A Guide to Eating Lunch in Downtown Raleigh

Looking for a quick midday bite? Here’s where to get sandwiches, salads, and coffee near Fayetteville Street
By Ayn-Monique Klahre and Sophia Melin

Photo courtesy Raleigh Raw

The WALTER office is on Fayetteville Street and we often sit outside together for lunch. Inevitably, someone stops by our table at least once to ask, “Where did you get that salad?” 

Fortunately, there are lots of spots to quickly grab to-go salads and sandwiches, but also to sit down with friends or colleagues for a longer lunch, all easy walking distance from the Raleigh Convention Center or the Wake County Courthouse. Whether you’re in downtown Raleigh for a conference, jury duty, a festival or just looking to spice up your weekday routine, here’s our guide to where to grab lunch downtown.

Where to Get Salads, Sandwiches and More To Go 

If you just want to grab something quick to eat outside or at your desk, here are some good take-away lunch options.

Crema Cafe

Tucked inside the One City Plaza office building, Crema offers a large range of sandwiches, soups, and salads that will settle your hunger once and for all. Favorites like the Tomato and Brie sandwich (marinated roma tomato and French brie on a baguette) or Crema’s Asian Salad (shredded Napa cabbage topped with carrots, toasted noodles and a homemade Asian dressing) serve as the perfect way to kick-start the rest of your day. Even treat yourself to a fresh baked chocolate chip, oatmeal, or m&m cookie, or premium ice cream blended with three ingredients of your choice! 
421 Fayetteville Street; cremaandmore.com

Fire Wok 

Have a craving for some Asian food, but you’re on a timer? Grab and go delicious Chinese cuisine served fresh from Fire Wok. Order your preferred combination of shrimp, chicken, or beef with rice, spring rolls, and even french fries on the side. 

Photo courtesy Jimmy Johns

Jimmy John’s 

We were happy when this sandwich chain reopened after being shut for moStreet of the pandemic! Make your own combo or try out some favorites such as the Club Lulu (hand-sliced turkey breast and applewood smoked bacon, topped with mayo and fresh-sliced lettuce & tomato) or the Beach Club (made with tasty hand-sliced turkey breast, provolone cheese and avocado spread and served on your choice of fresh-baked 8″ or their giant 16″ French bread). 


This contemporary patisserie is a bit of a surprise, right across the street from the Wake County Justice Center. Enjoy light, but satisfying sandwiches of the summer such as the I’Italience (Fresh mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, arugula, pesto aioli, and balsamic vinaigrette on sesame baguette) or the Curry Chicken Salad Sandwich (A light dressing made with greek yogurt, a touch of Duke’s, lime juice, and curry is tossed with chicken, pistachios, tart sour cherries, and a few secret ingredients). Our go-to is the picnic box: a sandwich, salad or soup, and macaron for a treat for less than what you pay for a salad some places!
235 Salisbury Street; lucettegrace.com

Manhattan Cafe 

Owned by three brothers, this spot offers a large selection of New York City-style lunches, both hot and cold. Take advantage of the made-to-order salad bar with just about every mix-in imaginable, or something straight from the grill, from the press, or from the deli — sandwiches, paninis, cheeseburgers, quesadillas, and more! They have some space to eat there, but this popular spot fills up quickly. P.S. They also offer a full catering menu, if you need to order lunch for a group.
230 S. Wilmington Street; manhattancafenc.com

Plaza Cafe  

Spice things up with Plaza Cafes salad bar and daily cuisine specials that always keep you guessing. We particularly like the Indian Food on Wednesdays cooked up at this family-owned joined. Plus, there are always good vegetarian options! 
411 Fayetteville Street; plazacafe-raleigh.com

Photo courtesy Raleigh Raw

Raleigh Raw 

Looking for something extremely healthy, yet perfectly delicious? A bit of a walk from Fayetteville Street, this raw-foods restaurant makes it easy to savor some house favorite juices like the Smooth Operator (Celery, Lemon, Ginger, Kale, Pear, Parsley, Cayenne Garnish) or grab and go a Baby Blue Bowl (blueberry, banana, avocado, raw honey, coconut milk, golden flax, coconut meat topped with strawberry, blueberry hemp seed, bee pollen, chia seed, and housemade granola). But you also can’t go wrong with a Pokè bowl or a to-die-for sushirrito (sushi and burrito fusion). 
7 West Hargett Street; raleighraw.com

Union Special 

Rave over the taste of the BIG, melty sandwiches of Union Special at their recently-opened outpost on Fayetteville Street. This beloved local bakery produces their food from scratch as much as possible, or purchase from local business when they have it better (see: Slingshot Coffee, Benny T’s Vesta Dry Hot Sauce, and Jeddah’s Tea). Bite into a Grown Up Grilled Cheese (Kale Pesto, Fontina, White Cheddar, Pepper jelly on toasted sourdough) or opt for a Yogurt Bowl (granola, bee pollen, honey, coconut chia seed pudding, seasonal fruit) for a light lunch.  
401 Fayetteville Street, Suite 103; unionspecialbread.com

Where to Sit Down for Lunch

Whether you just want a casual spot to eat with friends or need to sit down for a business lunch, these spots offer quick table service.

A Place at the Table 

Right down the road from Nash square, this cafe pays it forward being part restaurant and part non-profit, offering a pay-what-you-can model so patrons can have a meal, regardless of their means. But beyond it’s mission, A Place at the Table serves delectable sandwiches, soups, and salads such as the Turkey Bacon Avocado Club (Sliced turkey, bacon, avocado mash, sliced tomato, baby greens, swiss cheese, and honey mustard on toasted sourdough bread) and delicious Hummus Pesto sandwich (Hummus, vegan basil pesto, roasted red bell pepper, tomato, cucumber, red onion, and arugula on toasted sourdough bread).
300 W. Hargett Street; tableraleigh.org

Photo courtesy Capital Club 16

Capital Club 16 

Come hungry to Capital Club 16, located in a 1929 building that was originally home to a social and literary club, and now remains as a community restaurant and gathering place for almost 10 years. Here, enjoy American and German-inspired meals like the Local Catch Sandwich (Blackened Albemarle Sound Catfish, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and paprika aioli on a brioche bun and house fries) and the Hungry Wolf salad (Chopped ham, grilled chicken and bacon, Alpine cheese blend, hard-boiled egg, carrots, heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes. Served over mixed greens with house vinaigrette). P.S. Note the antique bar, which was recovered from a tavern in New York City.
16 W Martin Street; capitalclub16.com


Right down the road from Father & Son’s Antiques and CAM Raleigh, this design-forward restaurant combines various cultures and offerings to make some of the best dishes around. Devour mouthwatering platters such as Peanut Chili Noodles (Taiwanese wheat noodles, marinated in a peanut sauce with house-made spicy chili oil, topped with fresh cilantro and scallions) and Taiwanese Pineapple Honey Toast (hick-cut, house-made shokupan milk bread grilled with butter, topped with Taiwanese pineapple jam, finished with a honey and sweet condensed milk drizzle). Stay for dessert to eat up a Salted Matcha Cookie (White chocolate, sea salt, fresh matcha) or a Mochi Sesame Brownie Muffin (Gluten-free brownie muffin with white sesame).
219 S West Street; heirloombrewshop.com

The Meatball Shoppe 

Head on over to The Meatball Shoppe for a variety of classic and unique meatballs. Take your pick from several — Traditional Ball, Spicy Pork Ball, Buffalo Chicken Ball, and even vegetarian options — to put on a slider, over noodles, or to top their signature Arugula Salad (Arugula, Candied Pecans, Dried Cranberries, Goat Cheese, Pomegranate Vinaigrette). 
180 E. Davie Street; oakcitymeatball.com

Photo courtesy Raleigh Rolls

Morgan Street Food Hall

Pay a stay to Morgan Street Food Hall for a large selection of food and ample patio tables that are good for groups. Check out vendors such as Cousins Maine Lobster, Yoho Hibachi and Sushi Burrito, and Wicked Taco. Make sure to leave room for the totally Instagramable rolled ice cream of Raleigh Rolls (impossible to regret)! 
411 West Morgan Street; morganfoodhall.com

The Raleigh Times 

Experience Raleigh’s past, present and future on the walls of this 100 year old building, featuring hand crafted, creative takes on classic bar fare. Covered in old press clippings and images from its namesake newspaper, The Raleigh Times serves as the perfect interesting meal downtown. Enjoy signature spreads such as the Bangin’ Shrimp Po’ Boy (Seasoned fried shrimp, lettuce, Vietnamese slaw, sesame oil, and spicy yum-yum sauce ona sub roll), or the Far East Reuben (Beer-braised corned beef, collard green kimchi, Swiss cheese, special sauce on grilled rye) or their zest Kale Salad.
14 E Hargett Street; raleightimesbar.com


Sitti offers authentic Lebanese food in a setting that’s comfortable whether you’re in a business suit or flip flops. Equipped with an Art Deco bar, the chef has created a fresh and creative menu featuring attentive dishes from Tabbouleh (Lebanese salad of parsley, mint, tomato, cucumber, cracked wheat, lemon juice, and olive oil) to a Falafel Wrap (Crushed chickpea patties, seasoned and fried, with lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, radish, and tahini sauce) that will make your taste buds run wild.
137 S. Wilmington Street, sitti-raleigh.com


You can’t pass up a chance to take a look at the delicious sushi of Sono, located in the Hudson Condo building on Fayetteville Street. Create a lasting food memory with their signature Bento boxes, a scoop of delectable ramen or stunning sashimi or nigiri. With frequent market fresh specials and exemplary hot appetizers, Sono has something to delight every palette.  
319 Fayetteville Street; sonoraleigh.com

Taverna Agora 

The walk is worth it, as the tastes, sounds and sights of Tavern Agora transport you to another world. Aiming to embody the encounters of the Greek Isles, try out the extensive Mediterranean menu featuring meals like Spanakopita (Spinach, feta, dill, onions, phyllo pastry. Served with our Traditional Romaine Salad)  and Chicken Mykonos (Grilled chicken, penne pasta, spinach, feta, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, leeks, white wine lemon cream sauce, Parmesan) that will set you off on your next culinary adventure. Not to mention, they have an open air rooftop patio for your dining pleasure!
326 Hillsborough Street; tavernaagora.com

Photo courtesy Whiskey Kitchen

Whiskey Kitchen

Stroll down to Nash Square for Whiskey Kitchen’s southern enchantments. With an airy, open interior, you can’t go wrong with the substantial menu containing anything from distinguished Shrimp N’ Grits (North Carolina shrimp, stone ground yellow grits, applewood smoked bacon, bourbon tomato gravy) or the succulent Chorizo Frittata (local chorizo, red bell peppers, potatoes, cheddar cheese, sour cream, served at room temperature). Evoking a cool intimate scene and a commitment to quality service, this restaurant is a must-see for a day in downtown. 
201 W Martin Street; whiskey.kitchen

Are we missing your favorite spot? Email us at info@waltermagazine.com and we’ll add it to the list!