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NY Hound new to Raleigh - need recommendations

My family and I have been in the Knightdale area of Raleigh for about a month now and are getting itchy to find the local eateries. We are looking for the best of, or opinions for:

BBQ ( Been to Claude Coopers downtown )
All American
Just about any recommendations would be appreciated. There seem to be so many restaurants tucked into the sides of the strip malls, and they are difficult to see from the main roads so I am sure we are missing them. Other than drive around looking for a place that has a full parking lot as a clue to the food can you please give us some insights to the local eateries anywhere in Wake county / Raleigh area? We have done the first Friday downtown and ate at the Irish pub/Restaurant there Tir nag ?
We are on a bit of a budget so really high end places, other than for a special occasions
will be far and few. Thanks you all for your help. We love our new home here in Raleigh it is a beautiful city.

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  1. BBQ:
    Clyde's is fine.
    Drive up 1 to Wake forest and try Holdens BBQ.
    Try The Pit downtown as well.

    Farmer's Market restaurant is worth one trip at least.
    Larry's Southern Kitchen (buffet) on Tryon Road in Garner off S. Saunders Str.

    Driving all the way to Fuquay for Joyce Family Kitchen as well as a Grilled Cheese at Elliots Pharmacy are worth it.

    Mez is decent "casual fancy" off 40 at Page Road in RTP. (mexican)

    Royal India up Capital Blvd north of 440, south of 540 in a strip mall next to a subway is quite good and reasonably priced. They have a great 9-10 Vindaloo if you like it hot.

    Seafood is a toughie in Raleigh. Kemp's out 70 toward Durham is decent fried for dinner. Best seafood in this area though is gonna be Squids in Chapel Hill if you want fresh.

    Snoopy's has good chicken Salad.

    The Roast Grill on West Street downtown has amazing Southern Hot dogs. That's it, no chips, no fries, just hot dogs. Oh and homemade baklava and pound cake for dessert if you're lucky.

    Those are good starting places, have fun.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fussycouple

      I grew up in Chapel Hill and reside in Durham so my Raleigh experience is limited but Char Grill seems to be somewhat of an institution.

      1. re: LBD

        I was quite impressed by The Pit. Their whole hog 'Q was really, really good as were their devilled eggs, puppies, ribs, brisket and biscuits. Above all, though, was the chopped whole hog. Since you're in Knightdale, you could also take a trip East and hit Wilber's in Goldsboro, which I think is excellent. There are BBQ places worth driving to in Wilson (I can't think of the names now) as well as Ayden.

        For Indian, I really like Saffron in Morrisville. I can't speak to the quality of the buffet, but ordering off the menu has never been a disappointment.

        For Greek, Xios in Apex is as good a choice as I've found the in the Triangle.

        I am a big fan of Mexican food and there are a number of fine choices in this area. My recommendation is to explore the hole-in-the-wall places around where you live and work and report back. There are a few likely suspects on 64 that I haven't tried yet. I really like Muy Pronto Fonda y Birrieria Jalisco in North Raleigh near the SuperWal Mart. The food is authentic, the staff is very friendly and they speak English, plus they take credit cards which is nice, since I tend to over order. They serve authentic al pastor which looks like gyro meat on the cone.

        1. re: Tom from Raleigh

          "Muy Pronto Fonda y Birrieria Jalisco in North Raleigh near the SuperWal Mart."

          Just to avoid any difficulty in finding it, the name is actually just Fonda y Birrieria Jalisco. It is a great place, though!

    2. Xios is good Greek as are the twins Niko's Taverna on Davis Drive and Taverna Niko's in Durham. For mediterranean try Neomonde or La Shish. Baba Ghannouj Bistro with many locations in the triangle is usually good, If you like Greek then you should try Turkish. Bosphorus in Cary is really good.

      If you are looking for deli food, The Food Factory in Cary does a good job.


      1. Just by picking up the Independent Weekly and Friday's N&O, you can see the restaurant options in the area (though there is the commonplace disagreement about the validity of those ratings).

        I live in Durham so can't comment too much on Raleigh places, but I am a big fan of Raleigh Times Bar, which has bar food with a Southern twist. I agree that Neomonde is a great place for Mediterranean food.

        1. I've been in E. Raleigh for a year, so still exploring.

          Seafood: The seafood place at the state Farmers Market has been very fresh. This is real casual, order at the counter sort of place. Most is fried, some is broiled. Their fried oysters (my benchmark) have been very, very good. I was not too impressed by Mayflower on Capital (several other locations).

          My current favorite budget night out is Neomondes for sharing a shwarma & a sampler plate, a walk through the arboretum, then on to Locopops.

          Really good take-out on the East side of town:
          Jerk Masters - Owner is from Jamaica as is most of the staff. Take out, closes early.
          Los Cuates on Capital Blvd. for great Mexican. Their Old Wake Forest Road location has tables.

          Fortune Palace on Brentwood is very good. There is an Americanized menu and a more authentic menu, have ordered from both and been very happy. I usually order from the specials which feature a lot of seafood and have yet to have a less than great meal. A couple of item from the Americanized menu that we tried the first time were just good. Egg Foo Young is my childhood comfort food, and theirs matches my imprinted standard!

          In the same plaza is an Asian Grocery. Not as comprehensive as some, but they do a made to order Bahn Mi for $2.50 which is really good. Their produce is good and if you catch it at the right time there can be a good fresh fish selection on ice. There is a small Asian food court in the plaza too, but I have not had a chance to try it yet.

          If you like a thin crust pizza try The Point in Five Points. It is the best pizza around IMO. (Lily's has good quality and interesting toppings, but the crust is thicker and less cooked than I like.) They also have a dinner for two including a bottle of wine that seems to be popular
          - I like the pizza so much that I haven't tried anything else.

          For Indian I like Suchi in Cary. Last time I posted that there were some who felt differently. They have changed hands. I tried them again a week or so ago and still felt the food was excellent. They have a nice buffet on weekend I think. They put out small portions frequently, so it is always extremely fresh. With so many styles of Indian food it is not a one-size fits all cuisine, so you have a fun quest finding the right place!

          BBQ- I like The Pit, but it is not budget.
          For budget my favorite is Smokey's on Hwy 54 in Morrisville. Lunch only though...

          Oakwood Cafe is reasonable and very tasty. Lunches most days, dinner only on Fri. & Sat.

          Welcome to the Triangle!

          1. For Italian, I recommend Bella Monica, at Olde Raleigh Village. It's reasonably priced, and their flatbreads are outstanding. (Their flatbreads can also be found frozen at some area Harris Teeter stores.)

            2 Replies
            1. re: plmelton

              I completely agree on Bella Monica being the best Italian around - especially their baked lasagne. (It seems no one *bakes* lasagne anymore.) BUT you really need to make a reservation through opentable.com ... waiting for a table there is miserable. Just no comfortable waiting room and starts the meal off on a bad note.

              For Indian, I'd recomment Sawasdee on Capitol.

            2. We've lived in North Raleigh for 4 years... we have some great picks for you to explore...

              Indian - Azitra in Brier Creek
              Italian - Vivace in North Hills is a MUST!
              BBQ ( Been to Claude Coopers downtown ) - The Pit is pretty good but I would hit Allen & Sons which I have heard the best reviews on and I think it's cheaper.
              Mexican - Jibarra for lunch. Dinner can be pricey. Otherwise, we like Las Margaritas and El Rodeo.
              Greek - Tavern Agora wins rave reviews and for strickly interesting and outstanding Mediterrean then Rivera downtown.
              Seafood - Check out the staple 42nd St Oyster Bar and Michael Dean's and then venture out to places that always do seafood well but aren't strictly Seafood like the french bistro Frazier's near NC State.

              1 Reply
              1. re: kitty39393

                Being on a budget like the OP, I would shy away from Riviera. I have eaten there several times as a guest and it was been wildly inconsistent and the staff attitude has been unconcerned. My dining buck is limited, so I would pass on this one and spend the bucks elsewhere...

              2. My 2 cents, which seems to echo a number of other posters -

                Italian - You're not going to find anything like what you had in NY. After 10 years I have yet to find an Italian restaurant I really like here. No Italian deli like what you're used to, either. There are a few good choices for pizza, but I don't think that's what you were asking about.

                BBQ ( Been to Claude Coopers downtown ) - Holden's in Youngsville is possibly the most authentic cue joint in the area. It's a bit far for you to drive, though, unless you're already in the area for another reason. You might want to try Knightdale Seafood and Barbecue. I haven't been in a while and only once or twice since they've built their spiffy new building, but they were always more than respectable.

                Mexican - Many authentic taquerias in the area, just search the board. My current Mexican fave is Fonda y Birrieria (sp?) Jalisco near the New Hope Church Rd. Wal-Mart. Just plain great. I finally tasted the birria and it was awesome.

                Seafood - Do you want the "we fry everything but the kitchen sink" style or something a little more heart-healthy? If you like fried, it's tough to beat the Farmers' Market Fish Restaurant. Low on atmosphere, high on freshness. Fins downtown has an excellent rep, but it's not budget minded at all.

                Try the Players Retreat off Hillsborough if you like rare hamburgers (they grind their own meat so they can legally cook it rare). As an added bonus, LocoPops is right around the corner.

                Unfortunately, Red Palace on 64 has closed. Fortune Garden/Palace/whatever on Brentwood is pretty good although I was a little less happy than usual the last time I was there. The traditional menu is authentic. At all costs, avoid the buffet. I've yet to find good Chinese takeout, though.

                Happy eating!

                1. hi welcome! i am from up north and lived in nyc as well. so i have to warn you the culinary delights are not as plentiful here as in ny state. but there are some good places. the best indian food in town is in cary. there is an indian community there and you can find many good restaurants where local indians eat at. italian food is not good here. nothing beats ny area for that. i don't eat out for italian here because it's consistently disappointing. because of the high mexican population, you can find authentic mexican food. if you travel out to the smaller cities, you can find many mexican restaurants but a favorite of mine is el rodeo in city market, raleigh. my favorite bbq is in cary--ole time bbq. in fact, if you keep heading straight into cary on that road--the name escapes me now--there are all the indian restaurants. the smithfield chain is famous here for bbq but i don't think it's that good. there is a good greek/middle eastern place in morrisville called sahara. the italian restaurant next door, babymoon, is not bad for what you can get around here.

                  my fave raleigh restaurants are: porter's and frazier's on hillsborough, 18 seaboard. sullivan's and bogart's are pretty good.

                  two raleigh favorites for italian are caffe luna and 518 west but please this is not italian food to me...but they are popular with locals. tir na nog is a good irish pub. haven't found really great sushi here. sushi blues is popular though not great. gets a big college crowd if that's an indication...i go to tokyo house in north raleigh. there was a great place years ago but of course, anything really great seems to close here...because frankly i think most of the locals don't know the difference. i think food will get better as more DC/NY folks move down here and demand it. if you like greek food, you should go to the greek festival held every sept at the fairgrounds. it is a lot of fun. hope this helps.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: lawyerlady

                    From what I remember of my years living in NYC, restaurants tend not to last longer than a few years there, either. It's pretty presumptuous to assume that this is because of the blunted local palates, rather than the natural life cycle of a restaurant, most of which will tend to lose both buzz and focus over time, while costs and rents increase.

                    And please, there are thousands of DC/NY escapees eating in the Olive Gardens and Chilis of Cary and North Raleigh. I would think an influx of chefs would do a lot more for the local dining scene than an influx of complaining customers.

                    Anyway, I like Bella Monica on Edwards Mill Road for Italian food. Perhaps its not traditional red-checked-tablecloth Bronx Italian food, but it is homey and friendly and very tasty. Reasonably kid-friendly early on a weeknight, good spot for a date on Friday or Saturday.

                    Bella Monica Restaurant
                    3121 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC 27612

                    1. re: dubedo

                      that post demonstrated a lot more class and tact than i was about ready to, dubedo. thank you.

                    2. re: lawyerlady

                      lawyerlady, I think you're missing out by prejudging Raleigh's cuisine based on what you used to have in NY. Why not try exploring new restaurants and new types of cuisine and assess them on their own merits, rather than comparing them to something you used to know? Try talking with your neighbors and asking them what they like, rather than assuming that we locals don't know the difference between a good restaurant and a bad one. There are some great establishments here of all types, cuisines, and price levels, and you might just surprise yourself.

                      Oh, and as far as sushi goes, give Mura at North Hills a try. I find their sushi exceptional and a far cry better than Sushi Blues.