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25+ Restaurants in Raleigh (Date Night & Casual Bites)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on February 25, 2024.

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There are almost too many incredible restaurants in Raleigh to name, which is why this will always be a growing list. With award-winning cuisine scattered throughout, building a guide to Oak City’s finest eats was a monumental task.

We are sure we probably didn’t hit all your favorite Raleigh restaurants, but rest assured- we are always eating and adding! So get your stretchy pants ready for this list of some of the best places to eat in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Note: Our food guides are always expanding, so if we left something off, it’s because our stomachs are only so big! Let us know where to eat in Raleigh that’s your favorite.

Read More: 15 Amazing Cities in North Carolina (to Live In and Visit!)

Raleigh Restaurants

For this post, we’ve organized restaurants by those we’d visit for dates and others that are still amazing but better for casual occasions.

Date Night Restaurants in Raleigh

These places to eat bring together flavors and atmosphere to qualify as perfect date night restaurants in Raleigh, NC.

Cortez

Website | 413 Glenwood Ave

Cortez will impress visitors with impeccable presentation and exquisite flavors.

If you want something Mexican-inspired with exceptional seafood and small plates, you must seek the one and only Cortez. The flavors and freshness from this James Beard Semi-Finalist are just part of the story.

Their menu combines locally sourced seafood, ingredients from farmer’s markets, and family traditions. Come for oyster happy hour (dollar oysters, y’all!) and the refreshing yellowtail ceviche!

Read More: How to Explore the NC Oyster Trail (10+ Adventurous Ways!)

Jolie

Website | 620 N Person Street

This adorable French bistro is the perfect spot for a date night in Raleigh! With the romantic and intimate inside and swoon-worthy rooftop, Chef Scott Crawford brings the flavors and style of France to the South. 

The menu is small, but each dish is one that you’ll remember. From buttery escargots to soft and pillowy macarons, you cannot help but fall in love with your partner all over again while dining at Jolie. 

Read More: 13 of the Best Airbnbs in Raleigh (Downtown, Residential Areas, and Nearby Towns)

Jose and Sons

Website | 327 W Davie St

A quintessential Raleigh restaurant is the well-received Jose and Sons in the warehouse district. Fusing their Mexican heritage and upbringing in the American South, you’ll find the oh-so-delicious brisket quesadilla, collard green tamals, and barbacoa gouda mac and cheese at this awesome spot.

And if the food wasn’t enough to draw you in, how about a tequila and bourbon tower to start things off?

Mandolin

Website | 2519 Fairview Rd

Of all the places to eat in Raleigh NC,  Mandolin's might offer the closest sourced food.

Mandolin offers fine dining in a bistro setting and dishes with local ingredients, even sourcing from their own farm in North Raleigh. Whether you’re joining Chef Fowler for his $9 gourmet burger night or the Pan-Seared Tilefish, you’re bound to experience sophistication.

Dishes not only highlight the protein but all elements on your plate. Located in the Hayes Barton neighborhood, Mandolin is a Raleigh restaurant offering a fresh take on Southern food.

Read More: 15+ Important Tips to Enjoy the NC State Fair

Poole’s Downtown Diner

Website | 426 S McDowell St

A proud Ashley Christensen restaurant, Poole’s Downtown Diner is a must-eat Raleigh restaurant whether you live here or are visiting. Utilizing local farmers and seasonal offerings, Poole’s is a community effort with outstanding dishes.

You’ll probably want to make a reservation, but unfortunately, Poole’s does not offer call-ahead seating. Tables fill up quickly, but our recommendation is to get there at 5 pm and start at the bar. And don’t miss AC’s famous macaroni au gratin!

We included Christensen’s Poole’s in our list of essential cookbooks, too!

Sushi Mon

3800 Glenwood Ave #100

Sushi Mon is one of those fine dining restaurants in Raleigh that is talked about by all the foodies. In an unassuming business park, Sushi Mon has some of Triangle’s freshest and most delicious sushi menus.

Raleigh restaurants sushi mon

Open for lunch and dinner, and steal your sweetie away for a date. Bond over sashimi, order some sake, and don’t skip the Truffle Tuna roll. The space is small and intimate, so you’ll want to join the waitlist before arriving because this Raleigh restaurant does not take reservations and is always in high demand.

Casual Raleigh Restaurants

Enjoy these delicious casual restaurants in Raleigh! From the oldest hot dog joint in the city to a James Beard-nominated chef’s chicken and waffles- there’s always somewhere to eat in Raleigh!

Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

Website | 237 S Wilmington St

I guarantee that if you drive through Downtown Raleigh and see a line of people waiting outside a restaurant, you probably just passed Ashley Christensen’s Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. The rest of the menu doesn’t disappoint, but many people come for the exquisitely prepared Chicken and Waffles.

Of all the Raleigh Restaurants we mention, Beasley's Chicken and Honey is probably the best-known.

Of course, the rest of the menu doesn’t disappoint, as their Pot Pie attests—served in a milk gravy with a cornmeal crust. Simply put, Beasley’s is Southern chicken and grandma’s sides elevated to serve today’s foodies. But once you step inside, you’ll see that it’s not that simple here.

Chef Christensen was also in attendance at the first Chow Chow in Asheville, which we covered here.

Read More: 80+ Great Things to Do in Asheville (The Asheville Bucket List)

Big Ed’s City Market

Website | 220 Wolfe St

Big Ed's was one of the first Raleigh attractions we visited and its amazing food has us coming back for more.

Quirky, kitschy, All-American, is what you’ll get at Downtown Raleigh food staple Big Ed’s Restaurant. Big Ed’s has called its City Market location “home” since 1989 and was founded in 1958. Founder Big Ed developed the Raleigh restaurant’s recipes while preparing meals for workers on his farm.

Customers are treated to some of the most delicious red-eye gravy, all-you-can-eat fluffy and buttery biscuits, blackstrap molasses, and more Southern classics that stick to your ribs. There’s nothing like a farm-fresh breakfast, and Big Ed’s ensures even Raleigh’s city folk can enjoy some down-home cooking.

Char-Grill

Website | Multiple Raleigh locations

Char-Grill might be home of the best burger in Raleigh.

It doesn’t get more Raleigh than Char-grill. Since 1959, Char-Grill has been filling burger orders over hot charcoal. It’s one of our favorite places to grab a couple of burgers and shakes for a car picnic!

The menu might be simple, but the food remains delicious. And sometimes (every time?), you need a juicy cheeseburger without all the frills.

When you arrive, fill out a paper order sheet and wait while your food is all cooked to order. Regardless of what you write down, tick off the milkshake!

Dos Taquitos 

Menu | 6101 Glenwood Ave

Dos Taquitos raleigh restaurant

Dos Taquitos is Raleigh’s oldest family-owned Mexican restaurant and, honestly, one of our absolute favorites in all of North Carolina. Not only is the food absolutely delicious, but you might recognize it from the viral queso train video that circulated the internet! That’s right… your queso can be delivered via an adorable train. 

From the best steak tacos in Raleigh to traditional Yucatan dishes like Cochinita Pibil, a meal at Dos Taquitos does not disappoint. Oh, and make sure to say hello to the chickens outside and check the mini fridge at the front door for any special surprises! This Raleigh restaurant is definitely unique and for the whole family. 

Driftwood Cantina

Menu | 8460 Honeycutt Rd #112

With beautiful colorful décor and vibrant dishes, Driftwood Cantina is one of our favorite restaurants in Raleigh. Serving elevated tacos in handmade tortillas, you can’t go wrong with any of their menu items. Did we mention that their craft cocktail game is 110% on point too?

The locally owned Raleigh restaurant also gives back to the community. For every order of salsa sold, $1 goes to the Interfaith Food Shuttle, which helps to eliminate food insecurity in Raleigh.

We’re not done with Lafayette Village by any stretch, but we just wanted to share our homage to that foodie paradise with you.

The Fiction Kitchen

Website | 2409 Crabtree Blvd #100

The Fiction Kitchen's vegetarian and vegan selection make this spot one of the best in the city.

Eastern Carolina native Chef Caroline Morrison serves up the most incredible vegetarian and vegan food in North Carolina at the Fiction Kitchen. Her famed meatless smoked barbecue landed her in Food and Wine, and she 100 percent gets the approval of the NC BBQ fanatics behind this site.

The bright neon green building and funky decor add more flavor to the already delicious meatless options coming out the window. Start off with a tasting plate of housemade vegan nut cheese and tempeh pâté, order at least one plate of pulled “pork,” and round out the night with a slice of decadent vegan cheesecake.

Gym Tacos

220 E Six Forks Rd (Food Truck) & 3701 Hillsborough St

There is no better street taco restaurant in Raleigh than Gym Tacos. Come hungry and be prepared to order everything. Slow-cooked meats on hand-made corn tortillas, you can’t ask for a better casual Raleigh restaurant to pig out at. 

One of the most Instagram-able meals at Gym Tacos is the Gym Tower Nachos. Fresh crispy chips, queso, and meat are all piled high inside a tin can. Lift the can and watch as all of the delicious flavors melt together! 

Hummingbird

Website | 1053 E Whitaker Mill Rd Suite 111

Brunch at Hummingbird is one of our favorite things to do in Raleigh NC.

Café by day and small plates and artisanal cocktails by night, Hummingbird is a seemingly small* but fierce establishment, just like its namesake. Hummingbird serves a variety of elegant dishes in a retro environment.

Here, you can sip on a gorgeous cocktail with a hint of rosewater, slurp Chef Coleen’s charbroiled oysters, or licking bourbon caramel from your sticky bun off your fingers.

Also, while the dining room appears small, additional seating is in the back and patio!

MOFU Shoppe

Website | 321 S Blount St

Fusion isn't always our favorite but MOFU Shoppe convinced us they belong among the best restaurants in Raleigh.

MOFU Shoppe stands out among the rest of the Raleigh restaurants. From the funky and quirky sculptures outside of the building to the warm and inviting seating area, this isn’t your typical Asian restaurant.

The fusion restaurant first made it on the scene as a food truck, and even (spoiler alert!) won the sixth season of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race.” Today, their space is a remodeled car dealership, which means on warm afternoons you’ll notice the garage doors open looking out on Blount Street.

It’s hard for me to say this because, typically, I wouldn’t recommend a vegetable as a must-order at a restaurant. Still, the Brussels sprouts at MOFU Shoppe are so incredibly crispy and sweet that they are worth ordering all by themselves.

Going further, there’s nothing on this menu that isn’t incredible. Handmade dumplings, deliciously deep-flavored broths, and perfectly crisp Asian-styled wings—get them all and thank us later.

We also visited MOFU Shoppe, Transfer Co Food Fall, and a few more spots during our Taste Carolina Food Tour in Raleigh.

Morgan Street Food Hall

Website | 411 Morgan St

Morgan Street Food Hall is a hub of so many wonderful Raleigh restaurants.

First, do NOT call Morgan Street Food Hall a “food court” because it is so much more than that. No, this is a place for the community to come together and dine. Morgan Street packs some of the best local restaurants into its brick-and-mortar location with indoor seating and a kickass outdoor patio.

Here, you can dine on delicious buttery rolls from Shark Tank alums Cousins Maine Lobster, dig into home-style cooking from Iyla’s Southern Kitchen, enjoy freshly prepared Mediterranean from Sassool, or eat the best fried seafood in Raleigh from Oak City Fish and Chips. It’s more than a collection of eateries. Morgan Street Food Hall is a true cross-meal experience.

Raleigh Beer Garden

Website | 614 Glenwood Ave

Not only do they offer a huge beer selection, but Raleigh Beer Garden is certainly one of the city's best restaurants.

With the Guinness World Record for the most unique beers on tap, Raleigh Beer Garden is a definite must-visit Raleigh restaurant. With so much talk about their beer (psst. 200 of those taps come from North Carolina), you might think there’s no room for food.

If you are looking for where to eat in Raleigh, which also has awesome brews, Raleigh Beer Garden is your spot! Whether you pair Maple Bourbon Bacon with your Porter or indulge in a Smoked Brisket Sandwich, Raleigh Beer Garden has you covered. Three floors plus a stellar outdoor section means plenty of space for everyone to gather and bond over amazing brews and bites!

The Roast Grill

7 S West Street

The Roast Grill is one of Raleigh’s oldest restaurants. Located just around the corner from Morgan Street Food Hall, you’ll definitely notice how out of place even the building looks.

Started in 1940, The Roast Grill is a cash-only hot dog joint that tops the list of one of the best restaurants in Raleigh. The menu is simple- tell Hot Dog George how many hot dogs you want, if you want a Coke in a glass bottle and an order of freshly made baklava.

The hot dogs come with mustard, chili, onions, and slaw. Don’t you even think about asking for ketchup! Why? George’s grandmother, who started The Roast Grill, said that if she spent a day and a half making the chili, it wouldn’t be ruined with some ketchup.

This enraged my followers on Tiktok, but sometimes you must trust that the chef knows what he’s doing!

Sola Coffee Cafe

Website | 7705 Lead Mine Rd

Sola Coffee Cafe is a challenger for title of best breakfast in Raleigh.

Solas is everything you want in a café. For starters, they serve quality local fresh coffee, but a toast menu will make you go insane, and plenty of #instaworthy corners and murals. Whether you’re stopping by to catch up with a friend over a Chicken & Pesto sandwich or splitting a bag of their hot mini doughnuts, Solas is a foodie must-stop Raleigh restaurant to fuel up.

Don’t forget to take a selfie with the “I believe in Raleigh” mural.

STIR

Website | 4242 Six Forks Rd Ste 100

Local ingredients are a big deal at STIR, one of our favorite restaurants in Raleigh.

Fresh oysters, delicious craft cocktails, and artisanal ice set STIR apart from other Raleigh restaurants. Located in North Hills, STIR invites foodies to experience the difference artisanal ice makes in a drink.

Hand-cut using purified water, mixologists use the freshest ingredients and creative inspiration to make every sip an experience. STIR’s menu demonstrates the same focus on detail, sourcing ingredients from farms and vendors within 100 miles of Raleigh, and every bite is made from scratch daily.

Tonbo Ramen

Website | 211 S Wilmington St

Get ready to slurp some delicious piping-hot noodles at Tonbo Ramen! The ramen is made from scratch in this downtown Raleigh restaurant, filling the place with warm aromas!

You know it’s good when it takes over 20 hours to prepare the broth. As self-professed ramen freaks, we absolutely give Tonbo our stamp of approval.

With an intimate setting and an upstairs Izakaya bar, Tonbo creates an inviting atmosphere for conversation enjoyed over delightful bites. You can always ask for Kae-dama (extra noodles) if you run out!

Transfer Co Food Hall

Website | 500 E Davie St

Searching for the best breakfast in Raleigh NC is tough but Benchwarmers Bagels might have the answer.

Inside the historic Carolina Coach Garage and Shop, Transfer Co Food Hall houses a fantastic collection of vendors and restaurants. You can stroll through, grab a Dank Burrito, and swig on some Burial Beer.

At Transfer, you can slurp on fresh NC seafood at Locals Oyster Bar and get your dunk at Captain Cookie & The Milkman. Stop by early morning for a bagel from Benchwarmers, the love child of Raleigh’s famed Jubala Coffee and Boulted Bread.

Whiskey Kitchen

Website | 201 W Martin St

Whiskey flights and elevated Southern-inspired bites are exactly what you’ll find inside the casual yet sophisticated Whiskey Kitchen. Choose from over 400 specialty whiskeys and sip with friends while sitting outside on the patio.

If you’re a newbie to whiskey, stop by for one of their Know Your Whiskey events – find dates and details on their social media.

We mentioned Whiskey Kitchen and a few more Raleigh restaurants in our day date guide to the city!

Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing

Website | 201 S Boylan Ave

Wye Hill has some of the best patio views of Raleigh and some seriously delicious eats! Brewing their own beer, the menu is chef-driven and is curated for foodies looking to enjoy the night. If you aren’t into beer, Wye Hill also has an excellent cocktail menu, and if you head there for brunch, you MUST order their rainbow mimosa flight!

Zanyu Noodles

Website | 8450 Honeycutt Rd Unit 112

If you're looking for restaurants in Raleigh's Lafayette Village, start with Zanyu Noodles.

Zanyu Noodles packs spice, flavor, and love into Chef Michael Bongiorno’s dishes that take me back to our travels through Southeast Asia. Located in the foodie heaven of Lafayette Village, Zanyu is a casual noodle bar serving dishes from Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Bongiorno spent 15 years as an executive chef for Hyatt International cooking and learning across the globe, including extensive time in Asia. Dig into any noodle dishes (especially Khao Soi), but don’t miss out on their amazing Pork Belly Buns with marinated cucumbers.

What is Your Favorite Raleigh Restaurant?

We hope that this was helpful in guiding you to where to eat in Raleigh! Since Raleigh’s burgeoning food scene is always growing, we have plenty of work cut out for us. It will be fun adding to this list of must-eat restaurants in Raleigh. As we do that, don’t worry because we’ll share what we find with you.

What are your favorite restaurants in Raleigh? And if you’ve never eaten there,  among the places to eat that we mentioned, where would you go first?

More Things to Do in Raleigh

5 thoughts on “25+ Restaurants in Raleigh (Date Night & Casual Bites)”

    • Thank you, Ashley! Definitely going to keep those two in mind as we expand our efforts. Have a wonderful day!

      Reply
  1. Lovely list. Definitely missing out on some of the more quality spots around town. The best restaurant in town for excellent food and impeccable service is surely Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern. One of the longest running restaurants still standing. Daniel Schurr’s food and presentation is beyond anything you will ever eat on the east coast. I will proudly say this is the best restaurant in town!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jason. Will definitely keep these in mind as we continue to grow this list of awesome restaurants in Raleigh!

      Reply

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