We have been staying local for a few weeks which has given us some time to really appreciate and remember why we love our hometown so much. In the rapidly growing, diverse, and unique city of Raleigh, NC there is certainly no shortage of offerings .... especially when it comes to food! Just the other day Jo and I were sitting downtown, sipping on some local brew when we decided to verbalize our list of "favorite" restaurants. There are so many top notch choices but we were able to narrow it down to just a couple of true favorites. If you haven't had the chance to visit these we highly recommend checking them out sometime!
*** This list excludes coffee and breakfast locations. Check out our Raleigh Breakfast Guide to get a glimpse of where you should dine for the best Omelets and Pancakes.
- Our choices are not in a specific order -
Best Dessert: Hayes Barton Cafe & Dessertery
Hayes Barton Cafe' climbed onto the "Best" list almost instantaneously! It may have been the largest portions of dessert we have ever seen, or the feeling of 1940's time travel that we had when stepping through the door. Whichever it was, this place is one that you have to experience for yourself. It is certainly a captivating atmosphere that will leave you wanting more ... oh and the food is pretty great too!
Best Romantic Spot: Second Empire
This one was a MUST for our list! Not only for it's exceptionally fine cuisine, but also because it holds a unique spot in our hearts. As much as we love to adventure and travel, Jo and I tend to be creatures of habit, especially when it deals with food. Second Empire won us over with its sophisticated charm that stems from the wall of the 19th century downtown mansion, first class service, and renowned cuisine. We love the experience so much that it has become our only choice for our annual Valentines Day outing. BAs with any restaurant of this caliber be sure to make reservations well in advance if you want a shot at a table.
Best Taste of Italy: Cafe Luna
Cafe Luna is the perfect choice for a Friday or Saturday date night, or even a "first time visitor" dining spot. It has reasonable prices, a constantly changing menu of perfected Italian dishes, and a warm, friendly environment. We have absolutely loved this downtown selection for a casual, yet fine-dine experience.
Best Seafood: 42nd St. Oyster Bar & Seafood
Jo and I both grew up with frequent and healthy portions of fresh seafood and with Raleigh being the furthest from the ocean that either of us has ever lived it comes as no surprise that we need a quality seafood fix from time to time. The 42nd St. Oyster Bar, another long standing Raleigh establishment having been in business since 1931, certainly knows a thing or two about dishing out saltwater fixes to us inlanders. The restaurant is split into two basic sections one with steamed oysters and one without, so know before you walk in whether or not you're in the mood for this east coast delicacy.
Best Latin American Spot: Oakwood Cafe
This hole-in-the-wall Argentinian/Cuban restaurant offers some of the most uniquely deliciously dining in the city we would argue! It is one of our favorite lunch spots. Parking is limited and seating is snug, but as soon as they bring that loaded plate of rice, beans and plantains, you'll know you've come to the right place! The comfy setting just adds to the authenticity of the establishment!
Best Offbeat: Irregardless Cafe
Living just a few miles from Irregardless has made it a regular dining choice for us. It has great farm to table food selections, a great reputation and if you plan accordingly you can hear some great local music. We just love knowing that every time we visit we are going to be served quality food with equally spectacular service and a good mix between a casual and classy atmosphere.
Best Hangout: Trophy Brewing & Pizza
Trophy Brewing is a fairly recent find that we find ourselves falling in love with and its location just a 3 minute walk from the aforementioned Irregardless Cafe makes it a convenient choice for us as well. Trophy keeps it simple, a few rotating house brews, stone fired (and absolutely delicious) pizzas, and a laid back local pub atmosphere. They also have a great offering of outdoor seating which makes this an ideal spot to bring friends and family for an afternoon meal, or just to grab a few drinks.
Best Chinese: Five Star
Last, but certainly not least on our list, we have Five Star, the essential go-to Chinese spot for take out and dine in. Everyone has that familiar local Chinese restaurant that they turn to, well this is ours. Every time that we have been here we have gone home wanting to return (sometimes even the next day). Five Star is located in the up and coming warehouse district of downtown Raleigh and they are best known for their Heat Seeker Shrimp, generous portions, and laid back atmosphere. In true Chinese restaurant fashion, Jo and I usually get a dish to split and end up bringing home a whole meal of tasty leftovers for the next day.
** Shop, Eat, and Explore Local!
Support your town or city but shopping/dining locally! Check out all of the local businesses that are up and coming in our lovely Hometown **
ShopLocal - Raleigh, NC
We are not affiliated with any of the links in this posting.
We are the Best's! Jo and Mo. We have been immensely blessed with many opportunities to see various parts of the world. We live an average, working life in Raleigh, NC but through our many opportunities have developed a passion to see the world. Our goal is to share with other desiring travelers different tips and experiences from around the world as we begin to check them off our bucket list. If anything, we hope to provide a little sense of motivation and adventure to those wishing to embark on their own journey!
We want you to see the world too! Subscribe to our newsletter to receive all kinds of monthly updates and inspirations.