Hi all! I just got back from a trip to Wilmington, Raleigh, Charleston, and points in between, and since I had such good luck mining the SE archives for restaurant recommendations, I thought I'd tell you about our experiences :)
Wilmington, NC - We had a surprisingly good dinner at the Copper Penny - looks like an ordinary neighborhood bar, but the food is actually good. I had a seared tuna sandwich which was cooked perfectly. We also had a very good diner-style breakfast at the Dixie Cafe. I recommend the sweet potato pancakes.
Charleston, SC - We had a blast on the local pub tour, which hits a variety of bars, from simple neighborhood beer joints to classy upscale wine bars. We also had wonderful dinners at Home Team BBQ (over the river in West Ashley) and especially FIG (oh man, you have to go here, you will NOT regret it. Especially if you eat the tomato tarte tatin). Brunch at Three Little Birds was bland and a little disappointing.
Fayetteville, NC - Had a great quick lunch at Cape Fear Chicken & BBQ. Do not be put off by the fast food-y interior or the drive-through. The chicken is juicy without being greasy at all, and the sides were yummy. Cheap, too. A good stop if you're road-tripping along I-95.
Raleigh, NC - Fabulous dinner at The Pit BBQ - ribs, pulled pork, creamed corn, okra, and ESPECIALLY the hot biscuits and the terrific banana pudding. Make a reservation, it's very popular. We also had a great Southern breakfast at Finch's, complete with biscuits and sausage gravy. This place is cash-only, but it's dirt cheap.
All in all, the trip was a great way to introduce my Jersey-born boyfriend to the wonderful world of Southern cooking :)