Living

Here’s your guide to downtown Raleigh dining, from breakfast to late-night snacks

Brewery Bhavana’s menu is divided into two roughly equal categories, labeled “A Little Something” (dumplings, buns and other small plates); and “A Bit Larger” (entree portions, for the most part).
Brewery Bhavana’s menu is divided into two roughly equal categories, labeled “A Little Something” (dumplings, buns and other small plates); and “A Bit Larger” (entree portions, for the most part). jleonard@newsobserver.com

It’s peak festival season this month, when thousands descend on downtown Raleigh for music, the arts and motorcycles.

Whether people are new to town, checking out the events or just in search of good eats on any given weekend in downtown, we’ve got you covered.

Here are some of our favorite spots to dine, organized by type of meal.

And don’t forget to check out the new Morgan Street Food Hall, which opened last month. The spot has plenty of food from all genres: pizza, Southern, burgers, Indian, tacos and rolled ice cream.

For more reviews of area restaurants, go to triangletoday.com

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Daniel Benjamin, center, arranges baked goods at the artful French pastry shop, lucettegrace. 2014 News & Observer File Photo - Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

To jump start your day: Breakfast

Big Ed’s City Market: Come for Southern diner fare in the city center. At the City Market mainstay, you’ll find giant hotcakes, buttery, fluffy biscuits and everything fried that needs to be fried. 220 Wolfe St., Raleigh. 919-836-9909. bigedscitymarket.com

Lucettegrace: Your perfect breakfast bite can be found within this artful French pastry shop: the Dixie Cannonball, a cheese and scallion biscuit filled with sausage gravy. There’s also a full coffee bar, delicate croissants and other breakfast sweets. 235 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh. 919-307-4950. lucettegrace.com

The Morning Times: A menu that offers something for every mood, from breakfast burrito to lox and bagel, has made this a local favorite for more than a decade. 10 E. Hargett St., Raleigh. 919-836-1204. morningtimes-raleigh.com

Raleigh Raw: A juice bar and cafe with a loyal following, dedicated to curing the body’s ills with cold pressed juices, smoothies and poke bowls. 7 W. Hargett St., Raleigh. 919-400-0944. raleighraw.com

The Morgan Street Food Hall is one of downtown Raleigh’s most anticipated projects. The food hall opens with nearly 20 small food vendors and two bars.

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Garland is one of Raleigh’s most inventive kitchens, run by James Beard-nominated Cheetie Kumar. It’s often grounded in Indian flavors but with influences from around Asia and the Middle East. Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

Lunch and dinner options

Beasley’s Chicken & Honey, Chuck’s and Poole’s: This Ashley Christensen joint does superb fried chicken drizzled with honey, but the sides menu, with creamed collards and mac and cheese custard, may lead you to skip entrees altogether. There’s a list of real deal Champagnes, including a vintage Dom Perignon, but in Christensen’s world, you can always get a $2 can of Stroh’s. Next door you’ll find Christensen’s Chuck’s Burgers, with inventive toppings. Near Red Hat Amphitheater, head to her original Poole’s Diner, with its famed macaroni and cheese. 37 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh. 919-322-0127. ac-restaurants.com

Brewery Bhavana: The hottest restaurant in Raleigh was also one of the Top 10 new restaurants in the country last year, according to Bon Appetit. Bhavana pours a gorgeous lineup of beers in an even more gorgeous setting. The dining room and light marble bar are always bustling, but join the ruckus and your rewards are true soup dumplings and crispy Peking duck. Reservations highly recommended. 218 S. Blount St., Raleigh. 919-829-9998. brewerybhavana.com

The Cortez: Offering a frequently changing Latino-accented menu of fish and shellfish (depending on the catch, that translates to the likes of lobster tostadas, tiger style ceviche, and grilled whole snapper with chimichurri), The Cortez is not your father’s seafood restaurant. 413 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh. 919-342-8227. cortezraleigh.com

Crawford and Son: Don’t let the casual setting fool you. That’s Scott Crawford, one of the area’s most talented chefs, behind an inventive market-driven menu whose temptations run the gamut from a delicate mountain trout with silver queen corn and dill butter to the earthy comforts of pork cheeks with aged white cheddar grits and a smoked tomato ragout. The restaurant was named the News & Observer’s Restaurant of the Year this year. 618 N. Person St., Raleigh. 919-307-4647. crawfordandsonrestaurant.com

Chef Scott Crawford of Raleigh's Crawford and Son talks about becoming a chef.

Fiction Kitchen: No one will miss the meat at this all-vegetarian restaurant, which recently caught the attention of Food & Wine for its vegan take on East Carolina barbecue, every bit as smokey and satisfying as the original. 428 S. Dawson St., Raleigh. 919-831-4177. thefictionkitchen.com

Chef Caroline Morrison of Fiction Kitchen makes a knock-out veggie burger once a week at the Raleigh eatery

Garland: This is one of Raleigh’s most inventive kitchens, run by James Beard-nominated Cheetie Kumar. It’s often grounded in Indian flavors but with influences from around Asia and the Middle East. Garland is also a recent addition to Raleigh’s Saturday brunch scene with a menu geared toward curing hangovers. 14 W. Martin St., Raleigh. 919-833-6886. garlandraleigh.com

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From left, Pork & Chive Dumplings, Sweet and Sour Octopus Bowl and 5 Spice Duck at MOFU Shoppe in downtown Raleigh. 2017 News & Observer File Photo - Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

Mecca: The oldest restaurant in Raleigh has fed breakfast, lunch and dinner to lawyers, lawmakers and the rest of us since 1930. The menu is classic American, and you can’t go wrong with fried chicken and collard greens. 13 E. Martin St., Raleigh. 919-832-5714. mecca-restaurant.com

MOFU Shoppe: The owners got their start as operators of a food truck specializing in Asian street food, and it shows in the expanded menu at their brick-and-mortar restaurant. And now you don’t need to check their location on Twitter to enjoy their pork and chive dumplings. Or honey Sriracha brussels sprouts, or nuoc mam and lime-glazed wings, or braised short rib with kimchi fried rice or - well, you get the idea. 321 S. Blount St., Raleigh. 919-301-8465. mofushoppe.com

Oakwood Pizza Box: By the slice or whole pie, the New York style pizza at this downtown newcomer is the real deal. (Pro tip: The place is as small as its its namesake, so get there early.) 610 N. Person St., Raleigh. 919-594-1605. oakwoodpizzabox.com

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Royale: An elegant French bistro of marble and brick looking out onto Moore Square. Generous classics like moule frites and steak au poivre, but few, if any, others do duck wings l’orange. 200 E. Martin St., Raleigh. 919-977-3043. royaleraleigh.com

St. Roch: North Carolina oysters and clams are the specialty at this ode to New Orleans by Poole’s Diner alum Sunny Gerhart, which just opened this year. The red beans and rice is as good as you’ll find anywhere. 223 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh. 919-322-0359. strochraleigh.com

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The oldest restaurant in Raleigh has fed breakfast, lunch and dinner since 1930. The menu is classic American. 2010 News & Observer File Photo newsobserver.com

Tonbo Ramen: Craving a hearty bowl of tonkotsu topped with pork belly, house-made shrimp and pork dumplings and a soy-marinated soft egg? Tonbo will scratch that itch. In the evenings, you can head upstairs to the izakaya, where an expanded menu includes small plates designed to go with sake flights, craft beers, and cocktails. 211 S Wilmington St., Raleigh. 919-977-3625. tonboramen.com

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Trophy Tap & Table: This downtown outpost of Trophy Brewing has a menu of drinking food, not bar food. There’s rotisserie chicken with three spice levels and a taco menu taking its cues from South America, Mexico, Asia and Texas. (We also recommend Trophy Pizza at 827 W. Morgan St., a short drive or a long-ish walk from the main drag of Fayetteville Street.) 225 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh. 919-424-7817. trophybrewing.com/tap-table

Whiskey Kitchen: One of Raleigh’s great patios, with inventive and classic cocktails, whiskey flights and a snack menu that encourages hanging out. The kitchen has a knack for seafood, with a solid fried skate sandwich (with tater wedges not fries) and head-on shrimp in the N.C. seafood boil. 201 W. Martin St., Raleigh. 919-803-3181. whiskey.kitchen

Premium fuel (aka where to find the perfect cocktail)

Bittersweet: A beloved dessert and cocktail bar for whatever your nightcap may be. 16 E. Martin St., Raleigh. 919-977-3829. Bittersweetraleigh.com

Foundation: Don’t despair when you discover that your favorite scotch isn’t available at this underground bar, whose shelves are stocked exclusively with American-distilled spirits. You’ll find ample consolation in an eclectic cocktail list that draws on dozens of liquors, from North Carolina’s own Cardinal gin to Cruzan rum from the U.S. Virgin Islands. 213 Fayetteville St., Suite 010, Raleigh. 919-896-6016. foundationnc.com

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Gallo Pelón is all about mezcal, the smokey cousin of tequila, with dozens of bottles for sipping neat and a cocktail list to match. 2016 News & Observer File Photo - Juli Leonard jleonard@newsobserver.com

Fox Liquor Bar: When Ashley Christensen opens a bar, expectations are naturally sky-high. Fox Liquor bar rises to the challenge with precise renditions of classic cocktails built with premium liquors and sparkling clear ice chipped from a large block. 237 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh. 919-322-0128. ac-restaurants.com/fox

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Gallo Pelon: Above Centro, known for its authentic Mexican cuisine, is this cozy bar. It’s all about mezcal, the smokey cousin of tequila, with dozens of bottles for sipping neat and a cocktail list to match. 106 S. Wilmington St., Raleigh. 919-835-0060. Gallopelon.com

The Green Light: You’ll find well-mixed drinks in this modern speakeasy behind a hidden door in the Architect. 108 1/2 E. Hargett St., Raleigh. architectbar.com/the-green-light

Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson Greg Cox; ggcox55@gmail.com
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