Small town, big flavor.
By Hope S. Philbrick
Morganton, North Carolina, which is located between Asheville and Charlotte, is a small town in the mountains with an authentic (not touristy) vibe. Bursting with natural beauty, it is home to friendly folks, independent businesses, miles of trails and an amazing culinary scene for a town of its size.
Pack an appetite and your hiking gear and make haste to Morganton.
There are several quality restaurants in Morganton, but however long you stay be sure to include Treat and Wisteria into your itinerary. After all, a hearty hike warrants a tasty reward.
Treat Restaurant & Gift Shop
100 W. Union St.
Treat is a restaurant and a gift shop, an unusual combination lets you know right off the bat that some creative minds are at work in this place.
The menu offers Italian and Mediterranean food. One bite and you may start looking around wondering if you somehow turned a corner into Italy.
Fried calamari has delicate fried batter and is cooked to perfection so the seafood has a toothsome bite without getting rubbery. The savory gnocchi with wild boar sausage is comfort food with an upscale better-than-home cooking aura. Shrimp scampi is a lip-licking customer favorite that no garlic lover should skip. Rigatoni with vodka sauce is so good it’s hard to resist the urge to lick the plate clean. (UPDATE: A new chef has been hired since our January visit.)
Wisteria Southern Gastropub
108 E. Meeting St.
Impressed by a previous lunchtime visit to Wisteria, I didn’t hesitate about returning for Sunday brunch. It impressed anew.
This is a place that takes food seriously. As part of the welcome greeting, servers point out that everything is made in house. The restaurant’s approach and commitments are evident on its specials board and seasonal menu, which name local growers and purveyors, including nearby Fonta Flora.
Wisteria is a farm-to-table restaurant and as such the food menus change to reflect the season, as many locally-grown, sustainable and fresh ingredients are used as possible, and there’s a strong commitment to sustainable, humane and healthy fare.
The brunch menu finds international inspiration yet mixes in Southern traditions. The sangria boasts a splash of hibiscus, an unusual and yummy addition. The huevos rancheros incorporate healthy additions like local sweet potatoes into what’s arguably the world’s most beautiful presentation of that dish. The Wisteria breakfast of cheddar‐scrambled farm eggs, cheddar grits, bacon and buttermilk biscuit is hearty and a skillful elevation most grandmothers’ preparations of the traditional dishes.
Still hungry? There’s more worth biting into in Morganton.
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
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