Raleigh, North Carolina has some of the best restaurants not only within the state but in the whole country. With delicious eateries around every corner and a community passionate about good food, it's no wonder America's Best Chef calls this vibrant Southern city home. Choose from any of these top restaurants to get a taste of why Raleigh is named one of the "Most Exciting Food Cities in America".
Looking to start your day with a vibrant atmosphere and tasty Southern food in your belly? This local favorite serves home-made Southern breakfasts using fresh ingredients from local farmers. Tupelo Honey's executive chef, Eric Gabrynowicz is a 4-time James Beard Semifinalist, crafting delicious foods like fried chicken and biscuits, smoked ham benedict, and blueberry french toast smothered in a blueberry compote. Check out Tupelo Honey's large seasonal menu. Is your mouth watering yet?
Must order: Honey Dusted Chicken, Crispy Brussel Sprouts
Location:425 Oberlin Rd, Raleigh, NC 27605
Do you prefer to spend your mornings sipping a cappuccino while indulging in a delicious breakfast pastry? Lucettegrace is the perfect breakfast for those who loves a freshly made baked good to start their day. With decadent "baklava croissants", cream cheese danishes, ham and cheese croissants, and morning buns, Chef Daniel Benjamin does not disappoint with his stunning display of French-style confections. Explore their menu and get a taste of the highest-rated bakery in all of Raleigh.
Must order: Pain au chocolate, ham and cheese croissant
Location: 235 Salisbury Street. Raleigh, NC 27601
The Morning Times is the first stop of the day for locals and visitors alike. This cafe will hit all your morning cravings from their freshly brewed Counter Culture coffee to their cheesy three-egg omelet and siracha-honey fried chicken biscuit. You can even bring your dog with you! This pet-friendly cafe has outdoor seating so you can enjoy a tasty cup of coffee with your best friend by your side. See what The Morning Times has waiting for you.
Must order: Home-made Everything Bagel, French Toast, Latte
Location: 10 E Hargett Street. Raleigh, NC 27601
Beasley’s Chicken + Honey was opened by the multi-nominated and James Beard-winning chef, Ashley Christensen. While you can’t go wrong with any of her restaurants, Beasley’s is at the top of everyone's must-eat list. This restaurant debuts perfectly fried chicken any way you like it- smothered in honey, on a waffle, with a biscuit, tossed in Carolina Reaper Chili Oil, or served with a side of sea-salted fries and buttermilk herb dressing. With a line always out the door, people come from all over to get a taste of Beasley's fried chicken and seasonal sides.
Must order: Hot Chicken Sandwich, Pimento Mac N' Cheese
Location: 237 S. Wilmington Street., Raleigh, NC 27601
This unique "pay-what-you-can" cafe is actually a non-profit with a mission to provide good food for all regardless of means. Inviting everyone to have "a place at the table", this restaurant allows visitors to pay for their freshly crafted meal in multiple ways: with a Token from community partners, pay a minimum of $3 for their meal, or pay the suggested price listed on the menu. Using only locally sourced ingredients, A Place at the Table serves delicious meals like the turkey-gouda melt with onion jam, seasonal soups with grilled cheese, housemade cinnamon rolls, and so much more! With every tip this restaurant receives they become one step closer to fulfilling their mission. You can arrive with a hungry belly and leave feeling like you made a difference in your community.
Must order: Turkey-Gouda Melt, House Salad, Home-made Cinnamon Roll
Location: 300 W. Hargett St. Suite 50, Raleigh NC 27601
North Carolina is known for its eastern-style barbeque and The Pit carries out that Southern tradition serving whole-hog, pit-cooked barbeque. Using NC raised pigs, this restaurant creates deliciously smoked chopped barbeque right in house. If that isn't enough to satiate your lunchtime hunger, they also offer beef brisket, barbeque turkey, fried chicken, and barbeque tofu. And let's not forget all the amazing sides! Choose from mac n' cheese, mashed potatoes, fried okra, sweet potato fries, BBQ baked beans, heirloom cabbage collards, and their skillet cooked cornbread with home-made butter. Order anything from their menu and you'll quickly understand why this restaurant has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food Network Magazine, and Men's Health.
Must order: Chopped BBQ Plate, Fried Okra, Pimento Cheese Balls
Location: 328 W Davie Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Get ready to eat with your hands! Nafkot is an Ethiopian restaurant bringing amazing and unique flavors to Raleigh, NC. Start by grabbing a piece of their injera bread (unleavened bread) then dig right in. Their menu features traditional yet innovative Ethiopian dishes including, chopped prime beef with spiced butter, tender chicken sauteed with rosemary and onions, lentils cooked in spicy red pepper sauce, and yellow peas simmered in turmeric sauce. Lunch at Nafkot will be an experience you won't forget.
Must order: Doro Wot, Quanta Ferfer, Kek Alecha
Location: 2109 Avent Ferry Rd #146, Raleigh, NC 27606
Poole's Diner is another restaurant started by the Best Chef in America, Ashley Christensen. This upscale diner is unlike any other diner you've ever experienced before. Christensen offers elevated plates full of American classics with a chalkboard menu that changes daily. Dishes may include a juicy hanger steak with green peppercorn butter sauce or a perfectly braised pork shank in rosemary and cider. But we are here to reassure you that the famous Macaroni au Gratin always makes it on the menu.
Must order: Macaroni au Gratin, Hanger Steak with Green Peppercorn Butter Sauce
Location: 426 S. McDowell Street., Raleigh NC, 27601
Chef Scott Crawford is a five-time James Beard-nominated chef and owner of this elegant yet casual eatery. Crawford and Son is a local favorite with seasonal dishes like seared swordfish with caramelized fennel, pork cheek cassoulet, and roasted cauliflower with farro. Everything on the menu is plated to perfection and sure to make a lasting impact on your tastebuds.
Must order: Seared Octopus, Beef Short Rib
Location: 618 N. Person Street, Raleigh, NC 27604
so ca (south of the topic of cancer) is a restaurant that brings together flavors from over 20 countries. Their menu allows diners to travel unfamiliar lands of Latin America and the Caribbean without leaving the City of Oaks. Dine on street-inspired dishes like juicy marinated short ribs, elegantly fried NC fish, and tender jerk chicken. And don't forget to end your evening with their flavorful and exotic postres like tres leches and dulce de leche flan.
Must order: Salvadoran Chicken Empanadas, Churrasco
Location: 2130 Clark Ave., Raleigh, NC 27605
If fine dining is what you're looking for Second Empire is a must. Offering one of the best dining experiences in the city, this restaurant serves well-crafted dishes in an elegant atmosphere. The menu features plates such as Grilled Georgia Quail in a smoky tomato puree, Citrus & Rosemary Grilled Swordfish, Braised Mississippi Rabbit with Rigatoni Pasta, and Grilled Beeler Farms Iowa Pork Chop. Not to mention their outstanding customer service, which has won them 4 AAA Four Diamond Award and the DiRoNA Award. Second Empire is sure to impress even the most selective of customers.
Must order: Empire Jumbo Lump Crabmeat Salad, Pan-Roasted Black Angus Beef Filet
Location: 330 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27603
Thinking about visiting Raleigh's sister city Durham? Check out the tastiest restaurants in the Bull City to see why it's been declared “The South's Tastiest Town” by Southern Living and “America's Foodiest Small Town” by Bon Appétit.