One of my favorite things to highlight are the amazing restaurants in North Carolina, especially those in the city I’ve now called home for over 10 years. In honor of that, I’ve compiled the best food in Raleigh NC that you’ve got to try!
Best Food in Raleigh NC to Try
For the sake of not playing favorites, I have these listed in alphabetical order by restaurant. I’ve also tried to pick items that are not seasonal so that you’ll find them on the menu any time that you visit.
Located in Transfer Co. Food Hall, Benchwarmer Bagels offers the best bagel sandwich in town! Their bagels go through a long fermentation process before being quickly boiled in honey and then cooked in the wood fire stove. They work with local businesses around the state to provide the freshest ingredients. While they have many delicious options, my personal favorite is a traditional bacon, egg, and cheese with Duke’s mayo! Pro Tip: Get there early on the weekends. You can also order online.
Also, don’t sleep on their pizza night. The pepperoni pizza is a favorite in the Grant house!
Benchwarmers Bagels is located at 500 E. Davie St.
This Raleigh staple has been around downtown Raleigh since 1938 and serves up some of the best BBQ in the city. Get a BBQ sandwich with eastern NC sauce (duh) and fried okra. It’s cash only, so be sure to bring some or either take some out at the ATM in the restaurant.
Clyde Cooper’s BBQ is located at 327 S Wilmington St.
Cortez boasts an exceptional oyster selection plus their charred Brussel sprouts and crab melt are unique sharing plates. But the best item on their menu is a surprisingly tasteful combo of mussels & fries. If it’s on the menu, it’s a must order!
Cortez is located at 413 Glenwood Ave.
Photo via Hayes Barton Instagram
Hayes Barton Cafe is located in the heart of historic 5 Points in downtown Raleigh and has some of the most beautiful, jaw-dropping desserts in town. The daily dessert options rotate daily and include Southern staples like Key Lime Pie and an outstanding red velvet cake, chocolate peanut butter pie, and chocolate almond joy. You can’t go wrong with a slice of cake from here!
Hayes Barton Cafe is located at 2000 Fairview Rd.
Jolie is one of my favorite restaurants in downtown Raleigh, mainly because on top of the food, the atmosphere and aesthetic are so beautiful. Jolie has a lovely rooftop, sidewalk dining, and even a porch extension that was added during Covid. The menu boasts classic-time honored French dishes as well as modern adaptations. For example, their steak tartare is served with sour cream chips. My favorite dish at the restaurant is the escargot. The sauce and the Union Special Bread really help this dish shine.
Jolie Restaurant is located at 620 N. Person St.
Several years ago, I was invited to an event at Oakwood Pizza Box, and I immediately knew that David would love their pepperoni pizza. He is pretty particular about his pizza, and this one checks all the boxes for him. We even went on a pizza tour to determine the best pizza in Raleigh, and this one was our winner. Their pepperoni pizza is served with fresh basil for you to add. While this is our staple, I’ve heard great things about their square pizza, too. Pro Tip: Order online and take over to Standard Food & Beer for a little picnic.
Oakwood Pizza Box is located at 610 N. Person St.
Is this even a Raleigh food post if Poole’s macaroni isn’t on the list? The Poole’s macaroni au gratin is mighty famous around these parts and rightfully so. It’s big enough to share and if you have any leftovers, heating it up the next day is just as delicious. The menu changes frequently at Poole’s t
Poole’s Diner is located at 426 S McDowell St.
so•ca is one of my favorite spots for brunch or dinner in the Village District, and my go-to order is the crab stuffed avocado. Look at those radishes! It’s so fresh and the flavors are delicious! so•ca is a casual fine dining experience, making it a perfect spot for any occasion.
so•ca is located at 2130 Clark Ave.
While I love oysters of any kind, the pimento’d oysters at St. Roch are hands down my go-to order. St. Roch does everything right, too, y’all. Their pimento snack, their fried oyster sliders, and their pomme frites are the stuff of food dreams.
St. Roch is located at 223 S Wilmington St.
13 Tacos & Taps Rice
Photo by Glory Roze Photography
13 Tacos and Taps offers an excellent taco fusion menu featuring tacos like chicken & waffles, shrimp & grits, and birria. They also offer unique fusion sides like Brussel sprouts and cauliflower but their claim to fame is their sticky rice and it is full of flavor! Their 13th taco is always a rotating one, so be sure to give that a try along with the rice side.
13 Tacos and Taps is located at 10511 Shadowlawn Dr.
Which of these best food in Raleigh NC items would you want to try? Let me know in a comment below!