Food & Drink

Everywhere Worth Eating in Raleigh

Jason Frye Published On 09/24/2015 Published On 09/24/2015

Charlotte If you expect every eatery in Raleigh, North Carolina, to be some variation of a Southern greasy spoon or BBQ joint, you’d be... mostly wrong. Some spots certainly are heavy and fried-forward, but others are surprisingly sophisticated, so long as you know where to look. Let us show you the way.

Best burger: Chuck’s

237 S Wilmington St There’s not much more on this menu than the seven burger variations, which is fine because why would you consider anything else anyway? Opt for one of the sloppy big hitters like The Dirty South -- smoked pork shoulder, crispy tobacco onions, roasted tomato malt vinegar slaw, red pea chili, cheddar, and yellow mustard -- or keep it relatively tame with The High and Valley with crushed avocado, bacon-onion jam, and red peppers. More Stuff You Will Like

Flickr/Abby

Best pizza: Lilly’s Pizza

  1813 Glenwood Ave More traditional flavor combos abound, like the Five Point pie (creamy pesto, roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, Parmesan, and fontina) but the themed ones can get a little wacky, like the Thai Bhat (Thai curry sauce, grilled chicken, roasted garlic, chili pepper, baby corn, straw mushrooms, carrots, cheddar, Parmesan, fresh ginger, plus scallions) or the South of the Border (black-bean salsa, roasted garlic, cheddar, Monterey Jack, grilled chicken, onions, jalapeños, roasted chilies, and cilantro).

Best breakfast: State Farmer’s Market Restaurant

  1240 Farmers Market Dr Located right outside the State Farmers Market, this country breakfast-slinger has some of the freshest ingredients around… even though they all end up cooked in oil or griddled. Don’t knock the fried bologna biscuit or the Streak O’Lean -- the most mysterious of mystery meat -- until you’ve tried ‘em. Continue Reading

The Players' Retreat

Best-late night bites: The Players' Retreat

  105 Oberlin Rd “Players” in this case, refers to anyone who’s into hash browns, biscuits, pancakes at 11pm... or single-malt Scotch -- the PR has the largest collection in the state -- which should be basically everyone.

Biggest pancakes: Big Ed’s City Market Restaurant

  220 Wolfe St The pancakes are the size of hubcaps, and if eat three, you get a free T-shirt. Any questions?

The Fiction Kitchen

Best vegetarian: Fiction Kitchen

  428 S. Dawson St The food here might lead a carnivore to consider vegetarianism, but then they’ll realize what a pain it is to cook that way every night, and just vow to eat here as often as possible instead. Which is actually pretty easy because the cornmeal-crusted oyster mushrooms and bulgogi seitan tacos are THAT GOOD.

Flickr/Dakiraun

Best for when your parents are paying: Angus Barn

  9401 Glenwood Ave You know who wants to pay $45 for a T-bone the size of a steering wheel? Your dad if/when you make the dean’s list.

Best date spot: Lucettegrace

  235 S Salisbury St Take your latest flame on an afternoon date to a patisserie, order two espressos and some macarons to share, and come across as cultured.

Jason Frye/Thrillist

Best Carolina-style barbecue: Clyde Cooper’s BBQ

  327 S Wilmington St Barbecue in North Carolina can be as divisive a topic as religion or college basketball. However, there’s nothing to debate when it comes to Clyde Cooper’s, which has been cooking hog shoulders nonstop since 1938. Generously splash the top-notch, $4 ($4!!) chopped BBQ sandwich with the pepper-laced vinegar sauce, and grab a bag of homemade pork skins on your way out.

Flickr/Selena N.B.H.

Best fried chicken: Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

  237 S Wilmington St The culinary sorceress behind Chuck’s brings us a downright spellbinding experience with her crispy, honey-drizzled chicken and waffles.

Best tailgate truck: The Bread Truck Various locations
Most days you’ll find the truck on NC State’s campus selling banh mi, lamb sandwiches, and La Farm Dog -- a hot dog topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, and honey-maple dijon on a mini baguette dotted with chunks of white chocolate -- and sometimes, if you’re lucky, the elusive Monte Cristo. Keep an eye out for it at Carter-Finley Stadium before, during, and after football games.

Flickr/Michael Richardson

Best Asian: Bida Manda

  222 S Blount St If you’ve never tried Lao cuisine, many flavors and dishes are reminiscent of Vietnamese and Thai, but are also wholly their own. The kali mark fuk kum (a rich pumpkin curry), or the mee ka tee (a crispy pork belly soup) make for a great introduction.

Flickr/Amy Meredith

Most classic college eats: The Roast Grill

  7 S West St If you like your dogs topped with anything other than mustard, chili, and onions, you can just see yourself out; hot dogs, glass-bottled sodas, and long-necked beers are basically the only things offered at this counter service standby. You won’t even find ketchup. Sign up here for our daily Charlotte email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in the Queen City. Jason Frye is a freelance food and travel writer who relocated to North Carolina 12 years ago to pursue a graduate degree in writing and ended up being seduced by the BBQ, beaches, and Blue Ridge. Follow him on Twitter: @beardedwriter.

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1. Chuck's 237 S Wilmington Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

Go and check out why Chuck's has won a spot on our list with their famous "The Dirty South Burger."

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2. Lilly's Pizza 1813 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27608

Though traditional flavor combos abound, like the Five Point pie (creamy pesto, roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, Parmesan, and fontina) the themed ones can get a little wacky, like the Thai Bhat (Thai curry sauce, grilled chicken, roasted garlic, chili pepper, baby corn, cheddar, Parmesan, fresh ginger, plus scallions) or the South of the Border (black-bean salsa, roasted garlic, Monterey Jack, grilled chicken, roasted chilies, and cilantro).

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3. State Farmers Market Restaurant 1240 Farmers Market Dr, Raleigh, NC 27603

Located right outside the State Farmers Market, this country breakfast spot has some of the freshest ingredients around… even though (err, because?) they all end up cooked in oil or griddled. Don’t knock the fried bologna biscuit or the Streak O’Lean -- the most mysterious of mystery meat -- until you’ve tried ‘em.

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4. Big Ed's City Market Restaurant 220 Wolfe St, Raleigh, NC 27601

The pancakes are the size of hubcaps, and if eat three, you get a free T-shirt. Any questions? But seriously -- for a southern take on your favorite pre-5pm meals, come to Big Ed's. They'll spoil your appetite for the rest of the day with entrees like country ham with red eye gravy and fried catfish.

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5. The Players' Retreat 105 Oberlin Rd, Raleigh, NC 27605

“Players” in this case, refers to anyone who’s into hash browns, cheese fries, pancakes at 11pm... or single-malt Scotch -- the PR has the largest collection in the state -- which should be basically everyone.

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6. Fiction Kitchen 428 S Dawson St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Conveniently located near the North Carolina State Farmers Market and the Raleigh Downtown Farmers Market, this 100% vegetarian spot uses local ingredients and global influences to create the greenest dishes in the Tar Heel State.

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7. Angus Barn 9401 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27617

Despite its name, Angus Bar is an elegant establishment that boasts an impressive wine cellar. And in addition to the main dining room, patrons can also enjoy their steaks with a few cigars in the smoker-friendly "Meat Locker."

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8. Lucettegrace 235 S Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27601

This modern patisserie bakes seasonal pastries for their counter, such as pumpkin pie croissants and BBQ breakfast cakes. Lucettegrace also provides upped sandwiches and Lebanese style tea.

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9. Clyde Cooper's BBQ 327 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601

Clyde Cooper's BBQ is serving up smoked meat Carolina-style, with a vinegar-based sauce and killer hush puppies.

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10. Beasley's Chicken + Honey 237 S Wilmington St, Raleigh, NC 27601

At Beasley's, honey marries chicken and waffles—not high fructose maple sludge. The menu also supplies comforting sides like buttermilk biscuits, stewed tomatoes, and pimento mac 'n' cheese custard, along with creative cocktails and local craft beers.

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11. Bida Manda 222 S Blount St, , 27601

This elegant restaurant and bar serves Laotian cuisine, a mix between Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, and French influences. Menu items include pork belly soup, papaya salad, duck larb, and a variety of stir fry dishes.

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12. The Roast Grill 7 S West St, Raleigh, NC 27603

Since 1940, this modest, mom-and-pop joint has been serving hot dogs with mustard, onions, and chili. Don't you dare ask for ketchup— it's not allowed.

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