We Asked Our Team For Their Favorite Raleigh Restaurants—Here Are Our Top 16 Picks!

couple eating dinner at Raleigh restaurant

When you’ve lived and worked in Raleigh as long as we have, you’re bound to have a go-to Raleigh restaurant. And it’s not going to be one of those commercialized, touristy, overdone restaurants either. Our favorite eateries tend to be the locally-owned, one-of-a-kind spots that only the seasoned folks of Raleigh know about!

But, what good would our favorite restaurants be if we don’t share them with you? In this list, you’ll get to know 16 of our favorite places to eat around Raleigh. So the next time you’re wondering what’s for lunch or dinner, you should have no trouble deciding on a place to go! 

1. The Piper’s Restaurant and Tavern

If you’re looking for a delicious Irish tavern, look no further than our intern, Kate’s, favorite restaurant! The Piper’s Tavern has been serving the Raleigh area for years and is the perfect blend of a sports bar, Irish pub, and family-friendly tavern. 

During hockey season, stop by The Piper’s Tavern to catch a Hurricanes game! And don’t forget to swing by on Mondays for $3 North Carolina drafts. There’s something going on every day of the week at Piper’s, so you’re bound to enjoy yourself no matter when you visit!

Check out upcoming events

2. Second Empire

Andrea, one of our Buyer Agents loves to dine at Second Empire Restaurant and Tavern whenever she gets the chance. Located in the restored Dodd-Hinsdale House in downtown Raleigh, Second Empire boasts an elegant atmosphere, delicious cuisine, and a world-class wine selection. 

Second Empire is much more than a restaurant though! You can enjoy private dining, host your special event, or get married right on site. When it comes to fine dining, this historic Raleigh restaurant is a must.  

Take a virtual tour of Second Empire.

3. 42nd St. Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill

John, one of our fearless leaders at Spencer Properties, claims 42nd St. Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill as his favorite Raleigh restaurant. This restaurant comes from humble beginnings, starting as a grocery store back in 1931. What we now know as 42nd St. Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill was re-established in 1987 and has been serving exception seafood cuisine to the Raleigh area ever since!

If you’re planning to visit this Raleigh hotspot, we suggest making a reservation. Unless you plan to stop by the bar for a drink or award-winning glass of wine–you really can’t go wrong either way! And be sure to tell them John Spencer sent you. 

Time for a dinner date? Make a reservation

4. McKinley’s in Clayton

Mark, our “office grandpa” as we lovingly refer to him, has only great things to say about McKinley’s in Clayton. In Mark’s words, “It doesn’t get any better than .65 cent wings and Guinness on tap on Sundays!” But if Sunday doesn’t work for you, no worries. McKinley’s has specials every day of the week! So the next time you’re in Clayton, make sure to stop by Mark’s favorite pub.

See McKinley’s menu

5. Big Ed’s

If you asked Lisa about the best Raleigh restaurant, she would tell you to go to Big Ed’s. Known for its southern roots and country cookin’, Big Ed’s is a local favorite here in the Triangle. From french toast with powdered sugar and fried catfish with eggs to burgers and farm-fresh salads, you’re sure to find a menu item you can sink your teeth into. 

So when you’re in the mood for comfort food, stop by one of Big Ed’s three locations. You can find them at their City Market location, in Quail Corners Shopping Center, or at Timber Crossings Shopping Center in Garner.

Check out each location’s daily menu.

6. Salt & Lime Cabo Grill

Margaritas, anyone? Patty’s all-time favorite Raleigh restaurant is Salt & Lime Cabo Grill. Located in North Raleigh, this restaurant boasts a delicious menu with rotating specials, so you never have to eat the same thing twice! Join them for brunch on Sundays for Cabo french toast, or stop by for $5 wings Monday through Friday during happy hour at the bar. If you’re looking for a little taste of California in Raleigh, Salt & Lime Cabo Grill is the place to go!

Take a look at their menu.

7. Bartaco

Jennifer always seems to be in-the-know when it comes to Raleigh restaurants. While she has many that she loves (much of which are on this list), her favorite has to be Bartaco. This restaurant takes street food to a whole new level! With tastes of Brazil, Uruguay and Southern California, this upscale eatery with coastal influences is sure to be one of your favorites, too. Plus, it’s located in one of our favorite neighborhoods—North Hills

Click here to see their hours, menu or make an online order.

8. Saint Jacques

When it comes to French cuisine, you’ve got to visit Kelli’s favorite restaurant, Saint Jacques. Not only is it known for its fine dining and exceptional wines, but Saint Jacques also uses all locally sourced ingredients that come right from farms here in Raleigh! This cuisine is truly one of a kind, and a can’t-miss if you live (or visit) the Triangle. 

Take a look at their menu.

9. Waraji Japanese Restaurant

While sushi may not be for everyone, it’s one of Jill’s favorites which is why she loves to dine at Waraji. Raleighlocals enjoy the fresh ingredients at Waraji, especially when it comes to their signature specialty rolls. What’s even better, Waraji boasts the largest selection of sake in the Carolinas. So when you’re craving sushi and a sake flight, you know just where to go. 

See their lunch, dinner and specialty roll menus

10. Cowfish

If you want sushi, but maybe a burger too, you’ve got to go to Brooke’s favorite Raleigh eatery. Cowfish is a sushi and burger bar with four locations in Raleigh, Charlotte, Birmingham, and Orlando. Their “burgushi” bento boxes allow you to get the best of both worlds, catering both sushi and burger in one meal. So whether you’re in the mood for fish or meat, you’re bound to satisfy your craving at Cowfish.

Take a look at the Cowfish Raleigh menu

11. Beasley’s Chicken and Honey

Here in Raleigh, we love some fried chicken. After all, it is the South! And when it comes to fried chicken, no one does it better than Beasley’s. Cori, one of our Closing Brokers, enjoys eating at Beasley’s on the weekends for their delicious brunch menu. This local favorite is one you have to visit if you haven’t already!

View Beasley’s menu, desserts and spirits

12. Stir

Misha knows that ice is what makes a good cocktail, which is why she loves Stir. Located in North Hills, Stir is known for its premium cocktails with hand-cut ice to compliment each one. But Stir isn’t just about the cocktails! Their menu is entirely made from scratch and boasts of premium oysters that are sure to make your mouth water.

Visit their Instagram to see why ice makes their cocktails so special

13. Brewery Bhavana

Brewery Bhavana is all about community, which is why our Marketing and Events Coordinator, Kara, listed it as her favorite Raleigh restaurant. This restaurant is brewery, restaurant, flower shop and book store all in one. Located in the heart of Raleigh, Brewery Bhavana is loved by locals and visitors alike. When you need a good beer and good food, this is the place to go. 

See Brewery Bhavana’s beer selection

14. Herrons

Inside of the Umstead Hotel and Spa, you’ll find Paula’s favorite restaurant: Herrons. This five-star restaurant is known for its exquisite local cuisine and intimate dining. If you’re looking for an upscale, no shorts or sandals kind of place, you need to try Herrons. Keep in mind though, each reservation requires a $50 deposit that will be applied to your final bill. But trust us, it’s worth it! 

Make a reservation at Herrons

15. Capital Grille

Our Field and Property Manager, Paul, enjoys the fine dining experience at Capital Grille. While Capital Grille isn’t exclusive to Raleigh, it’s still a local favorite. From filet mignon to sesame seared tuna, you’re bound to find an entree you love. Capital Grille is the perfect location for a date night or to celebrate special occasions with your family.

View the Capital Grille menu

16. Simply Crepes

Why go all the way to Paris for delicious crepes when you can get one right here in Raleigh? Simply Crepes, Anne Marie’s favorite Raleigh restaurant, serves crepes that are simply to die for. Plus, they offer weekly specials like Mimosa Mondays and half off wine on Wednesdays. If you aren’t sold already, we have three words to persuade you: made from scratch. Everything that comes out of the kitchen at Simply Crepes is entirely made from scratch using locally sourced ingredients. You simply have to try it!

Take a look at the Simply Crepe menu.

A note from Jill Kuhn—

By now, you’ve gotten a little taste of what it looks like at lunchtime with the team at Spencer Properties. We are a team that is definitely driven by food and fun! So maybe the next time you are wondering where to eat, and someone says the ever-annoying, “It doesn’t matter to me, you choose!”, plug one of our suggestions into your navigation and try it for yourself. Better yet, go without the route guidance and wing it! Getting a little lost, old-school-style, is a great way to explore. And if you get a little turned around, we’ll help you get home. But be sure to call us at lunchtime—you’ll have 16 people to offer suggestions on the best way back. Lots of suggestions.”

Here at Spencer Properties, we’re passionate about Raleigh and all it has to offer. Our suggestions don’t end with restaurants either. From coffee shops to running clubs, we can tell you exactly where to go in Raleigh! And when you need suggestions on buying (or selling) a home in Raleigh, we can help with that, too.