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Interstate Eateries is published by Our State magazine.


I-40


Interstate 40

Leon's

City: 
Wilmington (Ogden)
Highway: 
I-40
Exit: 
420

Location

Leon's
7324 Market Street
Wilmington, NC
(910) 686-0228
See map: Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, MapQuest

One of my favorite home cooking places near Wilmington is just close enough to the end (or beginning) of I-40 to qualify as an “interstate eatery.” For many years, Leon Mavrolas and his family treated locals and visitors to delicious and plentiful breakfast, lunch, and supper for modest prices. My favorite was his creamy seafood chowder. I tried to persuade Leon to give or sell me the recipe. He politely refused. But he has turned it over to new owners, brothers Jimmy and Bobby Pennington, along with the all the other secret recipes and procedures that make Leon’s such a special place. Manager, Jason Slays, who has worked at Leon’s since he was 15 years old, is committed to continuing Leon’s traditions of delicious home style cooking.

Hrs: Mon.-Sat., 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sun., 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Directions: 

From I-40

Take Exit 420 Head east on Gordon Road. Go 2 miles to U.S. Hwy. 17. Turn L and go 1 mile. Leon’s is on the right just beyond the Ogden Village Shopping Center.

Paul’s Place

City: 
Rocky Point
Highway: 
I-40
Exit: 
408

Location

Paul’s Place
1725 U.S. Hwy. 117 South
Rocky Point , NC
(910) 675-2345
See map: Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, MapQuest

Paul’s Place is not exactly a home cooking restaurant, but the hot dogs are legendary. Go all the way with onions and slaw and his special sauce — a unique red relish that, third-generation owner David Paul says, is “a holdover from the World War II era when beef was rationed.” David’s grandfather started Paul’s in 1928. “Back then, they were open 24 hours a day. When my granddad died back in 1939, they had to nail the doors shut to close the place so they could go to the funeral. Before that, they never had any need for locks. It was always open.”

Hrs: Sun.-Thurs., 6 a.m.-10 p.m.;

Fri.-Sat., 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Directions: 

From I-40

Westbound: Take Exit 414. Head west on Holly Shelter Road toward Castle Hayne. Go 1 mile to U.S. Hwy. 117. Turn R, and go 3 miles.

Eastbound: Take Exit 408. Take Exit 408. Turn L on N.C. Hwy 210. Go .3 miles to U.S. Hwy. 117. Turn L and go 3.5 miles.

Paul’s Place

City: 
Rocky Point
Highway: 
I-40
Exit: 
408

Location

Paul’s Place
1725 U.S. Hwy. 117 South
Rocky Point , NC
(910) 675-2345
See map: Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, MapQuest

Paul’s Place is not exactly a home cooking restaurant, but the hot dogs are legendary. Go all the way with onions and slaw and his special sauce — a unique red relish that, third-generation owner David Paul says, is “a holdover from the World War II era when beef was rationed.” David’s grandfather started Paul’s in 1928. “Back then, they were open 24 hours a day. When my granddad died back in 1939, they had to nail the doors shut to close the place so they could go to the funeral. Before that, they never had any need for locks. It was always open.”

Hrs: Sun.-Thurs., 6 a.m.-10 p.m.;

Fri.-Sat., 6 a.m.-11 p.m.

Directions: 

From I-40

Westbound: Take Exit 414. Head west on Holly Shelter Road toward Castle Hayne. Go 1 mile to U.S. Hwy. 117. Turn R, and go 3 miles.

Eastbound: Take Exit 408. Take Exit 408. Turn L on N.C. Hwy 210. Go .3 miles to U.S. Hwy. 117. Turn L and go 3.5 miles.

The Country Kitchen Buffet

City: 
Wallace
Highway: 
I-40
Exit: 
385

Location

The Country Kitchen Buffet
607 N. Norwood St.
Wallace, NC
(910) 285-8125
See map: Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, MapQuest

Don’t stop at the Country Kitchen Buffet unless you are hungry enough to enjoy their full offering of southern style food all for a set price of about ten dollars, even less during the week. Fried chicken, seafood, lots of vegetables, and much more, all cooked the old-fashion way. Local people stop by just for “Miss Ruth’s” hand chopped barbecue and to enjoy the fellowship with Doug and Paulette Jones, who have owned Country Kitchen for more than 13 years.

Hrs: Tues.-Fri. 11a.m.-8 p.m.

Sat. 7 a.m.--8 p.m.

Sun. 11 a.m.--4 p.m.

Directions: 

From I-40

Take Exit 385 and follow N.C. Hwy. 41 for 3 miles into Wallace. Turn R onto North Norwood St. for .5 miles.

The Country Squire

City: 
Warsaw and Kenansville
Highway: 
I-40
Exit: 
364

Location

748 NC Highway 24 50
Warsaw, NC, 28398
(910) 296-1727
See map: Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, MapQuest

The Country Squire, between Warsaw and Kenansville Maybe the Country Squire is a little too “upscale” to fit in the “home cooking” category. But so what if it is a little fancy; it is still a gathering place for folks all over Duplin County. My friend Tom Kenan says he makes it a point to stop by for a meal whenever he visits Liberty Hall, the old Kenan family home place, now restored and open to visitors. Owner Iris Lennon, a native of Scotland, has given her restaurant, inn, and surroundings a festive European touch.

Hrs: Sun.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.- 2 p.m.; 5:30 p.m..-9:30 p.m. Sat., 5:30 p.m. –9:30 p.m.

Directions: 

From I-40

Take Exit 364 and follow N.C. Hwy. Business-24 through Warsaw. After 3 miles turn R on to N.C. Hwy. Business 24-50 for 4 miles. 748 N.C. Hwy Bus 24-50

Meadow Village Restaurant

City: 
Meadow
Highway: 
I-40
Highway: 
I-95
Exit: 
334

Location

Meadow Village Restaurant
7400 N.C. Hwy 50 S
Meadow, NC
(919) 894-5430
See map: Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, MapQuest

Betty Womble from Sanford tells me that busloads of folks ride over from Sanford to see the famous Christmas lights in Meadow and then stay to eat at Meadow Village. She raves about the seafood and the homemade desserts. “The chocolate pie is to die for; it’s delicious. And there is a really nice salad bar.” Village Meadow’s owners, Julia Raynor and her son Timmy are proud of their low prices—a little over six dollars for the lunch buffet and about ten dollars for the huge spreads in the evening and on Sunday at noontime.

Hrs: Sun., Tues., Wed., 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Thurs.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

(Closed Mon.)

Directions: 

From I-40

Take Exit 334 and follow N.C. Hwy. 96 towards Meadow for .7 miles. Turn L on to N.C. Hwy. 50 and go about 100 yards.

Stephenson’s

City: 
Willow Springs
Highway: 
I-40
Exit: 
319

Location

Stephenson’s
12020 N.C. Hwy. 50 North
Willow Springs, NC
(919) 894-4530
See map: Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, MapQuest

This is a favorite eating-place for popular mystery writer Margaret Maron, who lives nearby and is a distant cousin of the late Paul Stephenson, who started the restaurant. It is now managed by his son, Andy. Even if you don’t see Margaret Maron when you visit, you will surely see some of the models for the characters in her books among the diverse people who frequent the restaurant. When you’re eating your chicken and barbecue and slaw, don’t forget to leave room for the banana pudding. Stephenson’s is probably the only barbecue restaurant in the country that has a commercial nursery next door. Paul’s brother and renowned poet Shelby Stephenson says Paul started “messing around” with plants not long after opening the restaurant and pretty soon was selling plants. The business grew and grew. Today the nursery business is strictly wholesale, but that won’t keep you from checking it out after your meal.

Directions: 

From I-40

Take Exit 319. Head west on N.C. Hwy. 210 about .5 miles. At the intersection with N.C. Hwy. 50, turn R, and go 1 mile.

Farmers Market Restaurant

City: 
Raleigh
Highway: 
I-40
Exit: 
297

Location

Farmers Market Restaurant
1240 Farmers Market Dr.
Raleigh , NC
(919) 755-1550
See map: Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, MapQuest

Although Gypsy Gilliam and her son Tony have added some modern features to this historic gathering place, the key to the good eating at the Farmers Market Restaurant is still the incredible source of fresh vegetables from the state Farmers Market, where food growers from all over the region bring their best produce. But there’s more to it. These folks also know how to cook it right. Squash, greens, collards, beans, corn. And don’t forget the biscuits or corn bread, iced tea, and friendly service.

Hrs: Mon.-Sat., 6 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Directions: 

From I-40 (and I-440)

Take Exit 297 (Lake Wheeler Road/Dorothea Dix/Farmers Market exit). Head north for .25 miles, following the signs to the Farmers Market. The restaurant is the building with the big dome.

Farmers Market Restaurant

City: 
Raleigh
Highway: 
I-40
Exit: 
297

Location

Farmers Market Restaurant
1240 Farmers Market Dr.
Raleigh , NC
(919) 755-1550
See map: Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, MapQuest

Although Gypsy Gilliam and her son Tony have added some modern features to this historic gathering place, the key to the good eating at the Farmers Market Restaurant is still the incredible source of fresh vegetables from the state Farmers Market, where food growers from all over the region bring their best produce. But there’s more to it. These folks also know how to cook it right. Squash, greens, collards, beans, corn. And don’t forget the biscuits or corn bread, iced tea, and friendly service.

Hrs: Mon.-Sat., 6 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Directions: 

From I-40 (and I-440)

Take Exit 297 (Lake Wheeler Road/Dorothea Dix/Farmers Market exit). Head north for .25 miles, following the signs to the Farmers Market. The restaurant is the building with the big dome.

Pam's Farmhouse Restaurant

City: 
Raleigh
Highway: 
I-40
Exit: 
293

Nancy Olson, the world-famous bookseller at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, told me about Pam’s. “It’s one of the best country cooking places, ever,” she said. “ It’s got the best red-eye gravy in the area, and there are always interesting people there.” When we finally met there for lunch one day, I found out what she was talking about. The southern style vegetables (collards, okra, and corn) that were offered with my fried chicken were perfectly “home cooked.” I loved the banana pudding and wished that I had had a little more room.
“Pam Medlin has been in the business since she started busing tables at a restaurant our family owned in Henderson,” says Pam’s mother, Peggy Robinson. That family tradition continues at Pam’s. Her brother, Clay Wade, is a cook and her sister, Tammy Edgerton, is a waitress. Some of the regular customers, who eat breakfast and lunch there every day, are like family, too.
5111 Western Blvd
919-859-9990
Hrs: Mon-Fri. 6 a.m. –2 p.m.
Sat. 6 a.m. –Noon

Directions: 

From I-40

 Eastbound (from Chapel Hill-Durham). Take Exit 289 (Wade Avenue). Follow Wade Ave for 3 miles. Turn R on to I-440, US. 1-South. Go 3 miles and take Exit 2B. See below for directions from Exit 2B.

Westbound (from Wilmington). Take Exit 293 on to I-440, US. 1-North . Go 2 miles and take Exit 2B. See below for directions from Exit 2B.

From Exit 2B of I-440: At end of ramp turn L on Western Boulevard. Go .5 miles. Pam’s will be on the L, but the divide prevents a left turn. Go .2 miles further, make a U-turn at the traffic light at Heather Dr. to reverse course, and come back to Pam’s.

Interstate Eateries is published by Our State magazine.

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