Kinston, N.C. is a place that was not on my radar. But, now that I have visited, I suggest you put the unassuming town, with some unexpected delights, on your radar. One of the things that surprised me the most about Kinston was the fantastic food and drink options. Despite its small-town feel, Kinston’s food scene offers a sophisticated mix of cuisine prepared by chefs that continue to gain notoriety and experience.
Hawk’s Nest Cafe
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so kick your day off with a small town feel at Hawk’s Nest Cafe. The restaurant is a renovated, historic 1921 pharmacy lunch counter, that is now operated as a café and general store specializing in products manufactured in North Carolina. The food was delicious, and my favorite detail of the restaurant was the penny floor.
Boiler Room Oyster Bar
There is nothing better than freshly shucked oysters, and that is exactly what the Boiler Room provides. Owners Vivian Howard and Ben Knight teamed up with Stephen Hill, a founder of Mother Earth Brewing, opened the restaurant in 2013. The restaurant focuses on burgers, beer, and oysters.
Mother Earth Brewing
Mother Earth Brewing opened its doors to the public in 2008 led by Stephen Hill and Trent Moorin. Enjoy the fruits of Mother Earth Brewing’s labors in the tap room and beer garden. The tap room has an intimate feel which provided the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon while the weather was dreary. I am not normally a beer drinker, but I enjoyed every selection I tried.
Chef & the Farmer
If you are familiar with PBS’ “A Chef’s Life,” then you probably have heard of Vivian Howard and Ben Knight’s premier restaurant in downtown Kinston, NC called Chef & the Farmer. The restaurant opened its doors in 2006 and provides guests with a rustic urban vibe and new southern cuisine. Chef & the Farmer seats 70 people, so I highly recommend making a reservation to ensure a seat for dinner. The food was divine and, possibly, one of the best meals I have ever eaten.