If you’re anything like me, you believe the food scene is an integral part of a city’s culture. Thankfully, Raleigh has a lot to offer you, whether you’re into fine cuisine or comfort food: from rooftop patios like the Raleigh Times, to college students’ #1 pick, Cookout. Here are a few of my recommendations.
There are many food events to enjoy in the Triangle area. For example, several food truck rodeos happen throughout the year: the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo and the Food Truck Rodeo at Durham Central Park are two of the biggest ones you’ll definitely want to check out. And every year is the International Food Festival, a celebration of international food, dance, art, and music. It is the perfect opportunity to try out new things and have a good time to kick off the summer.
For North Carolina flavors, head to the Raleigh Farmers Market, open yearlong. Stop by to get ingredients for your next cookout or potluck, or to find pumpkins to carve for Halloween. Also open every day of the year, is the new Morgan Street Food Hall. A good food hall is among my favorite things ever, so I was pumped to hear about one opening in Downtown Raleigh. It is a fun and stylish hangout spot for you and your friends, and the food is delicious!
There are few things I find more satisfying than a copious brunch or a nice cup of coffee… LaFarm Bakery, an authentic french bakery, is one of my favorite brunch spots in the area – and it reminds me of my home country, France. I just had to feature it on this post! NOFO @ the Pig is another spot you shouldn’t miss: it’s a very trendy all-in-one restaurant that combines a café, a restaurant, and a gift shop. And as an added bonus, they make a point to support local artisans and farmers.
When it comes to coffee spots, the list can be long. At the top of it are Sola Café, with its instagram-worthy “I believe in Raleigh” mural, as well as Jubala Coffee, with its flavors from all over the world. Lafayette Village, where it is located, is designed to reminisce of a small European village, so feel free to walk around with your coffee and pretend you’re in Italy… And just across the street from Meredith is the lovely Lucky Tree and its chill vibes.
The food scene in Raleigh is also full of surprises, and Brewery Bhavana is the perfect example. Imagine a brewery, bookstore, flower shop, and dim sum restaurant, all mashed into one colorful, one-of-a-kind space. While it is hard to believe at first, the concept is working remarkably well and has been carefully designed. It even has been named one of the top 10 Best New Restaurants by Bon Appétit, who described it as “bright, light and cheery”.
If you head to the Aviator Smokehouse in Fuquay-Varina, an interesting challenge awaits you: the Aviator Wing Madness Challenge, and let me tell you, it is not for the faint of heart. If you wish to take on the challenge, you’ll have to eat 12 deep-fried chicken wings. The catch? The wings are drowned in their infamous Imperial MocoLoco Sauce, described as “very, very, very, very, very, very hot.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
And to satisfy your sweet tooth and congratulate yourself after that incredible challenge, check out the Videri Chocolate Factory in Downtown Raleigh. Here, you can decide to take a guided tour to learn all about their process, or simply indulge yourself and try one of their handcrafted chocolates. Pro tip: try their frozen hot chocolate. You’ll thank me later.
I haven’t forgotten about you, and Raleigh certainly hasn’t either! For all your vegan and gluten-free needs, The City of Oaks offers plenty of delicious options. A few local favorites include the Remedy Diner, as well as the Fiction Kitchen, Living Kitchen, and Cafe Luna, all conveniently located in the heart of the city. And the iconic Mellow Mushroom, the pizza restaurant beloved by many of us students, has vegan options, too!
So, no matter what you’re into, Raleigh has the dish for you. Read our other posts on Raleigh & RTP, or get in touch with current students to hear more about their experience in the area.