Great culinary experiences can elevate a meeting from mundane to memorable, and planners arranging events in the Carolinas have a wealth of culinary culture at their disposal.
Follow your nose and your taste buds to these delicious dining experiences in the Carolinas. The hearty, delicious and widely varying cuisines are great for small gatherings or large catered events and can teach you something about the local culture, too.
Each of these organizations has a physical restaurant and can also cater special events for meeting groups.
Manteo, North Carolina
In Manteo, North Carolina, Ortega’z offers a refreshing Southwestern surprise in the Carolinas. The grill and bar is owned by husband-and-wife-team Marcelo and Lisa Ortega, who have a combined business experience of 40 years.
“We felt like there was a need for something other than your boiled seafood platters,” Marcelo Ortega said. “We incorporate a variety of Latin elements into the food, but we don’t really stick to anything traditional.”
The restaurant uses fresh and local seafood from the Outer Banks, and Ortega said the seafood dishes are very successful. Favorite dishes include the fish tacos, the shrimp and chorizo pasta, and the soft-shell-crab quesadilla. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are also available. Visit the Wine Bar in the middle of the restaurant, where locals and visitors mingle.
The restaurant also offers catering for events and puts together menus that reflect what customers want.
“We don’t cookie cutter any events; we create each event uniquely,” Ortega said. “We’re at every event, and we don’t outsource chefs to do the work.”
Brushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery
Wilkesboro, North Carolina
Located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Brushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery features the best of North Carolina’s barbecue and has grabbed the attention of the Food Network show Barbecue With Bobby Flay. The family-owned business serves owner Jeff Swofford’s hickory-smoked pulled pork barbecue, as well as other smoked meats, a variety of sides and homemade ice cream.
“The barbecue is hickory smoked and hand pulled,” Daniel Harrison, the restaurant’s catering manager, said. “The pork is brought in fresh, about 1,000 pounds of pork a week.”
Harrison said the catering services can accommodate 50 to 1,500 people and include a wide range of dishes for both casual and formal events.
“We do everything from pulled pork barbecue to smoked ribs to sliced filet mignon to cranberry chili meatballs,” Harrison said.
The ice cream is also a favorite, with 80 flavors,17 ready for scooping at any time.
Drop into the restaurant and you’ll find what Harrison described as “a dedication to the heritage of Wilkesboro County” in the decor. Pictures of NASCAR, which originated in the area, and an original moonshine still can be seen. The county was also the home of Daniel Boone, and the restaurant sits next to the Daniel Boone Trail Marker.