Wilson is known for sculptures made from road signs and washing machine parts that come to life with the slightest breeze. It’s a city built on imagination. And, it’s food and drink selections are just as inventive. Here are our picks of a few spots that offer a signature taste of Wilson.
LOCATION: Treat Yo’ Self
WHY GO: Experience mouthwatering treats by two Chicago transplants that have transformed their corner of Historic Downtown Wilson.
Treat Yo’ Self has been voted Wilson’s Favorite Bakery and Best in Customer Service for the past three years. This confectioner’s dream opened in Wilson in December 2019. The dynamic duo behind the venture is baker Greg Mason and his partner Alex Smolen. Make sure to pop under those pink awnings and try the giant, gooey cinnamon roll, the shop’s most popular item. Cupcakes more your speed? Try one of their creative cupcake concoctions like a margarita, strawberry pop tart, or a chocolate cupcake teamed with Cocoa Puffs.
CLOSE BY: Whirligig Park & Museum
LOCATION: The Beefmastor Inn
WHY GO: Local staple with fresh steak and a one-of-a-kind tailgating experience.
Beefmastor is a small, ten-table restaurant that has attracted local and national attention. It doesn’t offer combo meals. You won’t find seasonal specials or a catch of the day. In fact, this little restaurant in Wilson is known for not really having a menu at all. They serve ribeye steak, a baked potato, some Texas Toast, and your option of a salad bar. That’s it.
The owners of the Beefmastor Inn wanted to keep things simple and concentrate on doing one thing well. Judging by the size of the crowds tailgating in the parking lot, it seems to be working out for them. This community spot is not just about the food, but it’s about the experience of bringing a cooler filled with beverages, congregating together with friends and family in the parking lot, and waiting for a good meal while having a good time.
If you passed by this restaurant on a weekly basis, you’d find the same groups of people outside waiting for their table. The Beefmastor Inn is truly a staple in these parts whose vision for good food has cemented them as a must-eat spot.
CLOSE BY: Lake Wilson Disc Golf
LOCATION: Wilson Doughnut Shop
WHY GO: Community favorite that is known for its donuts and family recipes.
They say you can’t buy happiness. But you can buy donuts and that’s kind of the same thing. That’s why we recommend you stop by the Wilson Donut Shop. This place has been a fixture in Wilson since God was a boy.
Folks flock to this shop from surrounding counties. Walk down the street or pop into the office carrying a little white box and you’re suddenly everyone’s best friend. Each morning the donuts are lovingly prepared from a family recipe. The batter is subtly sweet, and the texture is more cake-like than others. If you are a donut connoisseur, this is heaven. They have all the flavors you’d expect. Grab some chocolate Iced. Load up on some cream-filled donuts. Fill up on some donut holes, and let this community staple become a fixture in your own life.
CLOSE BY: Wilson Rose Garden
LOCATION: Parker’s Barbecue
WHY GO: A family legacy that has transformed into one of the top barbecue spots in North Carolina.
This barbecue spot is more a legacy around these parts than just a restaurant. When Ralph and Graham Parker, alongside their partner Henry Brewer opened Parker’s Barbecue in Wilson, NC in August 1946, a door connecting two buildings, provided access to two very different dining experiences. To the left, there were oysters, which you could pair with whatever liquor you packed; to the right, barbecue and sweet tea. Today only the Barbecue remains.
Each week, Parker’s smokes about 150 whole hogs — which are chopped and seasoned with a vinegar-and-red-pepper sauce — and fries about 8,000 chickens for 20,000 customers. The staff still wears 1950s-style paper hats and the only changes to the menu in the past 70 years were the additions of hush puppies, fish, and string beans.
This is authentic Southern cooking at its finest and according to customers who have been regulars since they were children, “it’s as good now as it was 30 years ago!” Without a doubt, Parkers is the best BBQ I’ve ever tasted so chances are, it’ll still be this good for years to come.
We suggest you head over early to grab a space in line. You may also want to grab a fist full of napkins. If you’re not getting messy eating this barbecue, you’re not doing it right.
CLOSE BY: Boone’s Antiques
LOCATION: Casita Brewing Company
WHY GO: A collaborative brewery that makes home-grown craft beer with creative flavor combinations.
What if beer could taste like your favorite food? Well at Casita brewing it can. To tell the truth, there isn’t a flavor combination that is off-limits. Care to try a lime, oyster, and marshmallow stout? No problem. How about sampling a beer that tastes like raspberry cake? Sure thing.
Owners, Ryan Witter-Merighew and his wife, Mahalia, spent the last decade working for and collaborating with breweries all over the world. And now, lucky for us, they call Wilson home. The couple’s craft brewing skills and creativity are on full display daily with interesting creations, some of which are aged in bourbon barrels for an even more distinct flavor. Located downtown, you’ll find old favorites like IPAs, Ambers, and Stouts on the menu as well as some rotating, new concoctions you’ve never dreamed of. Casita is also socially conscious and donates 25% of all tips to a different charity each month. Great beer that supports great causes. Win. Win.
CLOSE BY: World’s (almost) largest paint-by-numbers mural