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"Locals' Food" in Raleigh

Hello all!

I'm going to be coming out to Raliegh for an interview/look around shortly, and I'm wondering if you can recommend any honest to goodness, local neighbourhood restaurants I should visit while there. I'm not interested in fine dining - but am interested in establishments that will give me a real "local's eye view" and feel for the place. Cuisine wise, I'm really open - but, of course, would appreciate recs for at least one great bbq shack.


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  1. Hit Allen & Sons in Chapel Hill for great Carolina BBQ.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Tom from Raleigh


      Allen & SonsAllen & SonsAllen & SonsAllen & Sons This is a Question about RALEIGH, not Chapel Hill.

      Sorry it is a pet peeve of mine

      Don't waste your gas money from Raleigh to there..
      Go to Clyde Cooper's downtown Raleigh for good bbq & great atmosphere.
      109 E. Davie St, Raleigh, NC, 27601

      Screw Char-Grill & go a block away to Snoopy's for good hotdog

      After your hot dog, make a left on Glenwood and keep walking till you get to Vin

      If you want a good country cooking the Farmer's Market Restaurant is way better than the touristy Big Ed's.

      Skip the chain beer joint mentioned in this thread & go to the Pour House on Blount St for not only a huge selection of beer, but music as well.

      1. re: RaleighRocker

        Good call on The Pour House (I haven't been there in years & didn't realize they had 30 taps of good microbrews & imports (though that's still fewer than Flying Saucer) *and* that they're now non-smoking downstairs), with a few caveats:

        1) they're a rockclub, meaning they don't open until an hour or two before showtime, near as I can tell (is that not correct, RR?), so if you want a beer at 4:00 on a Saturday afternoon, I think you're out of luck. Plus there's sometimes a cover, and the possibility of exposure to Widespread Panic tribute bands.

        2) they're a "private club," which is what you have to be in NC if you're not a restaurant & you want to serve liquor (as opposed to just beer & wine). All this means is that you gotta either buy a membership ($1 at the Pour House) or be signed in as a guest of a member. Welcome to North Carolina! ;-)

        p.s. re: hot dogs . . . . can we compromise: Roast Grill in the daylight hours, Snoopy's at night?

        1. re: RaleighRocker

          What do you recommend ordering from the farmer's market restaurant? My husband and I tried it this week. I didn't enjoy my country ham and home fries, and hubby didn't like his straight out of a can corned beef hash or his grits. We enjoyed the biscuits but that's about it.

          1. re: RaleighRocker

            Another great hot dog and a true local hangout is The Roast Grill on West Street (near both Char-grill and Snoopy's). Forget ketchup though--they don't serve it. But you can have a great grilled hot dog, all the way, with a coke in the bottle. Get the homemade pound cake or baklava for dessert!

            For BBQ, try White Swan (there are a couple in the Raleigh area) or Ole Time Barbecue (it's a fun experience and the owner, Jerry, will probably talk your ear off).

            Get your coffee at Cup a Joe on Hillsborough Street and experience the local scene.

            1. re: kpaigel

              At the Roast Grill, I've heard that if you ask for ketchup, they give you hot sauce instead. I love that!

              We have a number of indy coffee shops in town now but none can match Cup A Joe in quality.

        2. 'Was already there a number of years ago - so I know it's "the best of the best" (and they even made a special plate for my doggie - which I, really, appreciated - as did he :-). I plan on getting back there - but I'd like to hear about more local joints to help me get a "non-tourist potential resident" feel for the place.

          This trip is one of those "should I or shouldn't I" trips - and considering I'm not very "chainrestaurantstripmallbigmall" oriented, I'd love some more recommendations for "local flavour" places.

          I guess I should have noted this in my original post - but I grew up in the NY metro area - then lived for nine years in Atlanta proper - then moved to British Columbia - then just moved back to the States (WA, to be exact) - but I'm considering a move back to the South, the place I consider to be my home.

          Thanks for the Allen & Sons rec. I can hardly wait to get back there!!!!!


          1. OX, you know you like Allen & Sons, so I;ll only recommend new places that are respresentative of what I think is relevant of the local food scene:

            1. Locopops http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locopops This is a popscicle place, but to me it is the heart and soul of the local food scene
            2. Pick one: Jujube/Rue Cler/Piedmont
            3. Go to the intersection of 54 & 55 in Durham near RTP and cruise the strip malls. There's good Korean, Indian, Mexican and other types of food there. Heck, there's even an Indian desert place/bakery. To me, this area shows the Triangle's ethnic food crediblilty.
            Extra Credit: Check out the taco truck on Buckthorn in Cary. I've heard good things


            1. One place that needs to get mentioned more often than it does is Driade. Not for food, mind you, because they don't make any. However, I honestly can't think of anyone in the area who does what they do better than how Driade makes a cappucino. It is absolute perfection and I actually used it to seal the deal in convincing a food geek friend of mine to move here. As we waited (and waited) for our drinks, I could almost see tears welling up in his eyes as he watched them make the drinks. The texture and flavor are freaking insane.

              While I haven't been to Italy, I've been to plenty of US cities that take their coffee quite seriously and have never had a better coffee drink anywhere.

              Mind you, like Allen and Sons, it isn't in Raleigh but Chapel Hill but it's the first thing that came to mind.

              If it was December, I'd insist that you get a stollen from Guglhupf but any of their pastries will certainly make you smile. In general, I prefer the bread at Weaver St. but the sweets at Guglhupf are outstanding.

              Those are two.

              OK, I'll also echo Tom's call on 54/55. In particular Vit Goal. That said, if you are coming from a big city, there's nothing there that will make you want to move here. Rather places that will make you feel OK that you'll still be able to find some good ethnic grub. For instance, I've had better tofu soup than I had at Vit Goal, but it's damned tasty and I'm very pleased that we have it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: detlefchef

                I have been using this thread as a sort of bible for my new life in Raleigh, so I've tried out some things and figured I'd comment.

                Thanks for the tip about Driade. Awesome woodsy location, and the most amazing milkshake/espresso creation ever! I highly recommend the Driade shake. My hubby had a cappuccino and loved that also.

                Went to Guglhupf specifically to try the grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut & dijon on brezel sub roll. They were out of it, and I wasn't too hungry so I asked for a nutella sandwich. Since it was on the kid's menu they refused to serve it to me. That made me angry. Hubby ordered westphalian ham on rye with soup. It was tasty ham but $7 is a bit much for 1/4 cup of soup and a sandwich with only one piece of bread. Perhaps the pastries are what makes this place famous, not the lunch or the attitude. I do admit the atmosphere was lovely with fountains and the cafe was in a nice, open, 2 story building, and the pastries looked delightful!

                I'm going to have to try your other tips! Thanks!

              2. I'll second everything Tom mentioned and add the following:
                Neomonde in Raleigh for Middle Eastern
                Bosphorous in Cary for Turkish
                Red Palace in Raleigh for traditional Chinese
                Any of the many, many authentic taquerias all over eastern NC
                Hard Times Cafe in Raleigh for chili and beer (even though it's part of a small chain the food is good, inexpensive, and it's very family-friendly)
                Armadillo Grill in Raleigh & Wake Forest for wings. The Raleigh location has a great tequila selection.
                And a little off the usual path - Holden's for cue on US1 up near Youngsville. While you're there, if you can find it, try Johnson's Farmer's Market Buffet for traditional Southern cooking, all you eat style.

                1. Have you noticed that a lot of what folks are recommending is outside of Raleigh? Actually, that may not have been clear from their posts: everything mentioned prior to Rockycat's post is not in Raleigh. It's split about 60/40 Durham/Chapel Hill.

                  I lived in Raleigh back in the early 90s, and now I live out near Chapel Hill & work in Durham (RTP, really). I go to Raleigh about once a month to see some art, or go to a furniture store, or something like that. I actually go to Cary more frequently than I go to Raleigh, because Cary (which is this mysterious 200,000-person "bedroom community" that sprung up almost overnight on the western edge of Raleigh) actually has the best arthouse cinema in the Triangle (http://www.mygalaxycinema.com ), as well as the highest concentration of good Indian food in the Triangle. Udipi is simply outstanding, and is all-vegetarian.

                  Still wouldn't wanna live there, though.

                  This is not to dissuade you from Raleigh; there is enough goodness in all corners of the Triangle that I would suggest that you could & should find a good neighborhood within 15 minutes of your job (commutes around here are *really* starting to suck) and then plan on making a weekly trip to some other part of the Triangle to check out the food or a movie or the general culture.

                  OK, so having said that, my take on some of the "locals" gems in Raleigh. In no particular order:

                  J. Betski's is a German/Polish/Austrian place that just opened; the owner used to work at Lantern in Chapel Hill (fairly well-known Asian place), and while the food is completely different, the attention to detail is the same. The food is outstanding, and the beverage selection is really nicely focused on beers and wines from the same region. http://www.jbetskis.com/

                  the banh mi (vietnamese subs) at Dalat are worth the drive from Chapel Hill

                  the Roast Grill is a southern hot-dog institution: http://www.roastgrill.com/

                  likewise, the Char-Grill is a Raleigh burger institution. At this point I can take-or-leave the burgers, honestly, but the combination of a hot fried pie and a milkshake . . .http://www.choppedonion.com/id37.html

                  Flying Saucer may be a chain, but they've got an outstanding draft beer selection, and it's inside-the-beltline Raleigh: http://www.beerknurd.com/

                  I've heard good things about the Raleigh Times Bar, but I haven't been, and it may have just been downtown-revitalization hypesters.

                  My fave Thai restaurant in Raleigh is Sawasdee. Favor for them on Chowhound seem to have kind of dropped off (there was apparently an ownership change a year or two ago), but when I ate there 3-4 months ago, the beef salad & the curried catfish were both excellent. It's not a sublime Thai experience, but it's solid, and the decor is pleasantly funky (weird paintjob on the walls & tables


                  There's a Senegalese restaurant (it's actually half-Senegalese, half-Vietnamese) called Mawa Royal African Cuisine, which is hidden away behind a Denny's. The Viet side of the menu is just so-so, but the African side is really good. I say this having never knowingly had Senegalese food anywhere else, but all I'm saying is that it's mighty tasty, and in flavor combinations I haven't had elsewhere. Lots of gooey sauces thickened with nut butters; I had an outstanding goat curry type of dish there. Plus their meat patties are divine.

                  If you were looking for suggestions of uniquely/authentically Southern or "Raleigh" dishes/restaurants, I don't have much to offer. Much of the Old South character of Raleigh has been long-since wrung out of the city, and nowadays I'm afraid the most typically Raleigh restaurants are a combination of mall-colocated chains, and weird wannabe-chains that are apparently locally-owned, but have managed to replicate the bad decor and bland food of the chains.

                  The places I have listed are by-no-means the only good places to eat in the Raleigh area; don't get the idea that it's a chain-resto wasteland. There are dozens more that the Raleighites on the list should speak up for. But don't be surprised if there are more ethnic joints added to the list, and if peoples' faves sometimes come with asterisks and caveats. There's a lot of good solid comfort-level dining in Raleigh, but more and more, when people are looking to have socks knocked off, they're making the trip to some of the places in Chapel Hill or Durham listed earlier in the thread.

                  Check out this recent thread to get an idea of the range of restaurants recommended when the query was for fine-dining in Raleigh: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356418

                  Oh yeah: nearly all the good Mexican food is in Durham. Do a chowhound search on Durham and taqueria and you'll get many many hits.

                  1. While I agree with most everything rossgrady reported, raliegh has become a ghost yard of chains, I disagree that all the good Mexican food is in Durham.

                    Raleigh has Vallarta, El Mandado, Los Cuates, and the place on Peace Street. not to mentian some pretty good Taco trucks. The best Tamales I ever had came off the back of a lunch truck I wish I can find again. I am sure I am leaving out other fine raleigh taquerias.

                    In fact take a ride though the eastern part of the state and stop at any taqueria or mexican market where the signs are only in spanish, there is a good chance you will be in for a treat.

                    1. Tis the curse of drinking in NC! I just remembered that the Raleigh Times does have an extensive beer selection.

                      1. Ooh yeah Roast Grill, if not for atomosphere alone. But Snoopys on Glenwood & Hillsborough had a guy in a hot dog suit out the other day, which made me oddly very happy.

                        1. On last thing, I second the Neomonde mention (though I am partial to the Morrisville location).

                          Also, not sure of when it is official, but Ashely Christenson is taking over the old Poole's (Vertigo) location & guaranteed to do it right. Think it is very soon.

                          Sushi in Raleigh btw-go to Waraji or Shaba Shabu, avoid the overpriced & poor serviced Sushi Blues.

                          My fave casual italian is Bella Monica

                          I ate at Dalat the other night. If you want it hot, and a are a female, give it up. they always give me baby on the hot scale, no matter how much I try to convey I love to burn off my tastebuds. But it is no problem since they're plenty of condiments available.

                          Also if you're in North Raleigh Tookie's chicken salad rules!

                          1. It's true about Ashley and Pooles. She wasn't in Vin on Saturday night, as she was working on rehabilitating the Poole's kitchen (which was a mess, literally).

                            Raleigh Times is the real deal, although Ashley no longer has anything to do with it.

                            Pam's Farmhouse isn't a bad option for a southern lunch.

                            There's an El Salvadoran place on Capital, and there's also an El Salvadoran truck by the Soccer Dome.

                            The Thai place on Hardimont and Wake Forest is pretty darned good. The name escapes me. Thai House, I think.

                            Los Cuates is super.

                            The food from the convenience store on Oberlin (about 2 blocks from Cameron Village) can be very good.

                            The coconut cake at the Hayes Barton Grill truly is to die for (and it will kill you!).

                            I sort of like the vibe of the Oakwood Cafe, half Argentinian, half Cuban, half Italian (yes, I know that's 3 halves). The food can be good, too.

                            Porter's makes a good burger, too. Damn tasty burger, indeed.

                            1. WOW!!!!! Something went awry with my "notify me when someone responds" - so I've not checked since Sunday. All I can say is thank you SOOOOOO much. I'm going to plow through this thread, make a list of all of the suggestions and map out their locations. Then, when I get to Raleigh, I'm going to eat my way through it, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary and everything inbetween.

                              Thanks again, folks!!!


                              1. Joe's Place is on the corner of Martin and Davie and is a brightly lite Diner, very local friendly.
                                Where mac and cheese is a choice on the vegtable plate.

                                The Rockford on Gklenwood South for a sandwhich and a drink
                                Lilly's Pizza on Glenwood great Pizza
                                For a beer you can't beat the Pourhouse.

                                1. I totally agree on all of the above...I only would add an opinion: for a beer you can't beat The Raleigh Times.

                                  1. I agree with countgrog about Lily's. I also like Casa Linga in "north Raleigh" (off Capital Blvd) for Italian- love it. I also really like Cafe Luna down in City Market (near the Pour House). I'll also throw in, as someone might have done but I missed it. that my all time favorite Mexican in Raleigh is Dos Taquitos on the corner of Millbrook Rd and Creedmore Rd... best ever. I swear on it (but you will probably have to wait, but IT'S SO WORTH IT). Also, I like Irregardless Cafe, though haven't been in FOREVER, so...

                                    And I also second the Raleigh Times. And I do like Coopers BBQ.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: slick

                                      We had dinner at Dos Taquitos this week and had a rather terrible experience. The service was very slow compared to most Mexican restaurants and we had to ask twice for the cheese dip we ordered. The pitcher of Margaritas was not as strong as most and at $29 a pitcher (which seemed a little steep) we thought it was unprofessional when the man who brought them to us poured himself a glass to taste them. On a more positive note, my chimichanga was pretty good, yet nothing spectacular. To top off our dining experience, my friend ordered mahi tacos which tasted and smelled like they had an entire bottle of vinegar poured on them. She took one bite and did not touch them again. When the waitress took them away, she explained that they did not taste right. The waitress did not ask if she would like something else or apologize, but they did end up on the bill. When we requested that the manager/owner's brother remove them, he informed us that the waitress told him my friend had eaten 2 of the 3 tacos. All in all, the experience left a rather bad taste in our mouths!

                                    2. to me- what raleigh does best is lunch-- here are my fave lunch hot spots-- i feel like a trader to my fellow locals sharing these!!

                                      Zest Cafe and Home Art-- no preservatives- ridiculously good- and you'll be greeted by Marvin and karla- the owners-- they're transplants from Chicago and absolutely lovely people!
                                      Hayes-Barton Pharmacy-- awesome wine, sandwishes and oh those deserts...
                                      Seaboard Cafe-- awesome sweet tea- and lunch on the tracks outside of a greenhouse- my fave place to go on a sunny day (they do have indoor seating and i have yet to figure out how they control any kind of greenhouse smell)
                                      Side-Street Cafe-- home cookin- a definite who's who of raleigh lunch spot-- you'll see senators, the ultra popular and wealthy, and poor people too-- a spot where you can eat off a white table cloth for not much $$ in a restored old piggly wiggly restaurant-- bring cash or check
                                      Sunflowers-- mmmhhmm!! awesome vegan options and amazing salads
                                      Irregardless Cafe-- they offer kosher meals and have the best tomato sandwich i've eveer had in a restaurant!!!

                                      NoFo-- also an old piggly wiggly-- great food!! healthy!!! some regional cuisine-- they also do wine tastings a lot at night--

                                      oh and kudos on the Lilly's!!!! all their food comes from NC farmers (even the water they serve comes from a nc spring) all is free of hormones and preservatives and is damn good pizza!

                                      yeah- that's it for now

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: imagadabout

                                        Irregardless is NOT, repeat NOT, kosher. They do not serve kosher food. They do not serve Jewish-style food. They were, many years ago, a vegetarian restaurant but for a few years now have served steak, chicken, and fish. The restaurant does not use kosher meat nor are they certified by any agency or local rabbi. The owner is Jewish but that's it.

                                        The only genuinely kosher restaurant in the entire state of NC is in Charlotte. Anyone stating otherwise is being misleading.

                                        1. re: imagadabout

                                          Thanks for the lunch tips, I tried Seaboard and enjoyed it.. we liked the burger better than the crab cake. I'll try out your other tips ASAP. :)

                                        2. I think Bella Monica is a GREAT place for Raleigh locals. It is the best kept secret in Raleigh. It's located in a shopping center but has great atmosphere and terrific italian food.

                                          1. Here are some meat and three choices that people should try. Some are better than others but these 5 do still provide the local feel and some pretty good food.

                                            1. Gateway This is next to a Salvation Army thrift store on Crabtree Blvd. , which is right off of Capital Blvd. Incredible BBQ chicken.

                                            2. Pam's Farmhouse . Western Blvd. Another BBQ chicken fav along with tons of of good vegetables.

                                            3. Profile at the Upper Deck Bar. They still serve lunch from the original Profile, best food is Grecian Chicken, and the fried cornbread.

                                            4. Finch's. Underneath Capital Blvd at Peace Street.

                                            5. Mecca , downtown Raleigh with daily lunch specials

                                            HM - Watkins Grill under Capital Blvd at Atlantic Blvd. I do not like this very much but it is always packed with work trucks at noon which can be a good sign.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: BBQJoe

                                              I've driven by FInch's more times than I know and have always been curious. What's it like?

                                              1. re: rockycat

                                                I finally checked it out a few months ago (for breakfast on a Saturday). It's totally a dive diner - yes, there are some of them left. Still has a smoking section (unfortunately), and it's cash only (so be prepared) and your bottomless coffee cup gets refilled by a sweet lady who calls you "Sugar". I'm sure the family of four ate for about a tenner. It was just what we wanted that day......we really ought to go back....

                                            2. Two that I haven't seen mentioned.

                                              Fins - In North Raleigh. Kind of a Pacific Rim Fusion restaurant, i.e. our local take on the PNW type restaurants (I lived in Seattle for ten years from '92 on). It's actually in Raleigh, it's actually in a strip mall, and its setting does make it a little strange, but the food is great, and once you're inside that atmosphere is fine. Best sashimi I've had in the area, and some really wonderful items on the menu, although a few can be a touch on the sweet side for me.

                                              Saffron - (http://www.saffronnc.com) great Indian restaurant in Morrisville (about a 15 minute drive from the airport) - also in a strip mall. I just returned from a trip to India and the food at Saffron compares very favorably. For the poster above who complained about being short changed on the heat, give the Chicken Chettinad at Saffron a try. I personally wouldn't ask them to make it 'hot', as it was already hotter than most of the Indian food I had in India. YMMV though, so if you ask them to make it really hot, let us all know how that turns out, should be a fun read.

                                              Once you get out of the actual downtown areas of Raleigh and Durham, the restaurant in a strip mall idea is pretty common. If you can get over the idea of it, you'll find plenty of great restaurants sitting uncomfortably close to a Food Lion or Harris Teeter. As for the "In Raleigh", "Not in Raleigh" argument, you didn't say where you lived in Washington, but the traffic in Seattle 6 years ago was worse than the traffic in RTP today, so driving from Raleigh to Chapel Hill or Durham outside of rush hour is really no big deal, esp. if you're staying somewhere close to or north of the Beltline (i.e. 440 that encircles downtown Raleigh). If you have a say in it, somewhere close to the the RBC center probably wouldn't be a bad choice for exploring the area as a whole - http://www.rbccenter.com/about/218.asp.

                                              1. FIns has actually closed.

                                                The Farmers Market restaurant is the best meat and three in town, in fact, in the region. Hands down.

                                                1. Fins was talking about either opening a second location at one of the new Progress Energy building in our grand, glorious downtown or relocating. As of fairly recently, they hadn't decided which. Sounds like they've chosen the "relocate" option. Either way, they're not gone for good.

                                                  1. bbqjoe amen on the Pam's Farmhouse. I love their breakfast. I also love the friendly waitresses & the old folks that hang out there.

                                                    to the person who mentioned porter's burger--agreed

                                                    zest, as mentioned above is wonderful.It is a favorite brunch spot of mine. Kind of girly, but in a good way.

                                                    1. I just want to thank each of you for your recommendations!!! I'm off to Raleigh tomorrow (will arrive tomorrow night and depart Sunday noon) - and I look forward to trying as many recommendations as time and my tummy can handle. (I've a feeling this is going to be a "must buy bigger clothes" trip - and I'm looking forward to it.)

                                                      Thanks again, all!!!

                                                        1. Well, I'm back! It was a much more whirlwind trip than I had hope for (got into Raleigh two hours later than scheduled, friday interviews went longer than scheduled, saturday "let's go see the town" tour went longer than scheduled, oh, and of course I managed to catch a wicked cold just two days before departing) - but it was fabulous. Here's the rundown:

                                                          Night 1: Too tired to read a map, so since we stayed in the crabtree mall area, we just went to a chain (which I will not mention because I am not a chain restaurant person - but it worked out well).

                                                          Lunch Day 2: I have no clue of the name of the place, but I was treated to a very yummy thai-esque lunch somewhere in Cary. The homemade tofu was just delicious - and the garlicy brown sauce was perfect.

                                                          Dinner Day 2: After 7 hours of interviews and said head cold, I could hardly keep my eyes open - so we just drove a few blocks to Tavola Rossa. Interesting place! The decor was so not in character with the food, but was quite nice. The food itself was really nice - but holy, I wish the server had warned us that one entree feeds two! Anyway, my sweetie was in a "meat and potatoes" mood, so he ordered the meatloaf - which was perfectly spiced and very "my old italian grandma made it". My chicken rotelle wasn't nearly as good - but was more than acceptable. The real standouts for me were the dipping sauce for the bread (which was very similar to the spedini sauce I used to get in my neighbourhood italian restaurant in NYC), and the creme brulee (which I can't even articulate because it was just "that good").

                                                          Lunch Day 3: Clyde Coopers! I kid you not, I shed tears when I took my first bite of the pulled pork. I know I don't need to tell you how good the food there is :-)

                                                          Dinner Day 3: We had hoped to hit either Porters or Bella Monica, but given our limited time and the fact we wanted to check out the cameron village and oakwood areas further (for living purposes), we ended up bypassing them for the Village Draft House. Now keep this in context: It has been 6 years since I've had a burger that didn't start out as a wad of frozen beef plunked down on a grill and cooked till very done. (BC and this area of the PNW aren't exactly known for great burgers.) I did a serious happy dance in my seat when I took the first bite of this obviously very high quality, hand-formed, cooked to order and seasoned beast. The only thing that would have put things over the top would be if the fries were hand-cut and not the usual freezer variety.

                                                          All in all, it was a yummy trip - but I do have to admit I'm looking forward to my next visit so I can hit as many of the recommended spots as possible.

                                                          Again, thanks for all of your help!!!

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: ejmatl

                                                            if youre ever in crabtree valley mall and starving (hopefully this is where you went) go to KABOBBI'S!!!! its in the food court, so put away your dignity for a bit but it is sooooo good and fresh tasting. all natural, too. and they are super-friendly, esp. for a food court.

                                                            1. re: ejmatl

                                                              I was in town a couple of years ago (my first time there) and we ate at Clyde Cooper's daily at lunch. I STILL crave the pork, which tasted like real old fashioned pork used to taste. I gotta get back up there again...<deep longing sigh>

                                                            2. ejmatl I am so happy you enjoyed Clyde Coopers. It pains me that people don't give it the acclaim it deserves. And yes, the draft house has killer burgers (as does their other outposts).

                                                              hope your interview went as well as the food did!

                                                              1. Clyde coopers is really the best bbq raleigh has to offer. j betskis is oversauced and overgarnished. Vin is hip.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: bizniz

                                                                  Vin is about as hip as a shoe.
                                                                  And J.Betskis is 10 times more substance than that the paper thin style of Vin.

                                                                  1. re: inaverysmallroom

                                                                    Well, I guess then that Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, and the James Beard House haven't a clue what they're talking about since they all thought very highly of Ashley Christensen (sp?) and Vin. They must just be behind the curve on Betski's. Yeah, right.

                                                                  2. re: bizniz

                                                                    I haven't eaten anything less than great at J. Betskis. The dishes I've had were worth extra trips! There are even some items like kielbasa that have never been my fave, but they make it soooo good that I've changed my mind (as long as I get it there!). I would definitely suggest this place even if you just want to have a few apps at the bar with your fave beer or cocktail.

                                                                    I would also suggest Porters & Fins for great dining....42nd St is fun and lively as well if you want a more casual atmosphere.

                                                                  3. A notable omission from this list is the Lotus Leaf in Cary. Very fresh and consistently good food, and - gasp! - it's in Cary. Yes, I'll freely admit that I live in Cary and I love it here.

                                                                    I would also echo the recommendations for Neomande.

                                                                    1. For Raleigh institutions, Amedeos was left off, as was Subconscious, for "neighborhood" restaurants.

                                                                      As already mentioned, Mecca, Coopers, and Roast Grill are true downtown raleigh neighborhood sites.

                                                                      Big Ed's is not bad either, even if it is a relative late-comer to the scene.

                                                                      1. I'm a native NCr and grew up in the restaurant business(truck stops!)-family trips always planned around places to eat. There's a place on Capital boulevard near MiniCity(on the same side of the road) that reminds me of the meat and 3 of my youth. It's in one of the old strip malls and there is a take-out barbeque place(if I remember correctly)next door.

                                                                        1. If you want a real neighborhood joint, go to the Player's Retreat (the PR) on Oberlin Road, near Hillsborough. They have the best burgers and fries, they do some breakfast, have a great bar and one of the best Scotch offerings in town. This is the hang out of the NCSU professors. The only drawback is it's a bit smoky. It's worth it. (They try to say they are a sports bar, but not so much.)

                                                                          For locals only pizza, try Lilly's in Five Points. It's not New York or Chicago style pizza, so don't expect that. They make the best food. They use as much organic product as they can. The result is amazing.


                                                                          These places are in Raleigh.

                                                                          1. We just went to Clyde Cooper's today....it was not as good as everyone raves. The hush puppies were great. But the pork BBQ and collards were lacking in flavor. Also there vinegar needed more vinegar! My husband and I had to add hot sauce to add flavor. i will say it was not fatty. The place itself was quaint..but the waitresses,waiters and cashier were extremely rude. Southern hospitatlity must of skipped that place.

                                                                            We still like Dixie Belle's out in Apex. They moved, but still that has been the best BBQ spot.

                                                                            We went to J Betsky's last night, German/Polish cusine...Phenominal!! Top notch..everything from the wine,beer to schnappes was amazing. Also not over the top expensive. Reservations are a must!! Also alittle hard to find.

                                                                            Italian, Casa Lingua on capital even there lunch buffet is delicious. The owner is graet and there rating of cleanliness is 100% Great food and service. I am arelocated Brooklyn girl and this is the closest I have found to my own!

                                                                            Good Times cafe downtown has great chili, they have different versions to offer over salad,macaroni ro hot dogs..not expensive and we love it.

                                                                            Indian, we go to Hillsborough Street to Indian Mahjal. there lunch buffet is alwasy good. We have never been there for dinner.

                                                                            I am still looking for a graet middle eatsern restaurant like Sahara up in Brooklyn. if anyone knows..please let me know!!


                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Reeses

                                                                              For Mediterranean cuisine, try Neomonde or Baba Ghanouj. Both are exceptionally good.

                                                                              1. re: Reeses

                                                                                Reeses, as much as it pains me to criticize a Chowhound brother... Dude- subject, predicate, verb, capitals, spelling, PLEASE.

                                                                                1. re: jiminea

                                                                                  Reeses, Have you ever been to Kemp's for seafood? It is close to the airport.
                                                                                  The cafeteria in Cary was always good, fast, and cheap. It is close to the Ford Dealership, or behind it actually and beside that old mall. Now I am reminded of Gypsy's Shiny Diner, which you pass on the way to the cafeteria. My kids loved their butterfly chips.
                                                                                  SuzyQ, We loved Neomonde too and really miss having fresh baked pita bread available. I do not even bother with the pita in the groceries around here.
                                                                                  jiminea, I have found that when I correct another commentor's spelling I then cannot spell so I thought I would warn you.

                                                                                2. re: Reeses

                                                                                  It's actually Hard Times, I think. And Yes, very good.

                                                                                3. hi eileen, i`ve lived here 20+yrs, some local spots are still alive, coopers bbq, downtown (wilmington & davie) st off fayetteville st is a ggod lunch spot. the mecca up the street on martin & wilmington st, ( just ask) has alot of local business, and dinner as well.,, cooper is a downtown "Q" joint. a real "Q" shack is on western/hillsborough st extension,called "Old Time BBQ" or something like that,,it is always full, not a "q" fan this time of year, i make my own ribs, etc,,,Hot Dogs are a big thing here, "hot weiners"-the roast grill is the real deal on west st. snoopy`s is ok for college kids-n- locals, all take -out.
                                                                                  DO NOT go toCloo`s in mission valley ,NCSU area, they have bad sanitation ratings, slow service & not really a southern dog, some type of bastardised, chicago dog.
                                                                                  a local NCSU italain place, good pizza is Amedios` on western blvd, down the street,
                                                                                  good bread, (ny jets fan club)meets there.
                                                                                  Char-Grill on hillsborough st hands down best local burger, cole slaw, lemonaide.
                                                                                  Duck-n-dumpling on Moore Square downtown is a really great asian place, dumplings are outta this world, i used to work in nyc,chef david has been a local fixture for years in raleigh. stay away from the farmers mkt rest, they just can`t get outta the tourist trap fare.

                                                                                  Vics italian cafe in city market is good, we love it, salads are on time, pizza rocks.
                                                                                  if you are @ cameron village try the carolina cafe for the "jr league" locals,
                                                                                  good local lebanese food is"neomonde" off hillsborough st. (b-hind waffle house).
                                                                                  and for local bowlin alley -retro lunch(cheap) but good try the "wolf-lane" bowlin alley on hillsborough st NCSU. and if ya really want to get funky, try Finch`s for b-fast or lunch @
                                                                                  person st, a raleigh tradition.,,the rest are chains andmall-rat hang outs,,,
                                                                                  oh i forgot for vietnamese fare, Dalat is great for pha,, nice people i eat there alot.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: blips

                                                                                    stay away from the farmers mkt rest, they just can`t get outta the tourist trap fare.

                                                                                    Southern food in North Carolina is "tourist trap fare"? I'm not sure I understand this comment.

                                                                                    1. re: Suzy Q

                                                                                      maybe he means that the "farmer's market restaurant" derives its business from location instead of being true to form when it comes to southern food. I can attest to that - it really does Southern food injustice. Most Triangle places do, in fact. It's sad, really. Walk into any old hole in the wall in Charleston or Savannah and you're bound to get Southern classics that blow anything in the Triangle away. Joyce & Family comes closest to holding form.

                                                                                    2. re: blips

                                                                                      Gotta stand up for Cloos. They're Detroit dogs, not Chicago. Yes, they're slow and I've been putting up with that for 20 years...but the Detroit coney dogs are authentic as heck. He makes great fries as well, and I think worth the wait. Sanitation ratings - frankly low/mid 90s is pretty typical. I also love the Roast Grill aka Hot Weiners on West St - very Southern place. Don't let the 91/92 ratings scare you there - much of that is due to using non-restaurant style stoves and fridges. Owner George (known him for 27 years) tells me he can't use the approved stoves/fridges because he can't physically fit them into the back room through the doors of the old place.

                                                                                      Roast Grill
                                                                                      7 S West St, Raleigh, NC 27603

                                                                                      Hot Weiners
                                                                                      7 S West St, Raleigh, NC 27603

                                                                                    3. Just an update: Saturday night at the Raleigh Times was a wonderful experience. The place was full of young people (we were with our daughter). Chicken fried pickles with ranch dressing were non-greasy and delicious. Two of us ordered the Greek salad with balsamic marinated chicken. The kitchen was very generous with the amount of chicken. There were two meals in this salad. Chocolate cake with buttercream frosting was delectable.
                                                                                      DLGuerra Scribd.com/DLGuerra

                                                                                      1. I love the local food here in Raleigh, and I am pretty much the pickiest eater on the planet. For good BBQ, I recommend The Pit. For good Italian, The Mellow Mushroom is a very popular choice. My favorite place in all of Raleigh, though, is a little Japanese restaurant on the edge of NC State campus called Sakura Xpress. It sounds like a chain place, but when you walk in, you immediately notice it isn't. It's not even a strip mall or anything, given the pink exterior with the yellow roof, it is almost impossible to miss.

                                                                                        1. Where does Finch's fall in this category? Pam's Farm House (I think is what it is called as well)?

                                                                                          Pam's Farm House
                                                                                          5111 Western Blvd, Raleigh, NC 27606

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                                                                            it never gets mentioned but I love Bali Hi on Wake Forest Rdin raleigh. Its not appealing from the outside but I have been going there since 1985 and always enjoy my meal. Unlike the other Mongolian grill places they prepare your sauce for you and I can never get it right doing it myself at a place like Crazy Fire.