The back of the George Washington statue is seen surrounded by a wrought iron fence with the downtown cityscape in the background during sunset in Raleigh, North Carolina

Epicurean Adventures: Best Bites in Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina

The back of the George Washington statue is seen surrounded by a wrought iron fence with the downtown cityscape in the background during sunset in Raleigh, North Carolina

Epicurean Adventures: Best Bites in Downtown Raleigh, North Carolina

Business travelers staying in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, have a variety of great places to eat. Here are four of the top spots to try.

Known for its southern charm and refinement, Raleigh, North Carolina, is part of the Research Triangle, the largest and most prestigious research park in the U.S., which includes North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University. Not surprisingly, the city is a common destination of business travelers and high-tech entrepreneurs.

In recent years, Raleigh has also become an epicurean’s delight. Southern Living referred to the city as a “culinary mecca,” and Zagat called it one of the “Hottest Food Cities of 2016.” Forbes declared the City of Oaks one of the top 12 global destinations, due primarily to the number of culinary masters who practice their gastronomic arts in the area. With more than 1,000 restaurants to choose from citywide, Raleigh satisfies almost any culinary desire. When you’re staying or working in the downtown area, give one — or all — of these restaurants a try.

The bright red and orange flames of an open flame oven in a restaurant in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina
Source: Shutterstock

Death & Taxes

According to Stacey Simeone, Marketing Director for Downtown Raleigh Alliance, chef Ashley Christensen is just one of several James Beard award winners who have opened restaurants in Raleigh. Christensen’s Death & Taxes places delicious emphasis on wood-fired food served family-style. When you think of Death & Taxes, think high-class, family-friendly fare.

Vegetables take center stage and make up nearly half of the impressive menu. If the thought makes you balk, there’s nothing ordinary about these vegetables. Imbued with the smoky flavor of the wood fire, they pair perfectly with black bass, grilled duck leg, and dry-aged steak to create an unforgettable dining experience. Fun fact: Christensen named this restaurant after the two businesses previously housed in the historic building, a funeral home and a bank. Visit Death & Taxes at 105 W. Hargett St.

Virgil’s Original Taqueria

Located near the heart of downtown, Virgil’s is a down home Mexican restaurant with a reputation for making Mexican fries you won’t want to stop eating. In fact, you might want to order the fries after eating your main course. Many patrons complain they’re too full to eat anything else after overindulging on Virgil’s fries. The eatery specializes in a variety of Mexican classics, including posoles, chilaquiles, tortas, and tostadas. Many of the menu items are available gluten free. Find Virgil’s at 126 S. Salisbury St.

Humble Pie

A downtown Raleigh institution, Humble Pie offers Asian Fusion fare with a twist. Whether you’re in the mood for lamb chops or feeling the urge for buttermilk-fried chicken, this eatery serves up just what you want. The perks include a full bar, gluten-free options, and outdoor seating that is ideal for those temperate North Carolina evenings.

If you’re dining with friends or colleagues, be sure to share the house-made bread with grass-fed butter, and try the tater tots with smoky pimento cheese or the broccoli salad with toasted seeds, pomegranates, and buttermilk dressing. Sunday brunch features everything from huevos rancheros to shrimp and grits. Humble Pie is located at 317 S. Harrington St.

Hayes Barton Café and Dessertery

Any eatery with the word “dessertery” in its name is worth checking out. Frank and Marget Ballard opened this café in 1998, hoping to recapture a more innocent time in American history. Everything about Hayes Barton Café and Dessertery, from the décor to the menu, harkens back to the 1940s, a time when dining out was a truly special occasion. With a dessert menu designed to bring the sweetest epicureans to tears, it would be a shame to miss out on all the nostalgia — and the delicious food. Find this delightful establishment at 2000 Fairview Rd.

A close-up of lemon cupcakes with bright yellow frosting in white cupcake papers, with fresh lemon in the background
Source: Shutterstock

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