The 10 Best Restaurants In Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh, NC | © James Willamor/Flickr
Raleigh, NC | © James Willamor/Flickr
Photo of Shay Lee
9 February 2017

Downtown Raleigh is a bustling area home to many dining spots, nightlife venues and shops. We have listed the ten best restaurants in this fast-growing metropolitan region of North Carolina.

Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh | © Bz3rk/Wikicommons


Restaurant, Lebanese, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, $$$
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Sitti makes great curry chicken
Sitti makes great curry chicken | © Charles Haynes/Flickr
Sitti is a restaurant that pays homage to Greg Hatem’s Lebanese heritage. Hatem envisioned a place where Lebanon would meet America and where people could learn about Lebanon’s culture – and Sitti was his dream come true. He partnered with the Saleh family to create the restaurant. Sitti means ‘grandmother’ in Lebanese. Customers can learn about Lebanese food and culture whilst enjoying their meal, and the restaurant welcomes everyone with delicious food and endless hospitality. The menu features fresh and authentic mezze platters, entrees, and flatbreads. Customers can some Lebanese wine or beer with their meals.

Opening hours: 11am-10pm (Mon-Thu), 11am-11pm (Fri-Sat), 12pm-10pm (Sun)


Restaurant, American, Contemporary, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free, $$$
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Executive chef and owner Jason Smith opened 18 Seaboard in 2006. His commitment to regional cuisine, local purveyors, and southern hospitality led his restaurant to win the 2010 and 2011 Bravo Award from Metro Magazine for best chef, restaurant, and power lunch. Chef Smith sources 60% of his ingredients from local farmers and purveyors. In addition, 18 Seaboard is a favorite spot for locals looking to hold business meetings and special events. The restaurant has a private party room – The Gallery – which can sit up to 50 guests.

Opening hours: 11:30am-2pm, 5pm-10pm (Mon-Thu), 11:30am-2pm, 5pm-11pm (Fri), 5pm-11pm (Sat), 5pm-10pm (Sun)

Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern

Restaurant, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
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Offering one of the best dining experiences in the city, Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern serves exquisite dishes in an elegant environment. They believe no meal is complete without a quality wine, so they offer a world-class selection. The menu – including dishes such as the Juniper & Rosemary Pan-Roasted Georgia Quail and the Sautéed Carolina Shrimp & Roasted Duck Leg Meat – and excellent customer service have won the restaurant the AAA Four Diamond Award, Dirona Award, and Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. Located in the beautifully restored Dodd-Hinsdale House in downtown Raleigh, Second Empire will delight even the most selective of customers.

Opening hours: 5pm-10pm (Tue-Thu), 5pm-11pm (Fri-Sat)


Stanbury is a selective fine dining experience in the north end of downtown Raleigh. They offer a semi-traditional steakhouse menu, adding their own flare to certain dishes, which include truffle in their gnocci and charred kale to go along with their pork chop. Their menu is mostly composed of small dishes, which vary depending upon the season and availability of local ingredients. Sticking to small plates can make this fine dining more affordable, as well as being able to try more than just one dish.
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday 5pm – 10pm, Friday – Saturday 5pm – 11pm
Address & telephone number: 938 N. Blount Street, Raleigh, NC 27604 (919) 977-4321

Five Star Restaurant

Restaurant, Asian, Chinese, American, $$$
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Five Star Restaurant is one of Raleigh’s best kept secrets. The restaurant has a speakeasy vibe, and it aims to pay homage to traditional and non-traditional Asian culture. The interior design is eclectic and influenced by Chinese decor, but this isn’t the only reason customers come to Five Star Restaurant. The lunch and dinner menu features dishes made with high-quality ingredients, such as the Five Star General’s chicken and the heat seeker shrimp. For those who expext to have original drinks with their food, the restaurant offers Asian cocktails, wine, beer, and sake. These can be enjoyed at the bar if customers come in just for a drink.
Opening hours: 5:30pm-12am (Sun-Wed), 5:30pm-2am (Thu-Sat)

Bida Manda

Bida Manda celebrates the culture and hospitality of Laos, and is named after the owner’s parents who still live there. The walls are covered with salvaged bamboo, and bathed in warm light from industrial light bulb fixtures. The cuisine is a combination of Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai food, offering pad Thai along with pork belly soup. The recipes are as close to authentic as you will get, so you can stray away from Asian-fusion for a night. Don’t forget to end your meal with the purple sticky rice.
Opening hours: Lunch: Monday-Friday: 11:30 am – 2pm,

Dinner: Monday- Thursday 5pm – 10pm Friday-Saturday 5am – 12am
Address & telephone number: 222 S. Blount Street, Raleigh, NC 27601 (919) 829 9999

Spaghetti con ricci di mare | © miss_yasmina/flickr

Vic’s Italian Restaurant

Restaurant, Pizzeria, Italian, Vegetarian, Fast Food, $$$
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Vic’s Italian Restaurant sets the standard for authentic Italian cuisine and New York style pizza in the city. For thirty years, owner Mario Longo has been serving Italian favorites. In 1998, Vic’s Italian Restaurant became the family-friendly casual eatery it is today. Guests can savor pasta, veal, chicken, seafood dishes, pastries, and gelatos. To live the full Italian experience guests must select a good wine, choosing from a list of wines from various Italian regions. The restaurant is filled with Italian culture; beautifully painted murals of Italy’s landscape create a beautiful dining space, and customers can also dine on the patio.
Opening hours: 11am-10pm (Mon-Thu), 11am-11pm (Fri-Sat)

Woody’s at City Market

Bar, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub, American
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Woody’s at City Market is locally owned and only offers quality products. They have an extensive list of craft beers and a good selection of spirits. As guests spend time at the bar, the staff will inform them about their liquors and will help them choose the right drink. The food is always made to order and consists of American classics, such as their Angus burger, Philly cheese steak, and mozzarella sticks. Because of its wonderful dishes and friendly atmosphere, Woody’s has been featured more than once in local media publications. The restaurant was established over 20 years ago and they hope to continue for another 20 years and more.
Opening hours: 11am-12am (Sun-Mon), 11am-2am (Tue-Sat)

The Pit Authentic Barbecue

Restaurant, American, Gluten-free, $$$
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Home of the famous Eastern-style whole hog barbecue, The Pit Authentic Barbecue is the best barbecue joint in downtown Raleigh. Known as The Pit, the restaurant celebrates the great culinary specialties of the state. The hogs used in the barbecue are raised in North Carolina using AWA certified farming practices. The Pit’s starters, sides, and desserts are made using fresh local produce. Some of the menu’s highlights are the Texas-style brisket, baby back ribs, smoked turkey, fried chicken, and barbecue tofu. For visitors who can’t think of their food without thinking about their drinks, The Pit offers dinners that pair specific wines and beers with specific barbecue items. The bourbon whiskey awakens smoky flavors from the barbecue meals.
Opening hours: 11am-10pm (Mon-Thu), 11am-11pm (Fri-Sat), 11am-9pm (Sun)

Mecca Restaurant

Restaurant, American, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free
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Nick and Helen Dombalis opened Mecca Restaurant in 1930. In 1937, the Dombalis moved their restaurant to its current location on Martin Street, and in 1990, the business was passed on to Nick and Helen’s grandson, Paul. With Paul’s help, Mecca Restaurant added new entrees to the menu like the San Francisco chicken and the lasagna special. They now offer a breakfast menu, and lunch and dinner menu, as well as a late night menu and the house specials. Come any time of the day to enjoy a meal in this legendary restaurant which has been running for over 80 years serving unpretentious, comforting meals.
Opening hours: 7:30am-12am (Mon-Wed), 7:30am-2am (Thu-Sat)

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