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Raleigh Dinner Recommendations

My husband and I are coming into Raleigh soon to see a show at the Lincoln Theater Downtown and looking for a place to eat beforehand. So far, Poole's is looking like my top pick, but I wanted to get some input. Since the show starts at 8, we will need somewhere that doesn't take too long to eat at. We also like places that have great food and atmosphere, nothing too stuffy, preferably with a local craft beer selection. Any recommendations besides Poole's?

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  1. Pooles can get really busy and they don't take reservations. I'd also look at Beasleys, Capital Club 16, Calavera, maybe Buku, maybe Busy Bee Cafe. Not sure what your tastes are like food-wise...

    1 Reply
    1. re: RonboNC

      all of those look fantastic! We eat just about anything as long as it's good. Prob least likely to go to Beasleys. I prefer for dinner to not be too heavy since we will be going out afterwards.

    2. Poole's is great, but, like Ronbo said, it can get busy. You might try J Betski's (for upscale German) or Centro (for upscale Mexican).

      1. You could also try Sitti for Lebanese. I'm unsure of Bida Manda (the Laotian place) though I think Ronbo has gone at least once. I haven't eaten in downtown Raleigh in a long time. Last time I went to Raleigh I ate at Mandolin. It was really nice but you may feel a bit stuffy in there as far as elegance and such. Capital Club 16 has decent food and it is homey.. more comfort food than anything else. Sono if you want your sushi in a stylish setting. Poole's can be a bit nuts and they don't take reservations.

        14 Replies
        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

          I have not been to Bida Manda yet but a number of friends have. They unanimously loved the food. It is still new enough that there is a bit of interest in trying it so reservations would be recommended.

          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            I bravely (not because Raleigh is scary, but because it seems like another universe to me) ventured to Raleigh for lunch with a friend today and tried Sitti. I was really impressed. I wish this place was in Chapel Hill. I loved the look of the place, the service was helpful and friendly, and most importantly, the food was very good.

            1. re: LulusMom

              It is in Chapel Hill. Its called Mediterranean Deli ;-) How can you say Raleigh is another universe you world traveler :-p

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                Unlike a lot of other people I do not like Med Deli at all. Very unimpressed. The worst falafel I've ever had. Just goes to show different tastes for everyone. I realize I'm in the minority on this place.

                As for the traveling, I don't mind taking an airplane someplace - but I mind driving more than 20 minutes. Some sort of weird thing to do with how I grew up. Boy, did I hate long car trips.

                PS - I am not trying to disagree with you on everything this morning, I promise!

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Just poking you in the ribs. So they don't do falafel well? Some places don't do falafel well but do Kibbe great or mujhadara really well and considering that there really aren't any greek/lebanese places around it does just fine.

                  On the whole, the lack of good greek/middle eastern food in the triangle as a whole is shocking and please don't talk to me about neomonde since they are essentially the same as med deli or Sitti which is nice and classy but doesn't serve anything special.

                  1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                    No, I really do not like the falafel at Med Deli at all. And I'm a big falafel fan, so that is a major sticking point for me. I'm with you on the lack of greek/lebanese/israeli/etc. places in the area. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the place that will go in where Penang was will be good.

                    And again, I thought Sitti was very good. The falafel was fluffy and light and tasty. The three dips that came with the bread were good - two of them I'd actually call great. The tabbouli was also brightly flavored. I was glad I'd been willing to brave the wilds of Raleigh (or maybe the wilds of 40 would be more accurate) to get there.

                    1. re: LulusMom

                      Sorry I didn't mean to say that there aren't any good Greek places just no place that is doing something unique with it. Its all falafel, gyro, shawerma, kibbe, fatayer. Maybe its from having items in NYC.. damn big cities.. spoiling people.. I enjoy Sitti and it was a much needed addition to the staleness of Raleigh's dining. I want to see more pulpo.. maybe thats the problem for me.

                    2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      I have to disagree regarding your comparison between Neomonde and Med Deli. I have eaten at both many times. Neomonde does a better rendition of every dish I could compare.

                      I've eaten at every location Neomonde has. The original remains my favorite, but the quality is equally as good at the other two.

                      I do agree regarding the lack of good Greek food. I was raised in an area with a large Greek population and was able to easily find really good options. It is harder in the Triangle.

                      1. re: meatn3

                        I like the mujadara at Med Deli than Neo Mondes.

                        1. re: meatn3

                          With the proviso that I like Neomonde...really, I do like them. A lot. I've spoken to one of the owners about trying to find certain Lebanese dishes that the Offspring and I like and he more or less admitted freely that the food at Neomonde is Americanized. That may or may not be a big surprise to anyone and their food is still good. It just isn't at all the same as what you'd get in the Middle East.
                          FWIW, although I prefer the N. Raleigh location and atmosphere, I think the food may be a little better at the Beryl St. location.

                          And Greek and Middle Eastern food are NOT the same. They are related in the way that Cuban and Mexican cuisines are related, perhaps, but they are definitely not the same.

                          1. re: rockycat

                            "And Greek and Middle Eastern food are NOT the same."

                            Completely agree!

                            1. re: meatn3

                              We were in Cyprus this past summer and finding local foods was like pulling teeth. Shame, because I *really* wanted to eat that stuff. We found one place. Sad.

                            2. re: rockycat

                              Okay Greek food and the lebanese counterparts.

                2. I have only been to Poole's once and am in the minority of not being a fan. It was claustrophobia waiting for a place to happen; people standing right on your back when you finally did get your food. I had roast chicken that I only remember as being average and I doubt I would remember what I had at all except for the fact that the dining experience was so unappealing.

                  I like everyone's suggestions and just might throw in Moonlight Pizza if you are in that frame of mind. There is parking there and you wouldn't have to worry about looking for a place to park twice. If you eat at one of the places at SeaBoard Station, you can take the R Line eco-bus for free downtown after you eat and then back to your car later that evening.

                  Moonlight Pizza Company | Raleigh, NC
                  www.moonlightpizza.com/HOURS Monday - CLOSED Tuesday - Thursday 11:30am til 10:00pm. Friday - 11 :30am til 11:00pm. Saturday - 5:00pm til 10:00pm. Sunday - 5:00pm til 9:30pm ...
                  Score: 23 / 30 - 19 Google reviews
                  615 West Morgan Street Raleigh, NC 27603
                  (919) 755-9133

                  1. Regarding unstuffy places with a good selection of local beers, you have Beasley's (fried chicken), Chucks (burgers), Raleigh Times (pub grub, but good pub grub, one of the best beer lists in town), the Pit (always has a number of local beers on tap, BBQ), and Busy Bee (can't vouch for the food as I've never eaten there, but their beer list is very good). Given their proximity and the need to do something quick, I would probably go with Beasley's or Chucks as they're both as easy walk from the LIncoln. .

                    1. Thanks for all of the suggestions! The recipe at Bida Manda looks amazing!!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dmlewis

                        I've been to Bida Manda a couple times, as have a number of my friends, and everyone's loved it.

                      2. Capital Club 16 has a really cool and welcoming vibe. They also have good beer and drinks. And the menu is varied - from small plates and snacks to full meals. It's a nice place to go before a show - and it's just a couple of blocks west of Beasley's/Chuck's. (All three of these places, I prefer the food compared with Busy Bee.)

                        1. I narrowed it down between Buku and Centro and my husband wants to try Buku. I'll let you all know how it turns out!! Looking forward to visiting.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: dmlewis

                            Buku is a great spot in terms of the space, the food is eclectic but can be a bit hit or miss so hopefully you'll like your dish. Centro can get really busy and loud too but solid neuvo Mexican with good drinks. Have fun, I'm sure you'll have a good night regardless of where you go...

                            1. re: RonboNC

                              I'm a big fan of Market. It's a bit outside of downtown, but great honest, local food and a nice bar as well.

                          2. Just bumping up this thread .... I've been invited out on Thursday evening. My host is a steak-lover (typically eats at Sullivans when he is in town), so I'd like to go some place that serves a nice steak, but isn't Sullivans unless I have to.

                            No ethnic restaurants this time, either, unfortunately. Location: close to downtown Raleigh.

                            Was thinking Bloomsbury Bistro unless my CH friends have a fabulous idea!

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Tehama

                              18 Seaboard has firegrilled filet and ribeyes on the menu, with you picking a sauce and two sides. Very nice space, good wine list, close to downtown with parking.

                              1. re: Tehama

                                Vennie's Steakhouse. Hopefully it's not "too far out" for you to consider.

                                1. re: Tehama

                                  Well since you said close to DT Raleigh
                                  Flemmings may work but is probably too much like Sullivans.
                                  Midtown Grille (I think its called)
                                  Glenwood Grille
                                  1705 Prime

                                  Though those are all steakhouses. Lastly Mandolin is definitely not Sullivans and serves a nice sliced steak.


                                  Lots of Chapel Hill people like Bin54 if price isn't a problem and since it is steakhouse I guess that it is not.

                                  Maybe Bruno in N.Raleigh/Wake Forest area but you may want to see what you can find on reviews.

                                  Or Brasa in Brier Creek

                                  But don't ask me, I've not been to a steakhouse in ages. Or tell your host your sick of steak and want something different :-p

                                  1. re: Tehama

                                    Thanks everyone for the suggestions! We ended up at the Second Empire in the Tavern and had a delicious meal. I got the cioppino and my host got a wet-aged filet that was pretty darn succulent. I don't know what the dressing was on the mesclun green salad, but it was divine.

                                    I'll complain a little about the dessert, though. All desserts are $9 (except soufflé, $10), so I'm expecting something nice there. However the bananas foster cake came out in a serving not much bigger than a biscuit, and a small biscuit at that.

                                    1. re: Tehama

                                      Good timing on your post. I'm going to Second Empire tonight for the first time and it's nice to hear a positive review. Here's crossing my fingers that I get to go. Tonight is a rescheduling from the "winter storm" of 2 weeks ago.

                                      Glad to hear that everyone was happy.

                                  2. Good morning all! Just tagging onto this thread with a comment about lunch this weekend.

                                    Had lunch on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon at Tyler's Taproom at Seaboard Station. Two thumbs up on the awesome beer selection. Not sure if I would give any portion of a thumb on the food through. My friend's pulled pork sandwich was eerily red in color; my fish tacos were bland and uninteresting at best; and my other friend's fish & chips were so heavily breaded that he couldn't taste any fish in the "fish" portion.

                                    Oh - the fried pickles are not that good either; too thick and very light breading.

                                    I'll go back for drinks, but it would not be a place I would consider for food based on this experience.

                                    Nice, friendly service and dogs on the patio (which always makes me glad to see).

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Tehama

                                      Tylers does have a great selection of beers. I usually end up at the Carrboro one, and the food varies from visit to visit. Sometimes the fish tacos really hit the spot. Sometimes the fried stuff is really over fried (and sometimes obviously not in fresh oil) but sometimes it really hits the fried sweet spot. And I'm a sucker for their veg. nachos. I think it kind of depends on hitting the right day (and how the heck would you know in advance??).

                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                        naaaaachhhhoooossssss. naaaacccchhhhooooossssss......

                                        Now - THAT'S some beer-grubbin' food! Yum! Yum! I went with the fish tacos after the waiter told me he had them at least 2x/week. I love fish tacos and was disappointed; so glad to know they are often better than that! Real fun atmosphere that left me with 2013's first sunburn....

                                        1. re: Tehama

                                          They vary so much from time to time. One time I had them and there was some sort of lovely curried cream on them. I asked and they said "oh, that is always on them!" but I had never tasted that before, and have never since. Kind of a crap shoot, unfortunately.