People frequently ask me about my favorite restaurant — a question I hate, because it’s pretty impossible to compare or choose — but a better question is probably, “Where do you go most often?”
We all settle into our own routines, even the few of us who are being paid to go out and explore new restaurants. But these dishes and venues are arguably more telling about my opinions of where you should go in Greensboro than some sort of ham-fisted best-of ranking. (Yes, they’re overwhelmingly in the center of the city near downtown, where I live. That’s how this works.)
- The Cuban shrimp burrito @ Bandito Bodega
When the cashier at Bandito answered the phone with, “What’s up, Eric?” I knew I’d officially qualified as a regular. I love everything I’ve ever eaten here, from the steak cold noodles to the Asian-style tacos, but the Cuban shrimp burrito has become my go-to order, usually called in right around the time this pocket restaurant opens.
- The hot & cold bars @ Deep Roots Market
Since they’re priced the same, feel free to mix and match items on the hot and cold bars at Deep Roots. Find me throwing a cut of salmon onto a veggie-loaded salad, stocking up on a side of fresh fruit or scooping anything from Brussels sprouts to noodles into my container. With ample parking, it’s one of the fastest lunch options around downtown. (And it’s way less pretentious than Whole Foods.)
- The noodle bowl @ Noma
Another place where you can’t go wrong, I’ve gravitated towards the vegetable-laden noodle bowl (though I switch up the meat) at this fast-casual spot with two locations. On my last visit I ordered pho with steak, and I’m a big fan of the red curry with chicken, too. Vegetarian and vegan options abound here. (If I lived closer to Pho Hien Vuong, Binh Minh and Rearn Thai, one of them would likely be listed here.)
- Thai green curry @ Crafted: Street Food
I stand by the hot chicken sandwich, banh mi burger and mac & cheese in particular at Crafted: The Art of Street Food, but holy hell the green curry is amazing. I can’t go to Street Food without ordering the coconut curry dish (with chicken or shrimp), and I love eating leftovers of the massive portion the next day. Hopefully some day Crafted brings back it’s bao, too.
- Bibimbap @ Don
There was a period where I ate at this Tate Street restaurant almost once a week, alternating between the bulgogi don, bibimbap and the shoyu ramen. Even though I’ve fallen off a little, the flavors and heat of the bibimbap make it a longstanding favorite that deserves to be in the Top 5. Nowhere else in town makes this dish as well.
- Shrimp & grits @ M’Coul’s
You’ll notice that a characteristic of most places listed here is that I’ll stand behind the food in general; such restaurants allow me to return often without getting sick of something specific, and experiment recklessly with my order. That’s how I landed on the shrimp & grits at M’Coul’s, where I used to reliably order the Giant’s Causeway or eggs Benny for brunch.
- Choripollo burrito @ Blue Agave
Yes, I love burritos. So maybe it isn’t surprising that I’m willing to drive way down Battleground Avenue for the chorizo and chicken burrito at Blue Agave, a Mexican restaurant that also serves delicious and gigantic drinks on the cheap. It’s worth it for the accompanying sauce alone. (Villa del Mar’s chicken burrito was my favorite —RIP — but Blue Agave is arguably a nicer experience.)
- Twisted Chicken Salad @ Fishbones
If you fry chicken, dunk it in some amazing sauce and throw it into a complex salad, I can eat something that’s primarily green but still walk away incredibly satisfied. Fishbones does it better than anyone else in town, but shout-out to the fried oyster and bleu cheese salad across the street at Lindley Park Filling Station (and the lemon-garlic shrimp salad at Green Valley Grill).
- Livorno pizza @ Cugino Forno
When you write lists like this and start to get towards the end you think things like, Am I being dishonest if I don’t include Bojangles? I go to Jack’s Corner a decent amount, should it be on here? The key is to go with your gut, and try to be as honest as you can. This slot is actually a tossup with Sticks & Stones, where I go often despite its popularity because it’s just that good. But let’s give the less obvious newcomer a spot, because my girlfriend and I spin out to Revolution Mill frequently for this quick and satisfying pizza. She prefers the pepperoni, me the sausage — generally we compromise. I’m convinced this place just keeps getting better, and they just added a bunch of gelato.
- General Tso’s chicken @ Golden Wok
Admittedly, I almost never go here because it’s clear across town, at the corner of Bridford Parkway and West Wendover Avenue. But if you want greasy Chinese takeout, there’s no better option. Expect to wait on evening nights, even when ordering takeout. While I go for the General Tso’s, you’re safe betting on most anything. (If you want a different Chinese food experience altogether, go to Captain Chen’s Sichuan restaurant or over to Winston-Salem’s May Way Dumplings.)