What's Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill like for a foodie?
We're considering a move to the Triangle - we don't eat out a lot, but the lower COL is one of our reasons for moving, which means ideally we'd be able to eat out more... We are definitely foodies in the kitchen, however. We eat local and organic as much as possible, cook almost every meal from scratch, and like to try unusual and new produce. What's the scene like out here? We're not food snobs, we just like diverse and quality meals now and then; we got a little nervous when the official Visit Raleigh website essentially has "American," "Southern,", and "BBQ" as the only categories for dining - no Japanese/Sushi, Thai, or other Asian, not even French or Italian listed...
The Visit Raleigh website is really not a food-centric resource.
Search through this board and you will get a good idea of area options - which include all of what you did not see in the tourist website.
The Triangle's food scene has been written up in many national publications over the past few years because the range and quality is quite good for this sized area.
I'm not sure where it is you are currently living, which might make a difference in how you see the Triangle. But I can tell you that I come from a larger urban area, and travel a lot, and still think we have a pretty darned good food situation around here. Lots of local produce, products, and good restaurants too (although that doesn't seem to be your main interest).
Ethnic food can be a problem around here, but if you are willing to drive 10 to 20 min. for a meal there are options. There is good Sushi, but not much non-sushi Japanese, a few good traditional Chinese Restaurants, but many of the others are terrible. And, the same goes for French and Italian. My biggest complaint about Italian that too many of them concentrate on Pizza and Pasta, or have what I call a Pizzeria menu but call themselves a Restaurant. I have not found a good Thai place or at least one that believes me when I say I want the food spicy.
We also have some great Asian Markets in the area so getting ingredients is not a problem. Go through some of the past posts and many of your questions will be answered.
Also if you are in town on July 21 we are having a meet up see for information
A lot will depend on where you are from and what is your frame of reference. Our overall cost of living can be lower than some places, but I've found that our costs for food (both at the grocery and at restaurants) is higher than you might expect. Again, how you view that will depend on where you've lived in the past.
What you consider acceptable travel time will also depend on your frame of reference. As a former resident of NY, I don't view a half hour travel time as a big deal. After all, it could take me 45 minutes easily to get from Bklyn to Manhattan. And if you live in North Raleigh, you may actually be closer to downtown Durham than to downtown Raleigh. Yet many people from Durham hesitate to go to Raleigh for a meal, and vice versa.
And as someone who has watched the food scene in the Triangle for over 20 years, I can't begin to describe the improvements we've seen. We now have a multiplicity of ethnic groups whose presence has led to a previously unseen variety of new restaurants. We have world class chefs who are opening new places, fine and casual, at a scary pace. We even have an active food truck scene, despite the best efforts of some of our local officials.
We are definitely missing some things. We can certainly improve on others. But you won't lack for choice here.
I agree with the others - this area is great for foodies. There are plenty of farmer's markets for great produce, and tons of good restaurants. There's way more than just American, Southern, and BBQ down here. Indian is well represented and there's great Mexican food to be had. Plenty of restaurants focus on local & organic. The Triangle is not that big (to us) so we frequently travel to Durham and Chapel Hill, even though we live in Raleigh. I'd say come check the area out.