Long, winding trips through uncharted terrain to visit family members, prolonged daily commutes, a car full of hungry children and a dwindling supply of snacks — all these circumstances could result in a detour through a fast food drive-thru because of the hassle involved in finding a locally owned eatery without veering too far off course.
Chapel Hill-based author D.G. Martin has provided a resource to help travelers traversing North Carolina figure out where to find local restaurants — including several Western North Carolina favorites — along any route in the state. His new book, North Carolina Roadside Eateries: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints, arranges locally owned outposts road by road and includes multiple maps for reference.
Divided by interstate, the book includes listings for restaurants along interstate highways 26, 40, 73, 74, 77, 85 and 95. For example, readers driving on I-26 and needing to stop for a bite, can simply flip to the I-26 map to view options.
Martin is the host of the television program “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs on UNC-TV at noon Sundays, 5 p.m. Thursdays and 8 p.m. Fridays. He is also a syndicated columnist whose stories appear in multiple newspapers across the state, including Mountain Xpress.
“Writing about these treasured eateries presents a special challenge. They do not last forever. They go out of business or change ownership or keep chugging until they just run their natural course. So part of the joy is finding new and welcoming places to get sweet tea, stopping at little diners with hushpuppies you never forget, meeting good folks and watching people settle political differences over a slice of lemon pie,” says Martin in an article published September 5th, 2016 in Wilson, NC newspaper, The Wilson Times.
While barbecue joints and homestyle eateries comprise the majority of the listings in the book, North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries offers a guide to a range of other cuisines as well, including seafood, Italian, Mexican and farm-fresh options. Western North Carolina restaurants highlighted are the Moose Cafe off I-26 and several off of I-40, including Little Pigs Bar-B-Q, Luella’s Bar-B-Que, 12 Bones Smokehouse in Asheville and Louise’s Kitchen in Black Mountain.
Every one of the restaurants Martin features has served as a personal stopping point for him during his travels over the years, and he has deemed each as worthy of his endorsement. Individual listings include summaries with distinctive notes regarding how each restaurant became one of his favorites. Of 12 Bones Smokehouse, Martin says, “Even if 12 bones had not been made famous by Barack Obama’s visits there, it would still be a ‘must do’ in Asheville.” He goes on to rave that during a visit his group “feasted on the signature 12-boned ribs, delicious and addictive, smoked with cherrywood coals. Other dishes set 12 Bones apart from the usual North Carolina barbecue, but the ribs are very special.”
Martin also offers directions to each eatery from the nearest interstate and an “After Eating” section that provides nearby points of interest for restaurant-goers to peruse once the meal is finished. After his description of Luella’s Bar-B-Que, Martin suggests an after-dinner dessert and walk, “If you’re in the mood for dessert, YoLo, which serves locally sourced frozen yogurt and toppings, is right across the parking lot. In the daytime, take a walk on the Weaver Park Trail that begins just around the corner.”
North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries, published by the University of North Carolina Press in Chapel Hill, has an official publication date of Monday, Oct. 3, but has already hit the shelves in select bookstores ahead of schedule. Locally, find North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries at Malaprop’s, Barnes & Noble and Loft of Asheville, as well as through online retailers such as Amazon.com.