Chris “Coco” Lopez’s Favorite Spots to Eat & Drink

The longtime Raleigh chef, most recently owner and operator of Gateway Plaza’s Fine Folk, shares his favorite foodie spots.
by Catherine Currin

For our 2024 Guide to Where to Eat and Drink in the Triangle, we asked ten food and hospitality industry folks to share their tried and true spots for everything from a casual lunch to happy hour to a place that’s worth hopping in the car and heading out of town. One of those folks was local industry pro, Chris Lopez. Lopez has been in the Raleigh hospitality industry for years — from helping Sunny Gerhart open St. Roch to working as executive chef at Cary’s Postmaster Restaurant and Bar. In 2022, Lopez opened Fine Folk in Gateway Plaza. It closed its doors in October 2023, but stay tuned for what he’s up to next. Here are his favorite spots around town for good food and drinks.

What’s your favorite place for happy hour?

The Longleaf Lounge

What’s your local guilty pleasure?

Chili spaghetti at Players Retreat

Where’s somewhere what’s worth the drive?

Donut Daily in Garner

photo credit: Bryan Regan

Where do you frequent for lunch?

Mami’s Latin Style Rotisserie Chicken

photo credit: Bryan Regan

If it was your last meal in the Triangle……

Any sandwich from Ideal’s Sandwich and Grocery

photo credit: Bryan Regan

What’s your favorite new spot?

The Hippo 

Where’s your favorite coffee shop?

The Optimist Raleigh

photo credit: Bryan Regan

Where’s your favorite bite to go?

Chido Taco

Where do you take out-of-town guests?


Char-Grill or Snoopy’s?


What are you most excited for?

Natural Sciences

This article was originally published on December 28, 2023 on