Fair prices and unique daily specials are one of the many reasons MJ's Raw Bar & Grille attracts New Bern locals for both lunch and dinner. Shrimp, oysters, clams, crawfish, scallops and mussels invite gourmet diners to the raw bar while blackened Angus, Mellow Mushroom burgers and Buffalo fried chicken sandwiches...more about MJ's Raw Bar & Grille
The wide variety of restaurants and dining experiences in New Bern, NC offer a true complement to its rich history and riverfront atmosphere. Rooted in Southern home cooking and seafood dishes, many of New Bern's downtown restaurants and wine bars offer fresh, local seafood options that can range from clam chowder and grilled shrimp to grilled tuna caught that very day.
Historic downtown, primarily down Craven and Middle Streets, only offers restaurants that are managed by single families or chefs, as there are no chain restaurants to be found. Fortunately that leaves plenty of room for eclectic dining spots with raw bars, candlelit dinners and rooftop cocktails.
Many of New Bern’s downtown restaurant spots have joined the growing trend of cooking with natural and locally grown food whenever possible. Surrounded by Eastern North Carolina’s numerous family farms, it’s not uncommon for restaurants to have a daily special that directly reflects what’s in season for the region. This bond can also be seen at the New Bern Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, where chefs show up early to shop and choose their dinner specials for later that night.
This love for local and fresh food can also be seen for seafood and shellfish, such as oysters in the winter and a larger selection of meat fish in the spring and summer months.
Pricing at these restaurants can reflect the added effort it takes to provide carefully crafted meals from local farmers. While a fresh shrimp burger for lunch can run as low as $7, dinners with all local dairy, meat and vegetables can climb up to $38 a plate.
And just as restaurants try to maintain a unique and stylized menu, their atmosphere can be just as eclectic. Whether you’re looking for waterfront dining that borders on “gathering style seating,” or second-floor dining by the window that gives a broader view of downtown, restaurant owners are well aware that atmosphere is just as important to your dining experience as the food itself. These smaller restaurants, often tucked into a historic building, are not only intimate, they are limited in seating capacity. And once word gets out about a popular new dish, you’ll find it more and more difficult to find a table without calling ahead first to make a reservation.
The most important meal of the day, of course, is breakfast. Find the traditional and guilty pleasure of traditional breakfasts, complete with bacon, eggs and buttery, buttery biscuits, or search a little harder and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find fruity flapjacks, fluffy omelets and mimosas.
Moving farther out of downtown, across the bridge and into mid-town, you'll find a wider choice of ethnic restaurants and familiar franchise names like Applebee's, Outback, Subway, IHOP, a Ruby Tuesday’s across the bridge in James City and talks of a Cracker Barrel on the way. Of course, New Bern is big enough to offer a wide list of fast food options as well, including Chik-fil-A, Taco Bell and Wendy’s.
Whether you're looking for a hearty deli sandwich, a Chinese buffet or a juicy steak, you're sure to find a menu in New Bern that caters to your taste buds.