EDITOR’S NOTE: Every state has its own unique culinary signature, and, like handwriting, some signatures are ugly scrawls and some are absolutely beautiful calligraphic masterpieces. North Carolina is one of the latter. Between the state’s farms and seashores, there’s a ton of really excellent North Carolinian food that ends up being shipped around the world. But food is always best when it’s enjoyed locally.

Chef Clark Barlowe of Heirloom in Charlotte uses that diverse selection of local foods to his advantage: He changes up his menu almost constantly based on what he’s getting from his local farmers, which put Heirloom onto Open Table’s “Top 100 Restaurants for Foodies” List. Meanwhile, over in Durham, Bull City Burger and Brewery is creating a new type of beer called a “Durhamer,” in an attempt to make a distinctive regional beer much as German towns did centuries ago. And in Lenoir, the Atlantic Caviar & Sturgeon Company is setting a new global standard for the world’s fanciest food.

It’s just not that often you get a state with this excellent of a flavor profile.