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1 night only in Raleigh/Durham

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Well, sort of but not really. I've been coming down to the area for work on a regular basis, but either haven't had much of a chance to get out, or have had to go to all the crappy chains that the client wants to go. My last night in town in Friday and I want to take myself to one of the many places I've accumulated on my list. I am a vegetarian looking for something a bit more upscale with a focus on local ingredients, and with a nice wine by the glass list. It's also important that this place will be accommodating to a lone diner on a Friday night - preferably at the bar. Here are the places I'm thinking:

Frazier's - looks like they'll do a veggie tasting menu if I call in advance.

Piedmont - everyone raves about this place, and the wine list looks fantastic. I'm also partial to places that only have one veggie option because it tests the chef's creativity on what is typically the least expensive item on the menu.

Enoteca Vin - Have been here once, but only for the cheese plate. The menu blew me away, as did the wine by the glass list.

An - Heard nothing but rave reviews and would love to find a place that does a creative tofu dish.

Lantern - a possibility, but coming from Raleigh and drinking a bit of wine, I don't really want to have to drive that far.

Comments on the above and other suggestions are welcome. Many thanks!!

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  1. If you're partial to the single veggie offering concept, I recommend Magnolia Grill in Durham. Sit at the bar or one of the deuces in the bar section.

    Vin in Raleigh is another great option.

    Jujube in Chapel Hill is very accommodating for vegetarians and it's easy to get to from the Raleigh area.

    Weathermasta, eh? In the weather biz? I recently worked for a OK and Japan-based company called Weathernews.

    1. Had dinner this past weekend at Enoteca Vin, the food was wonderfull my wife had the mushroom risotto, and it was one of the best I have had. I would recomend that you try dinner there on one fo your vists. My choice was not vegie but also very good.

      1. Of all on the list, Piedmont is the better choice. Vegetarian friendly, and their atmosphere and drink list is better than the others listed, although I can't speak for Lantern. Support the growing restaurant scene in Durham....everything else is a little tired.

        1. If you don't want to come to Chapel Hill, then Jujube and Lantern are out, although both are fairly good options. Piedmont would probably be my choice of the other places you've listed.

          1. Another vote for Piedmont. I've loved it every time (4 times for dinner, 3 for brunch).

            1. You should consider Magnolia Grill in Durham. It is definitely upscale chef/owner Ben Barker is one of the pioneers of the local ingredients movement in the Triangle. Some may not put any stock in such lists but it is rated the #11 best restaurant in Bon Appetit's top 50 restaurants in the US list. However, I'd call first to find out what their vegetarian offerings are.

              Another old guard restaurant that doesn't get much attention these days but is a solid restaurant with lots of veg offerings is AnotherThyme. They were in downtown Durham long before places like Piedmont and Rue Cler made it the hot place to be.

              3 Replies
              1. re: bbqme

                If you do call Magnolia Grill and arrange a veggie option ahead of time, please post to this board about it. I have been there several times when there was no veggie option available, and when we asked if the kitchen could leave bacon or chicken stock out of a fish dish (since we do eat fish), we were graciously but firmly steered away from the idea. So I would never recommend that a vegetarian show up there without calling ahead.

                Piedmont often has more than one vegetarian option, and they are frequently very creative. A server there once told me that their philosophy is "If it sounds like it should be vegetarian, it probably is"--for example, they will generally avoid putting chicken stock in a vegetable soup. And they are extremely accomodating about double-checking, just to be sure. I would say that Piedmont, for dinner, is probably the most vegetarian-friendly serious restaurant in Durham. (Lunch is a little more restricted--the menu is shorter overall, and so there may only be one vegetarian sandwich and a plain green salad.)

                1. re: Durm

                  I've had the same experience at Magnolia - they have told me that they're not going to take something out of a dish, or substitute one veg for another. I understand this, but it keeps it from being a regular stop for us. Shame, because it is a nice place.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    My bad on that if that's the case. I worked at Magnolia Grill as a waiter years ago and there was always a couple of "for real" veggie appetizers and at least one veggie entree -- no chicken stocks or ham at all. If what you're saying is true, it sounds like Magnolia Grill used to be what Piedmont is, at least when it comes to vegetarian options.

              2. What about an outstanding restaurant that is completely vegetarian? Udipi Cafe in Cary serves impeccible Southern Indian Veggie Fare. Lunch is good but rather typical Indian buffet sort of deal, but dinner is much more inventive. That said, I'm not sure how one person would do since the menu is sort of driven towards family style sharing. Of course, 3 of us shared a ton of dishes for about $45 one night and most places (including mine) would charge upwards of that for a tasting menu for one, so you could just order a bunch of things and take home the leftovers.

                1. You could always sit at the bar at Nana's. Although I tend to like to order from the menu as is without special requests, I know they are open to this. My hub and I went last night and when I mentioned young hub was allergic to shrimp, the bartender immediately offered a wild mushroom risotto instead. Wow. We ended up getting the gnocchi - yummy - no meat (although we aren't vegetarians) and a delicious local tomato/arugula salad with fried okra - crazy good. Two guys at the end of the bar were drinking heavily and noshing on a "side of okra" (not on the menu) - i.e. a big bowl of the fried okra we had on our salad. Although I like Piedmont a lot, I've also had just so-so food there at times. Nana's dessert didn't thrill me last time, but their appetizers are always to die for - and they have lots of yummy bread to go along with them.

                  1. Third, or fourth, or whatever rec, for Piedmont. That place is flat out awesome... excellent little wine list, super fresh preparations on food, and pretty good service. Jake, at the bar, is one of the more personable guys in the area. Also recommend Fraziers-- we've really enjoyed the couple of meals we've had there, although my wife raves a little harder than I do about it.
                    Piedmont's also a lot less expensive than both Mag Grill and Frazier's, for what that's worth. Party of seven the other night, all of us drinking and eating pretty well--5 or 6 bottles of wine all in all, and our bill was just over $300. Not bad for high end dining in this area, IMHO.

                    1. The number one choice for all vegetarians I know these days is Zely & Ritz. It is in Raleigh, so drive is not an issue. Best part is they are connected to a local farm -- and indicate which items contain local ingredients -- so not only do you get have some of the best vegetarian food in the Triangle -- it is also freshest and most sustainable.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: green chower

                        I was reading through the posts and amazed that no one had mentioned Zely & Ritz. Glad you did G.C! Their menu is very fresh and local. Has a menu that is clear about veggie and vegan, where I think Vin only has a "veggie plate". Zely has a small bar, so you will feel part of the action. A local farm is their owner/partner, so you can't go wrong.

                        1. re: VaNC

                          Another vote for Zely & Ritz. You won't be disappointed.

                      2. Try Irregardless. I haven't eaten there recently, but last time I did, it was fantastic.