Where to Eat in Raleigh

From fresh seafood to traditional Southern dishes and countless styles of barbecue, Raleigh offers a bounty of culinary delights. So many options to choose from can make it difficult for people to know where to eat in Raleigh. To help narrow the selection, below are the ten best places to eat in Raleigh, NC.

10. Poole’s Diner

One of the first restaurants established in the downtown area, Poole’s Diner continues to flourish as one of the top-rated places to eat in Raleigh, NC. Founded in 1945 as Poole’s Pie Shop by John Poole, this hotspot is now owned by Chef Ashley Christensen, recipient of the “James Beard Award 2014 Best Chef: Southeast”. While a chalkboard menu displays a list of classic American comfort dishes, Poole’s is famous for its macaroni and cheese specialty.

Rating: 4.5-star
Cuisine type: American, Southern, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan Options
Pricing: $6 to $30
Booking: Through the reservations portal
Ideal for: Solo, families, couples, friends, business, local cuisine, bar scene, special occasions
Address: 426 S McDowell St, Raleigh, NC 27601

9. The Pit Authentic Barbecue

Featured in distinguished magazines such as “Southern Living” and spotlighted in television shows like “The Today Show,” it is no wonder that The Pit Authentic Barbecue stands out among the top ten places of where to eat in Raleigh. Housed in a restored downtown warehouse, The Pit showcases a classy, contemporary setting while serving up Southern entrees like baby back ribs, fried chicken and Texas-style brisket with plenty of sides options and a large selection of wines, beers and cocktails.

Rating: 4.5-star
Cuisine type: Vegetarian-Friendlycue, Gluten Free Options, Vegetarian-Friendly
Pricing: $20 to $30
Booking: Through Open Table
Ideal for: Local cuisine, families with children, bar scene, business meetings, special occasions, large groups
Address: 328 W Davie St, Raleigh, NC 27601

8. Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern

Honored with multiple awards that include the AAA Four Diamond Award, Second Empire offers guests an unforgettable dining experience by combining gourmet cuisine, charming atmosphere and history. Positioned downtown in the Dodd-Hinsdale House, a historic 1879 Victorian home, this restaurant features two atmosphere options. Guests can either choose Southern elegance and fine dining upstairs or a more casual experience and fare downstairs in the Tavern. Second Empire’s menu offers something for everyone from seafood and steak to grilled lamb rack and roasted duck.

Rating: 4.5-star
Cuisine type: American, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options
Pricing: $31 to $80
Booking: Through reservations portal
Ideal for: Local cuisine, romantic, bar scene, special occasions, large groups, business meetings
Address: 330 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27603

7. Beasley’s Honey & Chicken

Searching for where to eat in Raleigh stops at Beasley’s Honey & Chicken, especially for those in the mood for traditional Southern cuisine. Found nearby the North Carolina State Capitol and Marble Kid Museum, Beasley’s is a great place to enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner where guests can enjoy classic fried chicken and waffles in addition to biscuits and gravy, casseroles and a variety of sandwiches.

Cuisine type: American, Vegetarian-Friendly
Pricing: $3 to $13
Booking: Doesn’t take reservations
Ideal for: Local cuisine, families with children, bar scene
Address: 237 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601

6. 18 Seaboard

A popular go-to destination for contemporary Southern cuisine and special events, 18 Seaboard is nestled within the downtown Raleigh shopping complex, “Shops at Seaboard,” which was redeveloped from a historic 1940s train depot station. Seaboard is owned by Chef Jason Smith, who is dedicated to serving quality seasonal Southern dishes that contain ingredients sourced from local and regional dairies, ranches, farms and fish sellers. Entrée highlights include shrimp and grits, crab soup and grilled Atlantic salmon, topped off with crème brulee for dessert.

Rating: 4.5-star
Cuisine type: American, Contemporary, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options
Pricing: $6 to $30
Booking: Through Open Table
Ideal for: Local cuisine, romantic, bar scene, special occasions, business meetings, large groups
Address: 18 Seaboard Ave, Suite 100, Raleigh, NC 27604

5. 42nd St. Oyster Bar & Sea Food Grill

Locals who know best where to eat in Raleigh often recommend the 42nd St. Oyster Bar as a favorite seafood restaurant. Re-established from a 1930s grocery store, this restaurant is committed to serving only the freshest seafood from local sources. In addition to a wide selection of wine/beer and specialties like crab cakes and seafood stew, this restaurant offers live music and dancing.

Rating: 4.5-star
Cuisine type: American, Bar, Seafood, Vegetarian-Friendly, Gluten Free Options
Pricing: $8 to $33
Booking: Through Open Table
Ideal for: Families with children, large groups, business meetings, special occasions, local cuisine, bar scene
Address: 508 W Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27603

4. The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar

Probably the most unique restaurant in Raleigh, The Cowfish focuses on serving the town’s best of an unlikely duo of burgers and sushi. If patrons can’t decide on which of the two signature dishes they want, they can choose a box containing samples of each. Featuring a vibrant interior with artworks and an aquarium of cowfish, this fun-loving restaurant offers something for all ages from a kid’s menu to craft beers and wine.

Rating: 4.5-star
Cuisine type: Japanese, American, Seafood, Sushi, Asian, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options
Pricing: $14 to $30
Booking: Doesn’t take reservations
Ideal for: Bar scene, large groups, families with children, special occasions
Address: 4208 Six Forks Rd, Suite 100, Raleigh, NC 27609

3. The Angus Barn

Perched on a hilltop in what resembles a giant red barn, The Angus Barn is a must-do for those looking for where to eat in Raleigh. This large, American-style steakhouse is known for its delicious grilled steaks and award-winning wine cellar. Family-owned for more than 50 years, The Angus Barn features a large cigar lounge, banquet rooms and private dining tables for special occasions and events. The menu also offers seafood dishes, vegetarian options and prize-winning chocolate chess pie.

Rating: 4.5-star
Cuisine type: American, Steakhouse, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options
Pricing: $41-$80
Booking: Through reservations portal
Ideal for: Local cuisine, special occasions, large groups, families with children, romantic, bar scene, business meetings
Address: 9401 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617

2. Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

Since its opening in 2007, Big Daddy’s has received many magazine accolades and multi-star reviews. With all this success, the restaurant now boasts 20 locations throughout North Carolina and other states. Located on Seaboard Ave, Big Daddy’s offers a cozy atmosphere, appetizers, salads, homestyle desserts, beers and a variety of fantastic burgers that range from beef to turkey, chicken, tuna and veggie.

Rating: 4.5-star
Cuisine type: American, Bar, Vegetarian-Friendly, Gluten Free Options
Pricing: $11 to $30
Booking: Doesn’t take reservations
Ideal for: Large groups, families with children, bar scene, local cuisine
Address: 111 Seaboard Ave, Raleigh, NC 27604

1. Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant

Big Ed’s was born from Ed Watkins’ experience of helping his mother prepare meals for the farm hands who worked on the family tobacco farm. After its 1989 opening in conjunction with the city’s downtown revitalization project, Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant has since risen to crown the top of TripAdvisor’s best restaurants in Raleigh. Serving breakfast, lunch and brunch, Big Ed’s offers the city’s best Southern cuisine using local and fresh ingredients. Big Ed’s menu includes a wide variety of country breakfast dishes, burgers, steaks and salads.

Rating: 4.5
Cuisine type: American, Vegetarian-Friendly, Vegan Options
Pricing: $7-$30
Booking: Doesn’t take reservations
Ideal for: Local cuisine, families with kids, large groups
Address: 220 Wolfe St, Raleigh, NC 27601


We hope this guide helps acquaint people with where to eat in Raleigh. Restaurants serving homestyle cooking, seafood, barbecue and American burgers are the ones making this top-ten list, suggesting that Raleigh is a hotspot for traditional Southern cuisine. The top pick, Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant, provides a good example. Do you agree with this list? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences about the best places to eat in Raleigh, NC.

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