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.
Angus Barn is an upscale steakhouse with an opulent menu of wines, steaks, and seafood. Housed inside a building that resembles a giant red barn, Angus has been a local mainstay since 1960. Its staying power is attributed to great service, a fine dining atmosphere, and classic steakhouse fare. Locals come to the barn to celebrate special occasions and meals. The sprawling restaurant is a treat to walk through and behold, and has a wine cellar, whiskey lounge, and cigar bar.
Capital Club 16 pays homage to the old and new. The restaurant serves American food with European influences and is housed inside a registered historic building in downtown Raleigh. Interiors here are a salvage house of reclaimed wood and tile taken from New York restaurants, Neuse River docks, and North Carolina mills. Classic dishes with the foresight of seasonal and locally-grown ingredients fill the menu. Capital Club 16 is a fine choice for a relaxed but refined dinner, and also has a full-service bar and serves lunch and brunch.
Bean Traders is dedicated to the art of roasting and slinging coffee. Since being opened by an optimistic, coffee-loving couple in 2000, the coffeehouse has won nearly a dozen local magazine awards for its coffee and atmosphere. The interior here is inviting, a little chaotic, and funky—the way a loyal, quirky friend might be. Coffee slingers here serve bagels and cookies, and trade in the likes of specialty pour-overs, southern pecan iced coffees, and pumpkin lattes.
Alley Twenty Six is sophisticated cocktail and wine bar serving charcuterie and small plates in stylish surroundings. Locals come to the bar for the relaxing, dimly-lit atmosphere, classic cocktails, and nicely curated wine list. Attention to detail and flavor sets Ally Twenty Six apart from other contemporary cocktail bars. The team here creates one of a kind homemade syrups and tonics: think zesty cinchona bark and lemongrass syrup. The bar, which faces East Chapel Street, has a little outdoor seating on 26 Alley, from which it takes its name.
Gonza is a colorful Mexican restaurant that specializes in tacos and tequila. The interior is eclectic: mannequins greet diners at the door, and Mexican artifacts are mounted on the dining room walls. The menu is a burst of flavor, combining classic Mexican dishes alongside some surprises. Start with a pitcher of strawberry margarita and move on to tacos prepared with chicken tinga poblana, or a scallop and pork belly combination. Patrons can order food online for pickup.