Southern Living named Raleigh one of the “Top 10 Tastiest Towns in the South.” If you’re a local, you know why. The city’s buzzing food scene is quickly gaining national attention for its emphasis on local ingredients and farm-to-table cooking. Here’s a brief look at some of the restaurants you can expect to find while living in Raleigh, NC:
This fast-casual restaurant, rooted in Venezuelan cuisine, understands that fresh tastes better, which is why they make everything from scratch. The menu at Guasaca focuses on the arepa, Venezuela’s daily bread made from corn that pairs well with pretty much any combination of food. Customize your arepa with a variety of different meats and sides, like pico de gallo, plantains, and beans. For a quick, affordable fix, Guasaca has what you’re looking for.
Driftwood Southern Kitchen
You’re in the South, so you should eat like you’re in the South. Located in Raleigh’s Lafayette Village neighborhood, Driftwood Southern Kitchen serves rustic farmhouse cuisine using fresh ingredients from local farms. The restaurant has an open-table concept, making for a communal dining experience. The menu is designed so guests can customize their meals together and enjoy them family-style. Driftwood Southern Kitchen specializes in Southern fare, like Shrimp and Grits, Chicken Fried Chicken, Angus Beef Brisket, and more. They serve a variety of small plates, appetizers, sandwiches and salads. Their drink menu is also pretty well-rounded, and they have a long list of signature moonshine cocktails. It doesn’t get more Southern than that.
If you can’t get enough of Asian Fusion, you have to pay a visit to Bida Manda, a Laotian restaurant and bar. Laos’ cuisine combines Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cooking with French technique, given the country’s French colonial past. Try the Crispy Pork Belly Soup, the Chicken Curry, or the Green Papaya Salad. They also have a full bar that serves delicious handmade cocktails. Bida Manda is as authentic as it gets. Every dish on the menu is just like what the restaurant’s Laotian owners and chefs grew up eating.
House of Hops
House of Hops is a dog-friendly, full-service bar in Raleigh that has 24 draft beers on tap that change daily. The huge beer selection might be intimidating at first, but the friendly, knowledgeable bartenders are more than happy to make recommendations. Customers have the option of buying bottles or growlers to go, or they can kick back and relax with some friends on the outdoor patio after a long day. The warehouse setting has ample seating. Outside, you can play corn hole or ping pong. House of Hops doesn’t serve food, but there is usually a food truck parked outside.
C. Grace Cocktail Bar
This swanky jazz club is totally unique to Raleigh. C. Grace pays homage to classic jazz clubs. Think dim lighting, top notch live music, and strong drinks. Music starts around 9 pm Tuesday through Saturday and the entertainment schedule is posted on their website. There is a cover charge on Fridays and Saturdays. Enjoy a cocktail from their constantly-evolving drink menu, like the Hemingway, made with rum, grapefruit and maraschino, or the Night on the Porch, with whiskey, lemon and claret syrup.
Raleigh restaurants come in a wide range of budgets and cuisines. Whether you’re looking for an upscale dining experience or want to dig in to some messy North Carolina barbecue, you’ll be able to find it here.