When you imagine “comfort food,” do you dream about sentimental, nostalgic flavors reminiscent of a simpler time? Warm, hearty fare with roots in your grandmother’s kitchen? Meals that envelop your mouth and memory in a heartfelt hug? Comfort food is a time-honored culture in our region, and there are many choices for quintessential Southern cuisine in and around Fayetteville.
WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER
As the famed author, Nora Ephron once said, “Everyone loves fried chicken. Don’t ever make it. Ever. Buy it from a place that makes the good fried chicken.” Several Fayetteville area restaurants have fortunately discovered the crispy, juicy secret to GREAT fried chicken.
A favorite among locals “east of the River,” Kinlaw’s Welcome Grill on Sapona Road serves traditional fried chicken and other Southern staples such as meatloaf and pork chops in an easygoing atmosphere. Uptown’s Chicken and Waffles at Ramada Plaza on Owen Drive has both classic and innovative forms of the dish.
Chef Judy McLean is a local celebrity who competed on Food Network’s “Chopped” and “Supermarket Stakeout.” Crown Fried Chicken, with locations on Murchison Road and Ramsey Street, infuses a taste of New York and New Jersey into our cuisine. Try their famous “Mumbo” wings.
Barbara Ann’s in Hope Mills started as a food truck with a loyal following and is now a shop on Main Street. The eatery is renowned for distinctive fried chicken with popular accompaniments including candied yams, slaw, and potato salad. For an exclusive-to-Barbara Ann’s experience, order the fried chicken and red velvet waffles.
Circa 1800 on Person Street also offers a unique spin on a classic with their Southern Chicken Parmesan with pimento cheese, green tomato marinara sauce, and collard greens.
KIND OF A PIG DEAL
North Carolinians tend to hold steadfast, unwavering, dyed-in-the-wool notions about a contentious issue in The Tarheel State: barbecue. Fayetteville can satisfy Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue loyalists (who favor a vinegar-based sauce) and Lexington-style barbecue fans (who prefer a tomato-based sauce). Here, pulled pork aficionados can enjoy a plate of slow-cooked goodness with all the trimmings: macaroni and cheese, fried okra, potato salad, and hushpuppies – to name only a few tasty trappings found at restaurants in Cumberland County.
Head to Raeford Road for Southern Coals, or venture to the “northside” for Peaden’s on McArthur Road or Noble Meats and Eatery, near Lillington Highway and Manchester Road. Or you could try Bar-B-Que Hut, a local, yet iconic no-frills chain to get your BBQ fix.
THE UPPER CRUST
Craving something sweeter? Visit Burney’s Sweets and More on Raeford Road for their banana split, chocolate pecan, coconut cream, peanut butter, and sweet potato pies for dessert. Superior Bakery on Hope Mills Road has become a regional hotspot for its wide assortment of treats. Or try some fresh-baked pastries with a German twist at Max and Moritz on Cliffdale Road. In Hope Mills,
Ah, the age-old question about Southern food: what is a grit? If you haven’t tried this stone-ground corn delicacy, run to Fayetteville! Circa 1800’s Shrimp and Grits and Greens is a masterful medley, with its titular ingredients enhanced by bacon, cheddar cheese, and cream sauce.
Uptown’s Chicken and Waffles adds andouille sausage and Cajun gravy to its version of the meal. The Mash House on Sycamore Dairy Road loads their concept of shrimp and grits with fresh vegetables and a Tasso ham gravy. There, you can even pair a hand-crafted ale or cider with your meal.
Or, for a Key West vibe, try Latitude 35 on Hay Street in Haymount.
ALL YOU CAN EAT
We can’t spill the sweet tea about quintessential Southern comfort foods without mentioning the bountiful buffets in the area. No visit to Fayetteville is complete without a trip to Fuller’s Old-Fashioned Bar-B-Q, which has two locations on Raeford Road and Eastern Boulevard. Readers of Up & Coming Weekly recently named Fuller’s as the “Best Soul Food Restaurant” in the city.
The Sandpiper, also on Eastern Boulevard, has served the area for 35 years and features seafood on its smorgasbord. Grandson’s on Marracco Drive in Hope Mills is a long-standing, come-as-you-are spot where you can “eat all the fixin’s a stomach can hold.” Just some advice: save some room for the banana pudding!