The capital city of North Carolina, Raleigh is home to some of the biggest movers and shakers in this great state. Chefs are finding their way to Raleigh to help redefine and reimagine the way we think of southern cooking. With a number of new restaurants, cafes and artisan bakeries popping up all over the city, Raleigh has quickly become a hub for culinary creativity expanding in a number of revitalized downtown neighborhoods. From upscale restaurants to your local barbecue joint, here are five restaurants that you should visit during your next trip to Raleigh.
Caleigh Alleyne is a travel and lifestyle writer and editor of The Creators Commune. Follow her adventures on Twitter and Instagram.
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Located in the up and coming Warehouse District, The Pit is known for grilling Old North State classics with free-ranged farmed meats and produce from North Carolina. The Pit is a meat-lovers paradise with their menu including baby back ribs, fried chicken and fried catfish served with the classic cornbread, coleslaw, collard greens, fried okra and other southern comforts on the side.
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Irregardless Cafe jumped on the farm-to-fork movement even before it was trendy. Owners Arthur and Anya Gordon opened Raleigh's first vegetarian restaurant in 1975 and continue to use this model in all of their cuisine. In spring 2012, with the help of some friends, they purchased a one-and-a-half-acre parcel of land to open the Well Fed Community Garden. This community garden is a sustainable, organic, urban-intensive farm that uses the cafe's food scraps and coffee grinds in their compost and supplies 80 percent of the produce purchased by Irregardless Cafe. The menu has a wide range of options to delight carnivores, vegetarians and vegans with live music during dinner and transforms into a jazz club at 9 p.m. Saturday nights.
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Created by Raleigh-native chef Sean Fowler, Mandolin aims to serve Southern inspired dishes made with only the freshest ingredients. The menu rotates regularly to showcase seasonal harvests with a local twist sourcing many of their ingredients from North Carolina. A great deal of the produce served in the restaurant also comes from their garden in North Raleigh. The crisp and modern décor in the restaurant reflects their elevated menu serving soulfully inspired dishes with their own unique flair. Mandolin is located in the Five-Points neighborhood and is open daily for dinner and on weekends for brunch.
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Death and Taxes
Death and Taxes is the newest outpost for James Beard Award winning chef Ashley Christensen as she expands her culinary empire in Raleigh. Named after the two previous tenants in the building, a funeral home and a bank, Christensen proves that while death and taxes are certainties in your life, good food can be, too. The dishes on the menu are derived from classic Carolinian recipes served family-style and are made using a wood fire cooking technique to bring out the Southern flavors in her cooking. Be sure to save room for dessert as the dark chocolate Eton Mess made with locally roasted Videri Chocolate, candied pecans and dulce de leche melts in your mouth.
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Located just outside Raleigh at The Umstead Hotel and Spa in Cary, North Carolina, Herons is an upscale dining experience that is worth saving your pennies for. Led by executive chef Steven Greene and chef de cuisine Spencer Thomson, Herons takes traditional American cuisine to the next level by presenting artistic and experimental renditions on classic ingredients for a multisensorial dining experience. Their menu also uniquely offers an eight-course Kaiseki tasting menu derived from the Japanese manner of meticulously presenting and preparing food. The quality of the food matches the upscale nature of The Umstead Hotel and Spa, a venture opened by James Goodnight and his wife, Anne, the co-founder of SAS software.