Great Places to Eat in Kinston, NC

By Rebecca Denton on April 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm EST
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PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Bennett

Restaurants in Lenoir County serve tasty dishes, ranging from Southern, down-home cooking to upscale and fresh produce options. Whatever your palate desires, there are a number of long-running eateries to visit in the area.

Southern Comfort

No visit to Kinston is complete without a stop at Lovick’s Café on Herritage Street. Established in 1942 by Milton Lovick and now operated by his great-grandchildren, Lovick’s serves heaping plates of pancakes and bacon, fresh country sausage, grits and red-eye gravy, salty country ham, biscuits and other country-style breakfast dishes. It’s the kind of place where folks from all walks of life gather to enjoy the friendly service and community feel.Lovick’s is most famous for its “dough burgers,” a tasty mix of hamburger, flour, onions, salt, and pepper that’s fried and served on white bread. Created as a way to stretch the meat supply during the Great Depression, the dough burger draws crowds that often stretch out the door at lunchtime.

Christopher’s on North Queen Street in Kinston is another local landmark and gathering place that has been around for decades and is known for its down-home country cookin’. Still family owned and operated, Christopher’s draws hungry diners in droves.

Going Whole Hog

King’s Restaurant in Kinston is an iconic dining spot known for its mouth-watering pork barbecue served up Eastern North Carolina style, with a vinegar-based sauce. Here you’ll find the Pig in a Puppy sandwich (barbecued pork served on a hush puppy bun) and other tried-and-true dishes that have remained the same since 1936. Besides the walk-in restaurant, King’s has a thriving Internet sales business that is affectionately called the Carolina Oink Express. It was born in the mid-1990s in response to a customer’s request, and today King’s Restaurant barbecue products are shipped all over the country and beyond. 

One of the region’s most anticipated events of the spring is the BBQ Festival on the Neuse. This fun-filled festival features children’s arts and crafts, live entertainment, the Great Neuse River Duck Race, the Neuse River Paddle, a golf tournament, a juried art show and sale, plenty of Eastern North Carolina barbecue and much more.

Upscale Elegance

The Chef and the Farmer serves up urban sophistication and elegant cuisine made with fresh ingredients from local farms. The seasonal menu at this popular spot on West Gordon Street includes dishes such as espresso-crusted hanger steak with goat cheese and arugula smashed potatoes, white gazpacho and pan-roasted chicken with braised Sharp Head cabbage, Carteret County red snapper with tapenade and slow-roasted tomatoes. Chef Vivian Howard, a Lenoir County native, returned from New York to her Southern roots to create this progressive eatery.

Fresh From the Farm

Locally grown produce, prepared foods, flowers, crafts and more can be found at the newly revitalized Lenoir County Farmers Market, along with friendly, knowledgeable growers who can help shoppers pick produce at the peak of flavor. The Lenoir County Farmers Market, located at 100 North Herritage Street, was upgraded with new paint, landscaping and other improvements for the 2010 season. 

Learn about more great eats in Kinston, NC.

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