Kinston, NC Known for Down-Home Restaurants

By Kevin Litwin on October 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm EST
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Million dollar biscuits? That's what Byrd's restaurant is known for, and people from as far away as Apex, Garner, Goldsboro and Raleigh stop at the landmark Kinston eatery on their way to the Atlantic Ocean beaches.

“We were named one of the best breakfast spots in North Carolina in 2011 by Our State magazine, and that recognition has been bringing us customers from many different cities and towns,” says C.J. Jarrell, owner of Byrd's, which first opened in 1977. “Yes, our biscuits are amazing. Our biscuit makers are Mary Alice Jones and Cynthia Bingham who arrive here at 4 a.m. every day to make them from scratch.”

Jarrell says all food prepared at Byrd's is fresh.

“We're just a tiny, nondescript restaurant on Highway 58 South across from Lenoir Community College, and we serve breakfast and lunch every Monday through Saturday,” she says. “Come see us if you’re in the neighborhood.”

Try the Baked Chicken

Byrd's is just one of many interesting dining spots in Kinston-Lenoir County that offer customers home-cooked favorites. Another popular destination that has been around even longer than Byrd's is Smith's Cafe, which first opened in 1942 as a combination grocery store and small diner.

Third generation family member George Smith is the current owner and chef.

“Probably our most popular dish is the baked chicken, which some people call roasted chicken, and I use a mix of special ingredients that draws customers from miles around,” Smith says. “In fact, I don't have a website or Facebook page but have customers from as far away as Louisiana and Mississippi who stopped in for the baked chicken.”

Smith's Cafe has six employees and is open from 4 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

“Home cooking is the best cooking there is, and we've been cooking here a long time,” Smith says. “I’m also getting ready to remodel the place, which will make the atmosphere even that much nicer.”'

Better Than Grandma's

Other top dining spots in Kinston include Christopher's, King's Restaurant, Kinstonian Family Restaurant and Lovick's Café. One of the newest places in town is Popp’s Place, which is across from Vernon Park Mall.

“We have already built up a reputation for our secret sauce ribs and spaghetti casserole, even though we just opened in April 2011,” says Sherrie Christian, owner of Popp’s Place with her husband, Joel.

Popp's is open Tuesday-Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Sundays for lunch and dinner.

“All the ingredients on our menu are fresh, and all breads and desserts are made from scratch,” Christian says. “Our food is just like Grandma used to make, and maybe even a bit better.”

Learn about more great restaurants in the Kinston, NC area.

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Kinston continues to have a small-town feel, and now it has large-city amenities.

Jim Stolze, resident