Luis Zouain’s Favorite Places to Eat & Drink

The executive chef of Madre in Raleigh shares his go-to restaurants, bars and coffee spots in Raleigh and the Triangle.
by Catherine Currin

For our 2024 Guide to Where to Eat and Drink in the Triangle, we surveyed ten food industry folks to find their go-to spots for everything from a quick bite to an extravagant meal, to the best place to bring someone in from out of town. One of those folks was Luis Zouain, the executive chef at Madre. Born in the Dominican Republic, Zouain moved to the Triangle two years ago and “fell in love with the town immediately,” he says. Before joining Madre, Zouain worked on the team at Raleigh staple Bloomsbury Bistro. Here are his top picks.

Where’s your favorite place for happy hour?

Madre’s patio

What’s your go-to guilty pleasure?

Burgers and desserts will always be my guilty pleasure, love every dessert from Asali in Cary. 

What’s somewhere that’s worth the drive?

Cheeni Indian Food Emporium, I’ll drive without any trouble for Preeti’s food.

Where’s your favorite lunch spot?

Midtown Pho is the best by far! Or So Hot in Cary

What would be your last meal in the Triangle?

Couple of hot dogs from The Cardinal

What’s your favorite new spot?


What’s your favorite coffee shop?

Asali Desserts & Cafe in Cary

What’s your main bite to go?

Berto’s Chimis

Where do you bring out-of-town guest?

ORO. Chef Kevin Ruiz always takes care of me, been best friends since day one here in Raleigh

Photo credit: Geoff Wood

Char-Grill or Snoopy’s?


What are you most excited for?

Alex Ricci’s new spot, he’s a super talented chef and I’m excited to see what he can bring to the food scene!

This article was published in the January 2024 issue of WALTER magazine.