Raleigh is the town that I lived in when I was studying in the USA. Odd place to live, but I absolutely loved it, this spot is a college town with a fairly middle-class population that lives and works down-town making for plenty of restaurants, cheap eats and good midnight snacks.
My favourite spots are the following:
For Dinner or lunch
-BIDA MANDA: This is my all time favourite restaurant in Raleigh. The food here is expensive (menu is cheaper at lunch though) but it is worth every dollar. The Laotin food is fresh, filling and some of the tastiest in Raleigh. The crispy pork belly soup is the best thing on the menu, definitely get this if you want to try something new. If you like it spicy ask for a spice rack to add some extra zing to it.
-THE PIT AUTHENTIC BARBEQUE: This is the best spot in Raleigh to get your BBQ fix. The restaurant is located in down town and a pretty cool set up inside. Take a booth seat and enjoy some of the best authentic North Carolinian food you can get your hands on. The Pulled Pork is the meat to try, as is the Beef Brisket. When picking your sides make sure you try the Fried Okra, the Brunswick Stew and the Mac ‘N’ Cheese.
-POOLES DINER: This restaurant is always packed, be sure to book, it’s worth it though. Enjoy the food, and the cocktails. They run off a seasonal menu, that changes seasonally and even sometimes day-by-day based upon what they can get fresh at the markets. When I was there we had an incredible roast chicken, a great quinoa salad and the best mac ‘n’ cheese I have ever eaten.
-BAD DADDY’S BURGER: this burger joint is
incredible. The best burger in Raleigh will be eaten here. Pick one off the menu or make your own. The tater tots and sweet potato fries are incredible, but the beef burgers are the highlight. The booths are great for a casual date, or head down with friends and have a beer at the bar whilst you watch the football and wait for a table.
-GONZA’S TACOS Y TEQUILA: This restaurant obviously does great tacos!! If you want a night of Mexican head here, they also do a killer margarita.
The El Plantano is also an incredible dish, if you are up for giving something new a go. But if you want to stick to the tacos my favourite are the Tinga (chicken) and Carnitas (pork).
-SUSHI 9: This restaurant does the best sushi I have ever had. With a massive menu, with so many sushi and Japanese options. The sushi is a great deal with 2-for-1 rolls. The sushi is simple or crazy, with rolls being deep-fried or having cream cheese.
My favourites were the Crazy Roll (prawn), Hurricane Roll (tuna), Sexy Girl. The restaurant unfortunately burned down in early 2016 but is being rebuilt.
-SITTI: this Lebanese restaurant is a highlight of downtown. With a modern take on authentic cuisine Sitti does a great dinner. Start off with some dips and pita bread and then move onto the entrees. I would recommend the Fatteh which is stewed lamb on rice with crispy pita chips!
The Kabobs are also great if you want something a bit simpler.
-THAIPHOON: This is a good quality Thai restaurant that is located. Try the pad thai and basil stir fry. The satay chicken skewers are also a hit.
-SULLIVANS STEAKHOUSE: If you are craving a steak this is the place to go. A fancy restaurant, with some pretty expensive items on the menu but it is worth the money. The service here is impeccable, and the staff are lovely even bringing me out a slice of cheesecake when they heard I had just arrived in Raleigh to study at NC State. The steak is great, as are the lamb cutlets. Be sure to leave room for dessert the cheesecake is incredible.
-BEASLEY’S HONEY AND CHICKEN: if you want a modern but authentic North Carolina brunch, that is set in a funky restaurant downtown, this is the place to be. There is often a wait here on the weekends but it is worth it for the waffles and chicken. Yep you heard me right, waffles, fried chicken and honey, and it actually tastes bloody good. Pair the waffles and chicken with a Bloody Mary and you’re hangover will vanish within minutes. If waffles aren’t your thing, give the biscuits a try.
-FLYING BISCUIT: This brunch spot is also located close to the NC State campus in Cameron Village, be sure to book ahead of time for the weekends. The pancakes here are a highlight, and will probably feed you for two meals! Putting a southern twist on their
meals, they do great grits and roasted potatoes.
-TUPELLO HONEY: This is my favourite brunch/ lunch spot in Raleigh. They are located close to the NC State campus and do the best biscuits I had whilst living in the USA, served with their tupelo honey before your meal they hit the spot. Sit outside here on a nice summer day and get the Southern Fried Chicken BLT or try out their famous Sweet Potato Pancakes.
They also do great bar snacks and small plates at dinner time.
-COOKOUT: Make sure you get here at 2am post drinking to get a tray to help with the drunk munchies. Their trays cost only a few dollars and include a burger, two sides and a drink. So much food that your college budget can afford. The Cajun chicken burger with fries and a quesadilla are my faves.
Their milkshakes are also a highlight, and really are just a full cup of ice-cream!
-KRISPY KREME: get here late at night or early in the morning for a quick snack. The Krispy Kremes are always fresh and you can see them being made and being bought straight out for you. If you’re game check out the Krispy Kreme challenge which involves eating 12 donuts and running 5 miles in 1 hour.
-CHEESECAKE FACTORY: The cheesecake here is to die for, they also do great meals, that are massive and will feed a whole family. But their cheesecake is where it is at. My face is the raspberry and white chocolate and also the dulce de luche. Worth every single calorie!
-HOWLING COW CREAMERY: Get down to the few spots on the NC State campus that sell this amazing ice cream! Made on campus from their cows, the ice cream is rich, yummy and full of chunks of flavour. Try the Chancellor’s Choice (Wolf Tracks) or the Campfire Delight. They also do great eggnog at Christmas. Best spots to get it are at the DH Hill Library, Talley Market and Hunt Library.
-INSOMNIA COOKIES: If you ever have a late night craving for cookies, this is where to get your fix. They will even deliver to you whilst you pull an all nighter studying.