Shop Local for Family Dinner

Elevate family dinner with local takeaway, handcrafted dinnerware and maybe even some new outdoor furniture to create your favorite restaurant patio scene at home.

by Emily Clemente and Cady Smith

Let this summer be about family, good food and sunshine. Local establishments are making it easy with tons of options for no-cook family take-out meals. It’s a perfect opportunity to try a new restaurant that you might not want to take your kids to but have no problem bringing the restaurant to you. 

Photo credit: Trophy Brewing Co.

Where to buy family-style Italian

From pizza to pasta, try these local options that offer authentic family-style Italian. Take-and-bake options from Gravy Italian-American Kitchen give a delicious variety of authentic Italian dishes for various dietary restrictions. In addition to their traditional lasagna, they also offer veggie lasagna and gluten-free chicken parmigiana. All you have to do is pop it in the oven.

Experience an Italian staycation meal from Farina Neighborhood Italian for four. Choose an antipasta, salad, entree (pesto primavera, balsamic roasted mushroom pasta, and bolognese) and dessert (hello tiramisu, ricotta cheesecake and gelato).

Milton’s Pizza and Pasta offers salads, entrees and drinks for the family. Try their chicken parmesan, ziti or beef lasagna. Or if your family is especially hungry, consider their Tour of Milton’s meal, which includes fettuccine alfredo, beef lasagna, baked ziti, salad, a mini chocolate chip pie, and tea. Then you might have to worry about tomorrow’s dinner either. Trophy Brewing Co.’s extensive draft list and specialty pizzas like The Daredevil and Local Celebrity are sure to be a crowd-pleaser in your family.

Photo credit: Bartaco

Where to buy family-style Mexican and Spanish

Bartaco in North Hills offers “family packs” for four. Order their taco or roasted chicken pack, both of which come with salsa verde, chips, and your choice of three sides.  Customize your family dinner with a taco kit from Tazza Kitchen where you build your own tacos. The kits come with 10 tacos, green rice, black beans, and various toppings like guacamole, salsa ranchera, and crema. 

For take-and-bake options, Centro has a taco kit that comes with eight tortillas, or their enchilada platter with 12 enchiladas. Both include cilantro rice and refried black beans. Barcelona Wine Bar’s family meal serves up to four with your choice of ensaladas, tapas, entrees, and desserts. Try their vegetable paella, sliced chicken pimientos, or roasted beef.

Photo credit: Forrest Mason Media

Where to buy family-style Comfort Food

Let’s not forget the quintessential family dinner in North Carolina, BBQ. And the triangle is full of options.  Big Al’s BBQ has a wide variety to suit everyone’s tastes with their family packs like pork barbecue, beef brisket, smoked chicken and ribs. Each family pack comes with two pints of a side of your choice, a drink and bread option. The Pit also offers family style packages with entrees (like Eastern N.C. chopped bbq, Carolina ribs and fried chicken), house salad, sides (try their cole slaw, potato salad or mac & cheese) and breads (hush puppies, biscuits and sandwich rolls). For tons of hearty options like meatloaf, chicken and biscuit casserole, to five cheese mac & cheese, try Side Street Restaurant for that home cooked taste without the home cooked preparation.

Mandolin’s farmhouse family meals combine Southern comfort food, with farm-fresh vegetable forward dishes including pulled pork barbecue, shrimp and grits, and chicken and dumplings with herb roasted potatoes, asparagus pasta salad, and braised collard greens as side options. Add a sweet dessert with choices like banana pudding and brownies. Consider Carolina Ale House’s family value meals. Order a main dish that serves four like grilled chicken breasts, ribs, or sirloin and get a large salad, four individual sides and doughnuts.

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill’s family meal deal is sure to be a hit with their entrees, salads, sides, bread and butter and dessert. Choose from one of their meals like wood grilled chicken, baby back ribs, Firebirds chicken pasta or meatloaf. Saint James Seafood has launched Jimmy’s Dockside To-Go for all of your seafood needs. Their Oysters To-Go contains a rotating selection of fresh oysters for curbside pickup as well as Maine Lobster Rolls, Po’ Boys, and a Fried Chicken Beach Bucket for the entire family to enjoy.

Where to buy family-style Vegetarian

No meat, no problem. Casa Cubana Restaurant and Rum Bar brings the fun with a party platter that serves four. Try their El Vegetariano Sampler, which includes authentic Cuban veggie options like sweet plantains and tostones. Jasmin and Olivz has Mediterranean family meals for 4 people that come with pitas and your choice of protein, basmati rice, Greek salad, hummus and Tzatziki.

Garland has “heat and eat” meal kits. Their Ready to Braise Tofu comes with fresh herbs, toasted peanuts, and gingery sweet and sour stir-fried cabbage. Just toss the kit in the pan with some soy glaze and dinner is served. For authentic Lebanese cuisine, Sitti offers vegan and vegetarian packages like Mouhamra, Sitti Salad, Falafel and Vegetables, and Fassoulia. 

If you have a large family or are looking for multiple cook-free days, consider a half platter from Morrisville’s Babymoon Cafe: a vegetarian family-style option that serves 8. The platter includes a half pan of vegetarian lasagna, focaccia bread, mixed green salad with ranch and balsamic vinaigrette and peanut butter pie. Or, try a catering package from Azitra Indian Culinary Nirvana that serves 8-10, where you can choose from options like vegetable pakoras, basmati rice, naan bread or chana masala.

Photo credit: Vietri

Where to find dishware and accessories

Really bring your outdoor meal together with some accessories to decorate your table. Local favorite NOFO continues to source a great selection of plates, bowls, platters, glasses, and table linens from local artisans and potters with all the floral, linen, and gingham summer vibes. Make an appointment today to shop at their Raleigh store (that used to be a Piggly Wiggly!). The Local Squirrel in Cameron Village also offers home goods for your kitchen and tabletop, including dishes, decor, linens and coasters.

Each piece of dinnerware at Vietri is inspired by Italian craftsmanship and is handcrafted by artisans who follow ancient practices with modern techniques. Add one of their dinnerware sets to your outdoor table for a classic and authentically Italian look. Or try Bella Vita Home + Lifestyle, which has all things dining and entertaining like dinnerware, dinner and dessert plates and drinkware. Liz Kelly Pottery’s handcrafted pottery includes a unique variety of serving bowls, serving platters, plates and tumblers.

Where to go big with outdoor furniture

There is no better time than now to invest in some new quality outdoor furniture so you can relish in summer at home. Aluminum, iron, wicker, wood—you can find any material for your tables and chairs at Patio Pro, along with a variety of patterns and colors to give your backyard that comfortable and cozy feel. Thinking of adding an outdoor carpet? Try Copper Frogg’s Outdoor Living Center, and also be sure to check out their chairs, bistro tables, and outdoor cookers. Green Front Furniture also has outdoor furniture and rug options from high end manufacturers such as Treasure Garden and Seaside Casual Outdoor.

Nothing says a summer outdoor meal like something sizzling on the grill in your backyard. For more appliances to really amp up your outdoor cooking, check out The Fire House Casual Living Store where you can find all sorts of fireplaces, stoves, and grills. Summer Classics has outdoor furniture for both dining and lounging, including sofas and lounge chairs, bar stools and outdoor benches.

Where to find outdoor family activities

After dinner, why not enjoy some family fun? If you’re feeling crafty, Klaystation is offering take-home art kits for the entire family to enjoy. Paint together and make pottery creations in your own backyard after dinner. Briggs Hardware’s general store offers a selection of crafts, toys, and activities for kids of all ages like Melissa & Doug wooden and magnetic toys. Science Safari in Cary has curbside pickup, where your kids can learn with innovative toys focused on science, technology, and the world around us. Tin Can Kids has summer toolkits to keep your kids entertained and engaged while learning about various topics from outer space to self-care. Purchase custom cornhole boards and other oversized outdoor games for the whole family from Triangle Lawn Games. With games like giant Jenga, Connect 4 and Plinko, this local lawn game company has an activity for everyone.