Welcome to the Southeastern Dispatch

A Fresh Look at Food & Drink in the Carolinas

By Robert F. Moss

Welcome, everyone. I am very excited to be launching The Southeastern Dispatch to the world this morning. It’s a new publication devoted to chronicling food and drink in the Carolinas, and it’s the collaborative effort of many talented writers and photographers—and we’re just getting started.

You can read more about the Dispatch on our About page, but I thought I would open with a few words to explain why we decided to launch The Southeastern Dispatch in the first place.

The motivation is simple: we believe there are a lot of wonderful things going on in the food and beverage scene in the Carolinas these days, and we need more smart, in-depth writing about it.

Yes, our current digital age has brought more sources than ever before and an unprecedented flood of dining information—social media, “influencer” images and videos, Yelp reviews, paid promotional content of all kinds. Amid all that flash and energy, though, it is becoming increasingly rare to find writing that aspires to organize the information, identify patterns, and help us make sense of it all.

After the November 2020 retirement of Greg Cox, the long-time food critic at the Raleigh News & Observer, and the departure this summer of Hanna Raskin, the food editor and chief critic at the Charleston Post & Courier, no daily newspaper in the Carolinas has a regular restaurant critic currently on staff. Well-researched and reported features are increasingly giving way to thinly-rewritten press releases and superficial roundups of restaurants and dishes.

Top 10 lists and Instagram posts drive clicks, but when it comes to context, history, and interpretation, a, picture often isn’t worth even close to a thousand words.

It is admittedly a curious time to be launching a new food publication, for the dining world has changed. We originally thought our debut would occur at a moment when we could declare with relief that we had made it through to the other side and normality had returned. In just the last few months, though, things have veered back to murky uncertainty again.

But there’s still much to explore, celebrate, and ponder. Out of the gate, we’re taking a moment to step back and reassess where things stand here in the Carolinas, and there’s quite a lot to chew on.

Matthew Lardie checked in with restaurateurs in the Triangle to see how they’ve adapted their operations since the spring of 2020, where they stand today, and what they think the future holds. Here in Charleston, I took a deep dive into the current state of dining in the Holy City and looked back on the key restaurants that we’ve lost in the past two years. (Those pieces will be posting very soon.)

On the drinks front, Eric Doksa, one of our resident beer gurus (yes, we have several), takes a look at the current brewery scene in Carolinas. I spend a little time up in Raleigh and Durham checking out the new barbecue joints that have opened in the past year and mulling over what happened the once-pending Raleigh barbecue boom. We have several more assessments like these queued up to post in the next few days.

Looking ahead, there’s a wealth of great food to explore in the Carolinas today. Matt Lardie offers up his recommendations for discovering the rich and diverse array of Latin American dishes that are now available in the Triangle, while Eric Ginsberg tracks down a most remarkable cotton candy store in the new Boxyard RTP. And I went out and wrote a good old-fashioned restaurant review, visiting Zero Restaurant here in Charleston and sampling its playful, elaborate, and very satisfying tasting menu.

These are just the appetizers. We’ve got an exciting lineup of stories from more authors and more cities that we’ll be publishing in the next few weeks. So pull up a chair, unfold your napkin, and dig in.

About the Author

Robert F. Moss

Robert F. Moss is the Contributing Barbecue Editor for Southern Living magazine, Restaurant Critic for the Post & Courier, and the author of numerous books on Southern food and drink, including The Lost Southern Chefs, Barbecue: The History of an American Institution, Southern Spirits: 400 Years of Drinking in the American South, and Barbecue Lovers: The Carolinas. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.