City Guide / Raleigh-Durham

The 9 Best Restaurants in Raleigh, NC

By Landing | Jun 10, 2024
Beer at one of the best restaurants in Raleigh, NC.

Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina, is bursting with activities, green space, and diverse culinary favors. Ask any resident, and they’ll agree that one of the most fun things to do in Raleigh, NC, is to sample the local cuisine. There’s something for everyone to love, such as huevos rancheros, fried catfish, craft cocktails, sushi, tacos, delicious burgers, pizza, and so much more. 

Looking for a list of the best restaurants in Raleigh, NC? That’s easy. The hard part? Finding enough days in the week to make room for them all! 

Notable dishes in Raleigh, NC

To help you decide which restaurant to choose from, it helps to know some of the best dishes to try if you’re visiting Raleigh. Here are the top dishes to dine on while in town:

  • Fried chicken: No culinary experience in Raleigh would be complete without trying authentic Raleigh fried chicken. It’s practically a staple!
  • Pimiento cheese: If you’ve never tried pimiento cheese, you’re missing out on one of the best homemade sandwich spreads. You can pair this with biscuits, crackers, sandwiches—really whatever you want! 
  • Peach cobbler: Make sure to try this hearty dessert, especially during the summer.
  • Carolina burger and hot dogs: NC serves burgers and hot dogs like no other state. For starters, they take their toppings seriously. To have an authentic burger, either ask for a “cookout style” or simply order “all the way.” You won’t regret it!

Best restaurants in Raleigh, NC

Now that you know what to order in Raleigh, here you’ll find seven of the top restaurant contenders when it comes to cooking expertise, inviting atmospheres, and unforgettable dishes. Stay tuned for all the mouthwatering details on each below but, for now, grab a pen, jot down this list, and start making a reservation at as many of these amazing restaurants as you can: 

  1. Brewery Bhavana
  2. Bida Manda
  3. A Place at the Table
  4. Crawford & Son
  5. The Fiction Kitchen
  6. Cortez Seafood and Cocktail
  7. Transfer Co. Food Hall 
  8. Wye Hill Kitchen and Brewing
  9. La Santa Modern Mexican Food

Let’s get started!

1. Brewery Bhavana

What do you get when you mix craft beer, thirst-quenching cocktails, and traditional Chinese dim sum? Brewery Bhavana, a highly rated restaurant nestled right in the middle of the historic Moore Square. High ceilings and minimalist dining room decor give this Raleigh restaurant a modern vibe that sets the stage for its colorful plates to truly shine. 

You won’t want to miss:

  • The Shanghai-style mooncakes stuffed with beef, onions, and black pepper. One of the most popular dishes at Bhavana, the char sui bao, buns that are made to order and filled with Cantonese barbecue pork and homemade dumpling sauce. 
  • The lychee martini, a sweet and sour sipper that’s loaded with flavor. Take lychee-infused vodka, cointreau, a dash of dry vermouth, crème de violet, and a squeeze of lime, and you’ve got yourself a drink that’ll keep you coming back for more. 
  • The book shop tucked away behind the bar. Pick up a new fiction find or a fresh bouquet of flowers after eating dim sum to your heart’s delight.

2. Bida Manda

Travel the globe without even having to leave this North Carolina city by booking your ticket (or a table) to the Laotian-inspired locale called Bida Manda. You may pass by this restaurant on your way to Brewery Bhavana in Moore Square, but Bida Manda is so tasty it deserves a night all its own. 

This Raleigh restaurant features beautiful bamboo-lined walls and long, communal tables, so don’t be surprised if you’re caught drooling over the decor long before dinner even arrives. 

You won’t want to miss:

  • The inventive list of libations, including the Lilac Lotus. This refreshing drink features butterfly pea tea gin, elderberry liqueur, a slightly sweet cucumber syrup, and freshly squeezed lime juice. 
  • The tantalizing short ribs and pork belly tossed in a sweet soy and ginger sauce, paired with hard boiled eggs, and jasmine rice. 
  • Desserts like you’ve never had before. For example, the purple rice is a traditional Laotian dessert made with purple sticky rice, perfectly ripe mango, coconut custard, and a tamarind caramel sauce drizzled on top.

3. A Place at the Table

A Place at the Table could very well be deemed the most unique restaurant in Raleigh by far. While its menu is nothing short of mouthwatering, it’s the mission of this Warehouse District’s restaurant that really sets it apart from the rest. Equitable access to high-quality food is the driving force behind this community-centric space in which customers pay whatever they can. 

Whether you pay the suggested menu price, offer up whatever you can afford, or volunteer in exchange for a meal, A Place at the Table is revolutionizing the restaurant experience as we know it. 

You won’t want to miss:

  • The opportunity to pay it forward. Buy a $10 token that can be redeemed for food at A Place at the Table and hand it out to someone in the Raleigh community who could use a home-cooked meal. 
  • The TedTalk featuring A Place at the Table’s founder, Maggie Kane, and her thoughts on fighting food insecurity. 
  • The diverse selection of menu items including everything from sandwiches and soups to yogurt bowls and espresso drinks. Build your own biscuit sandwich for breakfast, or save room at lunch for a generously sized turkey gouda melt with arugula, onion jam, and mayo pressed between two slices of sourdough bread. Yum!

4. Crawford & Son

Fusing traditional fare with a few modern twists, Crawford & Son is a long-standing favorite restaurant among Raleigh residents. Bring a date or a group of friends and grab a table amid the cozy lighting and brick-lined walls of this rustic joint. Be sure to save time after dinner for a waltz through the Oakwood neighborhood, the only intact section of the city that dates back to the 19th century.

You won’t want to miss:

  • The hunger pangs induced by their appetizing list of starters. Warm up with a bowl of apple and turnip soup topped with bay scallops and almonds or share a plate of the zucchini carpaccio, complete with dill pesto, smoked hazelnuts, and ricotta salata. 
  • The local catch of the day. This restaurant’s crispy catfish is an eye-catching entree that comes with a curry mussel emulsion, cauliflower, and fennel salad. 
  • The extensive list of beer, wine, and cocktails. Prefer to skip the spirits? Try out one of their non-alcoholic beverages including the Honeygold, a tart concoction of roasted apples, pink peppercorn, and ginger. 

5. The Fiction Kitchen

Take a stroll through the streets of Raleigh’s Warehouse District, and you’ll find this tasty downtown Raleigh restaurant. Among the red-brick buildings of this industrial-chic neighborhood, it’ll be hard to miss the one facade painted lime green. That’s the home of The Fiction Kitchen, a vegan eatery in the heart of downtown Raleigh and it’s packed with plant-based bites that are quickly earning a name for themselves among residents.

You won’t want to miss: 

  • The creamy risotto made with cashew cream, vegan parmesan, spiced pecans, and seasonal veggies—a shareable portion that’s so delectable you’ll probably want it all to yourself. 
  • The selection of local brews including handcrafted spicy kombucha with ginger and cayenne. Plus, toast to this newly uncovered gem with a specialty cocktail that’s brimming with botanicals. The Fizzy Garden, made with vodka or gin, jalapeño mint basil, beet syrup, citrus, and soda, is a treat your taste buds won’t want to miss. 
  • The mouthwatering desserts. Complete your dining experience with Truffles and Mousse, housemade vegan truffles topped with black pepper almonds, chocolate mousse, and salted caramel. 

6. Cortez Seafood and Cocktail

Who doesn’t love a walk through the local farmer’s market on a sunny Saturday morning? Take your pick of whatever organic goodies are available and put them together later on for a meal that’s bursting with flavor and good-for-you ingredients. Except, at Cortez Seafood and Cocktail, executive chef Oscar Diaz is the one doing the cooking. 

With seafood and seasonal produce that’s been sourced right in Raleigh’s own backyard, this restaurant—located in the South Glenwood district—is your go-to Raleigh spot for whenever you’re in need of dinner done right. 

You won’t want to miss:

  • The lush, plant-filled interiors complete with a cozy outdoor patio that’s ideal for a summer evening out with friends or loved ones. 
  • Local oysters! Eat them raw on the half shell or char-grilled to perfection. Either way, make it a point to stop in during happy hour to enjoy them at a discounted price.  
  • The Smoked & Loaded NC Papas. Potatoes, please, but pack them with guajillo buffalo, bleu cheese, pickled peppers, prosciutto, and chives. You asked, Cortez answered. 
  • Locally caught snapper ceviche tossed with red onion, serrano peppers, cucumbers, and topped with freshly toasted tortilla chips. 

7. Transfer Co. Food Hall

Can’t decide on just one Raleigh restaurant? No problem. Take your dinner date and your appetite down to Transfer Co. Food Hall in the heart of the Patterson Green neighborhood. With 50,000 square feet of dining space and a kaleidoscopic culinary landscape, this restaurant is bound to have something that’ll appeal to everyone. 

You won’t want to miss: 

  • The spices and soul food found at Che Empanadas. Take a bite out of these Argentinian pastries stuffed with carne dulce, basil Caprese, and the classic jamón y queso
  • All-day bagels at Benchwarmers. Using heirloom grains and woodfired ovens, these one-of-a-kind bagels pair perfectly with a latte from their partnering vendor, Jubala Coffee. 
  • Brews from nearby Asheville, NC, at Burial Beer Co. Featuring small-batch beers and handmade crafts from local makers, this artsy vendor earned top honors in Paste Magazine for their Separation of Light and Darkness Saison.

8. Wye Hill Kitchen and Brewing

If you’re looking for a stunning view to accompany a great meal, Wye Hill has you more than covered. This restaurant, located just a few blocks from Raleigh’s downtown area, serves unique dishes like beer cheese, and deviled eggs. 

You won’t want to miss:

  • The Wye Hill Burger. Described as “one of the best in Raleigh,” the Wye Hill goes strong with a 6oz burger patty, fried green tomato, smoked gouda, cheddar, bacon, and chipotle cream.
  • The Strawberry Champagne Salad. If you’re more into salads, this beast is a one-of-a-kind experience when visiting Downtown Raleigh. It consists of mixed greens, spinach, strawberries, red onion, candied pepitas, feta cheese, and strawberry citrus vinaigrette, overall making it one of the best I’ve ever tried. 

9. La Santa Modern Mexican Food

Located in the lively Glenwood South district, La Santa Modern Mexican Food is just one of those places you can’t go wrong with. This place serves fresh, traditional-tasting Mexican food that will please even the most difficult palates. 

From the shrimp tacos to the steak fajitas, you really can’t go wrong with this family-owned place, that already has over seven years of experience in Glenwood South. 

You don’t want to miss:

  • The Burrito Momia is one of the house’s specialties. It is described as juicy, tender, and flavorful, just everything you need in a good burrito. And it’s filled with bacon as if that wasn’t enough. 
  • The Burrito Gringo. I know, another burrito recommendation, but this $15 burrito is served with queso, pico, avocado, and beans and is something you can’t just miss. 

So, if you ever find yourself hungry in Glenwood South, La Santa is a go-to for us. 

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Honorable mentions: Restaurants in Raleigh, NC

Although these Raleigh restaurants are the best of the best, it would be a disgrace not to mention a few other establishments simply to give you more options to choose from. Here are some honorable mentions if you’re looking for a great place to dine:

  • Poole’s Diner: This classic serves some of the best southern staples, such as shrimp and grits, mac n’ cheese, and many more.
  • Beasley’s Chicken: Located in downtown Raleigh, this restaurant serves classic southern fried chicken, but with a twist, courtesy of Chef Ashley Christensen. It also does a mean brunch!
  • The Angus Barn: If steak is what you’re looking for, you’ll get it at this spot. Be sure to try the oysters on the half shell and the grilled Chateaubriand while you’re there!
  • Morgan Street Food Hall: If you like the food hall vibe of Transfer Co., be sure to check out this downtown attraction. No reservations required!
  • Bad Daddy’s Burger Hall: Head over to this southern chain for some of the best burgers in the Raleigh area. 

Whether you want to experience fine dining, southern favorites, or simply takeout, there are scores of restaurants in downtown Raleigh and beyond to choose from.

Eat, drink, and be merry in Raleigh with Landing

A colorful assortment of restaurants is just the first course when it comes to exploring this charming North Carolina city. Arts, live entertainment, and endless hiking trails await the wanderers that wind up in North Carolina’s multifaceted capital.

Whether you’re dining out or staying in, look to Landing to secure a hassle-free home in Raleigh. We can help answer some of the most important questions about moving to Raleigh, NC, the cost of living in the area, and some of the best neighborhoods to choose from. 

With a network of thousands of furnished apartments across more than 375 cities, Landing makes it easy for members to see the country and stay as long as they’d like. Skip the security deposits and application fees, and craft a lease that’s to your liking, instead. Plus, our member support team is available 24/7 should you have any questions about acclimating to your new home and city. 

Your recipe for a fully-equipped, luxury home in North Carolina starts right here. Browse our available apartments in Raleigh today!

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