If Winston-Salem isn’t on your radar, it should be. Long associated with the tobacco industry, this vibrant small city in North Carolina’s Piedmont region has reinvented itself as a magnet for technology companies, artists, and entrepreneurs. Also flourishing? An amazing food scene, centered around West 4th Street downtown, powered by a group of female chefs and owners, who focus on the local and the delicious. Even better? They are all fans of each other. Here is the ultimate guide.
I am a 42-year-old married mom of three (Finn, 12, Gus 10, Ruby, 7). In 2010, I opened a small dinner catering business that eventually grew into what is now the restaurant. I found that it was super-hard to make a healthy dinner for my family every night, so I figured that other folks might be struggling with the same thing. Those feelings finally coalesced around the idea of making a family dinner each week that people could order and serve at home. I emailed all my friends to see if they wanted to order, and started cooking. For the first few weeks, I loaded my kids in the car each Tuesday and drove all over town with fresh dinners for our customers! The business grew pretty quickly through word of mouth. In 2013, I felt confident enough to build my own kitchen and restaurant, and I tried to stay true to the mission of bringing fresh, handmade, family-friendly Tex-Mex to Winston-Salem.
I think I am most inspired by the idea that food should be a vehicle for connection with other people. Because of that philosophy, we try to keep the focus of our restaurant on creating a space where people can feel absolutely comfortable and at home with one another. I do love all kinds of food, particularly the food of Texas (which can be anything from BBQ to Tex-Mex to Vietnamese and Indian), so we try to introduce lots of flavors that folks may not be used to seeing!
I eat the same thing for lunch almost every day at the restaurant—The Snowfall Bowl (although we re-name it for different seasons!). It’s a bowl with jasmine rice, black beans, shrimp, fresh pomegranate pico de gallo, fried avocado, lettuce and queso fresco. It’s healthy but very filling, so I’m not as tempted by the chips and queso in the afternoon! I always add lots of super-hot sauce too!
That’s impossible!! They are all so great and different. The Winston food scene would not exist without Mary (of Mary’s Gourmet Diner) and Vivian and Stephanie in particular (of Sweet Potatoes), as they were really the pioneers. Cary (of Camino Bakery) has been a work mentor and inspiration to me for many years, and I always turn to her for advice when I’m struggling with anything—big or small!
In the morning, I would get anything made of eggs at Mary’s Gourmet; Mary uses local free-range eggs and they are soooo delicious. At night, I’d choose the catfish at Sweet Potatoes—the catfish is crisp and fabulous, and their veggies are always wonderful too.
I’m a housewife, mother, grandmother. I have worked in restaurants for years. I love to cook and share my food with people. It’s the best feeling in the world to see someone’s face light up with joy when they eat my food!
I wanted to feed people body and soul. I was the first one to offer local food! We began using eggs, dairy, grits, flour, produce and coffee, which were produced locally and way ahead of the current trend. I wanted people to be comforted and uplifted by my food and atmosphere at the restaurant.
I love my soups! Soup is one of my favorite foods—very comforting and healthy!
That’s tough! I love the GF quiche at Camino Bakery and anything made with sweet potatoes at Sweet Potatoes!
Vivian has a corporate management background—Planet Hollywood at Disney, Red Robin, Fuddruckers, Arby’s, Boston Market and Wendy’s from the East Coast to Arizona. My background is in hotels, country clubs and independent restaurants, working as a chef at The Pier House Resort, Barefoot Bob’s, Ancala Country Club, Noble’s Grille and the Village Tavern.
We opened Sweet Potatoes because we have Southern roots and wanted to create a restaurant that had great food and Southern hospitality. Our menu reflects that.
My favorite thing to do and eat is fried chicken! Vivian really likes the PBJ, a fried pork chop on a sweet potato bun topped with melted cheddar, bacon, peanut butter, banana aioli and tomato jam!
We love breakfast at Mary’s Gourmet Diner. She is the “Biscuit Queen”!
A friend once told me that I have “the gift of hospitality,” and maybe it’s true—I’ve always been happiest when feeding and entertaining friends.
Spring House came into being for “selfish” reasons— I wanted, to tap into all the life experiences I’d had to create a warm and inviting gathering place, where creative and Southern-inspired food is presented and celebrated. Being able to take a lovely, but abandoned, former mansion, and build my vision to reality has truly been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done (besides bringing two terrific sons to manhood!) One of my best decisions in the process was to partner with my Chef, Timothy Grandinetti, who inspires me daily with his big passion for cooking delicious and honest food.
At Spring House, one of my favorite dishes is a simple one—Chicken “Under a Brick” Salad. This perfectly pounded and sautéed chicken breast pairs beautifully with our white wine, lemon butter sauce and capers. Served alongside a fresh baby green salad with roasted beets and pickled red onions and fresh shavings of parmesan cheese, it makes this the perfect (and healthy!) lunch or light dinner..
At Quanto Basta, my favorite dinner consists of an oven-fired Pepperoni Pizzette as a starter; the best Caesar Salad ever, and Fettuccine John Angelo (named for Chef Tim’s Dad), with parmigiano, pancetta, truffle essence, rotisserie chicken, spinach and cremini mushrooms.
When I have a rare night off, one of my favorite spots for a quiet and comforting dinner is Mozelle’s… their Tomato Pie and Spicy Collards with a glass of crisp Chardonnay is simply perfect!
I have a background in business and have always appreciated good food. When I started the restaurant, I wanted to contribute to the development on 4th Street. I recognize that good food is essential to life, and I love providing the Winston community with a place to get Southern food served with a helping of Southern hospitality. Seeing our patrons enjoying themselves and laughing while having great food in my restaurant, truly warms my heart and makes all the hard work worth it!
My grandmother, Mozelle, always had a delicious home-cooked meal ready for friends and family. The Southern food she cooked in her own kitchen was a central part of who she was and how she communed with people. I like to think that I am carrying on that tradition.
I adore the Short Ribs at Quanto Basta. They scream comfort!