Dining in Raleigh, N.C.: A capital stirs to life
North Carolina’s boring old state capital is suddenly “sneaky cool,” said Melanie Kaplan in The Washington Post. A city of 500,000 that’s growing by the day, 2019 Raleigh is “a university-inspired hub of innovation and design” that no longer deserves to be considered the underdog of the state’s vaunted Research Triangle. It’s “a place full of public art and bike paths”—not to mention a growing crop of great casual dining spots.
Poole’s Diner You can’t visit Raleigh without trying one of Ashley Christensen’s restaurants, so why not start with the James Beard Award winner’s flagship, a converted luncheonette open until midnight? When I stopped in, the chalkboard menu included pimento cheese with fried saltines and pickled pumpkin with burrata; “my late-season heirloom tomato pie was scrumptious.” 426 S. McDowell St., (919) 832-4477
Carroll’s Kitchen The lunchtime line runs out the door when this café is serving its sandwiches, soups, and wraps, but don’t miss the kolaches—pastries packed with brie and apple or spinach and feta. The business supports women transitioning from incarceration, homelessness, or abuse by offering them staff jobs and helping them secure housing and job training. 19 E. Martin St., (919) 670-3622
Fiction Kitchen It’s always a good sign when a vegetarian restaurant is good enough to turn local meat lovers into regulars. The eastern N.C.–style barbecue pulled faux pork at Fiction Kitchen is that good—as was my risotto, which featured grilled balsamic-marinated king trumpet mushrooms and a basil-pistachio feta. On Tuesdays, bottles of wine are half price. 428 S. Dawson St., (919) 831-4177