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From the Civil War to civil rights, this eastern North Carolina town honours its past. An African-American music trail, a museum showcasing the Confederacy’s greatest ironclad vessel, and a vibrant arts community are sparking a renaissance in what was once the world’s largest tobacco market. All that, and memorable dining too.



Place:Kinston, North Carolina
Month: May
29°C, sunny and humid
Traveller: Peter Johansen

Chef & the Farmer
Dine With a Star

After Vivian Howard’s A Chef’s Life launched on PBS in 2013, she became a star, won awards (Emmy, James Beard), and drew crowds to her restaurant, Chef & The Farmer.  The locally provisioned menu is grounded in Southern tradition.  Blueberry barbecue chicken, perhaps?  If you can’t snag a table, try her latest venture, The Boiler Room, where bespoke burgers and regional oysters are the draw.

Lovick's Cafe

Local Heroes

Locals mingle over breakfast at 75-year-old Lovick’s Café.  Country ham, turkey sausage, and thick Applewood bacon are the stars.  At friendly Hawk’s Nest Cafe, perch at the historic lunch counter, where 1960s sit-ins occurred, for a burger topped with house-made pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes.  Follow it with their legendary cinnamon bun.  Chef Khymi Harrell uses sustainable seafood and produce from her own garden to create Asian-Southern fusion fare at Ginger 108.


Piggin’ Out

In eastern N.C., barbecue is a whole-hog affair; the sauce is made with vinegar, not ketchup.  Some 40,000 visitors squeal with delight each May at America’s biggest whole-hog cookoff, Festival on the Neuse, sampling the work of about 90 teams.  The rest of the year, head to cavernous King’s Restaurant.  Serving 8,000 pounds of pork a week, it’s a consistent top 10 winner.  Leave room for bourbon pecan pie.;

Farmers market

Shop Until You Drop

From baby chicks to cutting boards, the sky-high shelves at serpentine Parrott’s General Store are a step back in time.  Barbaros Kitchenware stocks everything from Catskill cutting boards to Robert Rothschild condiments.  The colourful county farmer’s market, open Tuesdays and Saturdays, is located along the scenic Neuse River.;;

Chef & the Farmer Cobia Crudo

Mother Earth Brewing

Southern Sips

In the industrial-chic tap room of Mother Earth Brewing, sample local brews; a few are crafted with local ingredients ranging from figs to tomatoes.  Jonesing for a java jolt instead?  Hit Middle Grounds Coffeehouse for frappés like Happy Camper, flavored with marshmallow, chocolate and shortbread.;

Parrott's General Store