North Carolina is home to a variety of lovely cities. Our state capital, Raleigh, or the City of Oaks, has a little bit of everything. From beautiful mural art, handmade chocolate, local breweries, the NC State Fair, and list goes on. Raleigh is also home to thousands of young professionals that are living on that ‘just graduated budget.’ I have composed a list of restaurants in town that are not only budget friendly but are still instagrammable.
Centro Mexican del Corazon
In the center of downtown, you’ll find Centro. Created by Angela Salamanca and her uncle, both Colombian with a love for Mexican food, designed a restaurant that would reflect all things Latin, Raleigh, customers, and employees. At Centro, each plate has been designed to satisfy all your Latin cravings.
My recommendation: Fresh Guacamole, Tinga Tacos, Aniversario Margarita
Check them out at: http://www.centroraleigh.com/
Trophy Brewing Co.
With three different experiences in downtown Raleigh, Trophy’s is a good idea. Since 2012 Brewing & Pizza on Morgan Street has brought us delectable pizza and hoppy beer. Then Trophy’s brought us Brewery & Taproom on Maywood Street followed by Tap & Table on Wilmington Street. Take your pick they’re all delish.
My recommendation: Brewing & Pizza on a warm night out on the patio
Check them out at: https://www.trophybrewing.com/
Sitti is one of the most loved restaurants on Wilmington Street and managed by Empire Eats, a conglomerate of restaurants in Raleigh. Created as a tribute to the sittis or grandmothers of Lebanon, these caretakers’ traditions of culture and food are bringing joy to a little corner of Raleigh.
My recommendation: Kibbee Mikli, Samkeh Harra, Baklava
Check them out at: http://www.sitti-raleigh.com/
The Pit is also managed by Empire Eats. You’ll get all the eats here! The Pit serves authentic North Carolina barbecue in Raleigh’s warehouse district. Southern hospitality exudes from the staff bringing delightful food to your table all wrapped up in a beautifully restored meatpacking warehouse.
My recommendation: Cornbread, Chopped BBQ with Cole Slaw.
Check them out at: http://www.thepit-raleigh.com/
Over 40 years ago, Irregardless became the go-to green restaurant in town. It was a pioneer for vegetarian options, a smoke-free environment, and fresh farm to table meals. Irregardless is an authentic Raleigh experience with great meals and great music.
My recommendation: BRUNCH
Check them out at: http://www.irregardless.com/
A local sub shop that started in the small town of Buies Creek and relocated to Raleigh in 1978. Boondini’s has an eclectic yet small town vibe with delicious made to order food. If you stop by during lunch time be prepared to see a long line wrapping around the shop.
My recommendation: Mexican Chicken Sub with Chipotle Mayo
Check them out at: http://www.boondinis.com/
Named after the terms for mother and father, Bida Manda was created to bring people together and enjoy the diverse tastes of Laos. Lao cuisine is a combination of Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese cooking which has been refined by French technique that roots back to its colonial past. Bida Manda is a hot spot in DTR for lunch and dinner, so make sure you stop by with some time.
My recommendation: Sao Noy’s Crispy Spring Rolls & Sweet Chili Salmon
Check them out at: http://bidamanda.com/
Escazu Artisan Chocolates
Sometimes all you need is a little chocolate in your life and Escazu brings you just that. Escazu brings Venezuelan chocolate to life in its workshop filled with antique equipment. They make truffles, bars, drinks, small confections, even ice cream. If you like chocolate, Escazu is the place for you!
My recommendation: LITERALLY ANYTHING YOU TRY YOU WILL LOVE
Check them out at: http://www.escazuchocolates.com/
Ashley Christensen opened her first restaurant in 2007. Poole’s Diner, a perfect combination of Southern comfort foods made by using French-inspired techniques. She later opened the other five of her restaurants in Downtown Raleigh. You’ll have a unique experience at any of Christensen’s restaurants: Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Fox Liquor Bar, Death & Taxes, Chuck’s, Bridge Club, and Poole’s Diner (the one that started it all).
My recommendation: There is no way I can decide. Mac & cheese, milkshakes, burgers, waffles, it’s all mouthwateringly good.
Check them out at: http://ac-restaurants.com/
NC Seafood Restaurant
Since 1991 the NC Farmer’s Market has been blessed with the wonderful smell of fresh seafood. Once, a secret spot only known to locals, it has now become a stop on tourists list from all over. Thank you for serving great Calabash style seafood for over 25 years!
My recommendation: Lunch flounder plate with coleslaw and hushpuppies
Check them out at: https://www.ncseafood.com/
Although, Flying Biscuit has 14 locations throughout Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida, it has stolen the heart of many in Raleigh. Since 1993 Flying Biscuit has been famous for their grits and biscuits. They take pride in their southern-inspired menu and making customers happy time and time again in a quirky atmosphere.
My recommendation: BRUNCH (maybe, I just love brunch)
Check them out at: http://www.flyingbiscuit.com/
After working in some of the finest kitchens across America, owner and pastry chef Daniel Benjamin, planted roots in Raleigh. He has created a contemporary patisserie in the heart of Raleigh. “lucettegrace is a starting point for your day, an escape in the middle, and a reward at the end.”
My recommendation: chocolate croissants, macarons, chai latte
Check them out at: http://www.lucettegrace.com/
Founder Sherif Fouad took it upon himself to research degenerative diseases and the positive impact that natural organic and raw foods can have on the body. His background in mixology was a perfect start for Raleigh Raw. They serve cleanse packages, juices and smoothies, sushi, salads and much more all made with raw organic produce. Just by stepping into Raleigh Raw you’ll feel healthier.
My recommendation: Blueberry Bee Pollen Smoothie, Spicy Tuna Roll
Check them out at: http://www.raleighraw.com/
Raleigh is a great place to explore. There are great parks around town, museums, and shops. I may be bias to going to new restaurants, though. Try it out for yourself or follow me on Instagram to see my latest food adventures @_timewithtati