9 Best Places to Eat When in Raleigh (2023)
You can’t overlook the food and restaurant games during travels, and when in Raleigh, not doing so is a SIN. Raleigh though isn’t on the top list of many North Carolina travelers but that doesn’t make it a lesser Food Mecca. The city of Raleigh boasts some world-class restaurants for Southern Diners and enthusiasts keener on the capital’s culinary game. The City of Oaks has uplifted its culinary scenes in recent years thanks to tasty endeavors from excellent chefs that have landed in this place.
When in Raleigh, you will find restaurants by cookbook authors, creative local chefs, and immigrants who decide to stretch their pants in the city. You will encounter some award-winning cuisine and majorly farm-to-table dishes with every single order. Not only is the food excellent, but an exciting dining experience in Raleigh’s neighborhood is truly delightful to catch. So, what are you waiting for?
9 Best Places to Eat When in Raleigh
Join us, and let’s find together the Most Popular Restaurants to try when in Raleigh. Have a look:
1. Angus Barn
Also known as a heaven for beef eaters, the Angus Barn is a must-checkout restaurant in Raleigh. Operating since 1960, it serves nearly 20,000 steaks every month which also (obviously) makes it a local’s favorite. Though it not only focuses on beef but also offers some amazing seafood and vegetarian options. It even undisputedly serves one of the largest wine selections in North Carolina. Some of the must-order from their menu include Hot Fudge Parfait, Root Beer Float, Filet, Marinated Shrimp, Prime Rib, King-Sized Beef Ribs, and Maine Lobster Tail. Angus Barn is nestled on Glenwood Avenue and is one prime choice for upscale dining. Its rustic setting with an extravagant, barn-like aesthetic will undoubtedly make your day.
Jolie is a lively and timeless French bistro located right next to its sister restaurant Crawford & Son in a small corner of downtown Raleigh. Individuals can find it easily while strolling through the N. Person St. neighborhood. The Restaurant is a culinary artwork of renowned chef Scott Crawford and also features some excellent pastry work of James Bear nominated Chef Krystle Swenson. Their menu consists of classic, time-honored French dishes along with some excellent modern adaptations. Choices like Butternut Squash Bisque, Mon Macarons, Crepe Cake, Escargot, and Roasted poussin are some of the top recommendations but the frequent visitors. Diners can either choose to eat in the indoor dining room or enjoy a date at the year-round 32-seat lush rooftop garden with scents of fresh lavender and rosemary and a magical, candlelit rooftop.
3. Seoul Garden
Another popular restaurant in Raleigh, the Seoul Garden, is a haven for Korean cuisine and barbecue lovers. Though their menu is extensive, regular visitors suggest some special dishes from the same. For instance, barbeque lovers can try Pork and beef bulgogi, galbi, and shrimp GUI. Whereas if you are looking for a more Korean special deal, go for their kimchi jjigae, bibimbap, and the variety of jungle. The latter is a huge meal and therefore meant for families and friends who dine together. Diners can also try a combination soon dubu (soft tofu soup with beef, baby clams, and shrimp), or for a simplified choice, go with lunch-only banchan boxes. Seoul Garden even has an option for cooking your meal just in case you want to go crazy in a restaurant.
4. Lee’s Kitchen
Offering the taste of Jamaica and Southern cuisine altogether, Lee’s Kitchen is one of the best places to eat when in Raleigh. The Restaurant is located on Raleigh Boulevard, and everything on its menu is hard to miss. Both Jamaican and Southern dishes are under one roof; Lee’s Kitchen serves specialties like curry goat, oxtail, jerk chicken, etc. For lunch, the Restaurant serves some lip-smacking racks of tasty baby back ribs. Not only are the flavors distinctive and delightful, but the portions too are very generous. Southern cuisine lovers can try their fried fish sandwich and smothered pork chops. Though if you have a low tolerance level for spices, be cautious while eating their Jamaican delicacies. The savory and hard-to-miss sauce might burn your mouth for longer.
5. Glenwood Grill
For contemporary Southern fare and the coastal Carolinas taste, there is no other better place than the Glenwood Grill. The Restaurant is located in Glenwood Village and is adorned by Chef John Wright. Operating for two decades now, the Restaurant serves mouthwatering Glenwood Burger, Crispy NC Catfish, Seafood Paella, and Crispy Duck Breast. However, according to locals and frequent eaters, do try their Poached Mussels and Lobster Mac & Cheese for a more flavorful experience. Every single meat you try here is crispy on the outside, whereas moist, tender and juicy on the inside. Complimenting the claim that honey-glazed pork belly is what you can’t get wrong. For pairing with food, Glenwood Grill also offers an assortment of wine and beer.
6. Second Empire Restaurant
For a AAA Four Diamond Award winner dining experience in Raleigh, visit the Second Empire Restaurant. Located in downtown Raleigh, the Second Empire restaurant is a part of the beautifully restored historic Dodd-Hinsdale House. The sophisticated ambiance home’s original exterior with the interior is definitely observation worthy. The chef here offers a seasonal menu and gourmet dishes made from fresh and majorly locally sourced ingredients. Most of the dishes here are drizzling in oil and flavors and are an absolute melt in the mouth. Though Second Empire Restaurant entertain walk-in guest with ease, but if you want to get yourself at the exclusive Chef’s Table, a reservation is a must. The experience will unfold by dining in the kitchen with chef Daniel Schurr, choosing from a customized menu, and enjoying things for some excellent wine choices.
Another excellent place to eat in downtown Raleigh is Sitti. This art deco bar and Restaurant take on authentic Lebanese staples connecting with the roots of Neomonde. However, Sitti’s menu is distinctive from Neomonde, but you may find some similarities. When here, do try their Chicken Shawarma and Fassoulia, a flavorsome Lebanese specialty. Sitti utilizes a lot of turmeric, garlic, ginger, spices, and sauces in their dishes which gives the food here quite a rich taste. Again, a dining experience here, and you are going to feel fuller for longer. Do try their Sitti Rice as an appetizer or side. For vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diners, the Restaurant serves quite a few dietary restriction choices as well. Sitti has a family-friendly atmosphere and warm vibe, which makes it an ideal place to bring kids as well.
8. Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery
Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery is located in the historic Five Points neighborhood and is a must-try eatery in Raleigh. Operating since the 1940s, this old-fashioned American chow offers snacks in diner-Esque digs and, of course, some excellent desserts. They have massive cakes on their menu, and therefore even a single slice is good enough for serves 2 to 3 people. When here, do try chicken pot pies, meatloaf, and the irresistible coconut cake. Another fine choice from their menu includes chicken parm, filet mignon, tuna casserole, and pies. If you are at Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery for dinner with more than four individuals, make sure you book well in advance.
9. The Mecca
One of the oldest restaurants in Raliegh, the Mecca, was founded back in 1930 by Greek immigrants. The Restaurant boasts a comfortably familiar menu and a classic décor. The black and white checkered floor, a long counter, heavy wooden booths, and red stools bring out the nostalgia. Locals often visit here for inexpensive traditional Southern favorites and especially the large servings. The Mecca serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and is a classic downtown hangout for someone who wants to relive the old Raliegh. Some of the must-try from their menu include a Chopped BBQ plate, Fried catfish with coleslaw, Greek Salad, a Garry Dorn burger, a Double-decker sandwich, and Fried Chicken. So even if you are casually passing by, do stop to catch up a snack at this quintessential Raleigh restaurant.