4 North Carolina restaurants rank among best places to eat in US. Why fans love them

Juli Leonard/

North Carolina boasts four of the nation’s top-ranking restaurants — so you may just find your new favorite dish.

Among the restaurants that received national recognition, the Outer Banks Boil Company in Corolla also was named the sixth best place in the world for families to grab a meal, according to results published Wednesday, Sept. 27.

The rankings come from the travel review website Tripadvisor, which said it divided vacationers’ favorite restaurants into the categories of “fine dining, everyday eats, date night, hidden gems, quick bites,” family-friendly and vegetarian restaurants. Within the United States, the North Carolina eateries that earned top 10 spots were:

  • Outer Banks Boil Company in Corolla at No. 1 for families

  • The Restaurant at Gideon Ridge in Blowing Rock at No. 2 for fine dining

  • The Restaurant at Gideon Ridge in Blowing Rock at No. 3 for date nights

  • Plant in Asheville at No. 3 for vegetarian meals

  • Jettie Rae’s Oyster House in Asheville at No. 9 for “everyday eats”

Why do fans love the NC restaurants?

To determine the Travelers’ Choice Award winners, Tripadvisor said it studied comments left for U.S. eateries that met certain criteria, including being listed online for at least 12 months. It website ranked each place “based on the quality and quantity of reviews and ratings for restaurants on Tripadvisor collected from June 1, 2022 through May 31, 2023, specific to each award subcategory.”

The Outer Banks Boil Company was the only North Carolina restaurant to rank No. 1 in its category. Though the business has locations along the East Coast, the location in Corolla reigned supreme.

The restaurant got its start in Corolla after Matt Khouri got the idea to “replicate a family beach tradition.” He created a business that today focuses on boils that feature “jumbo shrimp, authentic andouille sausage, red bliss potatoes, corn on the cob and sweet Vidalia onions” cooked with seasoning.

On Tripadvisor, some customers raved about the chance to gather with loved ones as they watched the boil being prepared and dumped onto a table. When it came time for everyone to dig in, fans said they loved the taste of the food, which is available only through takeout or catering.

The only place in North Carolina to rank in two Tripadvisor categories was The Restaurant at Gideon Ridge in the mountain town of Blowing Rock. The eatery roughly 90 miles west of Winston-Salem is no stranger to accolades, having earned recognition as a top fine dining and date night spot in the country for at least the second straight year.

Rounding out the list of North Carolina restaurants that received acclaim were Plant and Jettie Rae’s Oyster House, both in the dining hot spot of Asheville. Like the other winning places, the eateries earned more than four out of five stars after garnering top scores for their food and customer service.

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