Last Updated on January 15, 2023
Last Updated on January 15, 2023
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.
This post is a part of our series on Raleigh, where we’ve covered free things to do there and more in this awesome North Carolina city. If you’re searching for places to stay, check out these cool Airbnbs in Raleigh!
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 Raleigh Restaurants (immediately below this section)
- Casual Raleigh Restaurants
Date Night Restaurants in Raleigh
These places to eat bring together flavors and atmosphere to qualify as perfect date night restaurants in Raleigh, NC.
Website | 413 Glenwood Ave
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!)
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.
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?
Website | 2519 Fairview Rd
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.
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!
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.
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 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: 50+ Great Things to Do in Asheville (Downtown, Biltmore, and More!)
Big Ed’s City Market
Website | 220 Wolfe St
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.
Website | Multiple Raleigh locations
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!
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 | 428 S Dawson St
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.
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!
Website | 1053 E Whitaker Mill Rd Suite 111
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!
Website | 321 S Blount St
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
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.
Pressed by Spanglish
Website | 10630 Durant Rd #104
You’ll come away from Spanglish with a full belly and a happy heart. This is the best way to experience Puerto Rican food, ala casual. Starting as a food truck, Spanglish now has two brick-and-mortar locations, including their North Raleigh restaurant.
One of the most traditional dishes you’ll find at Spanglish’s is Mofongo, which mixes crushed plantains and a delicious broth. Served with juicy pork, maduros, and avocados, it’s an excellent reason why Spanglish made our list of incredible places to eat in Raleigh!
Raleigh Beer Garden
Website | 614 Glenwood Ave
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!
Website | 2130 Clark Ave
so.ca—derived from South of the tropic of Cancer—features dishes from everywhere below this geographical line. The name also comes from the Peruvian word for sugarcane. That means the dishes are just oh-so-sweet!
Located in Cameron Village, so.ca’s delicious international flavors are perfect for those searching for gluten-free restaurants in Raleigh. From an outstanding brunch to a popular dinner service, over 20 countries are represented on the menu.
The menu is great to mix and share, making the environment great for getting together with friends to catch up. Many recipes come directly from Chef Eli Rodriguez’s Salvadorian family recipes and mix with his years as an experienced professional chef.
Sola Coffee Cafe
Website | 7705 Lead Mine Rd
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.
Website | 4242 Six Forks Rd Ste 100
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.
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
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.
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 between 7:00 and 9:00 pm on Tuesdays for complimentary whiskey tastings. And whiskey flights are $10 on Wednesdays if you want to sample.
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!
Website | 8450 Honeycutt Rd Unit 112
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?
5 thoughts on “25+ Restaurants in Raleigh (Date Night & Casual Bites)”
Check out Premier Cakes in North Raleigh for some of the best homemade from scratch cakes and pies in the area!
Definitely should have Stanbury and Waraji on this list!!
Thank you, Ashley! Definitely going to keep those two in mind as we expand our efforts. Have a wonderful day!
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!
Thanks, Jason. Will definitely keep these in mind as we continue to grow this list of awesome restaurants in Raleigh!