Will it be a hot date or girls’ night out?
You love your kids, but you also need to get out, cut loose and just be you. And, though many storefronts button-up at dinner time, there are still plenty of local favorites for a great dinner and then some. So what will it be…
Out to Lunch…If you happen to have an afternoon free, most restaurants in the area have fabulous lunch menus. It’s a great way to try out a new place without forking out the dinner menu prices. Some eateries, including Sweet Basil and Lula’s Cafe in Southern Pines, are open only for lunch but are well worth the wait if you are dining sans kiddos.
This bistro is one of the most highly regarded establishments in the area. Chef Warren’s menu reflects the world travels of the husband and wife team, who ditched their careers to roam the world together and ended up here. An open kitchen gives you a peek at Chef Warren working his magic to create unique and delectable international fusion dishes.
Hidden off the beaten path and known mostly through word of mouth, The “195”
offers fine dining and an extensive wine list with an urban ambiance amidst its more historical surroundings.
Ashten’s Restaurant and Pub
“Global cuisine from a southern perspective” is how they serve it here. A long-standing local favorite run by two sisters, Ashten’s uses local produce and poultry in its dishes and designs its cuisine around these regional flavors. (Care to try the pinecone-
smoked salmon, for example?) You can grab a burger or appetizer upstairs, or head downstairs for a more sophisticated dining experience.
Elliott’s on Linden
Off the beaten path, Chef Mark Elliott offers “eclectic cuisine, European training and southern hospitality” to every one of this guests. After an impeccable meal, head to the wine bar in back. If it’s early enough, stroll over to the Hollyhocks Gallery to enjoy
works by local artists. The Greenway Trail system on Linden Road terminates directly in front of Elliott’s, so you could even take a nice evening stroll between dinner and dessert. Elliott’s also specializes in wine tastings, specialty dinners, workshops, cooking schools–and even cooking camps for the kids.
If you’re up for some casual fun and traditional Irish pub food, head to Dugan’s in the Village. Afterward, head downstairs for karaoke night (usually Wednesdays or Thursdays) or live music on the weekends. You’re likely to run into someone you know–although you might not be able to hear a word they’re saying!
Nestled in the Village next to Dugan’s, Ten-ya offers melt-in-your-mouth Japanese cuisine and sushi. After dinner, enjoy a drink at the bar or head to the Pinecrest Inn across the street. The Inn’s piano bar has been a favorite of locals and golfers for eons. Sit on the back porch and rock the night away in one of their homey rocking chairs. Another good bet is Hacker’s, a sports bar at the Manor Inn; the bartender will usually stay open as long as customers keep buying. They even have a large outdoor patio for warm weather chillin’.
Want a great steak? Locals say Ironwood Café is the place to be. Corn-fed beef is aged at least six weeks for tenderness, hand cut to your liking on site and cooked by an experienced chef. Any of their other dishes (from potato-crusted sea bass to pizza and sandwiches) are a good bet too. If Mother Nature is in a fine mood, dine on the patio under a grand southern magnolia by the courtyard fountain. If you can manage to get a sitter in early, have a snack at home, then stop in at the adjacent Midland Crafters or Art at the Marketplace before settling in for your evening meal. (And remember, if you happen to be out with the kids, Ironwood also offers a five-item kids’ menu.)