Eating Raleigh Neighborhoods

Raleigh’s culinary scene has exploded over the last few years. New restaurants and specialty food shops have been steadily opening, sharing the stage with those that have been successful for decades.

I recently spent three days in Raleigh going from neighborhood to neighborhood, checking out the best of the best according to locals.

This article is part 2 of a 3-part series. Read “Eating Raleigh Part 1“. And because there just wasn’t time to sample eateries in all the great neighborhoods in Raleigh in three days, Part 3 will follow after another visit mid-September.

West of Downtown

 

Irregardless Cafe

“Not a Trend. An Institution” Irregardless Cafe is located just a few blocks to the East of Raleigh’s North Carolina State University’s campus.

For a spot that’s been around since February, 1975, Irregardless impresses with cuisine based on many years of experience in the same location, brought into the 21st century. And being somewhat of a techie, I’m also impressed with their use of current technology. Check out this Google virtual tour of the Cafe – outside AND inside. They’re also active on both Facebook and Twitter and have an attractive, easy to navigate website. Nice! You can see some of the cafe’s history here.

My Convention and Visitors Bureau contact, Ryan, met me for lunch to talk about Raleigh’s culinary scene – where it’s been, where it’s going. Full disclosure: lunch was her treat.

What a lovely, open, airy cafe! Schools of fish perpetually swim near the ceiling and walls are adorned with local art. There’s a parking lot across the street, but I missed it and had no trouble finding a spot on a side street.

We shared an interesting, fresh Poached Pear Salad ($8) made with Celebrity Farm goat cheese mousse, shaved fennel, sea salted marcona almonds, crispy tuile, dressed with raspberry vinaigrette.

Our “wavelengths” synced, we both ordered Chicken Salad Croissant  ($9). Served on a toasted, round crossiant with lettuce and tomato and onion, we  both were left wondering what the “low country chicken salad” menu description referred to. It was good chicken salad, but whatever made it “low country” eluded us. I loved that this sandwich was served on a round, warm, toasted croissant. It stood up to the salad and toppings without getting soggy or falling apart.

Irregardless Cafe is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday – Saturday and Brunch Saturday and Sunday. See menus here.

901 West Morgan Street
Raleigh, NC 27603
(919) 833-8898

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Irregardless Cafe & Catering on Urbanspoon

North Boylan

 

Cafe Helios

Cafe Helios is more coffee shop than cafe with limited, but appealing menus. Like their Facebook Page for changing menu updates and news rather than going to their what seems like a “placeholder” website.

Latte? Perfect! Breakfast of Yogurt, Fruit and Granola ($4.50)? Greek style yogurt topped with house made granola, gorgeous fresh fruit and best of all, drizzled with a little honey. Delicious!

When weather permits, there’s a really nice patio out front. And if you have to get a little work done, there’s free Wi-Fi.

413 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27603
(919) 838-5177

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North Hills

 

Coquette Brasserie

Even though Coquette was deserted when I stopped in for a mid-afternoon snack of seasoned fries with garlic aioli, I still got the feeling I was stepping into a true French brasserie. I can only imagine what the ambiance is like during the evening bustle with lights low.

They’ve been open in this location for about 3 1/2 years, but it feels like they’ve been there forever. There’s also a nice private dining room that seats 40.

Coquette is now on my “must have dinner here” list.

4351 Lassiter at North Hills Avenue
Raleigh, NC 27609
(919) 789-0606

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Coquette Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Midtown Grille

Right inside the front door is a chalk board that is updated daily with what’s local and fresh. The dining room has a sophisticated, fresh, crisp feel with white linen and clean-line service pieces on the tables.

Two of the dishes Midtown is known for are their Diver Scallops and Espresso & Ancho Chili Rubbed NY Strip.

Word is, the bar at Midtown is the after-shift hangout for folks in the industry.

4421-115 Six Forks Road
Raleigh, NC 27609
(919) 782-9463

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Vivace

Does anyone say “swanky” anymore? If that word is used anywhere, it should be at Vivace!

Interesting note, Vivace is owned by the same folks that own Coquette. Must say, their design team rocks.

Vivace’s all about Italian, including Italian Beers and Wines.

Not sure about their pasta, but they do make all their dough fresh, from scratch. They’re known for their Bolognese sauce. Word is, they tried removing it from the menu at one point and faced a customer revolt. It’s on the menu. Many of their entrees are offered in two portion sizes.

Here’s a little peak inside. Trouble viewing video below? Click here.

4209 Lassiter Mill Road #115
Raleigh, North Carolina 27609
(919) 787-7747

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Vivace on Urbanspoon

Lafayette Village

Lafayette Village is located North of downtown Raleigh. It’s a lovely shopping / dining center built to replicate a European village on a six-acre site. There’s a nice lawn (the Green) area for picnics and events. On the current calendar: Music On the Green – Tuesday Nights, Kultured Kidz – Wednesday Mornings, Farmer’s Market – Wed & Sat, Pets in the Plaza – First Sat of Month, Wine Walk – Third Thurs of Month, Seniors Day – Last Tuesday of Month and an Oktoberfest German Festival on Sept 22nd.

Savory Spice Shop

Savory Spice Shop has been open in Lafayette Village for 2 years this coming October. It’s a franchise, but what makes all the difference here are the owners. Cindy and Bob Jones are two of the friendliest shop keepers – wait, make that people – I’ve met. They absolutely love what they’re doing and it’s contagious.

I spent about an hour in this shop. Hard to believe, I know, but it was like a spice party with the Cindy and Bob as hosts. We went from section to section within the shop, inhaling aromas and tasting. Such fun! Full disclosure: these two generously sent me home with many small sample bags of spices. We’re loving experimenting with them in our kitchen!

Read “Savory Spice Shop Raleigh: Educational, Inspirational, Fun!” for a closer look at their shop.

Savory Spice Shop Cindy and Robert Jones
Owners Cindy and Robert Jones

Savory Spice Shop

8470 Honeycutt Road #108
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 900-8291

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Simply Crepes

Next door to the spice shop is Simply Crepes. What a pretty spot! There’s a bar with a couple lounge chairs at one end and dining room that reminds me of country-French.

One of their most popular dishes is an Oatmeal Creme Brulee. Now, I’m a bit of a brulee snob, so of course, I had to try it. It was definitely different, but tasty. I can understand why it’s popular.

A very cute pastry chef brought out another dessert for me to take a peek before it was served. This young lady was getting ready to head to college as a pre-med major.

8470 Honeycutt Road #110
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 322-2327

Simply Crepes on Urbanspoon

Jubala Village Coffee

Jubala is a stand out coffee shop! These guys were great.

Here’s how it went. I went in to have a latte and get some work done. In the process, I told them a little about the article I had planned.

They asked if I wanted to try a couple of their specialties. It was a generous offer, but I was so full from all the previous sampling, I hesitated. In the end, I agreed, saying I’d love samples if they wouldn’t take it personally if I only took a bite or two of each. A deal was struck! And, boy, was I glad.

They make a Cinnamon Liege Waffle that is incredible! A Liege waffle is “a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. Native to the greater Wallonia region of Eastern Belgium – and alternately known as gaufres de chasse (hunting waffles) – they’re an adaptation of brioche bread dough, featuring chunks of pearl sugar which caramelize on the outside of the waffle when baked. It is the most common type of waffle available in Belgium and prepared in plain, vanilla and cinnamon varieties by street vendors across the nation.” Oh my goodness. Sesame seeds had been mixed in to the dough. The flavor was sublime and it was crunchy on the outside due to the pearl sugar, and soft inside. You must try one of these.

I also got to sample their biscuits, which were more like a cross between a biscuit and a scone. One had really good bacon on it and the other was plain – a canvas for house made Aapple Butter and a Cashew Spiced Cocoa spread. Both were delicious, but that hazelnut spread had a little “afterburn” kick to it that really added to the experience.

Chef Edward Green came over to my table to see if there were any questions and ask what I thought. Chef, you knocked everything out of the park!

Jubala is apparently the place to go to study. All around me, noses were stuck in books and laptops. I offered to share my samples with people on either side of me. One was working on his PhD and the other, her Master’s degree.

These guys have been open just over a year and I expect they’ll be around for a long time.

8450 Honeycutt Road #104
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 758-8330

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Jubala Village Coffee on Urbanspoon

The Chocolate Boutique

Chocolates are made on site, and if you’re up for some sweet fun, you can take a class or have a party here.

8480 Honeycutt Road
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 322-0960

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Upper Crust Pie and Bakery

Upper Crust is an independent, family-owned shop where “pastries, cookies, pie and cakes are baked daily using all natural ingredients, real butter, great flours and premier chocolates”. I popped in here to check it out and take a couple pictures.

They do a beautiful job here, serving pastries and baked goods that really do have that homemade look and taste. Really good homemade. I chatted with owner Mariea Gregory for a few minutes and pride in her product was obvious.

8450 Honeycutt Road #106
Raleigh, NC 27615
(919) 900-8360

Upper Crust Pie & Bakery on Urbanspoon

2 Responses to Eating Raleigh Neighborhoods

  1. Happy to see that you made it to so many places we talked about – and that you enjoyed them with such gusto! Hope to see you again soon.