Rocky Mount is a quaint town in Eastern North Carolina that has more to offer than meets the eye. Despite its small stature, this hospitable hamlet is packed with personality and there are plenty of restaurants in Rocky Mount to enjoy.
There’s an impressive array of cool cultural attractions and natural wonders to explore. The eats here are sure to surprise and delight even the most discerning diners.
Rocky Mount has fantastic fares to satisfy any foodie travelers, from classic Southern comfort to traditional Italian to mouthwatering Mexican. Enjoy some down-home country cooking one day and elevated gourmet grub the next. The sky (and stomach) is the limit in this charming metropolis. Sink your teeth into the best Rocky Mount restaurants detailed below.
The Best Restaurants In Rocky Mount
Gardner’s Barbecue Restaurant
Eastern North Carolina is known for a special type of barbecue. It’s a must try while exploring the region, and there’s no better place to give it a go than at Gardner’s in Rocky Mount. They’ve been feeding the hungry masses their home cooked Southern classics since 1972, and are considered one of the best places to head in North Carolina for BBQ. What’s even better than a plate of country comfort food? A buffet full of it!
Fill up your plate at this all you can eat heaven of hearty fare. It’s a great way to try a bit of everything from the pulled pork to the fried chicken and of course the favorite fixings, like okra and cornbread. It’s family owned and operated and a beloved institution in these parts. The recipes have been passed down over generations, and it’s easy to see why all the locals love it.
Get a taste of the most craveable Mexican cooking in Rocky Mount at El Tapatio. Not only are the margaritas amazing, the extensive menu offers every delicious meal imaginable, made as authentically as possible. The facade is unassuming, but the interior offers a fun traditional flair.
They have nachos, quesadillas, tacos, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, and much more. There are even vegetarian and vegan options which is an added bonus for these types of traditional dishes. Order a meal or some separate mains a la carte, either way you won’t go hungry as the portions are consistently generous.
Lou Reda’s is a local favorite for upscale American fares. The cuisine is creative and cooked to perfection with influences from all around the country. The ingredients used are fresh and seasonal, so the menu is constantly changing. It’s one of the best refined restaurants in Rocky Mount.
Everything is made in-house on a daily basis, elevating the everyday plates you’d find on any given kitchen table in the states. The bar features a bourbon theme with plenty of inventive cocktails to try. There’s always a selection of Carolina craft beers on draft here. The decor is quite casual with a modern feel. We highly recommend the mac n’ cheese, whether you get it with lobster, brisket, or truffle, it’s a divine dish. They offer a beautiful brunch as well.
The Prime Smokehouse
The Prime Steakhouse is a hotspot in the hip Rocky Mount Mills to meet all your meat needs in North Carolina. They’re cooking up authentic Eastern Carolina eats in an elevated way. However, this barbecue joint doesn’t make you choose your allegiance, as they offer both the regional and Texas styles.
The ambiance is cosmopolitan and elegant, often amplified when they have live jazz music performances most days as well. It’s a seemingly seamless combo we wouldn’t have anticipated, soul food and soul music. There’s also an art gallery on-site that displays works by local artists. The ribs come highly recommended here, as does the chopped beef platter. When they say barbecue and beyond at the Prime Smokehouse, they really do mean it.
The low country hole in the wall is a hidden gem of Rocky Mount. Everything is cooked to order and made from scratch, just like mama used to make. They use all fresh ingredients and family recipes. The menu is seasonal, so we love to go when the fried green tomatoes are at their ripest.
The original restaurant was opened in Alabama in 1950 and was known as a place for community gatherings. The spirit lives on in Rocky Mount, as do the tasty treats. This is a spot where you definitely want to save room for dessert, each one is divine from the chocolate chess pie (a Carolina classic) to the lemon cake.
Barley and Burger
Barley and Burger is new on the scene in Rocky Mount, and they make an exquisite addition to this list of best restaurants in Rocky Mount, NC. The atmosphere screams Hollywood nostalgia, and we can’t get enough of it. All of the meats used are sourced from renowned butcher Pat LaFrieda, ensuring everything is seriously high quality here. Making bold and refined burgers, these gourmet eats are delicious to say the least, each named for a beloved character from favorite films.
Every offering is creative, like the Godfather with fried mozzarella, pepperoni, marinara, and basil, or the Ghostbbuster with ghost pepper cheese, fried jalapenos, and bacon. Of course, you can build your own from all the exciting toppings available. The beer selection is extensive, hence the barley portion of the name, with rotating taps of local crafts. If you prefer a beverage on the sweeter side, their hand spun milkshakes are also amazing.
Also known as Tacos and Taproom, TCB brings together two of the best things around. The menu might not be the longest, but you can’t go wrong picking any of the perfect plates here. The tacos are street style, just the way we like them, and everything is made from scratch. The flavors featured are always innovative and exciting. Try the First Rye’d Cauliflower, even if you’re an avid meat eater, and the Nana’s Short Rib is packed with flavor as well.
The taps are all from the coveted Tarboro Brewing Company, with a draft for every preference, brewed either on-site or right down the road. The Seed Spitter Salted Watermelon Gose is a warm weather favorite and the Tar River Banshee Double IPA is an all-around quintessential craft beer. The ambiance of this Rocky Mount restaurants is laid back and trendy. The lush outdoor area is ideal for relaxing at the Rocky Mount Mills.
The Highway Diner
Take a step back in time to the 1950s at this swinging retro-themed diner. From the vinyl red booths to the checkered tiles to the neon lights, it’s a vintage haven straight out of the burger and milkshake heyday. Check out the iconic display case for cakes, who are always frosted to the nines honoring whatever holiday season it may be.
They serve up all the American diner classics, including all day breakfast. I don’t know about you, but we love to indulge in the most important meal of the day at any hour, especially when it involves fluffy Southern biscuits. The Mom’s Meatloaf is a masterpiece here, as is the Pork Chop Platter. The best part? This is one of the most affordable restaurants in Rocky Mount, North Carolina!
The Tipsy Tomato is the go-to in Rocky Mount for traditional Italian eats. They serve up artisan pizza pies baked in a wood fired oven. All the ingredients for their creative cheesy slices are locally sourced and fresh. You can build your own with tasty toppings or pick a ready-made creation like the Bud’s BBQ. You can watch it being made or sit outside in the sunshine for an al fresco affair.
As the name implies, there’s plenty on deck to drink as well. There’s an array of craft beers that change daily and pair perfectly with any meal. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming with plenty of cool art adorning the walls, an ideal laid-back environment to enjoy some hot pizza and cold pints.
Located in the ever trendy and historic Rocky Mount Mills, [email protected] is a modern gastropub cooking up Southern dishes with a fancy twist while using beloved low country ingredients. It’s set inside of a century old, restored cotton mill home. The decor is both rustic and refined, for an easy-going atmosphere that feels like an elegant Eastern Carolina abode. Everything is made from scratch and done in-house, including all the smoking, brining, and pickling. Dine out on the front porch to soak up the scenic surroundings.
Try the Duck Leg Jambalaya or the Pork Belly Curry for a real one-of-a-kind eating experience. The Local Eastern North Carolina Catch is a seafood dream served with market veggies, PEI mussels, LN clams, and a Pale Ale Cream. They’re reinventing classic tavern cuisines to a new elevated level that we just love. There are local, national, and international microbrewed beers on tap here, and the cocktail program is top notch, especially the Tap House Tea.
Much more than your average coffee shop, Larema comes as one of the most highly recommended best Rocky Mount restaurants. It’s set in the darling historic downtown and the name comes from the word for “my friend” in the Acholi language. There is an abundance of delectable handmade pastries and desserts to try here, for breakfast or a snack. There are sandwiches, wraps, salads, and smoothies, and also some terrific toast options including avocado and pimento cheese.
The decor is bright, airy, and all around adorable. They host open mic nights for local artists and scholars, mostly acoustic or jazz music and ted talk style topic sharing. We love their perfect seasonal pairings, like the maple syrup cinnamon latte and made to order waffles. The coffee is from the renowned North Carolina roaster Counter Culture. This is an idyllic gathering space for locals and visitors alike, for a light bite, lunch, or the perfect pick me up in a cup.
For sports fanatics and many locals in Rocky Mount, Westridge Grill is the ultimate watering hole. If you want to look like a regular around town, this is just the neighborhood joint. It’s likely to be packed on any game day, but that’s part of the fun. They serve up all the craveable pub grub, cooking classic comfort foods with a Carolina twist.
The Shrimp Po Boy and Reaper Chicken Sandwich are phenomenal plates, especially when paired with a cold pint. The decor is as memorabilia focused as you may expect which has its own kind of charm. You’re sure to get your fill of Southern eats and hospitality here.
NABS has hands down the best specialty sandwiches in the city. Hand crafted, East Coast style, and gourmet, this spot really lives up to its boastful title, which stands for never a better sandwich. We believe a perfectly made sando is a universal love language, and NABS had us falling hard. The portions are hefty, great for if you’re super hungry or want to save some for later.
They offer scrumptious options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Super Rueben and Caprese are both fan favorites around town. The decor reflects the cute deli style they embody, with a bright and friendly vibe that feels welcoming. Everything is baked fresh daily, from the breads to all the tasty pastries. There are plenty of beverages to wash down the beautiful bites, from freshly roasted coffee to organic high tea service.
D Chill Spot
D Chill Spot has the most authentic and amazing Jamaican cuisine around. Prepared using fresh ingredients and traditional culinary methods, it’s a true gem of Rocky Mount. All the favorite Caribbean flavors really come through in each and every bite. Jerk Chicken, Oxtail, and Curry Goat are just a few of the fantastic fares available.
It’s a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, for a laid-back feast with friends, and there’s a full bar and lounge here as well. They’re focused on giving back to the community, so you know you can get your grub on for a good cause. They have a super reputation in the city for stellar savory eats, and we can definitely see why.
Hing Ta has a very extensive menu full of authentic Asian cuisine. The lunch buffet is a popular pick in town, for a full feast of Chinese food flavors. As a coastal city, there’s plenty of fresh seafood around and they really take advantage of it.
They serve up some unique fusion fares to try, such as Honey Walnut Shrimp, along with all the usual culprits, like General Tso’s Chicken. The ambiance is casual and comfortable, furnished with traditional oriental design elements. The Chinese zodiac charts at the table are a fun extra touch. Don’t forget to grab a fortune cookie before you go.