The Fiction Kitchen is a brightly-colored vegetarian restaurant with an innovative, seasonal menu. The restaurant began as a pop-up restaurant project and has evolved into a thriving culinary institution with a permanent location in Raleigh’s depot and warehouse district. Fiction is a temple to fresh, creative vegetarian cuisine: think succotash farro risotto or nori rolls with sashimi tofu. Absolutely everything served at the Kitchen is vegetarian and regionally-sourced, and most items are vegan. Fiction serves brunch on Sundays.
J. Bestki’s serves Polish and German food in the heart of downtown Raleigh. Pierogies and schnitzel are star players of the generous menu, but there are also some surprises, like soy-sesame-spicy paprika marinade and bison flank steak. The management prides itself on using superior local ingredients, and the bread rolls are baked next door, the owner shops daily at the farmers market for greens, and the sausages are mixed and made on site. An excellent selection of beers and wines from Italy, Austria, and Germany complements the cuisine.
This fine-dining restaurant and tavern serves new American cuisine in a restored 19th Century Second Empire Victorian. The restaurant is more than worth a visit for its refined atmosphere and gourmet food. Casual dishes are served in the cellar tavern, while a creative seasonal menu is offered in the formal dining room. Visitors can enjoy a beer in the tavern or a pre-dinner cocktail while seated in the covered front-porch. Second Empire is a first-rate destination for an elegant dinner.
Vinos Finos is a departure from run-of-the-mill drinking and dining experiences. Located inside European-themed Lafayette Village, the wine bar is designed to sample tapas-style dishes and world-class wines. The staff here is more than happy to help with wine selection and pairings. Dark woods, leather furniture, and warm colors make the interiors feel like an old-world wine shop. Vinos Finos encourages patrons to converse, and the intimate, colorful setting is doubly suited for first dates or casual business meetings.
This vibrant cafe, bakery, and German restaurant can safely be called a local favorite. Seasonal menus feature eclectic German specialties made with only locally-sourced ingredients. The bakery offers a generous menu of breads, cakes, pastries, and cookies. Guglhupf’s interiors are stunning, and feature an interior terrace and courtyard, a beautiful patio for outdoor dining, and an atrium. The cafe also often hosts wine and local food-related events, and exhibits the work of local artists.
This restaurant is a dynamic tribute to grandmothers, the caretakers of Lebanese culture and food. Modern and airy, Sitti (or, “grandmother”) serves classic Lebanese dishes with a few twists, including falafels, zaatar roasts, and kabobs served alongside grilled ribeye steaks and salmon. Enjoy any one of a number of authentic Mediterranean dishes, grab a Lebanese beer, and take a seat at the restored art deco bar. Zitti offers spacious and elegant outdoor seating in one of the best patios in Raleigh.
True to its name, the Oak City Meatball Shoppe is a superb mecca for innovative meatballs. Its menu is compact yet offers a host of interesting options. It features a selection of delectable appetizers, refreshing salads, and flavorsome meatball varieties that can be customized by pairing it with your preferred choice of sauce. Wash it down with a couple chilled beers, although make sure you save enough room for the Flourless Chocolate Torte.
This is home-style Southern cooking in its purest form. Some breakfast items include the thickest biscuits coupled with the finest sausage gravy and plate-sized pancakes, while some others like the Fried Cajun Chicken Breast and Fried Egg Burgers are a big hit with locals. If you come in for lunch and find barbecued chicken on the menu, you are in luck. Also,an added bonus is that this cozy eatery looks like the inside of a Southern kitchen, with pots, pans and other odd paraphernalia scattered for effect. Big Ed's only accepts cash, so come prepared.
Sono offers a contemporary sushi experience right in the heart of downtown Raleigh. Modern black and red interiors tinged with Japanese accents create a funky aesthetic that makes for the perfect night of sushi-fueled fun. Seasonal ingredients ensure that there is a constant change in the flavors in these innovative rolls. Other star dishes here include the Sono hot wings, assorted tempura, and yaki soba. And of course, no Japanese meal would be complete without some sake, of which there are several varieties at Sono. Go ahead and have a feast!
Bida Manda is all about bringing people together while celebrating the cuisine and culture of Laos. The restaurant serves traditional dishes one might find inside a Laotian home, alongside Asian fusion cuisine. The inviting dining room here features long tables, perfect for large gatherings. Some of the most popular dishes here are the green papaya salad and ginger pork ribs. Pair your meal with a glass of wine or one of the restaurant bar’s original cocktails—the Thai Basil Sour is particularly tasty—for an unforgettable dinner.
Poole's began in 1945 as a humble pie shop which soon grew to be a veritable legend and popular hangout for many. Today, Poole's is owned by the famed chef Ashley Christiansen who has given this Downtown landmark a bright and shiny new image. While original features like the double horseshoe bar and red banquettes have been retained, the decor incorporates some modern touches along with its retro roots to create an upscale diner. Walk on over to the chalkboard to check out what on offer today. The menu changes regularly, taking advantage of seasonal produce to create dishes that are fresh and flavorful. While every dish is reminiscent of classic diner favorites, each has been elevated through the use of contemporary techniques and a beautifully balanced flavor profile. Poole's tends to get crowded around dinner time so be sure to arrive early.
Beasley's Chicken + Honey is acclaimed chef Ashley Christensen's offering to chicken lovers. The Southern cuisine with a creative spin has been wowing locals for some time now. Dishes such as the classic fried chicken, chicken biscuits, pot pies and waffles rule the roost. Though the menu isn't extensive, all the dishes are a labor of love which is reflected in the flavor of the food. Pair it up with a drink of your choice and get set for a memorable meal in Beasley's.