For those not familiar with The Triangle area of North Carolina, it is one of the areas that are seeing large numbers of high tech entrepreneurs starting their own businesses combined with some of the country’s best colleges and universities that create an area of strong economic growth. The capital city of Raleigh is strategically located in The Triangle to offer some of the best restaurants and eateries to businesses, students, and tourists.
To save you a lot of time, here is the short list of the 10 best restaurants in all of Raleigh. You can start here and then roam free through the city to find the vast number of restaurants, large and small, that serve up some of the best food the area has to offer.
Five Star Restaurant
One of the best kept secrets in the city, this restaurant focuses on traditional and non-traditional Asian culture for its ambience. You enter into a room that reflects an eclectic décor influenced by the country of China. When you sit down you will be able to experience dishes such as Five Star General Chicken and a more seafaring option with their Heat Seeker Shrimp. But the Chinese theme does not end with the food. It extends to the drinks, where you can choose from wine, beer, Asian cocktails, and even sake. Yes, sake is a Japanese drink but it illustrates the broader Asian theme of the restaurant.
Staying with the Asian cuisine and culture, there is Bida Manda, which celebrates the Laotian culture. The restaurant’s name is in honor of the owner’s parents who still maintain a residence there. You will find walls covered with salvaged bamboo, lit by a modern looking industrial light bulb array. When it is time to eat you will have the choice of Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai dishes, including pork belly soup. The main faire is so authentic you will be able to take a break from the usual Asian options. You are encouraged to end your meal with the purple sticky rice as a way to remember your visit.
We move from Asian cuisine to the Middle East and Lebanese cuisine. Like our first two choices, Sitti was created to bring the culture of Lebanon to America and start the conversation with offering some traditional Lebanese faire. Sitti is Lebanese for “grandmother,” and honors the founding Saleh and Hatem families of previous generations. Hospitality and a steady stream of food keep customers entertained and eating. You will have a choice of Mezzi platters, as well as the expected flatbreads. To drink, you will be able to choose from a selection of Lebanese wine or beer.
Though the name sounds like a Middle Eastern restaurant, it actually is a basic breakfast, lunch, and dinner eatery that has a long history dating back to the 1930’s. Taken over by the grandson of its founders, Paul, in 1990, he made some significant changes to the entrees, giving the restaurant a unique combination of history and modern cuisine. Among the additions to the menu are San Francisco chicken and a special lasagna creation. There are late night and house specials that can be found throughout the day, as it is open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. It has retained its reputation as a place to have a simple and comforting meal without a lot of hoopla.
Vic’s Italian Restaurant
How could any list of best places to eat be complete without an Italian restaurant? Serving New York style pizza and real Italian food gives patrons the best combination of American and Italian cultures. It is family-friendly, casual, and of course, popular among the city’s denizens. No Italian restaurant would be complete without a great selection of wines, and Vic’s does not disappoint. You are ensconced in an environment featuring hand painted murals of Italy’s picturesque landscape, and combined with their options of pasta, seafood, and gelatos, you will leave feeling full and content.
Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern
The name of this restaurant may sound somewhat European, but it is actually one of the finer dining experiences in the city. You can choose from Juniper & Rosemary Pan-Roasted Georgia Quail, Sautéed Carolina Shrimp, or Roasted Duck Leg Meat served with one of the best wine selections in the city. One of a small number of restaurants that have earned awards for their outstanding customer service, including the AAA Four Diamond award, you will not only find the food and wine superior, but will also be surrounded by an atmosphere of elegance. Plan ahead, as they are only open from 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and generally close before 11 p.m.
We will stay with fine dining, suggesting Stanbury as a place if you love steaks. They serve more than just a simple steak, adding their own creations to the menu. You might opt for a pork chop with charred kale, or gnocchi with truffles. What separates Stanbury from the rest of fine dining places to eat is their decision to serve primarily small dishes. Instead of paying $32 for a large steak you can halve that price by selecting a small disk, making the experience both enjoyable and affordable. If you are someone who is adventurous and likes trying new foods, the small dish approach makes the visit all the more worthwhile.
Woody’s at City Market
Before we swing down south for a more local flavor, stop in at Woody’s. They have earned their reputation as serving only the highest quality products which includes beers, wines, and liquors. Instead of having to decide on your own what to drink, the staff is always available to help you decide which of the many options are more suitable to your palate. To go with your drink is the classic American faire, such as an Angus burger or Philly Cheese Steak – always made to order. It is a friendly and sociable place, so you will almost always feel comfortable. They demonstrate their friendliness by being open 7 days a week.
The Pit Authentic Barbecue
Here you will get to steep yourself in some of North Carolina’s most cultural food. In fact, this is exactly the purpose of opening The Pit. You can choose between the restaurant’s signature Eastern-style whole hog barbecue or Texas-style brisket, but regardless of your choice you can be sure all the food is North Carolinian through and through. The Pit is all about the barbeque, and to emphasize the emphasis it has a special selection of wines that match up with specific barbeque dishes.
A restaurant that is only 12 years old, Seaboard has already earned the Bravo Award from Metro Magazine for best chef, restaurant, and power lunch two years running – in 2010 and 2011. When you see power lunch you know this is a top spot for businesses, and it doesn’t disappoint by having a private section known as The Gallery that can hold as many as 50 people. Seaboard is very local, as more than 60% of the ingredients in the food they serve come from local farmers. Because they cater primarily to local businessmen, they are closed from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. But you can still get in and take advantage of the local Southern hospitality offered by executive chef and owner, Jason Smith.