Tag Archives: foodie

48 Hours in Raleigh, N.C.: Where to Eat and Drink

North Carolina’s capital is a hot-spot destination for foodies and culture seekers alike, with restaurants founded by nationally-acclaimed chefs, an abundance of arts offerings, happening music venues, a world-class set of museums and more. And it certainly helps that the City of Oaks has been recognized as one of “America’s Favorite Food Cities” by Travel and Leisure, called one of the “Hottest Food Cities of the Year” by Zagat and racked up a whole bunch of James Beard Foundation Award nominations in recent years.

With 48 hours in Raleigh, you can hit some of the most noted places to eat and drink—we’ve curated a two-day itinerary packed with a plethora of things to do!

Day One

Start your day by paying a visit to Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, located in downtown Raleigh. Opening up at 11am on Sat. and Sun. for the brunch crowd, you’ll want to show up a bit earlier than that to snag a spot near the front of the line at this popular eatery from James Beard Award-winning chef Ashley Christensen. You can’t go wrong with their famous fried chicken and waffles drizzled in honey, a true Southern staple, or try the Hot Chicken Eggs Benedict—two poached eggs with Béarnaise sauce, creamed collard greens and buttermilk biscuits.

After a delicious brunch, venture out to visit some of the 15+ museums across the area. Pop into the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh to see the Southeast’s largest natural history museum. With four floors of exhibits, live animals, gift shops and restaurants, you can definitely spend hours here. Take the path down the skywalk and check out the Nature Research Center, a wing of the museum where you can watch research scientists at work. A coffee or a smoothie from the museum’s restaurant—The Daily Planet Cafe—works as a great afternoon pick-me-up if needed.

Right across from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the North Carolina Museum of History, showcasing more than 14,000 years and 150,000 artifacts of N.C. history, from native inhabitants to the 20th century.

If you’re someone who likes to keep moving, check out the multitude of other museums such as the North Carolina Museum of Art, where both indoor and outdoor exhibits and more than a dozen galleries are worth exploring (and the 164-acre Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park, featuring monumental public art installations, may steal the show on a beautiful day).

End your museum tour at CAM Raleigh—a progressive museum curating the most contemporary works of art and design possible—those still emerging, growing and living. Get inspired by the architecture, art and exceptional service. Exhibitions change throughout the year and the museum is free to the open public on First Fridays.

From CAM, it’s just a quick walk to either The Pit (whole hog goodness with a gourmet touch) or Clyde Cooper’s BBQ (at 80 years old, one of the longest-running barbecue joints in the state) for a healthy dose of authentic North Carolina ‘cue. Chopped pork sandwiches, fork-tender brisket, a side of hush puppies and generous helping of banana pudding are musts on any visit to the area.

Afterwards, stop by Boxcar Bar + Arcade for post-lunch drinks and games. You can bring your kids or simply act like one at this bar filled with hundreds of arcade games, a full liquor bar and 24 constantly-rotating draft beers from local breweries. Enjoy beers made just down the road like Hell Yes Ma’am from Raleigh Brewing Company and Shotgun Betty from Lonerider Brewing Company while reliving your childhood.

Once you’ve worked your appetite back into high gear, head to MOFU Shoppe in downtown Raleigh for dinner, a new restaurant born from the makings of a local food truck that won season six of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race,” and features menu items inspired by the foods commonly eaten in several Asian countries (but with Southern influence!). A selection of small plates like the pork and chive dumplings along with crispy smoked pork belly, plus large plates including the five-spice duck and buttermilk fried flounder tacos, lead a menu full of favorites that are tough to choose between.

If you’re in the mood for seafood, try 18 Seaboard, a top-rated destination for delicious cuisine, service and hospitality. We recommend starting with their oysters topped with pimento cheese and prosciutto before enjoying a large plate option (menu items like the blackened snapper with green garlic, spring squash and Spanish romesco are always winners).

If you’re still full from lunch, head to The Cortez for light appetizers and cocktails. Check out their oyster bar where they have dollar oyster happy hour from 5-6pm, Tues.-Sun. Along with oysters, try a handcrafted cocktail like the O.T. Daiquiri, which contains toasted coconut infused rum, lime, brown sugar and fresh pineapple.
Late Night
After dinner, take a walk around downtown Raleigh to make room for dessert! Both Videri Chocolate Factory and Bittersweet are great places for a post-dinner sweet treat.

At Videri, order the frozen hot chocolate to be enjoyed on a warm summer evening or buy some chocolate bars to take back with you as gifts or snacks for yourself (open until 10pm on Fri. and Sat.).

Head to Bittersweet if you want a booze-themed dessert—try their famous Salty Chipwich Ice Cream Sandwich rolled in bourbon caramel corn or split the Key Lime-Tequila Parfait with a friend (open until 2am Thurs.-Sat., Bittersweet is a go-to late night date spot). Whichever you choose, you can’t go wrong!

Day Two

For your second day in Raleigh, start the day at one of these two restaurants with unique, community-oriented models: A Place at the Table or Carroll’s Kitchen both allow you to enjoy delicious meals while simultaneously supporting great causes.

A Place at the Table is a pay-what-you-can cafe with a mission to provide community and healthy food for all, regardless of means. You can’t go wrong with a latte and the buttermilk biscuit with sage sausage gravy at A Place at the Table. This classic Southern breakfast is perfect to get your busy day started!

Carroll’s Kitchen is another great option and is a non-profit social enterprise restaurant dedicated to ending homelessness for women in Raleigh. They also provide job training, life skills mentoring and even housing for women. We recommend ordering a few of the assorted kolache, a doughy pastry containing either sweet or savory fillings. Carroll’s Kitchen has a variety of delicious flavors from spinach and feta to cream cheese crumble.

After breakfast, drive over to the JC Ralston Arboretum at North Carolina State University to explore all 10 acres of beautiful gardens yourself, or you can take a free guided tour, available on Sundays. There are 14 different areas at the Arboretum, each housing a different variety of plants and flowers. Take the whole family and let the kids run around or walk hand-in-hand with your significant other while taking in the beautiful views.
Once you’ve worked your appetite back up, relax at the Raleigh Beer Garden where you can choose from the more than 350 beers on tap. With three floors dedicated to beer, there are limitless options. Once you’ve decided on a beer, order delicious bar food like the St. Arnold Burger topped with beer cheese sauce or the dry rubbed chicken wings. With plenty of outdoor space, including a rooftop garden, the Raleigh Beer garden is a perfect warm-weather hangout.

If wine is more your thing, check out these two happening spots: Wine Authorities and The Wine Feed.  At Wine Authorities there are free tastings available every Sat. Enjoy local cheese plates that pair perfectly with wine. After you’ve tasted to your heart’s content, take a few bottles home with you!  The Wine Feed is another great wine bar that offers a variety of classes and tastings.

After you’ve shopped and drank your way through Raleigh, it’s finally dinner time again. For your last meal in Raleigh try one of the many award-winning restaurants—Crawford and SonPoole’s Diner or Garland have earned both their respective chefs and the City of Oaks plenty of national recognition of late.

Led by five-time James Beard Award semi-finalist chef Scott Crawford, Crawford and Son—named 2018 Restaurant of the Year by The News & Observer restaurant critic Gregg Cox—serves up high-level dishes from a seasonal menu in a casual, neighborhood setting that allows guests to feel right at home. Our best advice here is to order as many small plates to share as you can handle, and absolutely be sure to leave room to taste a couple of the desserts.

If you’re looking for classic Southern comfort food, Poole’s Diner is the place. Another brainchild of renowned chef Ashley Christensen, Poole’s has spent the last decade making its mark on the downtown Raleigh restaurant scene (and is known around the world for the macaroni au gratin—seen in the header above—which they serve more than 15,000 dishes of per year!).

If you’re looking for something innovative and bursting with unique flavors, try Garland. The menu is put together by Cheetie Kumar, a James Beard semi-finalist chef, and is influenced by the flavors of India and east Asia. Be sure to ask your server for some personalized suggestions from the menu, but we’re big fans of the lamb curry and the Cauliflower 65.

Late Night
It’s time for some live music! Visit Slim’s Downtown, one of downtown Raleigh’s oldest bars and music venues. Since 1999, Slim’s has provided a stage for bands on the rise as well as established acts wanting to play in a more intimate setting. You can often catch some of your favorite musicians up close and personal at Slim’s. Check out their online music calendar for acts playing during your 48 hours in Raleigh!

Kristen Baughman, Visit Raleigh Insider

Is this city the new belle of the American South?

They say good things come in threes, and North Carolina’s Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill is no exception. Raleigh is the state capital, Durham, with its healthcare, life sciences and biotech industries, is the “city of medicine,” while Chapel Hill is a university town. While they are for sure a powerful trio, there are plenty of reasons to visit just Raleigh. It’s a destination in its own right. Last year 15 million visitors came to Raleigh, despite having not a beach or mountain in sight. Go figure.

For one thing, times have changed. To say that downtown was once sleepy is polite. What was “dead” just a few years ago has morphed into a hip hub, one where folks not only hang out after work, but also on weekends. What happened? Duke Energy sold to Red Hat, Citrix moved from the suburbs to downtown and HQ Raleigh, a startup incubator, sprang up. The Warehouse District, a major piece of downtown, has been revitalized with many old red brick buildings repurposed. Investments in apartments, condos, mixed-use developments followed, as did a slew of restaurants, bars and music venues. Hoteliers haven’t missed out. The Residence Inn by Marriott Downtown Raleigh is a welcome addition, especially with its 10th & Terrace rooftop bar.

There’s no shortage of hot spots. Bon Appetit just ranked Brewery Bhavana one of the top 10 restaurants in the nation. It’s on historic Moore Square park downtown, and you could spend hours there. It’s a brewery, dim sum restaurant, flower shop and bookstore. Pick out a book and relax at the long tables and sip a brew. Whiskey Kitchen is a little bit country and a lot whiskey. Get set for some of the best fried green tomatoes with pimento cheese and pea tendrils, boiled peanuts with pickled peppers, lamb burgers, shrimp rolls and more in the site of a former automotive shop. Garland, meanwhile, is a tasty mashup of Indian and Pan-Asian fusion and craft cocktails. Its whimsical setting feels more West Village than You can’t visit North Carolina without some barbecue. The Pit Authentic Barbecue has been featured on the Travel Channel and the Food Network, among others. It’s no surprise. This whole-hog, pit-cooked barbecue passes the taste test for the most discerning BBQ fans. Not only do you get pork, but Texas-style brisket, barbecued turkey, fried chicken, skillet cornbread, deviled eggs, collards, mac ‘n’ cheese. Whatever you order must also include the banana pudding.

The Warehouse District is also home to CAM Raleigh (Contemporary Art Museum). There is no permanent collection, so there’s always something new.  Boxcar Bar + Arcade is where you can just plain have fun. Remember Skeeball and air hockey? Get your fill of them here, plus more than 100 arcade games, live music, draft craft beers and a full bar. Visit Videri Chocolate, the Morgan Street Food Hall & Market, as well art galleries and unique stories like Raleigh Denim

Workshop, for limited edition jeans made from start to finish in downtown Raleigh. These jeans are designed for men and women, “who love what they do and get shit done.”

Perhaps plan a trip around one of the city’s numerous fests, like the annual Wide Open Bluegrass Festival, featuring a weekend of concerts at the Red Hat Amphitheatre, plus several stages of free concerts around downtown. There’s also the North Carolina Whole Hog BBQ Championship including a conference, exhibits, food, drinks and street vendors. Every month there’s some kind of festival, especially in September and October.
The action doesn’t begin and end in downtown. Do venture to the North Carolina Museum of Art and Art Park, which at 164 acres is the largest museum art park in the U.S. and features larger-than-life outdoor art installations, woodlands and creeks. Drink up at dozens of breweries along the Raleigh Beer Trail. Elsewhere, there are plenty of places to bike and golf. Don’t cheat yourself. Explore neighboring towns like Cary, where you can chill out at the Five-Diamond Umstead Hotel and Spa, where pampering and pleasing is a priority.

Raleigh isn’t trying to be like any other city; it’s cool with who it is and what it’s becoming. Folks in Raleigh live by the state motto, “To be, rather than to seem.”

by: Sheryl Nance-Nash


What’s on the horizon for the Triangle’s dining scene in 2017? Food halls, and much more

Across the Triangle, 2017 will be the year of the food hall.

Two food halls are slated to open by the spring, and two more are in the works. By early 2018, each of the Triangle’s major cities will be home to a food hall or market.

In downtown Raleigh, Niall Hanley, who owns the Raleigh Beer Garden and Hibernian pubs, hopes to open the Morgan Street Food Hall & Market by late spring in the former Jillian’s space on West Morgan Street.

So far, Hanley said, potential vendors could offer sushi, burgers, poke bowls, coffee, cheese, charcuterie and more. He also noted that they are looking to partner with a local co-op or market to manage a retail area that would offer local and regional food products.

Also in Raleigh, developer Jason Queen is converting the old Stone’s Warehouse on East Davie Street, near Moore Square, into Transfer Co. Olde East. The 42,000-square-foot building will offer production and retail space for local food businesses as well as a test kitchen, grocery store, cafe and urban farms. Queen said the first tenants are to expected to start building their spaces this fall, and the entire space should be open by March 2018.

Chapel Hill’s Blue Dogwood Public Market is closer to opening and will likely open this spring in a part of the old Fowler’s grocery store between Franklin and Rosemary streets.

Kelly Taylor, one of the owners, said the market will be home to several businesses, including her Italian bakery, Pizzelle. Others include former Carolina Inn executive chef James Clark’s seafood stall, Hook & Larder; Left Bank Butchery in Saxapahaw; a juice and smoothie bar from Cold Off the Press owner Amir Sadeghi; Chocolatay Confections, which sell at the Durham and Chapel Hill farmers’ markets; Vegan Flava Cafe, which already has a Durham location; and Soul Cocina, which will sell Latin American vegan foods.

In Durham, the Durham Food Hall will open in the Reuse Arts District at the Shoppes at Lakewood this fall.

New projects

Beyond food halls, 2017 will see expansions or new projects by a trio of established bakery owners.

Most exciting is the news from Phoebe Lawless, owner of Scratch Bakery in downtown Durham. This spring, Lawless will open The Lakewood, a full-service, 90-seat restaurant and bar with a rooftop terrace serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The Durham building, at 2022 Chapel Hill Road, eventually will house a second Scratch Bakery cafe and a wholesale production bakery to supply baked goods to restaurants and retailers.

This new restaurant gives Lawless, a four-time James Beard Award semifinalist, a chance to stretch her culinary muscles in a way that the Scratch kitchen did not allow.

“I wanted to create a neighborhood restaurant that essentially extends what we’ve been trying to do at Scratch, but we haven’t had the space there to do it,” she said. “We’ll take advantage of the proteins and fish that we really can’t do out of the small Scratch kitchen, while being more vegetable-forward and continuing to embrace what we can source locally and regionally.”

Guglhupf’s Claudia Kemmet-Cooper, who has owned the German bakery and restaurant in Durham since 1998, is expanding to Chapel Hill. She hopes to open the 1,250-square-foot retail bakery in the Eastgate Shopping Center by April. This is what Kemmet-Cooper always had envisioned for her business: a main production bakery with satellite retail spots.

“The big thing is we’re finally doing it,” she said last week.

Cary’s La Farm bakery is opening a production facility at 220 W. Chatham St. in downtown Cary this year, which eventually will include a small retail bakery and cafe. Until then, the La Farm Bread Truck will be parked outside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, serving coffee, hot chocolate, pastries, sandwiches, soups and breads.

This is far from a complete list of new restaurants opening in the Triangle in 2017. But here are some highlights on the horizon for the dining scene:

Raleigh, Cary

On Jan. 23, Vidrio, a stunning Mediterranean restaurant owned by Lou Moshakos, the longtime Triangle restaurateur who founded the Carolina Ale House franchise, will open on the first floor of Raleigh’s 500 Glenwood Ave.

By the end of January, the Busy Bee Cafe in downtown will be transformed into Trophy Brewing Tap and Table, which will offer meats cooked on a rotisserie and a selection of tacos. Despite the #savethetots social media campaign, the tater tots will not be on the menu, co-owner Chris Powers said.

Sean Degnan and Tony Hopkins, the owners of Raleigh’s bu.ku hope to open Soca, a new Caribbean and Central and South American restaurant, in the former Faire space in Raleigh’s Cameron Village shopping center by early February. The pair also plans to open a second bu.ku restaurant in Wake Forest, near Rogers and Heritage Lake Roads, by June.

Tulum, a new Mayan restaurant, will hopefully by late January or early February in downtown Raleigh, on the first floor of the Duke Energy building on Fayetteville Street.

Bida Manda’s owner Van Nolintha will open Bhavana, a combination brewery, florist, bookstore and dim sum restaurant, in the former Tir Na Nog location on South Blount Street by the end of February.

Chef Sunny Gerhart said he hopes to convert the former Joule space on Raleigh’s Wilmington Street to St. Roch Oyster + Bar by early March.

Over on Hillsborough Street, Bob Jewett, owner of Bocci Trattoria and Pizzeria in Cary and Durham, is opening a third location in the former spot for Porter’s Tavern and later McDaids. Jewett, an N.C. State University graduate who got his start in the restaurant industry at the beloved Two Guys Pizza, said he hopes to open by early April.

By May, the owners of Pho Nomenal Dumpling food truck hope to open a brick-and-mortar location: MOFU Shoppe, a 3,000-square-foot space at 321 Blount St. in Raleigh’s City Market.

Coleen Speaks, owner of Posh Nosh Catering, had to move her catering kitchen to the Dock 1053 complex at the corner of Whitaker Mill Road and Atlantic Avenue. Beyond the catering kitchen and an urban event space, Speaks also plans to add a small cafe offering sandwiches and to-go food. In 2018, she hopes to turn a nearby steel building into a bar and restaurant.

In Cary, Pizzeria Faulisi is slated to open by mid- to late February. This project is the work of Zach and Amber Faulisi; Zach most recently worked as chef de cuisine at The Durham Hotel.

Next door, chef Richard Procida is planning to open Pro’s Epicurean Market and Cafe, a market, cafe and wine bar, by mid-April or May at 211 E. Chatham St.

Chef Regan Stachler, who owns Little Hen, a farm-to-table restaurant in Apex, plans to open a fast-casual eatery in downtown Raleigh this spring.


Maybelle, the new barbecue and biscuit restaurant from the folks behind Tyler’s Restaurant & Taprooms, is expected to open by mid-February at the American Tobacco Campus. Co-owner Tyler Huntington said he and business partner, Daniel Kulenic, who put on the annual Bull City Food & Beer Experience at Durham Performing Arts Center, are also considering doing more special food and beverage events in Durham this year.

Over on Chapel Hill Street, Shannon Healy, owner of Alley Twenty Six, expects to open the expanded part of his cocktail bar to add a full kitchen by the end of January. Healy, the longtime bar manager at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill before he opened this Durham cocktail bar more than four years ago, is working with chef Carrie Schleiffer to produce a food menu with cocktail pairings. The expansion also doubles the space of the bar, adds table seating and provides a space for private events and cocktail classes. Previously, bar patrons enjoyed charcuterie, cheese plates and bar snacks that didn’t require a stove, oven or fryer to prepare. Now Schleiffer says she will use that kitchen to produce upscale bar food. Healy said: “We want to offer more things that our customers want.”

Gray Brooks, owner of Durham’s Pizzeria Toro and Littler, is opening a diner, the Jack Tar, named after the former motor lodge that is being transformed into the Unscripted Hotel in downtown Durham. Brooks hopes to open the 75-seat food-focused diner serving breakfast all day, as well as lunch and dinner by late spring.

Chef Matt Kelly, owner of Mateo and a partner in Vin Rouge, is hoping to transform the former Fishmonger’s restaurant into Saint James, a seafood and oyster house, by June.

Chef Michael Lee, who owns M Sushi and M Kokko, has plans to continue his M restaurant franchise. By the end of the year, he is trying to open M Kogi and M Taco. Unlike most Korean restaurants, M Kogi will not have tables with grills; instead it will offer counter seating with a long continuous sandpit on which live wood fire will be used to cook the meats. Beef and pork will be served with traditional Korean sides and pickled vegetables. Meanwhile, M Taco will offer simple tacos – and only tacos – with various meats and fermented vegetables with soft corn tortillas.

Cocoa Cinnamon is adding a third location near the Lakewood shopping center. The 2,900-square-foot building at 2013 Chapel Hill Road be a coffee shop and roastery. Owner Leon Grodski Barrera said they hope to open by the end of the year. One highlight: they will serve made to order churros.