Brian Jenzer’s Favorite Places to Eat & Drink

The executive chef of Rosewater and Las Ramblas shares where he likes to go for a good cup of coffee, date night and takeout in and around Raleigh.
by Catherine Currin

For our 2023 Guide to Where to Eat and Drink in the Triangle, we surveyed a dozen food industry folks to find their go-to spots for everything from an elegant date night to a casual drink, to the best place to bring someone in from out-of-town. One of those folks was Brian Jenzer, the executive chef at the North Hills herb-forward bistro Rosewater Kitchen and the soon-to-open Spanish eatery, Las Ramblas. Below, we learn Jenzer likes good beer and good ramen.

Where do you like to go for a craft beverage?

Oak City Brewery. It’s a great spot to have a beer outside, especially when all my outings are with two kids. I usually get an IPA or sour.

What’s your favorite casual spot?

I like to frequently go to bottle shops because a majority of them are kid friendly. We like to go to Mordecai Beverage Company. We can have a beer and the kids can get a few treats from Union Special Bread. 

Where do you like to go for a date night?

To be honest if it’s hockey season we are usually attending a home game if we have a free night. But usually a date night is a date lunch. We go to State of Beer or Wilson’s Eatery.

Photo Credit: Forrest Mason, Krill

What’s your favorite new spot?

We really enjoy going to Krill. The Asian style cooking is what we miss eating after traveling to Southeast Asia. We are also excited for the opening of Giorgio’s Pizza Bar. The menu looks exciting and the kids are pizza connoisseurs.   

What’s your favorite coffee spot?

Jubala in North Hills. It’s a great environment and coffee to start the day or take an afternoon break. I am a simple person—I enjoy coffee black, no nonsense, always consistent.

Where do you take an out-of-towner?

When I have visitors I usually like to take them to get Benchwarmers Bagels to start the day. Their bagels and bagel sandwiches are a favorite of mine,

Photo Credit: Bryan Regan, Bakers Dozen

Where do you like to go for brunch?

After working brunch for the last 15 years, I usually skip it and just go to Baker’s Dozen with the kids and wife. Get a dozen donuts and spend the morning with a sugar high. Their donuts are always fresh, consistent, and amazing.

What and where would your last meal on earth be?

Tonkatsu Ramen from Miso Ramen in Gateway Plaza with a side of pork steam buns.

What chef should we be watching out for?

Lam Nguyen, he is the chef de cuisine at Rosewater. He’s very talented, eager to learn and has a great palate. He will be one of the rising star chefs in Raleigh. He grew up in Vietnam and did most of his training in Chicago.

What’s somewhere that’s worth the drive?

Poe’s Tavern in Wrightsville Beach. That’s our early afternoon stop before we get to our hotel. I’m a fan of their burgers (Tell-Tale Heart is my favorite) while the kids love the cheese fries.

What’s your place for a meal to-go?

Fu Kee Express. There is one guy that takes your order and cooks your food. You better know what you want to order. I usually go with crab rangoons, pork fried rice, Singapore chow mei fun and kung pao chicken.

Where do you for a weekday lunch?

A weekday lunch for me is usually tasting food at work while prepping for service. But if I have a day off, I typically will get a bowl of Tonkotsu ramen from Miso Ramen in Gateway Plaza.

What’s your favorite place for international cuisine?

My favorite international cuisine is Japanese. The different styles of the food, from proper sushi, ramen, soba, yakitori, and sake. I am a huge fan of it all. Of course the best place to have Japanese food is in Japan. I stayed for a month and fell in love with the country. If we go for some sushi or familiar cuisine it is usually City Market Sushi.

This article was originally published on December 29, 2022 on