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ISO: Must eats during trip to Raleigh

My husband and I got invited to a wedding down in Raleigh. We have never been to south and can't wait to get away from New England food. Our hotel is the new Marriott on Fayetteville Street but we will have a car.

Can you please give us some suggestion on where we should hit for some "must eats" in Raleigh? You can throw anything at us--- we don't mind paying a good coin for a meal, love anything off the beaten path and adore drinking local craft and specialty beers. Also, if you have any suggestions for bars where the group of us in our early 30's can go and recount the glory days of college---that would be great. Or give us suggestions on places to visit i.e. museums and a nearby restaurant to try out. We will be there for 4 days.

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  1. Forgive me as these are not really off the beaten path so much as some of the better obvious spots right on your beaten path that you may find of interest. Within easy walking distance (couple of blocks) is one of the very best if not best restaurants in the region with Fins located in the base of the new Progress Energy building. Next to Fins is Sosta Cafe--a good spot for lunch salads and sandwiches and coffee. Another couple of blocks in the that direction will bring you to City Market where you will find Big Eds which is probably about as good of a reprsentation of southern breakfast and lunch spots as you will find. (It's good for what it is but I've never been a huge fan because it just reminds me how much better my mother and aunts cook the same stuff.) Also in City Market is Vic's, a pretty good casual italian / pizza spot and some other restaurants and bars. Around the corner from there too is the Duck & Dumpling for Asian. Across the park from there is a nice little often over-looked spot called Mo's Diner which I personally would add to Fins and Big Eds for breakfast as must eat spots.

    A couple of blocks in the other direction from your hotel will put you at Poole's Diner which is a great bistro, bar, late night scene by one of our top chefs. Also in that general vicinity is a place called The Pit which features eastern NC-style pit-cooked barbecue in an somewhat nontraditional (upscale) environment with a nice (usually not too crowded) bar area. (Contrast the Pit to Clyde Coopers which is across the street from Fins and classic eastern-NC style bbq spot (albeit not cooked over wood).

    My favorite bar in downtown is The Raleigh Times Bar which is at the opposite end of Fayetteville Street from the new Marriott. It would probably be your best bet for Belgian and craft beers downtown. (Within stumbling distance of the hotel too is Yancy's Jazz bar and restaurant which might be good for live music and drink although I'm not a fan of the food. Also further away is the Flying Saucer with a tremendous beer selection / patio for more college bar scene.)

    You are also not far (although not walking distance) from the Glenwood South area with host of trendy bars and restaurants such as Enoteca Vin, Zely & Ritz, and the newly reolocated Tasca Brava (tapas). Keep going from there a few more blocks down Hillsborough St. toward NC State Universtity and you will find Fraziers (great bistro) and Porters (more casual tavern) which would both be great food spots.

    Suffice it to say there are a number of very good restaurants close by and most of the above have websites although my apologies for being too lazy to attach links.

    1. If you want to eat some real NC style BBQ, in an authentic "down home" environment, drive 20 minutes west of Raleigh to Allen and Son BBQ. Its located between Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, about 1 mile north of I-40 at Exit 266. Best in NC.

      1. I second the rec for Raleigh Times, in walking distance of your hotel and sounds like just what you are looking for as far as thirtysomethings drinking good beer. As a bonus, it has pretty good food, a cut above the normal pub grub. The Morning Times next door has excellent coffee and serves breakfast baked goods and bagel-egg sandwiches. Unlike most coffee/lunch places downtown, Morning Times is open on weekends.

        Sosta is also a great recommendation for lunch, if you aren't in a hurry. European-owned, good coffee. However, not open on weekends.

        In fact, I agree with pretty much all of GG's recs! Definitely check out the Pit if you are interested in some BBQ - you can try NC-style pulled pork plus a long list of other tasty smoked meats and delicious sides.

        The Flying Saucer definitely has an unparalleled beer selection, and plenty of outdoor seating, if you can overlook the waitresses in slutty schoolgirl outfits.

        The NC Art Museum (10-15 min drive from your hotel) is excellent, and you should check out their events calendar. The outdoor movies in the summer are so much fun! www.ncartmuseum.org. The restaurant in the museum, Blue Ridge, serves a tasty brunch.

        Have a great time!

        Sosta Cafe
        130 E Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601

        The Pit
        328 W. Davie Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

        Raleigh Times Bar
        14 E Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27601

        Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
        328 W Morgan St, Raleigh, NC 27601

        1. One of my lunch favorites is Neomonde Restaurant and Deli on Hillsborough St., a few miles from downtown. The make-your-own-combo allows you to try the falafel, rice and lentils, stuffed grape leaves, fattoush, hummus, tabbouli (all my favorites), or chicken salad, tuna salad, chickpea salad, kabobs, etc.



          1. The Mint is downtown and is an upper end restaurant in atmosphere, price, and food.

            I second (third?) the Pit and Clyde Coopers and Big Eds and those other downtown places. There is an all-you-can-eat Lunch buffet (follow Wilmington Str south almost to Garner, T.L on Tryon Road) at Larry's Southern Kitchen. The Farmers Market restaurant is also close enough to downtown for visitors to enjoy the Farmers Market.

            Savoy and St. Jacques in north Raleigh provide access to French cooking.

            1. These are all great recommendations. And just another mention of the great food at the Raleigh Times. If you're thinking of just grabbing a quick bite and then going for beers - then by all means plan on eating there. A couple of must-haves are the Shrimp Burger, the Pork Nachos (you won't believe how good the pork is) and the Fried Pickles. I guarantee you haven't had pickles like this.

              1. while driving around, keep an eye out for small non descript (or overly colorful) little taquerias and mexican, Salvadoean, guatemalan joints...they are ethnic food gold in these parts...we are so grateful for their soft sweet tortillas!

                1. Another thumbs-up for Raleigh Times! For an interesting twist on a reuben, try theirs. The BBQ pork on the pork nachos is from The Pit (which I also recommend). The Flying Saucer will likely be your best bet for craft beers (especially NC ones).

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: sarahUNC

                    Sarah - When did they start using Pit pork on the Nachos? I haven't been there in a while, but last time I did it was way before the Pit opened......

                    I haven't had the Reuben. Might have to try that next time....

                    1. re: cackalackie

                      On the menu, it says "Ed Mitchell's pork" (or something like that). I noticed it as such on the menu soon after The Pit opened. The Reuben is going to be very different from any other Reuben you've had. It is house cured and seems to have a nutmeggy taste to it.

                      1. re: sarahUNC

                        Interesting........and I guess there is that relationship between the places (via Greg Hatem). I guess I didn't notice before --- because to be honest I didn't know the name Ed Mitchell until the Pit opened......

                        I think I need to go there this weekend.......

                        1. re: cackalackie

                          They also have a bbq sandwich on that is from Ed Mitchell. I cannot recall exactly when they first added it but I think it was before The Pit opened. Once that opened though it was linked to The Pit on The Times menu as well. I usually skip that at The Times in favor of going straight to the source but now that it's 95 degrees, I may have to skip the long walk.

                  2. Two places I would recommend are the Oakwood Cafe (Cuban/Argentinian) and J Betski's (German/Polish). They are both close to your hotel and the food is really, really good.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: km4874

                      Just what I was thinking. Sarahbeth, be aware that Oakwood is mainly lunch, dinner is only offered on Fri. & Sat. http://oakwoodcaferaleigh.com/

                      I would add Loco Pops as a stop. It has been great having a location in Raleigh. I bring visitors there & it is very well received!