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Triangle Area - Family visiting, and I'm new - where do we eat??

I just moved to Raleigh a month ago. I'm hosting my family and my boyfriend's family (nine adults) for Thanksgiving. Usually, we eat out except for Thanksgiving, when I cook. So, I'm looking for three restaurant recommendations:

1. Casual "locals" place for dinner - I'm almost committed to Allen&Sons - really want to do BBQ, but the families will have been traveling all day, and I don't necessarily want to haul them over there from Raleigh. I've eaten there before and I'm a big fan

2. Steakhouse - boyfriend's family are huge steakhouse fans. We've already been to Angus Barn, and frankly, wasn't crazy about it - felt a little too "kitchy" and "cafeteria". We're not afraid to pay steakhouse dollars for the meal, would love some other ideas.

3. Fun dinner restaurant, good example of what we do best here: some place nice, doesn't have to be, but can be upscale. Places I've already tried are: Magnolia Grill, Glennwood Grill, Bloomsbury Bistro, Maximillians, Anotherthyme, Margaux's, Nina's, Midtown & Bar 115, Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen. My favorites in this list were Midtown Restaurant & Bar 115, Magnolia Grill and Margaux's. Would like to do something new, along these lines.

Really want to show off for the family - and try some new stuff myself. Any suggestions are appreciated. And even if they don't get on the list for the family visit, I'll put them on my list!!

Anotherthyme Restaurant & Bar
109 N Gregson St, Durham, NC 27701

Magnolia Grill
1002 9th St, Durham, NC 27705

Midtown Restaurant & Bar 115
4421-115 Six Forks Road, Raleigh, NC 27609

Lucky 32 Restaurant
109 S Stratford Rd, Winston Salem, NC 27104

Glenwood Grill
2603 Glenwood Ave Ste 151, Raleigh, NC 27608

Angus Barn Restaurant
9401 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617

Allen & Son Inc Pit Cooked Bar-B-Que
5650 US Hwy 15 501 N, Pittsboro, NC 27312

Lucky 32
7307 Tryon Rd, Cary, NC 27518

Margaux's Restaurant
8111 Creedmoor Rd Ste 111, Raleigh, NC 27613

Nina's Ristorante
8801 Lead Mine Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

Bloomsbury Bistro
509 W Whitaker Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC 27608

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  1. I'll throw out three for consideration:

    1. The PIt. I'd rather go to Allen & Son but The Pit would be a lot closer for you.
    2. Bin 54 in Chapel Hill. Pricey but very good.
    3. Coquette in Raleigh.

    Bin 54
    1201 M Raleigh Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 21517

    4 Replies
    1. re: bbqme

      Totally agree on Bin 54 for the steak house.

      Have you considered Vin Rouge for your fun/upscale-ish dinner? The place is bustling and funky, and has good food. Coquette is also a good choice. We really liked 18 Seaboard if you like seafood - really nice looking room and friendly service, we were impressed with most of what we ordered. Feels upscale but my 4 year old was comfortable there.

      Good luck - let us know how it goes.

      Vin Rouge
      2010 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, NC 27705

      Bin 54
      1201 M Raleigh Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 21517

      18 Seaboard
      18 Seaboard, Raleigh, NC 27604

      1. re: LulusMom

        For upscale, I agree with LulusMom, as I love Vin Rouge. It's exactly what I think a good bistro should be. It has great food, good drinks, and a fun, laid back and slightly funky atmosphere. If you want something a little fancier, consider Nanas. I had a really outstanding meal there recently.

        I also like the Pit for BBQ. To me, the que is consistently good. I love Allen & Sons on a good day, but they haven't always had good days when I've been there.

        Vin Rouge
        2010 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, NC 27705

        1. re: dinersaurus

          And, I did mean Nana's, which is in Durham, and is not the same as Nina's in Raleigh.

        2. re: LulusMom

          Btw, I'm not ruling out Coquette, I think it's really good and I go there quite a bit. (Although, the lunches and brunches seemed to go downhill in recent months. Heard they have a new chef now, so it could be changing...). I think it's a solid choice if you don't want to go to Durham.

      2. I'm with bbqme - these options fit your criteria nicely.

        The only change I'd suggest would be Beefmastor Inn in Wilson for steak. It's about an hour from Raleigh, excellent steak and quite unique. Atmosphere is pretty minimal, but service is good. It is just all about the steak, to the extent that Rib-eye is the only thing they serve. No menu, just your choice of size and temp on the meat, salad bar, baked potato and Texas toast. Baked onion on request.

        Quirky, delicious and on the Our State list of NC foods not to miss.


        I also bring visitors to Neomondes and Bosphorus for an experience they may not have at home.

        Beefmastor Inn
        2656 US Highway 301 S, Wilson, NC 27893

        1. I didn't think Nina's was still open.

          The Pit is a good choice for local Q. As far as steakhouses, I don't know many that aren't chains though Flemings and Sullivans have their followers and are both in Raleigh. Does anyone know about Rey's in Raleigh/Cary as far as Steak goes? AnotherThyme of course is no more.

          I just went to Bu.ku and really enjoyed it. As far as upscale, you could try Revolution for something with a more Metropolitan feeling. I've always been satisfied at Watt's Grocery in Durham though that is not necessarily upscale and uses local products. Another upscale choice is Bonn Soiree. For casual, I like Mediterranean Deli, but it is much like Neomonde but in Chapel Hill.

          Mediterranean Deli
          410 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

          Watt's Grocery
          1116 Broad St Ste 100, Durham, NC 27705

          1. For the full dinner experience, I'll recommend Lantern in Chapel Hill.


            5 Replies
            1. re: d.v

              Fun , funky, and fine - Poole's Diner

              Old School steakhouse - Vinnie's. Great non steak selections and sides too.

              Vin Rouge is the real deal French Bistro.

              Vin Rouge
              2010 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, NC 27705

              1. re: Fu Dee

                Fun locals fare in Raleigh: The Pit for 'que. They have a wide enough menu to serve most eaters and you can have a grown up drink, plus if you'll be able to impress the foodies in your family, because The Pit gets a lot of love from the Food Network and media. Alternatively, try Sitti downtown and get a bunch of small plates to share.
                2. If you've gone out for 'que the first night, don't go out to a steak house the second night! Two heavy meals in a row will turn people off. Try buku for small plates or head to Chapel Hill and go to Vimala's. Vimala's serves homestyle Indian food that's tasty and interesting. It was unlike any Indian food I'd had before. Vimala's has a really nice vibe which will resonate with family. Vin Rouge would be another good choice.
                3. The finale: I think the most exciting thing about our local food scene is the emphasis on fresh, local ingredients: I'd hit up one of the following restaurants: Watt's Grocery, Poole's Diner, Nana's in Durham, Acme in Carrboro. I've been to all these places fairly recently and they're really hitting on all cylinders.

                Be aware your group size will make some small more romantic places less desirable for you. Nine adults will be cramped in Lantern or Bonne Soiree, for instance. Lantern is also pretty dark, which I see as a negative for a large group.

                Vin Rouge
                2010 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, NC 27705

                137 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh, NC 27601

                Bonne Soiree Restaurant
                431 W Franklin St Ste 10, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

                Watt's Grocery
                1116 Broad St Ste 100, Durham, NC 27705

                110 E Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601

                1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                  I agree - I think the quality of the food at Acme has gone up considerably in the past year. And it is a cozy but nice place.

                  I'd recommend Toast in Durham, but am having a hard time figuring out how you'd get 9 people in there. It's a nice lunch stop though.

                  1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                    Tom excellent point about 'que and steakhouse in a row - hadn't thought of that. My brothers follow Man v. Food religiously, so the Pit was featured in their Triangle show. I am glad to hear that it wasn't only hype! Love the recommendations for local, I'm really big on that, and have been trying to figure out best places to find it!

                    1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                      Adam Richman also went to Backyard BBQ Pit in Durham (Hwy 55 location) which gets very little love on this board.

                2. Another thought - Glasshalfull in Carrboro. We had dinner there tonight and it was really nice. They specialize in small plates, but also have full size. We had calamari (fried, and not as good as usual, to be honest), pumpkin risotto - very good; mushroom tart - delicious, and a special of tuna tartar - really wonderful. Lots of nice wines by the glass (and bottle). Again, it is a comfortable room but also feels special.

                  106 S Greensboro St, Carrboro, NC 27510

                  1. For BBQ The Pit in Raleigh. For a fun dinner place - Vin Rouge. Their oysters gratinee appetizer is a must - get 2 or 3 to share if everyone likes oysters. SO good! For a steak house - if you don't mind the drive - Bin 54 in Chapel Hill.

                    Vin Rouge
                    2010 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, NC 27705

                    Bin 54
                    1201 M Raleigh Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 21517

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Jeanne

                      Agreed on the oysters gratinee at Vin Rouge. I'm not normally a fan of pairing cheese and seafood, but this dish is a notable exception to that rule.

                      Vin Rouge
                      2010 Hillsborough Rd., Durham, NC 27705

                      1. re: durhamois

                        Alll - really great stuff here! Keep it coming! I'm not sure how I'm going to narrow it down for the family, but my list is getting longer and that's awesome!!

                        So, leaning towards the Pit - proximity is key there. Any suggestions about what to order? Remember, I'm a Yankee - limited experience ordering North Carolina BBQ!!

                        1. re: bigredkelly

                          Anything pork. I brought someone to the Pit who was very familiar with Kansas BBQ and he ordered beef - not what he was expecting. I thought it was tasty - just BBQ means different things to different folk. but I've never had anyone disappointed by the pork!

                          This place gets packed, so reservations are best with a big group. Parking can be a little hard to find depending on the time of day.

                          1. re: bigredkelly

                            At The Pit, I typically get a double combo or a triple combo if I'm throwing caution (and calories) to the wind. I get the Eastern-style 'que, dry rub ribs, and something else. The fried chicken is also tasty. I'll eat their brisket, not because it's the best I've ever had, but because I love brisket. Be sure and get a craft beer or other adult beverage because you can't get those drinks at other 'que places. Be sure and get reservations.

                            Since your brothers are Man vs Food fans, you may want to take them to Roast Grill in Raleigh, a local landmark hot dog place featured in the show. BTW, if the ladies plan to shop on during the trip, there's a Black Friday Cask Ale event at Triangle Brewery in Durham...

                            Roast Grill
                            7 S West St, Raleigh, NC 27603

                        2. re: Jeanne

                          I think The Pit does ribs better than any of its barbecue (pulled or chopped).

                        3. If you don't mind going to Durham try out Dame's Chicken and Waffles on West Main Street. They're open late and the food is excellent.

                          1. If you find yourself in downtown Raleigh, you really owe it to yourself and your friends & family to stop by Escazu Chocolates. They are an artisanal "bean to bar" chocolate shop, making truffles and bars of unique combinations right there in the retail shop. It's some of the best chocolate to be found - and they sometimes have hot chocolate available. I now take Escazu bars to friends and family as souvenirs, hostess gifts, etc. And they're always impressed.

                            They're located at 936 North Blount Street. It's a wee bit tricky to get to the first time, as part of Blount Street is one way. And you feel like you're in a neighborhood rather than a retail location. It's sort of behind Peace College, near the historic Mordecai neighborhood.


                            (In fact, it's just round the corner of one of the original Krispy Kreme locations.)

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: cackalackie

                              Great recommendation! I was planning on going there tomorrow and had not realized they had moved from S. Glenwood. When did this happen?

                              1. re: meatn3

                                It's been a while now - maybe even a year. This was always where they made the chocolate itself and the bars, whereas Glenwood was just the retail location, and where they made the truffles. It's right next door to Market Restaurant.

                                1. re: cackalackie

                                  We went to 1st Friday tonight and spotted the location on the way home. I guess I hadn't been by since Sept. of last year. That is much too long to wait!

                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    I feel that way every time I go! This place is truly a gem. And Danielle is the best! I am definitely going by today!

                                    Check out the description of one of the truffles they created this week: "NC purple sweet potato with brown sugar & cinnamon covered in dark chocolate topped with hazelnut brittle!!"

                                    Plus, I need to stock up on some Beaufort Bars!

                                    1. re: cackalackie

                                      Went to Escazu today. She was making chocolate risotto - by popular demand, apparently. Using cherry juice instead of stock..... (I didn't try it.)

                                      1. re: cackalackie

                                        I was there too! I purchased several for a thank you gift. I included the sweet potato and a peanut butter and muscadine jelly along with several others.

                                        I went after a big lunch to ensure my order wouldn't get too out of hand!

                                        Fortunately I was completely unaware of the chocolate risotto. I would have had to try it just based on the appeal of the unknown. They seem to have the knack for successfully pulling off unexpected flavor combinations.

                                        Parking is much easier at this location! Again, I'm so glad you mentioned them - I would have been out of luck getting the gift in time!

                            2. 1. I agree with everyone here that the Pit is great for BBQ and a great locals place. If you want something a little cheaper, two of my favorite "local casual" places are Ruckus pizza in Cary and Los Tres Magueyes for great Mexican food.

                              2. I agree with you on the Angus Barn, if I pay alot for a steak I want a nice atmosphere. I love Bin 54 for steak, but if you don't want to drive to Chapel Hill then Vinnie's Steakhouse in N. Raleigh and Sullivan's downtown are great options. Both have great steaks with a nice upscale atmosphere. Both are a little more expensive than Angus Barn but probably a little cheaper than Bin 54. Vinnie's has prime meats.

                              3. We must have similar tastes because Midtown Restaurant and Bar 115 and Margauex's are two of my favorite restaurants in Raleigh. Some of the other places I love are Mura at N. Hills or Sono downtown for great Asian fusion. They are classy restaurants with phenomenal food. Five Star is great Chinese in a chic downtown location. Oliver Twist could be really fun for Tapas; it's sophisticated but could also be a really fun meal for a group. You could order a bunch, everyone could share, and they have a room in the back you can reserve for groups, or you can reserve a VIP area with couches and tables.

                              Good luck choosing!


                              Bin 54
                              1201 M Raleigh Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 21517

                              319 Fayetteville St, Raleigh, NC 27601

                              Angus Barn Restaurant
                              9401 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617

                              Five Star Restaurant
                              511 W Hargett St, Raleigh, NC 27603

                              Vinnie's Steakhouse
                              7440 Six Forks Rd, Raleigh, NC 27615

                              Oliver Twist
                              8111 Creedmoor Rd Ste 137, Raleigh, NC 27613

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: eat2winraleigh

                                Try Metro 8 Steakhouse on 9th Street in Durham, NC. Argentine style steakhouse with great food and service. Have always been thrilled everytime I've been there.

                                Metro 8
                                746 9th St, Durham, NC 27705

                              2. Steak - Bin 54, but you need a driver if you want to drink! Sullivans is always good and you could go walk around Glenwood South after
                                Casual-NOT the Pit. Ugh. Take them to Clyde Coopers for lunch I think the Pit has become a bit touristy and does not allow for the "real" bbq feel quite like Clyde Coopers.
                                Fun: Iris at the Museum of Art and a tour of the new Museum. It is beautiful.

                                Bin 54
                                1201 M Raleigh Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 21517

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: queencitymom2

                                  Casual for BBQ I'd say Backyard BBQ Pit on Hwy 55 in Durham. Also for casual, I'd say Market Restaurant on Blount St. And then Escazu next door.