We’d hoped that the well-kept secret would stay kept. When a favorite dining spot is discovered by the haute cuisine world, crowding ensues, and the next thing you know, no matter how much savoir faire you have or even when you have the required shirt and shoes that the finest restaurants demand, you can’t get a table anymore.
Nonetheless, it is our duty to report that USA Today readers have voted and come to the conclusion that was inevitable to anyone in Raleigh. The Capital City is ranked fifth in the nation for the “Best Local Food Scene” – ahead of New Orleans and Charleston and another North Carolina city, Asheville.
Now, most of the culinary attention around here in recent years has gone to the ultra chic restaurants such as Nana’s or An or Herons or the eateries within the gastro-empire of Chef Ashley Christensen. And while we’re sure a person could tie on a satisfactory feed bag at such places (don’t say “feed bag,” though, when making a reservation), the key to the USA Today vote no doubt was in several other fine dining establishments in the Capital City.
And so it is with great hesitation that we reveal those places that have now made Raleigh a dining destination, the Tribeca of the Triangle.
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First, of course, we recognize Cooper’s, the pinnacle of Eastern North Carolina barbecue, and we recommend the ’cue sliced with a side of hush puppies and some skins. Frankly, we’re amazed Cooper’s hasn’t opened up a place in the West Village.
We cannot and will not choose, for the great American hotdog, between Snoopy’s and the Roast Grill. Would Jennifer Aniston pick between Spago and the 21 Club?
The Farmers Market’s fried oysters are divine, and the Char-Grill’s hamburger steak junior with a chocolate shake ... simply incomparable.
Mitch’s Tavern has a spectacular Greek salad and star quality – Kevin Costner drank beer there during the filming of “Bull Durham.” And Raleigh’s Players Retreat is comparable in notoriety only to Chez Denis on Paris’ Right Bank. The “PR,” as it’s known, has the city’s finest hamburger and a legendary waitress. Ask for Gabi.
Well, the Lear jets will be coming in daily now, and the swells descending on Raleigh. We’ll all have to get take-out for a while.