The City of Oaks is rebranding and ramping up its reputation as a destination for delicious dishes. As the state’s capital, the area’s culinary culture has grown to include a whole host of exciting hotspots for dining and imbibing.
You will find fares from all over the world, as well as Carolina comfort food classics with a twist. From down-home diners to Asian fusion foods to savory bites from Central America, Raleigh has the recipe for success in the happening cuisine scene.
Here are the favorite Raleigh restaurants for mouthwatering and mind-blowing flavors in every mouthful.
Best Restaurants In Raleigh
Located in the hip Warehouse District, Heirloom seamlessly blends the best of the South—as in Southern America and Southeast Asia. Serving up coffee, tea, and sake on the beverage front, find your perfect pair for the plates of Laotian, Taiwanese, and Japanese fare.
The Taiwanese Fried Chicken Sando is a revelation of flavors, and the Lao Sausage Biscuit will change everything you thought you knew about down-home Southern-style cooking.
The owners are both second-generation Americans with Laotian and Tawinese roots, aiming to bring this new and exciting cultural craft to the culinary scene of Raleigh. Pop in for a Matcha Latte or Mochi Donut. Either way, the tranquil space will envelop you with its adorably serene decor. Best of all, prices are pretty affordable, and they offer take-away!
The Fiction Kitchen
The claim to fame at Fiction Kitchen is it’s a one hundred percent vegetarian space. The masters of meat-free meals, every dish is thoughtfully prepared—a haven for vegetarians and vegans in Raleigh with a menu that could tempt any diet.
The menu is globally inspired, bringing all kinds of fare together under the umbrella of fresh, healthy, and locally sourced foods. You won’t miss this outpost downtown, with its brightly colored facade that matches the funky interior and fun offerings.
Every bite is farm to fork, ensuring a way to nourish your body and your soul. Try out N.C. Peanut Noodle Bowl or Crispy Fried “Chicken” and Waffles and see for yourself what all the fuss is about.
Poole’s is a staple for restaurants in Raleigh, with local culinary champion Ashley Christensen at the helm. It was the first establishment of the area and remained a legend of tasty treats among locals.
The restored space used to be a historic hotspot called Poole’s Pies, which served the community in 1945. The bones of the space remain the same, honoring its diner roots and adding a retro-chic atmosphere.
Creating reinspired comfort foods, Poole’s evokes the feeling of a cozy, warm home you never want to leave. The menu is seasonal, so it’s always using the best, fresh ingredients from local growers. The large chalkboard menu is also constantly being updated, even within the course of a day. The Macaroni Au Gratin has received rave reviews from all who have tasted it.
Jose and Sons
A reflection of the family’s Mexican roots and an honor to their father, Jose, who filled their home with love and fabulous foods, Jose and Sons serves this community with the same spirit. Putting a classic Southern twist on traditional Mexican fare, this is certainly a fusion where everyone wins. The space is vibrant and kitschy, creating an environment just as lively as the flavors.
Let down your hair, and test out the Tequila tower at the center of the space. The Brisket Barbacoa and Tot-chos are standouts among a slew of sensational selections. The menu is extensive, so every patron is sure to find something to please their pallet.
Crawford and Son
This casual eatery at the heart of historic Raleigh makes straightforward food using both traditional and modern techniques. The flavors are full, the textures are balanced, the ingredients intentional, and the dishes divine.
The foods feel refined and fresh, with starters such as Ricotta-Egg Yolk Raviolo and Crispy Quail. The mains are masterful, especially the Roasted Pork Chop. It’s perfect for an elegant evening out that feels easy.
The craft cocktails menu is serendipitously in sync with the rest of the carefully curated offerings. Save room for an innovative sweet treat at the end, like the Black Sesame Ice Cream Sundae. Everything you put in your mouth here will feel like magic with these elevated American classics.
This bakery and cafe is a cute stop for sandwiches and snacks galore. Whether you’re going for sweet or savory, the fresh selections are always impressive. Everything is sourced from the local Lindley Mill, allowing for bread and pastries to be served with a side of Carolina spirit.
The flours are high in mineral content, and the blends are sifted and whole grain, to create naturally leavened bread that is thin and crisp on the outside and soft and airy on the inside.
The menu is always changing, offering a sample of salads and sandwiches from scratch. Every choice feels like an exciting creation, such as the Kimchi BLT or French-style Philly Cheesesteak, and much of the menu is vegetable-forward. We adore this place. It’s definitely our go-to weekend brunch spot.
MOFU Dumpling Shoppe
Authentic Asian foods are served; unconventionally, MOFU is a must of the Raleigh restaurants. They aim to reflect their values into the eatery; inclusivity, community, culture, and family.
Inspired by dishes from all over Asia, they love to make fun food diversely. With four types of delicious dumplings on deck, it can be hard to decide which to get. Feel free to splurge and order some of each!
The Dan Dan Noodles are to die for, and the Kimchi Fries has become quite the fan-favorite. There are plenty of specialty drinks to sip on, such as the Thai Basil Rickey or Tokyo Mule.
What started as the Pho Nomenal food truck has blossomed into a chic and shiny brick and mortar, translating to “more fortune, more food,” with which we happily agree.
In a bright and airy downtown atmosphere, Sitti serves up modern takes on classic Lebanese cuisine. Named after the word for grandmother, this eatery pays homage to the most important matriarch in Lebanese culture, the caretakers for all things culture, family, and food-related.
The space is as warm and inviting as the meals, with communal tables and an antique Art Deco bar. We love to sample as many savory selections as possible, which is perfect with the Sitti Tasting. This comes with all the favorite fixings, like baba ghanouj, fattoush, chicken shawarma, kibbee mikli, and cheese rolls.
The Malfouf Mahshi is mouthwatering as well. Enjoy your fares al fresco on the pleasant back patio.
The Angus Barn
An institution of the area, The Angus Barn, has been serving sizzling steaks in the community since 1960. The iconic red barn with the swinging saloon doors has become a local legend. The Southern hospitality here knows no bounds, and the Americana atmosphere is charmingly rustic.
They are home to the best western aged beef around but have evolved to a modern expansive menu that caters to all tastes and includes seafood, poultry, and even vegetarian dishes. They come with plenty of personalities, with touches like the complimentary cheese and relish tray or the apples you can grab on the way out instead of mints.
With a state-of-the-art cellar, they boast the largest wine selection in North Carolina. A meat eaters paradise, every cut imaginable, all grilled to perfection, and a choice of six sauces.
Tazza Kitchen is an eclectic eatery focused on wood-fired cooking. The atmosphere is high energy and welcoming with modern decor. The flavors are rustic and simple, creating a space that feels familiar and fun.
Everything is sustainably sourced and carefully created with fresh ingredients. The drinks are definitely not an afterthought here, with a curated craft cocktail selection. The Fake Empire utilizes honeysuckle vodka and lavender bitters for a seasonal springtime delight to sip.
If you’re in the mood for tacos, try the at-home taco fixing kit for an evening full of food-based fun. The menu runs the gambit from pizzas to tacos to seafood, all with the bonus of that fresh-roasted flavor.
Caffe Luna is the best local spot for traditional Tuscan-inspired Italian cuisine. The sun-drenched interior is rustic and warm with floor-to-ceiling windows and adorned with local art.
All the favorite plates of pasta made it onto this menu, and each is more rich and robust than the last. The Linguini Pescatore and the Penne Carciofi tickled our taste buds the most, but you really can’t go wrong.
Order one of the exquisite bottles of wine available and make a multi-course meal out of it in honor of the culturally preferred slow dining pastime. Try an antipasto and insalata to start and dolci to finish, with a porto or cappuccino. Leave your worries at the door and savor every bite of these decadently delicious dishes.
The Pit is sure to cure your cravings for authentic Carolina barbecue. Located in the Warehouse District, it’s a celebration of the area’s tried and true cultural cuisine. Served up whole, pit-cooked hog. This is exactly what the Tarheel State is known for.
The industrial atmosphere is at home in the renovated and restored meat packing space from the 1930s. There are pairings for wines, beers, and boozes that go best with the smoky or spicy flavors of the meat. Adding a modern twist, they also offer a barbecue tofu dish.
Whether you’re ordering beef brisket, baby back ribs, or fried chicken, be sure to pick your side fixings wisely. We went with fried okra and mac ‘n cheese. The starter of warm hush puppies and biscuits with honey butter will have you smiling before you’ve even ordered.
Big Ed’s City Market
Big Ed’s has been a staple of the City Market District for decades. The farm-fresh classic country breakfast served all day is the main draw. There is a daily blue plate special, a common tradition from the 1920s to make sure a low-priced meal is accessible to everyone.
The establishment feels nostalgic and has Southern charm to spare. The portions are no joke, and the comfort food made in the style of down-home cooking gives us the warmth and fuzzies for this food.
Grits, local salty ham, and hotcakes, all doused with red-eye gravy, are an epic and iconic country offering. We could definitely chow down on the Fatback Biscuit Sandwich at Ed’s during any time of day.
Plates Neighborhood Kitchen
Going by the credo, “come taste the world,” Plates creates globally inspired and locally produced fares. The owners have eaten their way extensively throughout the world for decades, trying the best cuisines that countries have to offer.
They’ve brought it home and served it up with a Southern twist to make for an extraordinary Neighborhood Kitchen. It’s a culinary journey like no other, plating up sensational creations for their patrons to experience flavors from all over the planet.
The Cured Salmon Baguette is a tasty delight along with the Cast Iron Pork Chop. The brunch is a favorite for locals, and the Sticky Toffee Pudding has gained quite a reputation as a favorite tasty treat.
Beasley’s Chicken + Honey
Beasley’s gives the people what they want in style, offering a fresh and modern take on the Southern culinary classics. Every form the fried chicken takes here is phenomenal. Have it on its own with honey, on a biscuit with pickled green tomato, Carolina Reaper hot chili oil, or Cheerwine BBQ sauce on a bun. The options are endless and delicious.
The seasonal Southern sides complement each dish with fresh ingredients. The pimento mac ‘n cheese custard and the cider-braised collard greens are truly something special. There are plenty of local beers on tap for pairings and even champagne. We wouldn’t blame you for wanting to celebrate this meal.