Food and fat tires are kind of a theme for us, we seek out moderate trails that are close enough to a community so we can break off the path and check out the local cuisine.
I want to make it clear that Gaston County has many trails to explore, but I'm going to give you a couple from mild to wild that will provide you with a great ride and a great lunch.
On the top of the top list is Rocky Branch Mountain Bike Trail. A true advanced course that is only blocks from a restaurant scene that rivals big city destinations. With 4.3 miles of good flowing sections then you get hit in the face with tight technical terms and climbs and drops that will keep your cardio up. Two creeks, six bridges, and dense forest will make you feel like you are much further from downtown than five blocks. In addition to several excellent choices for food, you will find South Main cycles. A bike shop that also has a great craft beverage tap room.
McAdenville is home to the South Fork Trail and McAdenville Table & Market. A great relaxing ride, natural surface about 2 miles in and amazingly 2 miles out. You will ride through dense forest parallel to the Catawba River. The Catawba Indians used this trail back in the day before 29 inch tires. After you get back to the trailhead ride a bit further to downtown McAdenville. There you will find the McAdenville Table and Market. You can sit down to a great meal prepared with local ingredients or grab a sandwich from the deli and take it back to the river.
You can ride through downtown Gastonia on the Highland Rail Trail. If you are not familiar with the term rail trail, you can insert the word "flat." You'll ride through town then hook up with the 10 foot wide path for the next mile and a half. If you start at the north end of the trail when you get to the end of your first leg, you'll be a stones throw away from one of the hottest new restaurants in the region Webb Custom Kitchen. If you don't think you deserve such a treat, you have dozens of other choices. But since you are out exploring these boutique destinations in North Carolina, I think you deserve it.