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.
Hidden in a small strip near the Sutton Square Shopping Mall, this gem of a French restaurant brings a taste of Provence to North Raleigh. The menu focuses on locally-sourced meats, with classic dishes such as foie gras, escargots, and filet mignon. Vegetarian options lean towards pasta dishes, while the dessert and wine list is typically, and extravagantly French. Enjoy horseradish-braised beef short ribs with a French Merlot, or seafood étouffée with dessert cheeses. The management at Saint Jacques also organizes wine dinners, cooking classes, and annual sojourns to Provence and Burgundy.
If you long for a trip to Italy, Il Palio is the next best thing. The rich upholstery, hand-carved credenzas and fresh flowers sets off the mural of Siena and Venetian prints on the walls. Italian sconces and soft candlelight create the perfect atmosphere for a romantic dinner or intimate lunch. The aged prosciutto from Parma tucked into an arugula salad is exceptional. Homemade potato gnochetti with almond basil pesto is comfort food gone sophisticated. The tiramisu is the chef's own family recipe. It is located in the renowned Siena Hotel.