A “locals” guide to the best restaurants in New Bern
If you’re planning a visit to historic New Bern, NC and want to know where the locals go for the best food in town, look no further. There are numerous locally owned restaurants in the area to satisfy whatever you crave – from Down East BBQ, to authentic Indian cuisine and everything in between. Below are some of our favorites, but these are just for starters. We invite you to explore all the great restaurants New Bern has to offer.
Located on the confluence of the Trent and Neuse Rivers, this 300-year-old town draws much of its culinary influence from its rich coastal heritage. Many of the tastes you will encounter derive from a simple “Down East” style of southern cooking that incorporates a variety of ingredients found in the local area.
If you’re looking for the “go to” restaurants that make up the Downtown food scene there are three that you need to consider. The Chelsea is a charming restaurant that offers food enthusiasts “New American Cuisine” that includes French, German, Italian, Asian, Cajun and American entrees. The restaurant also serves several traditional Southern dishes, like shrimp and grits that have become local favorites. 247 Craven is a quaint restaurant that creates recipes from ingredients that are fresh, local and seasonal, so the menu is ever changing. The food is vibrant and exciting and something you won’t soon forget. Make sure to try one of their amazing fish dishes offered year ‘round. Morgan’s is an all-around local favorite. The restaurant has an open floorplan with exposed wooden beams, original brick walls and a relaxing atmosphere. Morgan’s offers an eclectic menu that consists of food prepared with quality ingredients and offers something for everyone. We suggest that you try one of their seven specialty hamburgers made with 100 percent angus beef.
Off the beaten path
If you’re one to venture out, there are two restaurants that fit the bill. If you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican El Taco Loco is it. This little restaurant is a short drive outside the downtown area and it’s the type of place that flies under the radar. El Taco Loco is one of New Bern’s best kept secrets and boasts some of the biggest and best burritos you’ll ever encounter. If you’re looking for the complete opposite of Southern cuisine, the Bay Leaf restaurant is the place to go. Bay Leaf offers traditional Indian cuisine that is second to none. We recommend that you try it at lunch and take advantage of their extensive buffet menu that includes a variety of savory dishes including chicken tandoori and vegetable pakoras. You won’t be disappointed.
Waterfront dining and seafood
One of the biggest draws to our town is the waterfront and there are a few restaurants that take advantage of the scenery and the seafood that is found there. Persimmons restaurant is located on the Historic Downtown waterfront overlooking the Neuse River. The restaurant is elegant, yet casual with a modern feel and beautiful décor. Persimmons also has a large deck with outdoor seating, for those who are looking for an unobstructed waterfront view. The food you will find there derives from a farm to table approach, with a unique mix of interesting dishes like roasted squash bisque and slow braised lamb shoulder. MJ’s Raw Bar and Grille is another local favorite. The restaurant is central to the downtown area and offers guests great seafood in a t-shirt and blue jeans type of atmosphere. The seafood is local and if you have a hankering for oysters of any style, this is your place.
Down home cooking
When you think of the traditional foods found in Eastern NC, you think about hush puppies, collard greens and scratch biscuits and there are a couple of places that really fit the bill. Moore’s BBQ has been around for decades and is steeped in tradition. The restaurant offers Down East style, vinegar based BBQ, slaw, hush puppies and an assortment of country cooking favorites that will tame any appetite. Moore’s BBQ also made it into the Guinness Book Of World Records for creating the largest BBQ sandwich in the year 2010. If you’re a big breakfast fan, Baker’s Kitchen is the only place to go. This restaurant is known for all the traditional breakfast fare, but includes local favorites like chicken and waffles and made to order omelets. The servings are big so bring your appetite.