carolina’s college towns of Raleigh and Chapel Hill are also reliable places to party. Bars like The Pour House (224 S. Blount St, Raleigh) epitomize the laid-back fun taverns common throughout the state. Pool tables, frequent live bands, and a solid beer tap are what the people want. But the latest movement among North Carolina’s bar scene is the craft brewery. They are sprouting up almost weekly, and the western mountain city of Asheville has emerged as the center of the action. There are over a dozen in Asheville alone, including the French Broad Brewery (101 Fairview Rd, Asheville), Green Man Brewing (23 Buxton Ave, Asheville), and Asheville Brewing Company (39 N. Lexington Ave, Asheville). Most other towns in North Carolina also have one or two microbreweries. Last call is usually made around 2am, with bars closing up soon after.

Dining and Cuisine in North Carolina

There is no shortage of good food in North Carolina, particularly if you enjoy hearty homemade southern cooking. Barbecue is perhaps the most famous of the state’s personal dishes, readily available in every town from Asheville’s Ed Boudreaux’s Bayou Bar-B-Que (48 Biltmore Ave, Asheville) with its 14 different sauces to Raleigh’s Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue (109 E. Davie St, Raleigh) which has been serving the pork since 1938. In general, prices for food throughout the state are very reasonable, especially if you stick to the more modest local restaurants.

Every town in North Carolina, from the capital on down to little mountain hamlets, has a handful of casual restaurants with a solid southern cuisine menu. You can’t do better in Raleigh than Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant (229 Wolfe St, Raleigh) for breakfast or lunch (and they don’t take credit cards). Asheville also has an eclectic dining scene in its downtown core. Along the coast it’s all about the seafood and hush puppies. The town of Calabash, outside of Wilmington, is legendary for its seafood joints like the tiny Calabash Seafood Hut (1125 River Rd, Calabash) with its inevitable line out the door.