If you’re looking to take your mom out for a Mother’s Day brunch around the Sandhills, you have plenty of options. You may find just what you’re looking for at two spots in Fayetteville that source ingredients from North Carolina producers. One is a proper brunch place in downtown while the other may inspire thoughts of “brunch is what you make it.” Let’s start there.
Katie Crenshaw who writes about food, recipes and travel on her website A Fork’s Tale listed Napkins restaurant as one of the best restaurants in Fayetteville. Rest assured that she’s a reliable source since she was born and raised in Fayetteville and has plenty of experience from her writing and her own cooking. (Btw, she’s also on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.)
Napkins owner Brian Graybill points out that the restaurant doesn’t have an official brunch, but it’s a laidback atmosphere that may be a nice alternative for you and your mom. Most of the food is something you can eat with your hands while standing up. Think burgers and wings, but there’s much more than that. Even the Brussel sprouts are a big hit.
Having “hands-on” food makes sense because Napkins is on the six-acre site of the Dirt Bag Ales Brewery and Taproom, just off I-95 outside Hope Mills. You order your food from a service window and then share seating with the taproom – inside or outside in the open air or under a pavilion. So you can easily grab a beer before or after you order food.
The brewery hosts a farmers market each Sunday from spring through November, so on Sundays the folks at Napkins shop for ingredients at the farm vendors. They come up with a couple of one-day menu items that feature whatever ingredients they find from those local producers.
“You literally have a market that shows up at your restaurant every week, so it would be silly not to take advantage of that,” Graybill said. “It gives the guys in the restaurant a chance to get creative, have some fun and do something a little out of the ordinary.”
Napkins regularly uses beef from several North Carolina farms with grass fed and grass finished cows. All the lettuces come from Pappy’s Urban Farm in Fayetteville. All the sauces are made from scratch in the restaurants. Graybill said he tries to buy ingredients, not pre-made food from big distributors.
“Not everything can be locally sourced, but we make a point to do as local as we can as often as we can. The product tastes better, and you know where you got it,” Graybill said. “I mean, if you can get behind a group of people, it’s people in ag. You have to eat three times a day.”
While the bar/brewery food served up at Napkins may not be a traditional brunch, Graybill said he’s planning to have the featured dishes on Mother’s Day geared a little toward brunch. It may depend on what’s available from the farm vendors. Once they shop the market, Napkins opens around noon to start taking orders.
[By the way, Graybill is opening a new restaurant in downtown Fayetteville soon. Watch for it on Hay Street and expect to find sandwiches that also feature locally-sourced ingredients, including beef, pork and poultry from North Carolina farms.]
In her list of best Fayetteville restaurants, Crenshaw also includes Circa 1800. It’s definitely a frontrunner for a Mother’s Day brunch.
The restaurant is in the heart of downtown Fayetteville on Person Street (just a few steps from the market house). It sources many things from North Carolina in its gourmet Southern dishes – everything from the meat and veggies to the alcohol and desserts.
“The menu is seasonal, but you can’t go wrong with the shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles or stuffed French toast,” Crenshaw said. “The dishes are large and beautifully plated. You will not leave hungry.”
Crenshaw also pointed out that the brunch drinks are a good call. There are “fantastic bubbly mimosas,” and options abound from the bar. Crenshaw called the Bloody Mary drinks the best in town.
“They are mixed with North Carolina’s Flying Pepper Tobago Pepper vodka, topped with loads of pickled veggies and finished with a flavorful spicy salted rim.
Circa 1800 serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, and since Mother’s Day weekend is also Kentucky Derby weekend, the restaurant posted this on Facebook and Instagram this week: “Let’s celebrate your mom derby style. Get her a fancy hat and bring her to Circa for brunch. We will have a derby themed menu and we are serving it Saturday from 10:00-2:00 and Sunday 10:00-2:30. We will not be taking reservations.”
So if you want, you could do a derby-styled Mother’s Day brunch a day early.