Food might not be at the top of the list when you visit Winston-Salem, but you don’t have to be there long to find some mouth-watering dining. Whether you are dining upscale or spending time with local felines looking for a forever home, there are some unique foods and places in Winston Salem.
The food is much like the mixed culture where Old Salem, with its strict religious views, meets capitalistic Winston with its tobacco millionaires. The first three fit more with the Moravian Old Salem image, the following three are more upscale rich folks, and the last is a little catty.
1. Louie and Honey’s Kitchen
Louie and Honey’s Kitchen (formerly Lavender and Honey Kitchen) is a perfect breakfast stop. It’s a mother and daughter owned restaurant specializing in baked items. Naomi Gingerich and her daughter, Natalie, started at a farmers market but became so popular they opened here in 2020. Despite the pandemic, the restaurant was and is a raging success. I was told the cinnamon rolls are fantastic, but when I spotted that freshly baked multi-layered chocolate cake, that was it for me.
2. Muddy Creek Cafe
Muddy Creek Café is in Old Salem and gives a feel for being in an earlier time. You can dine inside or out here. Outside you are in the backyard of one of Old Salem’s original buildings. Inside, portions of the stone and brick wall remind you of the building’s history. It was once the church owned store run by Traugott Bagge in the late 1700s. Today, Shana Whitehead and Bill Heath, Café owners specialize in Gourmet sandwiches, salads, desserts, craft sodas, craft beer, and wine.
Christian Winkler bought the bakery in Old Salem that was originally owned by the church in 1807. He, his wife, Elizabeth, and their six children, ran the bakery and lived in the house, which is part of the original building, for the rest of their lives. The Winkler family descendants continued to own the bakery until 1926.
The bakery’s oven is still heated with wood. One of the specialties is their fresh baked bread. My friend bought a loaf and I sampled it. It helped me understand why they were in business so long.
3. Village Tavern
Village Tavern, in Reynolda Village, was voted the Best Restaurant in Winston Salem by the Winston Salem Journal. One taste of our appetizer, Pimiento Cheese Dip, made with warm Irish Kerrygold Dubliner pimiento cheese, served with freshly fried corn chips, and I agreed.
The entrée, Grilled Chicken Teriyaki with stir-fried onions, carrots, snow peas, and peppers, and served with rice pilaf, cinched my vote. Dessert of Hot Fudge Sunday just sweetened the pot. You can dine inside or on the patio.
4. Willow’s Bistro
Willow’s Bistro is upscale dining with some unique touches. Executive chef Travis Myers mixes French cuisine with deep south family recipes. The results are things like Salmon and Grits served with English peas, asparagus, prosciutto, and pesto cream sauce. Yes, you can see both influences there.
Then there is Chef Niki Farington, who combines her pickle-making business with the food she creates at Willows. One of our appetizers was fried green tomatoes, but instead of just served spread out on a plate, they were mounted on a skewer and topped with some of Niki’s zesty pickled red onions. Our other appetizer of scallops was equally delicious.
My Shrimp Scampi entrée was delicious. Willow’s also has some interesting cocktails like Old Salem Sour made with bourbon, housemade sour, and a Malbec float, and The Capone made with rye whiskey, bacon jalapeno syrup, and ginger beer, in a smoked mason jar topped with bacon.
Add that to the fact Willow’s is housed in a former railway freight warehouse, built in 1913, and you feel like part of Winston-Salem’s aristocracy when dining there. Most of the art on the walls is for sale.
5. The Spring House
The Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen, & Bar was once home to a Winston-Salem millionaire, Agnew Hunter Bahnson. Oddly enough, he was a Moravian and made his fortune through the Arista Mills, not tobacco. However, the land the home, now a restaurant, was built on was once where the tennis courts and garden for the family estate of tobacco baron R.J. Reynolds were located. It was built in 1920, the year after Prohibition became the law of the land, on what was known as “Millionaire’s Row.”
Husband-and-wife team Lynette Matthews-Murphy and Lynn Murphy bought the house in late 2010. After extensive remodeling, they brought in Chef Grandinetti as a partner. He was awarded Best Chef in the Piedmont Region several years in a row and received multiple wins for Best Chef in Winston-Salem; plus recently published his cookbook & culinary memoir, Soulful Harvest.
The Spring House’s atmosphere is cozy and feels like a speakeasy. I love the picture of Ma Rainey over the fireplace and the other portraits of blues musicians. I had bacon-stuffed dates with blue cheese, and they were tasty.
6. Crooked Tail Cat Cafe
Crooked Tail Cat Cafe is a totally unique place to eat in Winston Salem, though not quite a fit for either old Salem or the rich tobacco folks. It is home to a revolving group of kitties looking for an adoptive family. You can enjoy baked goods and a drink while admiring the friendly felines. They took a real shine to my purse, as I think they smelled my cat, Fergie, who loves to lie on it.
7. Winkler Bakery
Christian Winkler bought the Winkler Bakery in Old Salem, originally owned by the church in 1807. He, his wife, Elizabeth, and their six children, ran the bakery and lived in the house, which is part of the original building, for the rest of their lives. The Winkler family descendants continued to own the bakery until 1926.
The bakery’s oven is still heated with wood. One of the specialties is their fresh baked bread. My friend bought a loaf, and I sampled it. It helped me understand why they have been in business so long.
This article was written by Kathleen Walls of American Roads and Global Highways.
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