Poole's Diner (address and info), Beasley's Chicken + Honey (address and info), Chuck's (address and info) & Fox Liquor Bar (address and info)
If you take away nothing else here, know this: Ashley Christensen makes the best damn mac & cheese you will ever eat. It’s the kind of mac & cheese that earns you a James Beard Best Chef Southeast title and also probably makes people fall in love with you. Although that last bit can't be proven. It’s a little funky, super creamy, and so simple with just noodles, cheese, and cream baked together to golden deliciousness.
That’s the formula to Christensen’s success: simple ingredients in elevated dishes that ooze with comfort and nostalgia. And it goes so far beyond the food. When she opened Poole’s Diner in 2007, she revived the skeleton -- and kept the name -- of downtown Raleigh’s first restaurant. Her other three spots, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey (fried chicken), Chuck’s (glorious burgers), and Fox Liquor Bar (one of our favorite cocktail bars), are all housed in a former Piggly Wiggly. And by grounding her restaurants in Raleigh and its community, Christensen has achieved another impressive feat: ensuring we actually want to eat all that comfort food out in the open instead of, say, at home in our finest sweatpants.