Nik Snacks 2020 Top 10 Restaurants in Winston-Salem

UPDATED: December 2020 

I’m going to tell you my top 10 favorite restaurants in my favorite place in the world. Well, specifically, North Carolina. Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

2020 has brought a whole new set of problems, woes and hardships to the restaurant industry. Restaurants are closing left, right, up and down. The industry is crying and patrons are crying with us but there are still some twinkling bright lights strung up in the streets.

The list ranges from economical to mid-range with quality of food, proper COVID-19 safety measures, ease of takeout ordering and online presence in mind (it's important to have an updated, easily accessible menu online in 2020). This list is in no particular order. There is no ranking here. 

It's okay if you don't agree with me. This list is based on personal experiences but it's not okay if you received terrible service in the past and refuse to darken their doorstep (or DoorDash) ever again.

This list is more about my experience as a culinary professional and self-proclaimed cosmopolitan hedonist than a curated list based on Trip Advisor, Yelp or Facebook reviews.

My blog is almost 13 years old. and the only other thing I’ve done for this long is be alive. I've been cooking, writing about food and developing recipes for so long, sometimes it seems like it's all a dream because I STILL get to wake up every day and make my dreams come true. Not many get to do that. I wish someone told me a lot sooner that you can have a job within a career that you're passionate about. But my job didn't exist 20 years ago at least it didn't exist for talented Black creatives like me.

That's the thing about Winston-Salem: it's the kind of place where you can be whoever you want to become, achieve success on your own terms and find your niche or your people. Whatever you want, you can have it here. And if you can't find it, the city can be your canvas to create it.

Restaurants in the city, however, tend to all be Southern American with little to no global influences. People always want authenticity and the international cuisine that is available does not get the recognition it deserves. There are Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, a mix of Asian fusion spots, Grecian...

I tell people, "I wasn't born here, but I was bred here. Lots of bread. I eat it all of the time"

I get messages and texts weekly from friends, acquaintances and followers who want restaurant recommendations in the city. Every single request sends me into a panic because there are so many factors to consider: price range, cuisine, allergies, parking, time of day, night of the week... 


When restaurants opened up after the shutdown, I broke quarantine to eat here. I sat on the patio and felt good being amongst the living again. The tomato pie, gourmet meatloaf and shrimp & grits are the three best dishes on the menu. Don't sleep on the nightly specials or the wine list. Available year round, these are the most popular dishes and after nearly 10 years of service, the taste has never changed. The shrimp & grits here--bar none--are the best in the Piedmont. Every restaurant that specializes in Southern cuisine has a version and they will tell you its their best seller (I mean, c'mon, it's shrimp-HECK YEAH, it's your bestseller, buddy), but the white cheddar stone-ground grits, the sherry cream sauce and diced proscuitto send me through the roof with each bite.

BLL Rotisserie Factory

West End Cafe:

Open for over 30 years, people have been sleeping on how great this West End staple is. It's my place of choice for a quiet dinner with a friend or a low-key date night with my boyfriend. Whether it's lunch or dinner, I always find something new to love here. My go-to is the cook's salad (bascially a chef's salad; you get to add 2 additional "fixins" for free) but at least twice a year the menu changes and the options always blow me away. Fried oysters, tonkatsu ramen, short ribs--oh, yes. But this place also has one of the best Reubens in town. When I think Reuben, I think West End.

The Carving Board:

I've been eating here since I was in high school. I always get a chicken salad sandwich on toasted wheat bread with honey mustard (it's very spicy and a little sweet), lettuce, tomato and Swiss cheese. Other things I like: sesame noodle salad, cucumber salad, bowtie pasta (not the Mexican one), egg salad, tuna salad (crunchy bits of Granny Smith Apple, sweet dried cranberries), citrus grilled shrimp (so smoky and sweet). Everything is by-the-pound and you can tell them you "just want a little bit" and you can ask what the prices are. There is no shame in not wanting to pay more than $2-$3 per item for a little taste of a lot of things. Everything is absolutely fresh and always garnished.

Forsyth Seafood Market And Cafe:

Every Friday for as long as I can remember, we have fish on Fridays because my family is Catholic). If we aren't frying it, we're buying it and it's usually from Forsyth Seafood. Now that I'm an adult, I have fish on other days too, because you can buy your seafood and order from the café! Part owner and chief marketer, Ashley Hardesty Armstrong has added new classics and updated old standards on the menu like clam chowder, oyster stew and the company's new food truck. 

New Sichuan Restaurant

Real Q:

I think Lexington Style BBQ is the best barbecue in the world. I'm not here for debates--it's simply my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Real Q (formerly called Little Richard's) was the first pork barbecue I ever tasted as a young girl. I think it's best. Whether I get it chopped, sliced on a tray or the big seeded buns or a mess of hushpuppies with the red barbecue slaw, I'm always satisfied with my choices here. And little known fact: the burgers here and good, too! Country Club is the original and the only one that matters.


This coffee roaster turned full-service restaurant speaks my love language daily.

Crafted: The Art of the Taco:

The kitchen is open and it really is a beautiful space overall. Crafted is quick to tell you that this is a taco joint, NOT a Mexican restaurant. The tacos are eclectic (barbecue pork and macaroni and cheese on a taco? Dude, it's awesome) and there are so many interesting menu items, you have to come back multiple times to get it all in. A Mason jar of crispy bacon, great burgers, fresh chips, chunky guacamole, perfectly diced pico de gallo, and there's even an option to make anything into a rice bowl. I love this place and I'm so happy to have a Crafted family member in my favorite city in the world.

Bagel Station

There's nothing like standing in line on a Saturday morning to get your toasted jalapeño cheddar or everything bagel with scallion cream cheese. These bagels rival anything made in New York or Montréal's oven-baked neighborhoods. 

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

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  1. Great list! I have been to most of those places but need to check out Ms. Ora's.

  2. So many great options, these all sound like they're right up my alley taste-wise!

  3. Happy anniversary to your blog! I'm coming on 8 years---hard to believe!!! And now I'm dying to come to Winston-Salem and eat some shrimp and grits. Great resounce!!!

  4. 10 years is awesome!

    I really prefer cooking and eating at home - mainly, because I ate out for 25 years - but this list and this frickin-frackin social distancing COVID-19 blankety-blank makes me carve to sit down in a nice restaurant and have a nice meal.
    I'll be referencing this list.
    Thanks for your good work.
    Stay chirpy!

  5. When the world opens back up I am going to visit every restaurant on this list!


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