Blog » Destination: Saxapahaw
I was born and raised in North Carolina. In Charlotte, to be exact. I was reared on Krispy Kreme, on Cheerwine and Lance Crackers. I liked — and still do like — calling North Carolina home. If you had asked me just a few months ago where to go to get the freshest, most local foods prepared creatively and with integrity, I might've named a few places in Raleigh and Durham. There is a lot of great food happening in the state, but it usually happens in urban centers.
Now it's time to meet the exception: Saxapahaw or "Saxy" as some of the residents refer to it, is just wee blip on the map in a bend of the Haw River. Like so many other mill towns in North Carolina, the town was decimated when the mill closed up shop in 1994. The town languished, and I assume the residents drove to Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Mebane, Durham or Burlington to go shopping, not to mention to work. Visit Saxapahaw now, and you'll find a vibrant community that revolves around the once-shuttered mill. Go to the Saxapahaw General Store to buy toothpaste, and you'll find Tom's of Maine. Go for pet food, and the brands are organic. Need canned tomatoes? Sure, find Muir Glen Organics right next to the anchovy paste and coconut oil. Are you kidding me?
And the surprises keep coming. Where most general stores might sell you bright red hotdogs at two for a buck, SaxGenStore keeps the focus on fresh, local, organic ingredients with offerings such as duck salad, not only with local duck but local goat cheese, red onions and greens as well. Want a burger? They can hook you up, but expect local beef, house-made barbecue sauce and local mixed greens all on a house-made English muffin. The store is so committed to providing and promoting local goods and services that they color-code their produce and list all the products they use or sell from both North Carolina in general and Alamance County in particular right on the back of their menu.
Once you've dined in real style at the general store, take a walk down past the amphitheater and to the River Walk — a 2/3-mile trail that meanders along the edge of the Haw River.
And do not miss going to The Eddy Pub, a sister restaurant to the general store that offers every bit as much local, organic, happy food as the store, but in a cozier atmosphere. And with nothing but local beers on tap, the folks at The Eddy reinforce the theme of promoting and celebrating the craft beer scene in our state. We enjoyed a local cheese plate complete with house-made baguette, quince paste and marcona almonds and washed it all down with a tasting flight of five local beers.
During the growing season, definitely come on a Saturday for the Saxapahaw Rivermill Farmers' Market & Music Series. Shop the market for more local bounty and then return to the Haw River Ballroom for live music under the wide open Carolina skies.
If You're Going: