Well, Look What Time It Is.

You’ve seen the Best of the Pines (and if you haven’t, you can here). Now, peep our annual picks for six categories that didn’t make the cut. As usual, you didn’t ask, but we delivered anyway.

1. Best Mystery 

Granny’s Donuts. Apparently, nothing stirs up Facebook like old fashioned deep-fried dough. Aside from regular online chatter inquiring about hours or how soon it sells out in the mornings, Granny’s extended summer vacation-turned-renovation had local donut enthusiasts raving all the deets. While we launched our case study, you all were right there with us — sending in tips, doing stake-outs and keeping up morale.

  • Honorable mention: Sweet Basil, which scared all of us in similar fashion before reopening earlier this month.

2. Best Spot to Avoid Your Spouse

Harris Teeter. Harris Teeter in Taylortown, and now the one in Aberdeen too, both have a Starbucks and a bar at your service — and live music on Thursday evenings. Add entertainment and alcohol to your chore list and easily kill three birds with one stone while turning an hour of grocery shopping into three. 

  • Honorable mention: Lowes Foods in Southern Pines, where you can find a Beer Den and cup holders on every cart. 

3. Best Cult Following

The Pik N Pig. We know we live in the Carolinas but you guys are so serious about your ‘cue that your favorite place didn’t even have to be open to win. If it wasn’t clear before that we’re beyond ready for Pik N Pig to reopen, it is now that the restaurant (and owner Ashley Sheppard, above) have once again taken home the first-place win for best barbecue in this year’s Best of the Pines contest. 

  • Honorable mention: First Friday in downtown Southern Pines. If the stage is full, you can bet the lawn — and the street and the sidewalks — will be, too.

4. Best Place to Over-Ask

Moore County. From Carthage to Aberdeen, Southern Pines to Pinehurst, Moore County is the best place to not find a place to live. The market is so competitive there’s simply nowhere to go. We started the year at the bottom with no inventory, and now we’re here, where you need at least $350,000 to get in anywhere. Even having stellar realtors in these parts can’t make up for the high prices and mass crowds encroaching on our small ~quaint~ community. 

  • Honorable mention: Airbnbs. Congratulations, your mortgage is paid for with five one-night stays. Way to market that investment. 

5. Best Place to Carry Your Own Bag

Any golf course. With social distancing making golf more popular than ever, the amount of people with the confidence to sink their bare feet into the green before each swing continues to grow. It’s been a big year for local courses, starting with the U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles. The naming of Pinehurst Resort as an anchor site for the U.S. Open, the new Golf Pride Retail Lab, the now under-construction Golf House Pinehurst and the return of the World Golf Hall of Fame are all new reasons we’re living in a golfer’s paradise. 

  • Honorable mention: The Moore County Airport. Because luggage handlers are cool, but so is having an entire small plane to yourself.

6. Best Spot to test Your Patience

The Traffic Circle. Because that sign is a yield, not a stop. If you’re so inclined, you can also get a good finger exercise.

  • Honorable mention: The school pickup line. 
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